One of the more innovative airline products out there is British Airways’ Club World London City service, which operates between New York JFK and London City Airport in an all business class configured Airbus 318.
I had the opportunity to sample the service back in 2009 when it first started, and I thought it was great. I loved the fact that it was an Airbus 318 with only 32 seats, which meant boarding took all of five minutes, compared to 30+ minutes on a 747. I loved how quiet and private the cabin felt. If you work/live near London City Airport it’s also much more practical than Heathrow, especially given that customs/immigration lines are non-existent at London City Airport.
What was especially innovative is the flight from London City to New York, given that it has a stop in Shannon. Due to how short the runway is at London City Airport the flight stops in Shannon to refuel, but it’s hardly wasted time since they have a US customs/immigration pre-clearance facility, meaning you land in the US as a domestic passenger. In the past that translated into huge time savings given how long immigration queues can be at JFK, though ever since I have Global Entry that really isn’t the case anymore. Still, for non-Americans and those without Global Entry it could still translate to substantial time savings.
Anyway, the bad news for Club World London City passengers is that as of October 28, 2012, the pre-clearnace facility in Shannon will only be available to passengers of BA001, and not passengers of BA003 (the flight that’s later in the afternoon). This is because the pre-clearance facility will have more limited operating hours which won’t coincide with the afternoon flight.
Anyway, this kind of eliminates the point of the afternoon service and undoubtedly makes going via Heathrow faster. I’d be curious to see to what extent the loads on this flight suffer as a result of the change.
(Tip of the hat to Miles from Blighty)