British Airways Club World London City is like flying private (sorta)

You learn something new every day. Often, that thing is dumb, but sometimes, it’s awesome. The awesome thing that I learned this week is that British Airways has a once-a-day (except Saturday) flight, called Club World London City, from New York to London and vice versa, on a strange plane with only 32 total seats. It’s all lie-flat business class with a ton of space. It goes to London City airport, which is right in Central London, rather than Heathhole. When you fly eastbound from London to JFK, you stop for 30 minutes in Shannon, Ireland, for refueling, and while that happens, you go through US immigration and customs, so that when you finally get to JFK, you just walk the fuck out the door, like it was a domestic flight, rather than cowering with the huddled masses. This weekend, came home on BA flight 1, LCY->SNN->JFK, and it was super sweet.

I learned about this flight en route to London, which I went to spontaneously for the weekend, because fuck it, I don’t have kids, might as well take advantage of that. It was around £5,800 for a seat, so I passed on that, but zing, I could get on for 50,000 BA miles (or 57,500 AA miles) and some cash, so I transferred 50K Chase Ultimate Rewards points to BA. (Flying out of any airport in London blows because they ream you sideways on the taxes and fees, so even award tickets are gonna set you back something.)

Everything about this flight is different than any other flight I’d ever been on. It was kind of like a big private jet. It’s on an Airbus 318, which isn’t even flown by any US carrier (and the only one flown by BA); it’s like a stubby A320 (which airlines like JetBlue and American fly all the time).

Airbus 318 and cheerful UK weather

airplane anus

Then there’s the airport, which is in central London, and minuscule. Because there’s no lounge, a ticket on this plane gets you an entree and two drinks, or an entree and a side and one drink, at Pilots restaurant, which was certainly dece. The gate itself is supposed to be a mini-lounge, but mine was an ordinary gate. Maybe they don’t do that anymore. I didn’t care, because I was full of Bloody Mary and butternut squash ravioli.

You know how many passengers were on my flight? Twelve. Boarding did not take long. The rows were two per side, and each seat got like four windows of the plane. No sticking your feet into a well under the seat in front of you.

view from the *back* of the plane

I had the last two rows entirely to myself, which made me happy as can be, because an absence of people around me on airplanes is a cause for great joy. Also, I thought it might be a bad idea to not have a Kir Royale, so I had one.

please let me just stay on this bitchen plane

We flew for an hour to Shannon airport, where I saw a bunch of derelict Air Berlin planes hanging out, perhaps forever. Air Berlin went belly-up a few months ago.

finding these was a top bonus

I had to take off my shoes and take out my laptop and go through security again, which was sucky, but then I got to go through US immigration with nary a soul around, so it was totes worth it.

Then I reboarded the plane, was re-greeted by the flight crew, got back in my seat, and generally just chilled the fuck out all the way home. There was no entertainment system, nor wifi. Apparently, there’s some sort of microtower cell data service on the plane that offers — wait for it — GPRS speeds. (If you’re old enough to remember dialup modems…well, that’s how fast GPRS is. I guess you could text with it.) That wasn’t even working on my flight though, so I took the opportunity to go zen. But you’re def gonna want to have downloaded something in advance if you need entertainment, because the first-generation iPads they give you have like six videos on them. (There’s also a holder hidden in the seat arm, but it’s awkward to use, because it was made for something much smaller than an iPad. It looks like it would be easy enough to retrofit for variable height, though.)

Then I got to JFK, walked into the terminal, stepped outside, and was instantly chilled to the bone, because winter. I wished I was back on the plane.

1 thought on “British Airways Club World London City is like flying private (sorta)

  1. Adam

    “I learned about this flight en route to London, which I went to spontaneously for the weekend, because fuck it, I don’t have kids, might as well take advantage of that.”

    That was my favorite part of this article. Ace.


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