Remember back in February when BA announced it would start flights from London/City Airports very short runway to New York? And remember when I suggested that BA might be able to stop in Ireland where they allow US passengers to be pre-cleared through immigration before arriving in the US? And remember when, in my interview, SVP of Commercial in North America Woody Harford said “[I read your earlier post.] You have a very interesting point in terms of Ireland [and the ability to pre-clear immigration there].” Looks like this is actually going to happen.
BA announced this week that while eastbound New York – London/City flights will be nonstop, the westbound flights will stop in Shannon (Ireland). The press release claims:
During the stop at the west Ireland airport, customers will benefit from a special arrangement that will allow them to complete USA arrivals checks, meaning they will by-pass the normal arrivals checks when they land in New York and speed straight through the airport.
I asked BA for clarification, and I was told by a spokesperson that “the ability to complete the US arrivals checks will mean that customers can by-pass the usual process when they land and walk straight through the airport.” I asked whether this meant that arriving passengers would be treated just like a domestic arrival and it was confirmed that “yes. I think they are still working out some details with Shannon, including the customs checks.”
I believe Shannon does not currently do customs pre-clearance, but they are expected to do so by the time this flight starts next year. So, now you have 40 minutes on the ground, and in that time, you can have your passport stamped and your luggage checked. Since there are only a handful of people on these flights, 40 minutes should be enough time to accomplish that task. Then when you arrive in New York (which airport has yet to be determined), you’re on your way as if you’d just flown in from LA.
To me, this negates the inconvenience of having to stop. If you work near London/City, this will save you a great deal of time over driving way out to Heathrow. We’re only talking 64 seats per day over two flights (that’s less than you’ll find in business class on one of BA’s high-business class 747s), so they don’t need that many people to find this service useful for it to work. I think this should be very successful for them.