British Airways Stops in Shannon for London/City Flights

British Airways

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 Stops in Shannon

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.

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23 comments on “British Airways Stops in Shannon for London/City Flights

  1. Anything that can speed me through Customs ANYWHERE is a step in the right direction. Way to go, dude, you rock!

  2. I flew home from Shannon airport this spring, and it was the first time I’ve been able to clear customs/immigration before leaving Europe. It didn’t take much more time than regular security, and it was wonderful to not hassle with it in JFK. I’m looking forward to having this option when flying home from London. Definitely worth the stop.

  3. I take it this really targets people who don’t check luggage? Or are they going to unload the luggage, have people pick it up somewhere, go through customs, and then recheck it, to have it reloaded… all in 40 mins?

  4. Oliver – When you preclear your baggage gets tagged at the check-in counter but you *usually* carry it through Customs and Border Protection first and then put it on a carousel that is post CBP but pre-security.

    I say usually, because in Ottawa you go through security first and your baggage leaves you there. Only then do you go through CBP. CBP retrieves it if is needed, I guess.

  5. I flew into Shannon last year, but didn’t fly back to US from there. I didn’t know this. Its way cool.

    Gonna have go and visit the old country again soon!

    (of course, I would still have to stop in Philly and wait a small eternity for my bags….)

  6. Oliver – My guess is that most people won’t check bags. This is the finance shuttle and will probably have more suits and carry-ons than anything else. But, if someone brings a bag, I would imagine that it will be offloaded and sent through customs. Remember, there are only 32 seats on a plane, so this won’t be hard to do.

  7. The customs preclearance is a great idea.

    Now if BA could convince the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to make an exception to the perimeter rule and permits this service to use LaGuardia, you would have a potentially game-changing player in the New York-London market.

  8. CF, sounds like we are turning the clock back to the days of the DC-7 when it could only make the westbound trip with a stop in Shannon (or Gander). That’s when the Irish Coffee (and duty free shopping) was invented to sell to loads of passengers in transit. I guess preclearance is the passenger incentive this time.

  9. Sounds like BA has to do something to get people to fly them to the USA if they can’t fly nonstop on this route. I know first and business class people who will not fly anything other then nonstop flights in markets that have them. I wonder if other people like that would be willing to make the stop and get off the plane just to fly from London City. Should be interesting to see how they do.

  10. Good point, David. Arguably, the CIty boys should have found premium services out of Stansted much more convenient but we all know what happened to that. Crossrail comes on-line in 2017, so it will be (theoretically) much quicker to get from the CIty/East London to Heathrow, avoiding roads and the Tube. But given that this is the UK (and London in particular) we’re talking about, you can add half a decade and another few billion quid on top of their estimates, so by the time the rail link is finished there won’t be any AvGas left in the world for people to fly!

  11. Bobber – One of the big problems at STN was that it was on start-up airlines that didn’t have the built-in customer base of a BA. You know BA has plenty of corporate contracts that are drooling over this one.

    Chris – I think HPN is probably too far outside the city. JFK is better for BA from an operational standpoint (they already have one there) and it’s quicker to get into lower Manhattan.

  12. @Chris,

    How about Stewart? :-X

    I think if you have already done the Customs deal, JFK would probably be ideal for this, especcially with BAs presence there already.

  13. Oh, yes I see the point on London City-originating baggage being a problem. The way it works in Canada (the only other country with pre-clearance) is that the bags are offloaded and you bring them with you through customs.

  14. It sounds like a great service but only for a limited number of people. I’m sure the folks that commute from NY to London and work in the financial district will love it. But the regular London business or leisure passenger will be using the service. I wonder what airport in NY they’ll use. If they have a choice between the two, it’s probably JFK, right?

  15. It’s not possible that they’d actually end up doing it in Newark, is it? Seems to me like that defeats the whole purpose.

  16. Mike – I’m sure they want JFK, but just as with OpenSkies, they’re withholding the NY airport depending upon slot allocation. Newark has to be a second choice, but I doubt we’ll see it.

  17. It’s most likely to be JFK guys.

    BA have started a multi million dollar overhaul at JFK! They intend to have a Drive Thru check in for all premium customers, this includes the LCY route customers. As well as upgrading the lounges to the new Galleries concept, which is the current concept at LHR Terminal 5 and a few places in Europe.

    LGW cabin crew will operate this service. I’m crew at LGW, so I can’t wait to see this new route in operation.

  18. With US preclearance Shannon will become the first airport outside of Canada and Caribbean with preclearance facilities. In short, having precleared in Shannon, airlines will be able to fly into a destination of choice – domestic or international airport – in the US. It opens all sorts of possibilities for Shannon, which has traditionally punched above its weight in world aviation. It was the first transatlantic gateway between US and Europe; the birthplace of dutyfree worldwide and the home of the Irish coffee no less! A great coup for the airport indeed and a huge advantage to passengers transiting through it on the way to the US.

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