The Guardian covers British Airways’ Club World London City

Over the weekend there was a story in The Guardian about British Airways’ Club World London City service. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Club World London City, it’s British Airways’ innovative A318 service between New York JFK and London City Airport. The real innovative part is that on the flight to the US you stop in Shannon and clear US customs there, so that you arrive in the US as a domestic passenger. British Airways actually invited me on the service when it launched nearly four years ago, and I wrote a trip report about it.

Admittedly The Guardian can be trusted about as much as The Onion. Actually, The Onion can probably be trusted a bit more — they nailed predicted Miley Cyrus, after all.

Now of course I should have probably stopped reading the article after the intro picture, which is of the reporter boarding her Club World London City flight… only she’s departing Heathrow… on a 747…


Anyway, the jist of the article is that this flight is how the rich and fabulously famous travel on this “new” (four year old) service:

The new flight, which goes from London’s City airport, is only for the kind of people who (as I marvelled at check-in) when they can’t decide which Pret sandwich to buy, get all three and have a bite from each.

She points out that with this flight you clear customs in Shannon and not New York. And while clearing customs in New York isn’t fun, is it that bad?

Without queuing for an hour and a half crushed between a flatulent stag do and a divorcing couple, or the extended interrogation that makes you feel like the customs officer is unearthing repressed memories of your gap year in a terrorist training camp. Without being finally spat out into the rain some hours later with a dry mouth and desperate need to wee. Without any of that.

Okay, fine, maybe it is.

What does the departure gate look like at London City Airport? A gentleman’s club, of course:

Before boarding, we elite are welcomed into a lounge that has the feel of a gentleman’s club: a small, quiet room complete with champagne on ice and delicate canapés. It opens on to the runway – boarding takes seconds.

And for anyone that hasn’t been to the departure gate/lounge for the London City flight, here’s a picture:


Hmm, now it has me wondering, are there any gentleman’s clubs that accept Priority Pass as a form of payment?

And I wish I could provide useful commentary, but the article is golden as such and there’s not really anything I can add.

I just love quotes like this one (ah, yes, too much space!):

There’s almost too much space, for starters, so there’s some sport to be had with really stretching out, and putting your feet up to read the wine menu.

This is what too much space looks like

And this one (because naturally the US customs agents in Ireland can’t interrogate):

Though in Ireland, we were in America. We could tell by the little Statues of Liberty propped on the counters. The security questions were polite and asked with American grins, so when we slipped back into our seats on the lane we were still relaxed.

And this (not even sure which part of this short phrase to pick on):

We landed silently in the domestic terminal at New York’s JFK airport

And if you really want to feel like you’re getting mindf*&^ed, try this one on for size:

But. But. Travelling in luxury was so luxurious it didn’t feel like travelling. Because (I learned, un-jetlagged, delighted) one small part of the thrill of going abroad is the boredom and awfulness of the journey. Some of the joy of getting there relies on the horror of trying to get there.

Now, this part isn’t surprising:

The trip was provided by British Airways. The Club World London City service leaves twice daily from London City airport to New York JFK, from £2,188

I’ve certainly taken some comped trips in the past (though I pay for 90%+ of my travel out of pocket and always disclose it clearly), including on the Club World London City service, but hopefully I didn’t paint with quite as artistic of a brush.

I did take away one useful thing from the article, though:

This is how the fabulously rich travel. Fast and cleanly. Browsing the Rich Kids of Instagram site, you see them, collapsed on piles of Louis Vuitton luggage, jetting between Vegas and Tuscany.

That site is kind of like People of Walmart, except exactly the opposite. So in the end the article may have wasted a few minutes of my time, but it made me aware of a website that brought me an hour of enjoyment!


  1. Yes, clearing customs at JFK is the worst one in the US (well, maybe beside IAH and LAX)… never has one positive experience there, always waited more than 2 hours… there are surely better airport to enter US…

  2. Trashing a respected UK newspaper because of one tongue-in-cheek article written with an English sense of humour (that is obviously lost on an American) says more about you than it does about the newspaper, the op-ed author or the article itself.

  3. meh, thats the problem with taking comps. clouds the whole article, no matter how you write it up.

    if you can afford to pay for it, pay for it, if you want to maintain any apperence of neutrality.

  4. What does Lucky being American have to do with the stupidity of the op-ed author or the article itself?

  5. Yes, I’m American. The term Gentleman’s Club means something completely different over there. Think old wood paneled walls, gentlemen smoking pipes etc. Don’t think loud music, the smell of coconut lotion and brass poles.

  6. The article in question is pretty awful, and I say this as daily Guardian reader. But it’s a style issue for me, rather than the content.

    But I agree with Jay about the problem of accepting freebies. It is impossible for readers to know how comps affect your reviews, Lucky, even if you yourself believe that they have had no effect. Unless you pay for the tickets and the rooms, these “reviews” will always give the impression of an advertorial or paid programming. It’s inevitable, and why most travel writers (or restaurant reviewers) will never accept a comp, regardless of disclosure.

    Newsmagazine editors who want a free trip to New York, however, may do whatever they want.

  7. any way to get that flight ex-Shannon (not from LCY)? seems like it would be a good way to skip some fuel surcharge.

  8. Mainstream media’s over-the-top depictions of premium-class travel are so far removed from reality as to become a joke. I’m sure BA’s LCY-JFK service is perfectly acceptable, but to characterize it as a luxury reserved for the ultra-wealthy (i.e., multi-millionaires at the minimum) is ludicrous.

    Similarly, The New York Times recently published an embarrassing editorial comparing coach and first class amenities on a JFK-MIA flight. The author claimed that first class passengers were served meals on “bone china” and supplied amenity kits. As a frequent flier, I recognized those details as B.S., but how am I to discern fact from fiction in subjects with which I’m less familiar?

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