British Airways Trims Their Exclusive Club World London City Route

British Airways operates a unique route between New York and London City Airport on an Airbus A318, called Club World London City.

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The all business class aircraft features just 32 flat bed seats, spread across eight rows. It’s as close as you’ll get to feeling like you’re in a private jet on a transatlantic flight while still flying commercial.

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The A318 is specially configured to be able to make the transatlantic crossing. It operates nonstop from New York to London City Airport, though on the return it makes a stop in Shannon, Ireland. In Shannon passengers clear US immigration, though the primary motivation for the stop is that the runway in London City is so short, so the A318 can’t take off with enough fuel for the transatlantic journey from there.

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The route has been operating since 2009, and seems to be operating with a fairly consistent schedule up until now. Presently the route operates 11x weekly (it’s twice daily with the exception of three weekend frequencies, since it’s a business route). British Airways has two A318s in their fleet, both of which exclusively serve this flight.

However, it looks like that will soon be changing.

As of October 30, 2016, British Airways will be roughly halving their Club World London City service. They’ll go from 11x weekly frequencies to 6x weekly frequencies. This presumably makes the route a lot less compelling to many people, since previously they spaced the schedule out nicely to suit different schedules.

With the new schedule, there will only be one frequency choice.

On one hand I’ve been sort of surprised that the route has done as well as it has. The economics of operating a flight with just 32 business class seats is tough, and based on looking at flights the day of departure many times, it doesn’t look the planes are anywhere near consistently full.

This is a permanent route change (at least as of now), so I’m curious what British Airways is doing with the second A318. Are they just going to park it, or…?

Anyway, if you’re scheduled to fly Club World London City starting in November, you’ll want to check your itinerary and see if your flight is still operating.

Are you surprised to see British Airways cut back their Club World London City service?

Comments

  1. Not surprised…since the flight mainly serves the Investment Professionals who work in the Canary Wharf area. With all the cut backs from the Financial Crisis and the impending Brexit, I would expect these firms to cut back expensive travel between New York and London.

  2. What’s the range of that A318? Could it reach the Middle East? If not, hard to come up with a suitable alternative.

  3. @AaronP – the financial crisis happened before this route was even launched in 2009, and among the finance professionals who fly this route, Brexit is not going to have any impact on their volume of travel (or the willingness of their banks or funds to pay for it). This route is also not expensive by any means when the alternative is private – it is actually really cheap by comparison.

  4. When we flew it, the FA said jokingly “Welcome aboard the Barclays employee shuttle” 🙂 So love that flight and the free arrival service at the spa… Though I have to say the upstairs of a 747 has the same private feel but with a lot better buffering against turbulence!

  5. I figured this would just be a D Check as the planes are almost 8 years old. Although through next summer it is reduced to once daily. I am also curious as to what they are going to do with the planes. Here are my theories
    -just fly each plane everyother day to reduce cycles.
    -Put Y seats in 1/2 of it and fly from a smaller UK airport to the US (maybe GLA/EDI/MAN-JFK)
    -Fly it from LHR or LGW to a smaller US airport (maybe add Y seats as well)
    -final (best and least likely) negotiated a deal with PANYNJ/FAA to fly LGA-London (maybe even LCY) as it would be a bigger hit with bankers.

    have you reached out to BA yet for comment?

  6. Part of the reason for the weekend reduction in flights, in addition to it being a business route, is that LCY closes completely from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning.

  7. This happens to the LCY-JFK route every year – there are only two aircraft, and they need time for routine maintenance.

  8. Not surprised. BA3 had lost pre-clearance a while ago and struggled ever since, given the higher flying time due to refueling in SNN. The logic of the departure on the short LCY runway and a fuel stop at SNN only works, if pax and crew can use the time to do pre-clearance.

  9. I’m not surprised. I’ve flown it many times with as few as 6 passengers but mostly with less than half. Even with losing the flight 3’s customs clearance, a BA rep would always walk those without Global Entry to the front of the line at JFK.

    Too bad. It’s one of my favorite trips.

  10. I hope this doesn’t go away entirely before I get to fly it. I’ve already written off BA for many routes due to their passenger-unfriendly cutbacks. This route seemed like one of the last bits of civility they had left.

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