BA CityFlyer, British Airways’ London City-based subsidiary, has been wet-leasing in two Stobart Air airframes for several months. These two airframes are a little bit different to the blank canvases normally served up by wet lease operators though…EI-GHK and EI-GHK are former Virgin Australia aircraft, which still feature a full 2+1 business class cabin with leather armchairs!
I specifically booked myself on one of these flights for the sheer novelty of flying this configuration within Europe, and to film the experience for my YouTube channel:
London City Airport is a small STOLport located in former docklands in London’s East End. Conveniently located for London’s financial districts in the City and Canary Wharf, it’s something of a victim of its own success, with weekday mornings and evenings being especially busy with seating space at a real premium.
You can check in at the kiosks as soon as you enter the entrance “porch” at the airport, and if you have bags you can drop them inside. British Airways offer a shorter check in cut off time here, of just 20 minutes prior to departure.
One of the big bonuses of the airport is the extensive window frontage straight onto the apron, from which takeoffs and landings can be seen!
There’s no lounge here at City, so it’s straight to the gate and onboard.
These ex-Virgin Australia aircraft are nothing special in economy, but still have the distinctive purple finishes of their former owner on the semi-bulkheads dividing business from economy:
Legroom is superb, and on the left (A) side of the aircraft seats are in singles, meaning no neighbour to distract you.
Taking off at City is always fun. Heading west, you get a great view of the North Woolwich sugar refineries and the Thames Barrier, as well as Canary Wharf.
The flight to Dublin is just an hour, so as soon as we were above 10,000 feet breakfast was served.
It was delicious and fresh. British Airways’ Club Europe catering has improved measurably over the past year or so. Despite Stobart Air suppling the airframe and crew, service items are down to the marketing carrier, so it’s a full BA breakfast on offer!
Landing in Dublin was uneventful despite a stiff crosswind from the south. Stobart Air is a subsidiary of Stobart Group – yes, the haulier from northern England. Yet, their base is actually here in Dublin.
So, how do you go about actually booking one of these very novel flights?
Firstly, these aircraft are generally operating selected flights to Dublin, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Geneva and occasionally some other destinations. You want to track EI-GHK and EI-GHJ online and keep a tab on where they’re flying. Then, head to the BA site to book, and make sure you select flights which are clearly marked as being flown by Stobart! Easy as that.
Happy hunting, and safe travels!