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Review: British Airways Club World business class on an A318, London City to New York (Part 2)

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This is Part 2 of my review of BA1, the British Airways service from London City to New York JFK, on an Airbus A318.

Part 1, which looks at the cabin and seat, can be found here.  This article focuses on the food and drink and IFE.

ba.com has a special page dedicated to the BA1 flight which you can find here.

Food and drink on BA1

BA1 used to set the standard for British Airways food, with the service originally operating in conjunction with the Roast restaurant in Borough Market.  Do&Co has now taken over and, whilst some elements reached their usual high standards, others did not.

I started off with glass of rose champagne, Besseret de Bellefon Grande Tradition Brut Rose, which is around £33 at retail:

Review British Airways Club World BA1 London City to New York JFK

The standard champagne is the Canard-Duchene ‘Cuvee Leonie’ Brut which is £22 at Amazon.

This is what the menu looked like:

Snack en route to Shannon:

Exotic fruit brochette (ie fruit skewers)

Vegetarian sushi rolls

Served Shannon to New York:

Starters

Fresh seasonal salad (see below)

Parsnip soup

Both served with bread basket

Review British Airways Club World BA1 London City to New York JFK

The bread was the signature Do & Co ‘three in one’ roll, which is great. The sweet potato salad looked very tired, although it appears better in the picture. If a salad could be said to be unenthusiastic, this is how it would look. It improved on tasting, with the base of coriander and chilli pesto adding some zing. I cannot comment on the balsamic vinaigrette since it was impossible to open the bottle.

Mains

Grilled marinated king prawns with slow-roasted tomato sauce and basmati rice (see below)

Braised Scottish prime beef cheeks, horseraddish dumplings, potato mousseline

Ricotta panzerotti

Review British Airways Club World BA1 London City to New York JFK

I went with the prawns. It was OK, although the sauce could have been tangier given that it was being served at altitude.

You will note that there was no attempt to clear away any of the excess cutlery or debris from the first course before the main was served.

Dessert

Flamed meringue, raspberry panna cotta (see below)

Fresh berries

Cheese board

Review British Airways Club World BA1 London City to New York JFK

I took the panna cotta, which was good. In typical BA fashion, however, it was dessert or cheese.

Two hours before landing in JFK, afternoon tea was served. This consisted of:

Sandwiches – cheddar on pumpernickel, pastrami with red cabbage coleslaw, shrimp Marie Rose with cress

Plain or lemon and date scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry jam

Traditional Ploughman’s with scotch egg

Chocolate Battenberg

Review British Airways Club World BA1 London City to New York JFK

The Do&Co version of afternoon tea is a major improvement on the old Club World version.  For a start, you no longer get a plastic wrapped pack of sandwiches plonked in front of you on a plate.  The mixture of sandwiches provided still baffles me, however.

IFE and wi-fi

No newspapers or magazines are offered onboard or at the gate. Coupled with the lack of wi-fi and proper IFE, it made for a long seven hours.

I gave the iPad-based entertainment system a try.  The first set of headphones did not have the correct adaptor fitted.  The second set I was given did fit.  However, the maximum volume setting was ludicrously low – so low that I could hardly hear it over the noise of the aircraft.  I never found out if this was a faulty iPad – with the maximum volume setting locked too low – or faulty headphones.

The iPads used are now many years old, substantially thicker and with lower resolution screens than the current models.  Due to storage restrictions, there were only 14 movies plus a handful of TV, audio and gaming options.  To be fair, the movie and TV selection was decent as it usually is with British Airways.

Review British Airways Club World BA1 London City to New York JFK

The headphones were Sennheiser PXC 550’s.

Arriving in JFK Terminal 7

You can’t knock your arrival, landing as a domestic passenger.  I timed it, and I was in the Airtrain station in JFK Terminal 7 within five minutes of stepping off the plane (I was travelling just with hand baggage).  Coupled with my 2pm arrival, I was at my hotel by 3pm and had enough time to actually get something done on my arrival day – a rarity when I travel to New York.

Review British Airways Club World BA1 London City to New York JFK

Conclusion

The A318 BA1 service to New York via Shannon is generally called the ‘baby bus’ in the trade. There is a ring of truth in this joke, because in many ways a bus is what it is – a service for people who shuttle back and forth to New York on a regular basis and are not bothered about comfort or fripperies.

Obviously you are giving your customer the flat bed they require in business class, but the rest of the trip – the messy situation at City, no lounges, poor gate experience, lack of wi-fi, poor IFE provision, the Shannon stop – points to a service which is sold more on convenience than anything else.

Judging by the full house on my Monday morning flight you may think it is a recipe that works.  Judging by the weak loads reported on other flights, and the scapping of BA3/BA4 in 2016, I think it doesn’t.

I DO still recommend BA1 if you want to arrive in New York early in the day or live conveniently for London City.  It isn’t the right choice for anyone splashing out for a special treat – for that I recommend you head to Heathrow for a superior in-airport and onboard experience.  Gatwick, with the impressive new BA lounge complex, is also worth considering.

If you are an aviation fan and haven’t ticked off BA1 yet, I would do it sooner rather than later. Even if the state of City Airport and the poor in-flight experience don’t kill it off, I am fairly sure that Crossrail, BA’s new Club Suite / the new Virgin Upper Class Suite and the continued expansion of Global Entry will.

You can find out more about BA’s dedicated London City to New York service on this special page of ba.com

Comments (50)

  • Nick_C says:

    Storage.

    There is an empty slot in the back of the seat in front of you for storing magazines. Transfer all the bumph from the seat pocket to the magazine slot and use the seat pocket for additional storage. I think the storage is much better than the club world seat, and had no problem keeping my notepad and a couple of spec cases within easy reach.

    May not work for row one.

    At a pinch, you can also put small items in the storage between the arm rests that holds the ipad stands (which don’t actually hold the ipads very well).

  • Sarah says:

    Apologies if this is in one of the other articles but can 241 voucher be used on this flight and if so, how many points are needed?

    • Nick_C says:

      The 242 voucher is valid. 100000 Avios off peak, standard price for LON-NYC.

      The Lloyd’s upgrade voucher also works if you kept your Avios.com account active by joining Aer Club, and it’s 52000 off peak return with the Lloyd’s voucher.

      But if you’ve not looked at redemptions to the US lately, be aware the redemption fee is now about £665. Unless you have a voucher, it might be better to pay cash in a sale and earn Avios.

  • Paul says:

    No mention that the meal is dine on demand?

    • Nick_C says:

      In theory. The menu says you can dine at any time. In practice, they, by default, serve everyone at the same time. With take off from SNN at midday, the timing for lunch works well. Would be interesting to hear from anyone who has asked for their meal to be delayed.

      Incidentally, when I have done this flight, the service has been superb. But with 3 FAs looking after 16 or 20 passengers, that’s what you would expect. I think the cabin crew, who normally operate out of LGW, see this roster as something of a treat.

      I’ve read reviews of people having dinner on BA2 and getting one on one service, as most people sleep.

      • Rob says:

        Nothing wrong with the food – but it is no longer better than the Heathrow food and so not a factor to consider.

    • Rob says:

      It isn’t. They take your order on the first hop and it is already being prepared when you get back on. Ignore what they claim.

      • Paul says:

        I got my meal at the time i requested – they do offer what they claim. It was also proactively offered by the crew.

  • Anna says:

    Well after this I won’t be too gutted if they withdraw this service before I get a chance to fly it, especially as it took us all of 5 minutes to get through immigration at JFK a couple of weeks ago!

    On the general subject of BA/JFK, it’s now 17 days since I put in our 2 claims for delay compensation. I’ve had no response apart from the initial acknowledgement, OH has had a limp reply trying to blame on something which never even happened, which we’ve fired back. I’ll give it till the end of the week then contact them again asking for their final position.

    BTW, the usual email address for Alex Cruz just seems to be bouncing back, he must be fed up with HFP readers mithering him.

  • Sander says:

    To the best of my knowledge ba has a lounge that is only usable by ba1 passengers at City airport

    • Nick_C says:

      Huh? Well it’s a huge secret then. Do share!

    • Rob says:

      No. The two lounges are in the Jet Centre. You could, in theory, use the Business Class Lounge in the Jet Centre once you had checked in at the terminal, but that isn’t much use as you still need to clear security in the main terminal and they are a fair walk apart.

      • David says:

        Is the business class jet centre lounge still open? I was looking for it online recently, and could only find reference to the £95 first class lounge…

  • Dev says:

    After this article and the photos posted on Instagram, I have lost my desire to travel on BA1. Don’t even get me started on the faux basmati rice served on board. It does not help that it is also easy for me to get to LHR. This seemed like a good idea once, but times have changed.

  • Shuggy says:

    I found out about the “free” breakfast (There’s a price limit, which escapes me at the mo) from ft he CAA lady doing their travel survey

    tbh, you haven’t missed anything – did was mediocre and the service was decidedly surly

    Can’t see any mention of the arrival “lounge” if you’re coming in the opposite direction

    Glad I’ve done BA1, but as you say, Crossrail and the fast track lounge facilities have sounded the death nell for the service

    • Nick_C says:

      Details of the “arrivals lounge” for BA2 are on the Club World London City web page.

      “Arrive in style

      We’ve teamed up with the Radisson Blu Edwardian New Providence Wharf Hotel in London to provide an arrivals service that will leave you relaxed, refreshed and prepared for your busy day ahead:

      delicious and nutritious breakfast options
      gym and shower facilities as well as preferential rates on spa treatments
      free Wi-Fi and cutting-edge business services
      help arranging clothes pressing and onward transportation
      Booking is essential so please speak to a member of our customer service team at New York JFK check-in, in the lounge, or at the boarding gate to make arrangements.”

  • Alex W says:

    Surely BA can afford to buy 40 newer iPads, the cost would be a drop in the ocean for them. Not upgrading seems pretty stingy.

    • Peter K says:

      Unless they are thinking Cross Rail will kill it so why buy new tablets that they won’t need in a year…

    • Shuggy says:

      I flew a few years ago on BA1 and we had no iPads because the licence for the software had run out and hadn’t been renewed because of some spurious reason – BA1 should have been I’m servicing or something #AlexSavings 🤷‍♂️

      Got 10k Avios for something I wasn’t planning on using anyway – they weight a ton