For the most part, all flights are created equal. It would be a strange concept if every airplane featured a different interior or onboard service. While there's certainly a huge cost-cutting advantage by keeping every airplane identical, it's also a matter of delivering a consistent passenger experience.
On occasion, airlines will step out of the box and deploy a unique level of service on specific routes. Take for instance American Airlines, which is the only US airline to offer a three-cabin service on their transcontinental routes between New York (JFK) - San Francisco (SFO) and New York (JFK) - Los Angeles (LAX). These two routes are highly lucrative and caters to a very premium and high-yield customer. So, it makes economic sense to elevate the experience by introducing three-course meals, premium seats, and dedicated services. Of American Airlines 219 A321 aircraft, they have designated a sub-fleet of 17 for this mission. Again, this is the only domestic route that American Airlines offers this level of "international" service.
BA001: Club World London City
Around the world, you'll find these special flights with dedicated services sprinkled between regions including British Airways flagship route flight BA001/BA002, the exclusive all-business class flight between London City (LCY) - New York (JFK).
I had the pleasure of flying on BA001 a few years back and, for many reasons, this flight still has a special place in my heart. For starters, BA001 is the symbolic flight number for British Airways' flagship route, which has been consistently used on flights between London and New York. The #AvGeek in me also finds BA001 to be incredibly nostalgic as the Concorde once carried this flight number. It's such a wonderful and beautiful tribute to the supersonic jet, which saw its last flight on October 24, 2003 following a tragic accident.
The Souped-Up Airbus A318 Super Jet
Today, BA001 is flown using the smallest jet in the Airbus family, the A318. While the plane is small in size, it packs a lot of punch and power. The inherent challenges of this route begins with its operations out of the extremely small yet convenient London City Airport (LCY), located in the heart of downtown London. To accomodate the airports tight operating restrictions, a sub-fleet of British Airways A318's have been souped-up with advanced technology and fuel tanks to make the steep decent and climb-out of London, short runway distance, and long transatlantic hop.
London City Airport is just a short 20-minute car ride from anywhere in downtown London. Shortly after you arrive, you're likely to be seated in the gate area in less than 15 minutes after checking-in and clearing security. You'll find a variety of snacks and beverages available at the gate area, similar to a dedicated lounge. Boarding for this flight is usually completed in about 15 minutes or so. From hotel to airplane, you're looking at a total of 45 minutes - 1 hour transit time.
Once onboard, the all-business class flight features just 32 fully-flat bed seats in a 2-2 configuration across a mere 8 rows. For flights from London City, customers enjoy a delicious hot or cold meal, thirst-quenching bar service and signature afternoon tea. For flights from New York (JFK), customers can enjoy a gourmet pre-flight dining in the lounge, night cap, and a light snack, hot breakfast or take-away alternative.
Additional services include on-board mobile data connectivity, US immigration pre-clearance on flights to New York, a dedicated support team for all your travel needs, spa services departing New York, private concierge, and dedicated arrival services in London in partnership with the Radisson Blu. Additional information on the route can be found here on ba.com.
Now, the kicker is, while BA002 from New York (JFK) - London City is nonstop, BA001 departing London City makes a 50 minute stop in Shannon (SNN) to refuel and US pre-clearance.
Here are the flight details for BA001:
Here are the flight details for BA002:
Award Redemption Options
After all is said, I'm not sure anyone who wouldn't want to experience this incredible flight. With just 32 seats across 8 rows, this is by far the most intimate all-business class flight in the world. To fly on this route, I would recommend redeeming Alaska Airlines MileagePlan points using 60,000 miles + $497 for taxes and fees. Unfortunately, British Airways tacks on a hefty fee amount for taxes and fees.
In recent years, the airline industry has been plagued with poor customer service, reduced benefits, higher fares, increasing baggage fees, reduced legroom, and so on. But, despite this growing list of unfriendly passenger woes, the airline industry also shines in may ways, like the dedicated services onboard British Airways' flagship route, BA001/BA002. This exclusive all-business class route combines the airline's commitment to innovation (with its fleet of souped-up A318 aircraft) and its passion for service to deliver an unparalleled business class experience. I applaud British Airways for continuing to set the bar high and hope many airlines will follow suit.