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British Airways to drop one of the two London City to New York flights

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British Airways announced yesterday that it is to drop BA3 and BA4, one of the two return flights to New York operated from London City Airport.  The last flight will be 29th October.

These flights are a bit of an oddity, to put it mildly:

The aircraft used in an Airbus A318 short haul plane

It contains 32 flat bed seats in a conventional ‘all forward facing’ layout

Catering is also different (generally seen as ‘better’) than Heathrow or Gatwick services

The aircraft stops in Shannon to refuel because a fully loaded A318 cannot get off the runway at London City.  The return flight is direct.

BA A318

The real selling point of the service was that you could clear US immigration in Shannon whilst the aircraft was being refuelled.  This meant that you landed as a domestic passenger at Kennedy and simply walked out of the terminal.

Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, pre-clearance was withdrawn from BA3.  There were no other flights departing from Shannon to the US in the evening and BA was unwilling to pay the cost of keeping the US immigration team in place.  This was a big blow for the service because passengers still had to queue for immigration in New York as well as sit around at Shannon on the way.

I imagine that a few other things have contributed to the axeing of the service:

Until April 2015, you earned 210 tier points each way on the London City flights compared to 140 tier points out of Heathrow.  This made the flights attractive if chasing status.

Many heavy US flyers now have Global Entry which allows them to skip immigration desks.  You can now apply for Global Entry as a UK citizen too, with interviews taking place in London.  US pre-clearance at Shannon is no longer a benefit for these people.

There is continued pressure on travel costs at the Canary Wharf banks and this service relies on a large number of the 32 passengers paying full price.

It isn’t clear what will happen to the A318 aircraft but I doubt BA will be looking at starting any other ‘all business class’ routes from City or indeed Heathrow.

I flew this service once, back in September 2010.  It was, unknown to me, the 1st anniversary of the service and there was cake and champagne waiting for us in Shannon during the refuelling stop.  I enjoyed the food and the seating.  I would still like to cover BA1 again for Head for Points if the opportunity comes up.

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Comments (56)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • anon says:

    This is only a temporary change. The two aircraft are due for their D-checks which takes 2 months. Hence the service is resuming as normal mid next year.

    • Rob says:

      That is not how the BA press release reads. It says the service is ending with the start of the Winter timetable.

      • Steve says:

        Rob, we heard that BA3 is “probably stopping” and “may run another east coast service”, I’ve only just finished my training for this service so am a bit gutted, staying current will be tough as we have to fly into city once every 35days.

  • Cuchlainn says:

    OT ( sorry ) – BAPP Amex related : coming up on 7 months into 1st year with BAPP Amex (£150 fee) and £11500 cleared through it with £1500 still to pay off on 1st Oct – 1 x 241 sitting in my BAEC A/C and I have referred my better half also for BAPP Amex (£195 fee) and already received my 9000 Avios for referral.
    As I have been added to her new BAPP Amex a/c as a supplementary should I either :
    1. Cancel outright my BAPP Amex a/c and reclaim approx £60+ ( 5 months pro-rata on £150 annual fee ) and then get her to refer me again in 6 months to start ball rolling again ?
    Or 2. Ring Amex up and drop down to free BA Amex card a/c but store it away, recoup my refund of approx £60 as above and wait 5 months till my new Amex year starts again ( approx 10th Feb ) ?

    • mark2 says:

      You will not be able to get the bonus again while you hold the blue card. You need to cancel the BAPP.

      • Genghis says:

        Yep – only get another sign up if cancel either the BA blue or BAPP then wait 6 months. I.e you can’t have held an Amex issued Amex in last 6 months to get another bonus.

        • Cuchlainn says:

          Thanks mark2 and Gengis – I presume Amex then send your pro rata annual fee refund back to your bank then ?

          • David2910 says:

            Don’t you lose the voucher if you cancel?

          • David2910 says:

            Sorry, ignore, answered later on on this thread

          • Rob says:


          • Tom Murray says:

            I might as well pile in with my OT query…..sorry 😉

            We have AMEX BAPP. Mine and my wife also has one on my account. She also has Amex gold in her own name. Can I now refer her for her own BAPP?
            Thanks, Tom

          • Genghis says:

            @Tom – if your wife does not have either a BAPP (I guess not) or a BA Blue in her own name (i.e. supplementary cards are irrelevant), you can refer her for a BAPP. She’ll get 26k avios after spending £3k in first 3 months and you’ll get 9k avios a few days after her application is approved.

          • Tom Murray says:

            Ok Genghis thanks 🙂 – so just to be sure, her BAPP card on my account and her own BA Gold are irrelevant?
            Thanks again for the help

          • Genghis says:

            I presume you mean Amex Gold? Irrelevant in so far as getting a bonus yes.
            (Or the fact that she is a BA GCH is also irrelevant)
            However, the fact that she has other credit cards may be taken into account in the credit assessment by Amex but both myself and my wife have had (and continue to have) many many cards at the same time all with quite high limits and have never been rejected.

  • Will says:

    Flew BA1 last week. My favourite BA service, better than first imho if you don’t have anyone sat next to you.

    Must admit the catering seemed to have gone downhill compared to when I did it 2 years ago.

  • Tom says:

    Financial Times article about the change yesterday suggested a new all biz class entry at City – Odyssey

  • Mike says:

    Is there ever much avios availability?

    Thinking of using the 241 next year to fly out to the US in F and return in CW LCY if that were an option.

    • Stu N says:

      We got BA2 back from JFK in March – booked not long after the flights were released and before the Avios devaluation. 40,000 Avios plus a 2-4-1 so pretty good value! I guess they release 2 seats as reward flights as they do for other flights though no idea how long they stick around for. Really enjoyed the flight though it was fairly bumpy at times – more so than you’d get in a bigger plane.

      Main downside was we were connecting to Edinburgh and the couple of hours at City was less pleasant than being in Galleries in T5. No shower for a start. Worth it for the experience anyway, I’d say.

    • Gavin says:

      Booked about 8-9 months in advance with a 2 for 1, just before the avios devaluation. There was lots of availability for mid-Dec at that time. It was great, although the return flight was diverted to Gatwick (not that uncommon apparently) which kind of messed up the plan to be back in the office before 9am.

  • Andy says:

    Global Entry interviews in London? Only if they have just restarted and you have new info. They have not been available in UK since a very brief period at the start of the scheme – I had to go to EWR.

    • Leo says:

      Through September at the US Embassy.

    • Leo says:

      Sorry – 2 months from end of September.

    • dps says:

      I applied in UK and had the brief, very courteous interview in Washington DC on a trip 2 weeks later where immigration (arr on VS into JFK T4) was already taking under 5 mins because of dedicated/empty queue for all connecting pax with previously used ESTA.

  • Andy says:

    The other thing is that immigration at JFK has improved massively – the hour long queues have disappeared since the arrival of the automated immigration machines at T7. I took the late flight into JFK a few weeks ago and was dreading the queues (which normally made me take other carriers) but got through in less than 5 minutes.

    • Alan says:

      Yes, immigration returning to the UK is much worse than the US – esp when you have Global Entry as even with these new automated machines there can be a customs queue that it also helps you skip 🙂 Pre-clearance definitely of less use wires GE though.

    • Kinkell says:

      No queue, straight through as a first time ESTA , just the other day. Really impressed, in spite of the officer looking about 12, mumbled at us, was surly and hostile.Looked as if he was trying to find a way not to stamp the passport!

  • Mike says:

    OT ( also sorry ) – BAPP Amex related. I have obtained my BA 241 (valid for 2 years) after spending £10k in 3 months. My plan is to cancel the BAPP card and then reapply in 12 months for another bonus.

    I presume the BA241 sits in my BAEC regardless of the fact I have cancelled my BAPP and there are no issues so long as I use an AMEX to pay the taxes when I use the 241.

    I do not wish to down grade to the free BA card as that will prevent me from getting a bonus in 12 months time.

    Can experienced HFPs people concur there are no issues with my plan – thank you

    • @mkcol says:

      Yes: your plan is fine.

    • Simmo says:

      Only issue ‘could be’ if you cancel a flight that was booked using that 2-4-1.

      • Mike says:

        Thanks for your reply why would / could that be an issue – my understanding is that the BA241 once issued is linked to my BAEC account so if I book a flight using the BA241 and then cancel the flight the BA241 is reattached to my BAEC account with its original expiry date.

        Would someone be kind enough to concur that my assumptions are correct – thank you.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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