BA8461 on the tarmac at London City Airport, July 31st, 2013

BA8461 on the tarmac at London City Airport, July 31st, 2013

For anybody who has never used London City Airport before, I think the experience will come as a pleasant surprise. Situated on the route of the DLR from Tower Hill, it is an easy journey. The airport is small, manageable, and human in scale.

For those used to transiting the grim, mis-shapen goliath that is Heathrow, the experience will look- and feel- a million miles removed.  In fact, it’s quite hard to believe that the same two airports serve the same city at all.

The only small beef I have is that I could not check in my luggage more than two hours in advance, despite the BA check in desks being opened and fully manned. A BA staffer explained to me that this was as a result of airport policy; it is nothing to do with the airline itself. A minor point for sure, but one worth knowing.

My flight was on British Airways to Ibiza. BA flies Embraer 190 planes on this route; a compact, Brazilian design that carries just ninety eight passengers in an almost exclusively Euro Traveller configuration, The route is operated by the Cityflyer arm of BA.

This allows for the passengers to be seated in a two by two arrangement down both sides. The interior was clean, with no evidence of wear and tear on the blue leather seats. The plane looked short and trim; ideal for a two and a half hour escape to the sun.

Seat pitch is the usual thirty one inches that BA allows, but- confession time- I had managed to land an exit row seat- 12D- online the day before. So my gargantuan, five foot six frame had oodles of leg room in front of me. And, this being a two across configuration, i broke my usual rule, and went for the window seat.

The flight was twenty five minutes late pushing back, due to a late arrival that we were advised of once on board. In the event, we were to make fifteen minutes of this back.

Boarding was via two seats of external steps, with a pleasant welcome on board from the crew. People settled down quickly; there seemed to be some extra spacious overhead lockers, which obviously hurries this up.  After a relatively short taxi, we were airborne, Ibiza bound.

Service for all passengers began once we had levelled out. For Euro Traveller- and that’s all I can comment on- there was a sandwich that I declined, and some flavoured muffin that I devoured. It was no more or less tasteful than any other airborne offering; on a short flight, it was about what I expected.

The plane was supremely quiet once at cruising altitude. Of course, there is no seat back entertainment for such a short flight, but the usual British Airways inflight magazines were within easy reach in front of me. I passed on those, instead opting for a gracefully served, very welcome white wine, and a side order of rosy pink, rolling clouds as we whispered towards Ibiza.

BA cabin staff do tend to do these short haul flights with something approaching military precision. Trays were cleared reasonably quickly and, before I knew it, we were commencing final descent into sunnier climes.

Landing was painless, and debarking was as quick and efficient as boarding. Staff on board gave the flight both good service and an excellent, smart sense of presence and competence. The quality- or lack thereof- on an outward flight can go a long way to influencing the overall mood of the holiday/business trip.

On this occasion, British Airways passed with flying colours.

Flight details: BA 8461

Type: Embraer 190

Recommended: Yes.

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