In the annual Investor Presentation to the City back in November, British Airways revealed plans to re-introduce Club Europe on UK domestic flights.
This is almost certainly linked to the introduction of ‘buy on board’ catering from next Wednesday. BA’s biggest nightmare is that someone paying £7,670 for a fully flexible Club World ticket from Edinburgh to Tokyo decides to switch to a Middle East carrier or KLM because they are insulted at paying £2.30 for a cup of coffee on the connection.
Since November, however, there has been radio silence on the subject.
This is an easy change to implement. At present, BA sells a product called ‘Business UK’ which is a fully flexible domestic economy ticket. If you buy one of these you get lounge access, fast track security and 20 tier points each way but no seating benefits – it is still 3 x 3.
Bringing in Club Europe only requires ‘middle seat’ blocking and the loading of a few Club Europe meals – there is minimal capital investment apart from some IT and website changes.
The most likely scenario would appear to be:
Business UK is discontinued – which means that you could no longer get lounge access and Fast Track on a domestic economy ticket unless you had status
Club Europe introduced, offering 40 tier points each way (compared to 20 for Business UK) and lounge access – although note that Iberia only offers 20 tier points each way on its domestic Business Class tickets
There is clear upside here for those travelling on Club World Avios redemptions from regional airports as the connections would book into Club Europe. It might even make the prospect of changing planes in Heathrow a little more appealing.
Another upside is that the minimum number of Avios seats per domestic flight would increase from the current four to six, as there would be a minimum of two Club Europe seats released as well.
There is also clear downside for travellers who can buy fully flexible economy tickets under their corporate travel policy and so get lounge access and Fast Track. They may lose this because their employer will not pay for Club Europe, even if the price is the same – bar the additional Air Passenger Duty.
As far as timing goes, no-one seems to know. I have heard March banded about on public and private forums but there seems no real proof. It would have made sense to launch it next week alongside buy on board although that clearly isn’t going to happen.