British Airway's new business-class-only service from London City airport to New York is as close to a private jet as you can get without being super-rich. But is it worth the £2,000 price tag?
The A318 planes offering BA's new service usually hold 100 seats. Here, that's been reduced to just 32 flatbed seats in eight rows. The luxury continues with the in-flight menu created by the acclaimed London restaurant Roast. The Somerset cider sauce surrounding the corn-fed British chicken is "probably the most robustly tasty thing I've ever eaten at 35,000ft", says Ed Grenby in The Sunday Times. Passengers can also text and email during the flight thanks to new on-board mobile-phone technology, but BA has had the good sense to make voice calls impossible. All in all, "flying on this service is a noticeably pleasanter experience than even BA's normal, rather good business class", says Grenby.
Attempting to turn the Shannon stop into another 'perk', BA boasts passengers can clear US customs and immigration there to save time at JFK. Travel with hand-luggage only and you can get from plane to kerbside in seven minutes in New York. Graham Boynton of The Daily Telegraph cleared the airport in 20 minutes when he tested the speed of BA's standard flights.
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The new service is luxurious, but not much more so than BA's standard business-class (BA's in-air mobile-phone technology excepted). So BA is charging handsomely "for what is essentially a glorified indirect outbound flight, albeit with incredibly quick transfers", says Charles Starmer-Smith in The Daily Telegraph.
Return fares for the London CityNew York service cost from £1,999.60, including taxes and charges. Return Club World (business-class) fares from Heathrow to New York cost from £1,996.40. Britishairways.com; 0844-4930 787.
What the travel writers are saying
With ski season almost upon us, it's time to book your break. If you fancy trying somewhere new this year, then Cond Nast Traveller has recommended three resorts that are "off the beaten track". Veysonnaz in Switzerland "offers all of Verbier's skiing without the razzmatazz," and in the morning you can reach the top slopes long before the Verbier crowds. Stay at the new, Asian-style chalet Hidden Dragon (0845-505 0251; Hidden-dragon.com), which sleeps 12 and costs £24,000 per week, including a chef.
Foodies should head to San Cassiano and Corvara in Italy. "These two villages in the Dolomites have the region's highest concentration of gourmet restaurants". The Rifugio Scotoni is an excellent choice for lunch. Stay at the new Lagacio Mountain Resident (00 39 0471 849503; Lagacio.com), with an apartment for two costing from €180 per night. Or for something completely different, visit Yabuli in China. This ski resort covers 50 hectares and features a heated gondola service that will whip you up the mountain in just seven minutes. The Sun Mountain Lodge (00 86 10 8441 7177; Melcochinaresorts.com) offers a limousine pick-up service from Harbin or Mudanjiang City airports. Doubles cost from $200.
Anne Robinson: My dream holiday
If you visit New York, book a suite at the Ritz-Carlton, says Anne Robinson in The Daily Telegraph. It's "sophisticated, with quiet rooms, good food and brilliant service." If you book a suite, then you get access to the Club Lounge, where you can "graze all day" on free food. "I pay a ridiculous price just so I can have free smoked salmon sandwiches." Suites cost from $1,395 per night, see Ritzcarlton.com.
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