CHECK-IN I arrived at London City airport at 0645 for my 0750 flight to Basel, Switzerland and checked in at one of the self-service kiosks. I selected seat 17F and printed my boarding pass, before heading up the escalators to security. Compared with other early flights, this Friday morning was busy, and the process of getting from the back of the line to transferring liquids to a plastic bag, taking belts and coats off and laptops out, and having my handbag searched, took a good 20 minutes.
BOARDING By the time I was into departures, it was time for boarding, which took place from Gate 21, a short distance to the right of the main lounge area. Passports and boarding passes were checked, and there was a short wait before passengers were let across the tarmac to board the Avro RJ100 from the rear. (This aircraft is ideal for airports with short runways – such as London City.)
THE SEAT I was in 17F, a window seat towards the back of the plane. There are 21 rows configured 2-3 (A-B, D-E-F) although row 13 is missing (a common quirk that seems to indulge superstitious thinking). Seats are upholstered in grey leather and feel quite comfy and spacious, thanks to the generous design of the cabin. Seat pitch in economy is 30 inches, with an 18-inch width and 4.5-inch recline. (Business class seats have two extra inches of legroom.)
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? On a flight as short as this one (about one hour and 30 minutes), where you sit doesn’t really matter that much. For most people, getting their preferred window or aisle seat is the main concern. (Middle seats E should be avoided as have no direct access to the aisle and feel more claustrophobic.) Seats in rows seven to 11 are actually fine if you want a window seat as they are under the wing as opposed to over it, so views are not obscured. It is preferable to sit as close to the front as possible if you want to get served food and drink first. Seats on the left of the plane (A-B) are best if you are travelling with a companion as offer more privacy and also mean there is more space available for your bags in the overhead bins, as they are shared between two, not three, passengers.
THE FLIGHT Take off was on time at 0750 and the breakfast service began at 0830. I had a coffee and a vanilla muffin, followed by a piece of Swiss chocolate, which is handed out on all Swiss flights. Time went quickly, and I was able to catch up on the morning news with a paper I had picked up before leaving.
ARRIVAL We landed at 1015 local time and transferred to the terminal at Basel airport in under a minute via shuttle bus. Passport control was also very efficient, and within five minutes I was in arrivals as I had no baggage to collect.
VERDICT A punctual flight from London City airport with decent short-haul economy seating and pleasant morning snack. Recommended for any budget-conscious business traveller.
PRICE Internet rates for a return economy class flight in December from London City to Basel started from £87 with Swiss.