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With peak launch/event season in full swing, The Moodie Report team is spending even more time than usual on the road – and in the air. Last week this writer passed through London City Airport en route to Milan, an experience that was efficient and enjoyable in equal measure.
I’d forgotten how much I like London City. I admit, I’m biased in terms of distance alone (it’s the closest London airport to chez Mann), so the initial commute is usually fairly pain-free. But on this occasion, everything seemed easy. The car parking is metres, not miles, from the terminal. I’d checked in on-line, but had I needed to do so at the airport, the queues at the desks were minimal and fast-moving. I managed to purchase a newspaper in under 60 seconds (Heathrow take note). And I cleared security – manned by, wait for it, smiling, helpful staff – in five minutes flat (Heathrow take note, again).
That’s not to say the airport wasn’t busy. I’ve never known it to be anything but. What made London City so likeable last week is the fact that it managed to deal with busy – pleasantly and proficiently – at every stage of the process.
The refurbishment that’s been done since The Moodie Report last passed through has helped enormously: the whole airside area is much lighter, brighter and spacious. The security area in particular is much less cramped, and there is far more seating generally.
The main tax and duty free concession, now operated by Aelia (which replaced The Nuance Group) offers a tightly edited selection of fragrances, cosmetics, liquor, tobacco, confectionery, fine foods, accessories and electronics. The sunglasses gondola tempted me to try on a few styles; the Fortnum & Mason display got a lot of attention from my fellow pax, and pleasingly, there were plenty of high-end beauty brands to browse (you don’t always find the likes of, say, Sisley in smaller airports).
The sales staff also acquitted themselves honourably. It’s rare to find someone who knows more about YSL’s Touche Eclat than I do, but lo, Aelia boasts a BA who convinced me to try and buy a (new) shade I didn’t even know existed. Much respect.
A picky person might describe some of the displays as a teeny bit too safe and staid – the promotions especially need to pop and persuade – but overall Aelia’s done a very respectable job in a fairly modest space.
Retail aside, F&B performed well too, in the form of prompt and polite service at Presto; the free Wi-Fi was much appreciated by all; and I completed the walk from the lounge to the gate in four minutes flat – in four-inch heels, while dragging a wheelie. (A welcome change from, say, Gatwick, where at times the trek to the gate feels longer than the flight itself.) In short, everything was almost worryingly easy, from start to finish.
The lesson, ladies and gents, is that bigger doesn’t always mean better (unless we’re talking diamonds, chocolate bars or expense accounts at Louboutin). On every level, London City delivers, despite its size – or rather because of it.