In countries various First World Countries, many leading “Flag Carrier” or “Legacy Carrier” Airlines (depending on which country your from) have regional subsidiaries.
In Europe, it is fairly 50-50 when it comes to leading airlines that have regional services. Many of these airlines provide the same type of service as their parent company, but there is one notable exception- British Airways and BA Cityflyer.
The home of British Airways- London Heathrow Terminal 5
So both airlines do similar routes within Europe. Both sell their cabins as Euro Traveller. But BA Cityflyer, which operates a dedicated service from London City using Embraer E-170/190 jets, offers the “Classic” BA European service seen on mainline London Heathrow/Gatwick routes in Europe until early 2017- under the Alex Cruz regime. Now given the “clientele” that flies in and out of LCY, it is probably one of the leading factors (alongside some very short flight times and LCY weight restrictions on aircraft) that the airline hasn’t included Buy on Board services yet. But things may change in the future… Hopefully not too soon!
The Embraer E-170/190 aircraft replaced BA’s classic Avro RJ100 fleet in 2011 to operate a dedicated European network out of London City Airport.
I recently did a trip to Glasgow from London on British Airways on their “BASIC ECONOMY” fare, so lets dive into the airlines and their operations.
Booking this trip, the return fare was £91 for the LHR-GLA and GLA-LCY flights including airline fees and UK taxes. Seat selection was ranging from £8 each way for a basic seat or paying £11 for extra legroom seating. As I have OneWorld Ruby tier membership, I didn’t have to pay for the privilege on either flight as I get free seat selection 7 days ahead of my flight. So I saved myself a potential £16 in optional “up selling” services. No checked bags were required. An offer to upgrade to Club Europe was offered at £59 one way, but I had no reason to spend the extra cash, as nice as the offer was.
Since the new Millennium began, the Airbus A320-family has been the centre of BA’s European network
So the day of my flight out comes. I get to London Heathrow Terminal 5, and I make my way through security- which only took about 15 minutes. I had a 20 minute wait for the announcement of my gate, which was revealed to be Gate 22. As I am a OneWorld Ruby tier member, I get group 3 of 5 with British Airways boarding process.
I jumped into Seat 17F on the Airbus A320-200(WL) G-EUYT, a five year old aircraft delivered in February 2014. One of a handful of BA A320-ceo to be retrofitted with “Sharklet” winglet devices in mid-2015. In February 2019, the aircraft was retro-fitted again to handle 180 seats in the aircraft, an extra 12 seats from its previous 168 seats. I had two people sat in the middle and isle seats as it was a full flight, there was not an empty seat on the aircraft!
Since 2014, BA has been introducing these black slimline leather seats to their Airbus A320 fleet, their seat pitch has gathered criticism for its lack of legroom and has less pitch than a Ryanair 737.
The seat pitch was 31″ legroom and 17.5″ width, I could easily fit with plenty of legroom (my bag was in the overhead locker), all though I can easily understand and appreciate a taller person or larger person having issues with the space. I didn’t find this or the slimline seat to be uncomfortable for the less than 1hr flight to Scotland.
BA serves Glasgow and Edinburgh from all three of their London hubs. LHR also sees domestic UK services to Aberdeen, Belfast, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, Newcastle and Inverness. Gatwick serves Jersey alone and London City alone serves the Isle of Man.
Service began shortly after take off, since January 2017, you now have to buy beverages on mainline BA flights from London Gatwick or Heathrow. The menu is mainly catered by M&S but for the 2019 Summer menu, special non-M&S products are available as part of the BA100 celebrations. I purchased a Speedbird100 IPA beer can (I didn’t drink it on this 7am flight) alongside the Afternoon Tea Scone box set. Both items came to £9.45p, expensive I agree, but I wanted the empty can and empty box for keepsakes after the fact. I also included a tea with my order which would normally come to £2.50p, but I was able to knock 15p off my tea (making it a sleezy £2.35p) by bringing my own cup, I decided to bring a massive Sports Direct mug (as seen in the image), this meant for 15p less, I got almost double the serving! What a bargain! Given the amount of European flights I do on BA, I could break even with my cup in 9 more flights!
My £11 purchase on BA (LHR-GLA), two BA100 limited edition items, plus a discounted tea.
We landed at Glasgow International on time and parked at Gate 19, one of the domestic UK arrival areas used by BA and IAG partner Aer Lingus. Before getting off, I visited the flight deck and had a quick talk to the pilots. I managed to get some pictures of the flight deck, despite the A320 being a 30 year old design, the grey panelled flight deck still looks quite futuristic.
The 30-year old design of the Airbus A320 flight deck, still looking quite futuristic!
Over 36 hours later, my time in Glasgow was over. I saw a Rock Concert, visited 2 museums, had a look around a preserved 300 year old boat, saw the BBC Scotland building, enjoyed dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and visited a Sci-Fi and Anime shop!
I got to Glasgow Airport, and saw my Embraer E-170 arrive in from London City. The aircraft this evening was to be G-LCYI, a nine year old aircraft delivered in January 2010, part of an initial batch of E-170/E-190 that replaced the previous BA Cityflyer (formerly BAConnect) stalwarts, a fleet of ten Avro RJ100.
G-LCYI parked up at Glasgow Airport ready for another domestic shuttle flight to London City.
The BACityflyer E-170 contained a total of 76 seats, most were occupied, based on what I could see, only five or six seats remained empty. The E-170 had 31″ pitch and width of 18″. The aircraft has 2-2 abreast seating. Meaning you had a dedicated Isle or Window seat. The legroom was way better on the E-170, probably due to the E-170 having its own design of seats that cater to their regional operations. The seats also felt more comfortable than their mainline counterparts. As with the A320, I was able to board in the priority group 3.
The Embraer E-jet family flight deck, taken on G-LCYI. Very familiar yoke design!
The flight crew allowed a short flight deck visit before take off as we completed boarding twenty minutes ahead of schedule. The E-jet flight deck is all computer screens similar to the A320 and B737-NG, but the flight control yoke is very similar to that seen on Concorde. If the Concorde had its flight deck updated during service, it would most likely look like an E-170 cockpit.
The seating used on the Embraer E-170/190 family for BA Cityflyer operations. I found them to be more comfortable than the mainline Airbus A320 seating.
We took off at 19:03pm GMT, almost 10 minutes ahead of our scheduled push back time! Can’t fault the crew on this flight for punctuality!
As with the BA A320 crew, the BACF crew began the in flight bar service, unlike the mainline airline- the regional airline still has complimentary bar services. I chose to enjoy a Gin & Tonic with a cola, alongside a packet of Corkers Crisps. Other options included a shortbread or popcorn. Same service you would have got in the early 2010’s on a Domestic or Short Haul European service with mainline BA.
Until 2017, BA Mainline used to offer this complimentary service on its European flights, BA Cityflyer still offers it as of July 2019.
We arrived into London City around fifteen minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival time. It was a beautiful evening and I got some nice pictures as we flew into the heart of the UK’s Capital City.
Nice evening as we fly into Central London. LCY is popular with business travellers in London, as its a short DLR Train ride to the Canary Wharf Financial District.
Disembarking from the rear of the E-170, I grabbed a few quick shots of the plane as I disembarked. I know its not always the most popular method, but I will take an open board in any weather over a jet-bridge!!!
Thanks for the ride G-LCYI, I’ll be back again soon LCY!
Summary? Given the two airlines offer the same benefits and rewards, I would take a London City flight on BA Cityflyer over a mainline BA flight if the opportunity was there. LCY isn’t always the best or easiest to get to if you are outside of London, but with the right planning, you could enjoy a flight into LCY and have a nice time in London before heading home, which I try to do!