My 920th flight was also my first flight into London City. As a result of this flight, I have now flown into and/or out of every one of London’s five airports. The other are: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead and Luton. London City Airport was opened in 1987 after six years of planning and construction. The airport is located within the newly developed Docklands precinct of London (11 km: 6.9 miles) from the City of London. In 2011, the Airport served nearly 3 million passengers.
Booking: 9 out of 10
This flight was operated as an Air France service by its subsidiary CityJet. The booking was fairly straightforward, once I had mastered which Air France website I wanted. AF has multiple versions of their website and I had stumbled onto the Greek one! There is no city named Dublin located in Greece, it seems! AF allow passengers to pay a non refundable deposit to hold the ticket for three or four days. I did not want this option and went straight through to payment and ticketing.
Check In: 9 out of 10
Online check in was an absolute breeze. Air France offer this option 30 hours before departure. At Dublin airport, CityJet operate from Terminal 1 which looks like a shabby bus shed with a very congested check in area. I proceeded to the very small Air France check in area where I was warmly welcomed by the check in agent who turned out to be from Poland. I made an assumption that being a small plane, my 10kg roll on bag would have to be checked . My very friendly agent said “there would be no problem” taking it on. Security in terminal one, which has had some negative reviews, was okay. It was a little slow nonetheless.
I did something unusual for me and opted for a window seat right at the back of the plane, so determined was I to have a ringside seat to watch my London City experience.
Boarding: 8 out of 10
Boarding was very fast. Passengers were able to board via both front and rear stairs so it I got a warm hello from the flight attendant at the rear door and easily fund my seat in the last row. There was indeed plenty of space for bags which I was surprised at and I stowed my roll-on easily. The plane had two flight attendants.
Most of the passengers appeared to be travelling on business. I greeted the gentleman next to me. He grunted, picked up his stuff and moved to Row 15. To be fair, there was an empty seat next to him, as a result.
On Board: 7 out of 10
Cityjet use the Avro RJ85 Avroliner. They fit 95 passengers in a one class layout. Rows 2 to 15 inclusive are in a 3-3 layout. Row 1 has two seats only. Rows 16 and 17 are 2-3 seat layout. Pitch is 30″ or 31″ and seat width is 17″, so it is a little squeezy. This was my first ever flight on the Avro. The craft is popular with a number of European airlines including Brussels Airlines, CityJet, Swiss International Air Lines and Lufthansa.
We had some quite strong turbulence right at the start of the meal service but this did not continue. The Cabin felt a little ‘worn’. The seat was comfortable enough. I was exhausted enough to fall asleep very early on.
Meals: 6 out of 10
I was sleeping when the staff arrived at the back row and so I missed the simple meal service of drink and snack.
Entertainment: 0 out of 10
These flights into or out of London City could surely be candidates for wifi? I know Air France are adding wifi from February 2013. I wonder if these planes are candidates at all?
Landing: 10 out of 10
This is what I was looking forward to. We came in low across the Docklands and then began a very rapid descent. It was thrilling seeing the city lights rush toward us. In seconds, we smoothly touched down on the single 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) long runway (09/27). The climb and the short runway restrict the type of planes allowed at the airport significantly. Dash 8s, Fokkers and Saabs are of course included. The larger types include Embraers and Airbus 318. Crews must be certified to fly 5.5 degree approaches in order to land at the airport.
Our plane decelerated rapidly and then parked smoothly near the gate. There are 18 gates at the airport. Stairs were placed on the front and read stairs within a minute, and we began disembarkation. Twelve minutes after landing, I was on a train leaving the airport. Border control was painless.
My Flight Rating: Overall 70% (3.5 out of 5).
My Overall rating of Air France 3.9 out of 5 (based 32 000km travelled with them)
Skytrax Rating of CityJet: 3 star
Positives: The landing, London City Airport arrival procedures
Negatives: Entertainment system, dated cabin, Dublin Terminal 1
Would I fly them again? Yes