The All Business Class A318 Transatlantic Flight: Flying BA1

BA1 was once the flight number reserved for Concorde flights between London and New York. Since the retirement of the Concorde from the British Airways fleet, the flight number was unused. Then British Airways launched their business class service from London to New York.

Each seat has a pitch of 73 inches, and lie flat beds which extend 72 inches. Photo: British Airways

The flight is operated by a tiny A318 aircraft. This means that it is a service unlike any other! Today we take a look at the service offered by BA, and some of the interesting features which make it unique. Lufthansa uses an A319 to serve its 11hr Frankfurt to Pune route, however, the few business class seats on this service are really economy seats.

The flight stops off at Shannon on the way to New York. Image: GCMaps

Smallest Mainstream Aircraft

While British Airways has a large fleet of aircraft from the A320 fleet (148 to be exact), it only has one A318 aircraft. The A318 was manufactured between 2001 and 2013, with only 80 being made. The aircraft is the largest aircraft certified by EASA for steep approaches, hence the choice for this route.

BA1 departs from London City Aircraft with enough fuel to reach Shannon. More and it wouldn’t be able to take off from the small runway.

The service is tailored to business passengers transferring from London to New York. As such it departs from London City Airport. This means that in order to have the necessary range, the aircraft only has business class seats. All 32 of the business class seats are forward facing in a 2-2 layout. Each of these seats becomes a lie-flat bed meaning that every passenger can get a good nights sleep. The seats each have a width of 20 inches, with a pitch of 73 inches. This allows for the beds to have a length of 72 inches.

The aircraft is equipped with 32 business class seats. Image: British Airways

Short Stop In Shannon

Passengers board the flight at City Airport. Given the small space of the airport, passengers can check in as little as 20 minutes before the flight. In order to be able to take off from London City’s short runway, the aircraft can only carry a certain amount of fuel. This necessitates a stop en route to refuel. British Airways fly the aircraft to Shannon to complete this. Upon arrival at Shannon, all passengers disembark. British Airways use this to their advantage. Passengers could just be sat in a room for that time, however, everybody passes through passport control and customs. This means that when the aircraft continues its flight to JFK, it can land as a domestic flight. As such, all of the passengers can walk straight out of the airport in minutes.

British Airways
BA1 has 32 Business Class seats onboard. Photo: British Airways

Return Flight

The return flight is significantly quicker as the flight is non-stop. As JFK has long runways, the aircraft can take off with enough fuel to cross the Atlantic, and upon landing at City, it has burned enough fuel to be able to land on the short runway. The flight to New York takes place during the day meaning that a hot or cold meal and afternoon tea are served. In contrast, on flights from New York, dinner is served in the lounge. This allows passengers to maximise their shut-eye on the flight. In the morning, breakfast is served, or passengers can grab something to take away. Of course, snacks are available throughout the flight.

Each passenger on the flight to JFK receives a full meal. Appetisers are served on the short flight to Shannon. Photo: British Airways

BA001 departs from London City at 09:40 arriving in Shannon at 11:00, it then departs 50 minutes later before arriving in New York at 14:05. The return flight, BA002 departs from JFK at 18:25, arriving at London City at 06:45.

Passengers eat dinner in the lounge at JFK allowing them to maximise their sleeping time en route. Photo: British Airways

The flight does however come at a cost. Each flight costs over £6,000. This is roughly in line with the business class fares offered from other London airports by British Airways. Would you fly on BA1 to New York? Let us know below!