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British Airways passengers can now be driven to their plane at London City Airport – for a fee

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18 months ago we reviewed London City Airport’s new First Class Lounge in the Private Jet Centre.

Yes, London City Airport DOES have a lounge – in fact, two lounges – but not many people are aware of it as they are not in the main terminal.  Instead they are located in the Private Jet Centre and the First Class Lounge comes with true VIP treatment, as you will see.

However …. when I reviewed the First Class Lounge, it came with a big caveat.  British Airways passengers were not allowed to use it.  To be fully accurate, they could use it but were not allowed to use the private security channel or be driven to their aircraft – they would have to walk over to the main terminal.  This made it pointless given the fee.


Things have now changed.  If you are flying British Airways from London City Airport – except for the New York flight – you are now allowed to use the First Class Lounge in the Private Jet Centre and be driven to your aircraft.

You have to pay £95 for the privilege, but arguably – for anyone who values their time and especially anyone who charges hourly rates and can squeeze in some extra billable hours this way – it is a good deal.

How does the service work?

This is what I found when I reviewed the First Class Lounge in November 2016.  I am assuming that nothing has changed since then, but be aware that the pictures below are out of date.  The pictures are also a bit fuzzy as they are on an old iPhone!

London City arranged a free visit for me in conjunction with a CityJet flight review we were doing at the time.

My trip didn’t start too glamorously with a trip on the Jubilee Line and the DLR.  However as soon as I got out of the DLR station at City Airport the First Class Lounge service began.

I was greeted with a name sign and escorted to a car. If you are flying with BA and have luggage to check in, you must do this when meeting your First Class Lounge host who will take you to the front of the bag drop queue in the terminal.


The car was a mini van – so travelling with family or in a group is possible.


It took only a few minutes from City Airport main terminal to the Private Jet Centre.


This was the reception area:


The First Class Lounge was very bright and classy. It was very quiet when I was there, as in I was the only guest, which was great as I was able to take photos without disturbing people’s privacy (it actually says in the T&Cs that taking pictures is not allowed).

Again, remember that these pictures are from November 2016 so there could have been changes.


There was a table with snacks and newspapers.


At the far back was a shelf wall with magazines.


The bar had a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as a Nespresso machine.


In the bar area were another four armchairs.


There was breakfast in the morning and sandwiches during the day. The First Class Lounge doesn’t serve hot food as customers have been happy with what’s been provided, but we were told by the Jet Centre’s manager that there have been guests requesting hot food which was then sourced at additional cost.


Now to the coolest part – your own security lane! For security reasons I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of this area but it’s like the security lanes at any airport – just smaller. There is only one body scanner and one luggage scanner and the whole process took literally 2 minutes.


Outside security was a car waiting to drive me to the plane. Yes, to the plane!


The best and last part of the First Class Lounge service is to be driven all the way to the plane and being the first to board – that is if you are flying in business.  

Rob has done this a few times in Frankfurt when flying First Class with Lufthansa but it was a new experience for me.  I was flying CityJet that day as British Airways did not allow its passengers to use the service back in 2016. If you are on an economy ticket you will need to wait until after the top tier customers have boarded.


To give an even better idea of what the First Class Lounge is about, I made a short video.  If you want to subscribe to our YouTube channel and be notified about future videos, click here to visit our YouTube channel page.   You can also watch the video via that page if it does not appear below.

Using the lounge as an arriving passenger

It is also possible to use the lounge when flying into London City.   Arriving passengers are immediately collected at the aircraft with their luggage and driven to the lounge for customs and immigration.  You can then use the lounge until you are ready to head into London.  You cannot use this service if you are arriving on the New York flight but apart from that it is now open to everyone.

How to book

You can book the London City First Class Lounge for £95 per person.  You must pre-book by 4pm on the day before your flight, last minute bookings are possible depending on third party resource.

You can book the lounge in advance via the airport website.

There is also a cheaper Business Class lounge

In 2017 London City added a Business Lounge right next to the First Class Lounge.  This is more affordable at around £35.

The key difference is that you must go back to the main terminal for security and boarding – there is no car service to your plane and no private security channel.

My review of the Business Lounge is here.


When we first wrote about the First Class Lounge at London City many readers were shocked by the price.  It isn’t aimed at you, in that case. If you are a £500 per hour lawyer or similar, it is an easy price to justify – and the VAT will be reclaimable.  The First Class Lounge is also a great way of starting a special birthday trip or honeymoon.


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There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

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Comments (28)

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

  • Simon says:

    Anyone else had the BA email about data breach? Amex have a recorded message saying they are aware and not to do at the moment and card holder not liable. Sounds like a massive cock up by BA.

    • Sandra says:

      Yes, about 10 minutes ago, must be sending it out in stages or it’s much bigger than they thought!

  • Chris L says:

    I don’t think £95 is that expensive. I don’t know of any first class lounges that you can buy access to. If BA charged for access to the Concorde Room I suspect the price would run well into the hundreds.

    • Callum says:

      Not really a valid comparison though. Here you’re pretty much just paying for privacy, in a normal first class lounge you’d have far better facilities.

    • Mike P says:

      As someone with a CCR card, I can tell you it’s not worth that sort of money. Yes, it’s a nice lounge with decent drinks and above average food but hundreds of pounds for access? No. One could get a much better experience/ meal for that sort of money elsewhere.

  • Mike says:

    If you’re flying economy but are BA Gold, do you still have to wait or can you still board first?

    • Anna says:

      From what I’ve seen this summer Gold members get to board in group 1 on long haul flights, regardless of which cabin they are flying in.

      • Sandra says:

        Yes you are still grouped via status regardless of cabin.My status runs out shortly and I will not be giving BA my money any more after this last trip. we flew economy because I dion’t think their CW fares, even long haul, are justifiable for their quality and service (or lack of) now. Outward flight reasonable and aircraft ok (A380 to Vancouver) along with Heathrow bag drop. On the return from Toronto we checked in online, printed boarding passes off and then at airport checked passports at self service machine and printed luggage tags off so all we needed to do was drop bags. However, the bag drop was the same as the economy check in with a queue snaking half way round the airport and only one BA economy desk open! Luckily, I realised we could us the CW check in which had a small queue and so we did but anyone in economy without BA status couldn’t, so checking in online hoping to just drop bags and go was a bit pointless. The flight boarded in groups according to travel class and BA status. it was a Dreamliner and it was cramped, my sons seat was broken and didn’t sit upright properly but since no one was behind us they said was ok! I have flown on Dreamliners with other airlines and don’t particularly like them, I know they are fairly new, but they are very plasticky and don’t seem particularly well made – the ceiling of this one had gaps between the plastic panels and rattled like an old bus.BA’s seats seemed smaller than others (or it may just have been our 2 and where they were placed), the crew were miserable, food dry and not very palatable – breakfast was a freezing cold, tough cream cheese bagel served in a rushwith someone following on as quickly as possible offering tea/coffee and hoping youd say no as they were short of time/running out/wanted to get cleared up as soon as possible. BA is now worse than most low cost airlines, at least they are up front about being no frills and the cost is appropriate.
        The Air Canada flight across country was the usual N American no frills service, pay onboard for food/drinks, but tea/coffee and water were handed out regularly for free and the staff were friendly and happy to serve you. Seats were comfortable and in cost per miles terms the fares were far lower considering it’s nearly the same distance in miles as the Toronto/Heathrow flight.
        Not sure how I’ll use all my Avios but I certainly wont be giving BA any more of my money!

        • Anna says:

          Internal flights in the US? We had a very nice flight from MIA to BOS in American Airlines First (sort of between CE and CW in terms of comfort and service), for 20,000 avios plus £4 taxes pp!

  • Lee says:

    No issues with the price. But what happens on New York flights?

    The article is silent on the process.

    • Rob says:

      You can’t use the lounge due to the extra US security requirements. Well, you can use it but you need to go the main terminal for security.

      • Nick_C says:

        You would think that could be done at Shannon, where you go through security a second time; well at least I had to in May before going to the US Immigration Hall.

        • Lumma says:

          I’ve always wondered what would happen on BA1 if someone was refused entry into the USA. Would BA put you on a flight back to London or would you be left to fend for yourself in Shannon?

  • David says:

    “Happy honeymoon darling! Now, you go and entertain yourself with the champagne, I need to go and do 24 minutes of billable work to justify my VAT reclaim on this entry fee.”

    Who says romance is dead…?

    • Rob says:

      I was doing HFP emails 15 minutes before we got married and I was back at work three hours after the ceremony (did have lunch first though) ….

      • David says:

        Your mileage may vary! My fiancée was fairly unimpressed when I suggested planning the wedding for before 5th April because it would be more advantageous from a tax perspective…

  • ankomonkey says:

    Vaguely similar to the thrill of being driven to the plane, over the summer we flew a return Bangkok Airways flight on an ATR72 600. These are tiny planes with spinning propellers on each wing. 2 seats-aisle-2 seats layout. Driven by bus from terminal to plane in both directions. Board the plane from tarmac by climbing about 4 steps built into the aircraft door like a hatch which hinges on the bottom of the door and reaches the floor when opened. I’m no airplane geek, but this was a novel experience. Free lounge at BKK for all passengers and flight (o/w) cost less than the £95 charged here.

    • Alan says:

      I’ve been on ATR72s in the UK. I think BA used to use them on certain routes. Also been on the old Dash7 and Dash8 with BA

      Actually, if the ATR72 wasn’t BA it could have been Rig crew flights to Shetland. Can’t properly remember as I’m getting very old!

      I know they had a couple of fatal crashes where the rudder went hardover and the pilots could do nothing to recover the situation. Pretty sure they fixed that after the second one though.

      • Stuart says:

        BA Cityflyer (?) used the ATRs from Gatwick for many years. It was my commute to Rotterdam for many months in c2000-1.

        • Lady London says:

          Even though London City Airport is normally very quick to fly out of, I think I would now do London to Rotterdam/Amsterdam on the new Eurostar service? Bit longer but at least could get more work done.

  • Degsy says:

    This is similar to the IAM Jet Centre at Barbados for 1st class passengers which we used in July only there was no cost to to use it. Shame is BA don’t really advertise it so only found out about it on this website. It’s also in a seperate building and takes a few minutes for them to scan your luggage etc then you go upstairs to a small room with about 12 seats where there are drinks etc and some sandwiches. You also get transport to the steps of the plane and everyone else is stopped in line while you board. If you do need to go to the main terminal which is a joke in Barbados then you can still check in at the Jet Centre and they will take you over but you can’t return. The whole process was very smooth.

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