CHECK-IN I arrived at London City Airport by DLR at 1645 for my 1855 flight (BA8493) to Stockholm Arlanda airport with British Airways Cityflyer. I had already checked in online – passengers can do so 24 hours before departure – and so headed to baggage drop, where there was no queue.
I took a seat in Pret-a–Manger with a view of a departures screen, where I was seated for about an hour before heading through security. The only other dining option here was Panopolis, and in terms of retail, there is a WHSmith.
I availed of London City’s wifi – it was fast and free, you just have to fill in a quick registration form.
I headed upstairs to security at 1815, where a member of staff was reminding all customers to put their liquids in bags. Security was moving reasonably fast, so there were no queues, and it took about a minute to clear.
The departure area had a lounge-like feel – it was really busy at this time and I had to search for a spare black leather armchair, but there were several available. There were some high tables with plug sockets on their surfaces, as well as some low tables. Facilities included a Café Nero, another coffee shop, Hugo Boss, Mont Blanc, WHSmith, WHSmith Bookstore and World Duty Free.
BOARDING I checked a departure screen at 1830 and saw that my flight was boarding (Gate 4). I walked for a couple of minutes – a big turn left from Departures, then went down some stairs to reach the waiting area of the gate.
Just after 1840, a member of staff announced it was time to board (the PA system was broken) and that rows 1-13 should board from the front of the plane and rows 14-18 from the back. Passengers walked about 20 metres across tarmac to reach the plane, and I boarded from the back as I was in 16B. Classical music was playing as I located my seat and settled in.
THE SEAT BA Cityflyer’s Embraer 170 is configured 2-2 (A,B-C,D). Rows one to four were business class and rows five to 18 were economy – the classes were separated by a curtain, meaning there was one washroom for economy passengers behind row 18, along with the galley.
The seat was upholstered in soft navy leather; it felt reasonably wide (18.5in/47cm) – though I did clash elbows with the passenger next to me at times – with a decent seat pitch (31in/79cm). There was a magazine rack on the seat in front, a drop down plastic grey table – a good size, though it would shake a little if you were typing on a laptop, and a comfy cushioned headrest at the top of the seat.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I would avoid row 18 and the very back rows due to their proximity to the washroom and the fact that the front of the plane receives trolley service first and disembarks first. Go for a window seat (A or D) to avoid snacks being served over you.
THE FLIGHT Before take-off, the pilot announced that we might experience some turbulence after the first 20 minutes of the flight. We pushed back on time at 1855, but didn’t take off until 30 minutes later – the runway queues were long during rush hour.
Twenty minutes into the flight (turbulence wasn’t a problem), trolley service began from the front of the plane. Passengers were offered a free drink – a choice of a hot drink, red or white wine, beer or soft drinks – and a sandwich. The latter consisted of two packaged rolls – one Coronation chicken, the other tuna and sweetcorn. It was an adequate offering for economy, though more of a snack than a meal. When I asked for another glass of water, cabin crew brought it for me straight away.
ARRIVAL We touched down on time at 2220 after taxiing in the air for about five minutes. Passengers disembarked from the front of the train, then it was a short walk up some stairs to passport control, (which I passed through quickly), then another minute’s walk and an escalator down to baggage claim. After a 30-second wait, my bag was the first to arrive.
I then turned right after the exit and followed the signs to the Arlanda Express train station, which connects the airport with downtown Stockholm. A sign at the top of the escalator down to the platform indicated that the next train was leaving in one minute, so I ran down the extremely long escalator and just made the 2235 train, which got me into central Stockholm for 2255.
VERDICT A seamless, well-timed flight. It’s worth sitting near the front of the plane and travelling to the Arlanda Express platform as fast as you can to avoid waiting 20-30 minutes for the next train at that time of night.
Flight time: Two hours and 25 minutes
Plane type: Embraer 170
Seat pitch 31 inches (79cm)
Seat width 18.5 inches (47cm)
Price Internet rates for a midweek flexible economy return fare from London to Stockholm in mid-July start from £255