17th October 2014 at 17:40 #571982
Anonymous17th October 2014 at 17:40 #571983
BA are muscling in to the London-Rotterdam market, which used to be sewn up by the ailing City Jet. BA offer a choice of services, either a jet service from Heathrow Terminal 1 (one of the few BA flights to use this terminal) or a propeller service from City Airport (one of the few BA flights with propellers). I thought it would be interesting to compare these 2 unusual services against each other in a couple of video reviews.
Let’s start with Heathrow’s jet service:
Terminal 1 really seemed to be a ghost town in comparison to the days BA used this for all their shorthaul. BA staff massively outnumbered passengers at check-in – it’s a shame they don’t use this to offer better service but the process seems like it’s been set up on the off-chance 500 passengers descend at once, and so staff stand around chatting to each other instead to pass the time.
Despite the few flights BA offer, we have to take a bus to the plane and of course leave from a gate that’s a long way from the lounge. We’re kept waiting on a standing-room only bus for a long time – the bus driver could have done 2 runs in the same time which would have allowed everyone to get a seat. Unlike flights from other terminals, this wasn’t a BA bus with a BA-employed driver so presumably cost was a factor here.
The flight was rather empty, with no passengers in Club Europe. The chatty purser offered to let us sit there if we wished, but our existing EuroTraveller seats were already in Club Europe configuration with a compressed middle seat.
A quick snack service later, we landed in Rotterdam – a tiny airport that’s fairly efficient; just be aware that you often have to hunt out an immigration officer if you need your passport stamped, and the outsourced BA check-in staff will often open check-in late (as virtually all passengers turn up shortly before check-in closes as there’s no need to get there early).17th October 2014 at 17:40 #571984
London City Propeller Service Review:
London City Airport seems to becoming more leisure-focused in recent times as airlines seek out more passengers, but virtually everyone we saw seemed to be business travelers.
The service here is often interrupted by fog, but we had a nice summer’s day so everything went smoothly. The propeller service is operated by Eastern for BA, normally (but not always) in a plane painted in BA colours.
The passenger experience isn’t great – London City doesn’t honour the advertised priority boarding benefits. As Emeralds, we were fine – but BA Silvers and equivalents are out of luck. The benefit is almost totally useless at London City, so it’s doubtful there’s been many complaints! The other issue is that Eastern Airlines haven’t completed the necessary paperwork to allow for gate to gate usage of electronics. This is a pain as it restricts iPad and Kindle usage for a huge proportion of flights like these, where you’re in a steady cruise for just a few minutes (and this is when you’re eating breakfast).
Due to the tiny overheads, regular-sized hand baggage was collected on a trolley just before we climbed on board the plane. There were some Club Europe passengers on this journey (who got a full breakfast) whilst EuroTraveller passengers got a bizarre-looking roll with smoked salmon. There’s been a revolution in the quality of sandwiches you can get in the high street, but this seems to have passed the airline caterers by!
Overall, the services were of a similar quality with a few cheap & easy fixes available that could improve the passenger experience if BA really tried. As they’re so similar, at the end of the day geography rules – it’s worth flying the service that will get you closest to your destination.17th October 2014 at 19:26 #571985
Thanks for the reviews, NTA. I think they serve to highlight well some of the problems with airports that are either too large, or too small.17th October 2014 at 23:35 #571986
Really good enjoyable reviews.
Especially the takeoff and landing in the Saab. You clearly didn’t have the Purser we had last week giving it the full “this isn’t really BA so make sure your electronics are turned off for takeoff and landing” routine.18th October 2014 at 08:07 #571987
Great reviews thanks.
T1 is really a ghost town now. According to wiki, by this time next week (after some more airline moves to T2 and T5), just four airlines will use it for 21 flights per day.
I gather it’s closing fully within the next year so enjoy it whilst you can!18th October 2014 at 10:54 #571988
Very interesting to see a comparison between the two airports. I used to fly Rotterdam LHR frequently and then when LCY opened it was almost like having a personal airport in my back garden. I could cycle to Rotterdam airport and at LCY I’d take a taxi to the Woolwich ferry and my father would collect me on the other side. Nowadays it’s a two stop ride on the DLR but unfortunately the house and folks are all gone. I seem to recall the fastest time door to door was just 75 minutes.
Both LCY and Rotterdam have changed almost beyond recognition since those days but Rotterdam is still a very easy airport to use and is only about 100 metres from airport door to aircraft door. The authorities wanted to expand it but of course the usual NIMBY’s objected despite the benefits it would bring. Not sure what has happened in the meantime.23rd October 2014 at 15:21 #571989
True LuganoPirate – both LCY and RTM are still pretty small, but at least they have reasonable sitting areas in each gate that can accommodate a plane load of passengers!
RTM seems to have managed its recent expansion well, with good premium security and ‘lounge-esque’ provisions for BA’s premium passengers via a voucher system for the cafe.
I’d recommend LCY management pop over the Channel and take a long look at what Rotterdam have achieved in such a limited space.
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