On arrival to Terminal 7 in JFK I went straight to the Fast Track security. My checked luggage was already in the system, and I had my boarding pass on my phone so I was good to go. There was no queue on the up ramp and I was soon at the top. On the left was the Concorde Room, where I had spent a very pleasant evening in October last year. However, on this occasion it was the British Airways Galleries Club lounge as I was flying on the CWLCY flight.
This is a very special service, comprising two Airbus A318’s fitted with just 32 Club World seats in a 2-2 configuration offering two rotations a day. It leaves London City airport, stops at Shannon in Ireland to refuel and, on the first flight of the day, to clear US Immigration, arriving into JFK as a domestic flight, before returning non-stop to London City. Such is the prestige of the service that it has the flight number BA1, 2, 3 and 4, which were designated to Concorde. It is primarily aimed at the business traveller and is, or at least was for a while, sponsored by a number of large financial institutions to get it going. Before April of this year, it had the added benefit to Tier Point runners of offering 210TP for the flight, the going rate for a LON – JFK in First, instead of the 140TP that a business class ticket usually commands.
On arrival into the lounge, I headed straight for the showers as I knew they would get busier as people began to arrive for the evening’s flights. I think that I timed it pretty well, as I was able to have a good shower, and then be third in the queue to book a spa treatment. You cannot book at the JFK Elemis Spa, so it is on a first come first served basis. It opens at 1600, and my treatment was at 1620, so I had time for a quick drink first. As I mentioned on the way out, the spa treatment is a little gimmicky, but it is a great way to spend 20 minutes and it is free!
I hadn’t had any lunch, but wanted to eat on the plane, so I decided to have a snack in the pre-flight dining room. This is open to anyone flying First or Business, although if you are in First you would be better off in the Concorde Room. I assume this is to stop Gold and Silver card holders flying in World Traveller or World Traveler Plus filling up the room. I opted for a bowl of soup and a little salad with a glass of pinot noir. I could have had a selection of curries, or a more substantial salad with quiche, and cheese to follow. There were also sandwiches and snacks in the lounge alongside the self-service bar. Unfortunately the coffee machine was not working, so we were left with bog-standard drip filter. Soon enough, it was time to board. The plane does look very small at the gate!
Flight: BA2 1900 – 0715
Aircraft: Airbus A318
Seat: 4J Club World
Payment: Cash earning 6057 Avios and 140TP
One of the benefits to flying in such a small plane is that boarding is so quick. Even with a full load of 32, it only took a few minutes – boarding was not called until after 1830 for a 1900 departure. I had a pre-departure glass of champagne and we were soon airborne. The dinner service commenced soon after, and started with a crab and avocado roll which, whilst slightly odd, was very tasty.
I followed this with the pasta and a glass of red wine before settling down. There is no in-fight entertainment built into the seats on this aircraft; crew hand out iPads pre-loaded with films and TV shows. I watched something, although I cannot remember what, and went to sleep. There is something very satisfying being able to sleep lying flat whilst travelling, be that on a plane or a train, and I woke up with about 40 minutes to landing. The crew were a little slow at offering breakfast and I had to ask for coffee and orange juice. We landed at 0713, after an amazing approach over the city. A bus came to take us to the terminal and we were there in no time at all.
I was amazed at the speed of the whole process. It tool 4 minutes for me to get off the bus, pass through immigration, collect my bag, go to the toilet and be outside the airport. I then managed to get across London in rush hour in less than an hour and was at home by 0830.
It was my plan to put my washing on, have a little rest, get changed and then head out to LHR for the final part of my ticket from LHR-DUB-LHR. However, despite setting 4 alarms, I managed to wake up at 1325 for a 1415 flight only when my wife called me to see how I was getting on at the airport. Having managed to travel all across the globe, I felt like I had fallen at the last hurdle. I phone YouFirst in a panic, as I had read horror stories about BA removing, or threatening to remove, tier points from people dropping the last leg of an ex-EU trip. It is hardly surprising that people do it, though, as the price of an ex-EU ticket can be up two thirds less than the price of flying from London. Thankfully, the guy on the phone reassured me that this would not happen and that my tier points were safe. On that note, I went back to bed.
I aam please to say that the tier points posted and I am now the holder of a shiny Silver card!