British Airways has launched a new executive service that is reminiscent in both route and patronage to the glory days of luxurious flying boats.
Carrying the Concorde’s old route number (BA001*), passengers on this service depart London City Airport (EGLC) in the adorable (but short-legged) “Baby bus” A318, make a pit stop in Ireland for refuelling and US customs pre-clearance, then hop acoss the pond to New York/John F. Kennedy Intl. Airport (KJFK).
Jon Ostrower at Flightglobal’s FlightBlogger has more details and a series of videos from CNN’s Richad Quest. WARNING: Mr. Quest seems to be doing his best (and most annoying) Robin Leach impression of over-emoting at innocuous and unimportant details.
As for the service itself, I think there may be enough of a niche market sweet spot there to pay the bills. It might take a little longer than a nonstop flight, but there are some advantages. The prices are high enough to ensure that you wouldn’t be flying with somebody’s screaming brats, and the refuelling/customs delay might be just long enough to ensure that the plane won’t be packed with patience-impaired instant-gratification junkies like celebutards.
There’s something to be said for travelling in the company of those for whom the quality of the journey is more critical than its speed. I’d be willing to pay for such premium service from Toronto’s downtown airport, if it were ever allowed to offer such a thing.
* Unlike other BA flights, Concorde typically had its aircraft type inserted into its callsign (for ease of ATC identification and handling), so “BA001” would be rendered “Speedbird Concorde 001.”