Why you shouldn’t waste Avios on Club Europe redemptions from London City

If you are a newcomer to the world of Avios, I generally recommend that you try Club Europe business class on short-haul redemptions from Heathrow or Gatwick.

I know that this view is not universally shared!

But, if you aren’t used to premium class travel, it opens your eyes to what you are missing.  For an extra 4,500 Avios – assuming you are flying to a country near the UK like Germany, the Netherlands or France – you would get:

Lounge access (I am very positive about the BA Heathrow lounges, unlike some people, and the new Gatwick lounges opened this year seem to be universally liked)

Dedicated check-in desks if you have luggage

Fast track security

Priority boarding

Seat at the front of the plane – and therefore also the first off, which speeds up immigration

Empty middle seat

Some food (which has got a little better recently, although nowhere near as much as BA would like to think) and premium drinks including all the champagne you can drink

I think that is EASILY worth an extra 4,500 Avios on the outbound flight, especially if you don’t have British Airways status.  Coming back, it might not be such a good deal – you may or may not get fast track security and you may or may not find the lounge is good.  Outbound, though, I definitely recommend it.

Except …. if you are flying from London City.

I originally wrote this article in response to an email from a reader who had spent his Avios on Club Europe from London City on a flight to Granada.  Because Granada is further from London, the Club Europe premium is higher – 30,000 Avios per person return versus 15,000 Avios for Euro Traveller.

British Airways Embraer 190 London City

This is what you DON’T get if you redeem for Club Europe from London City:

A lounge – City Airport has no lounges, unless you pay £35 to use the lounge in the Private Jet Centre

An empty middle seat – the Embraer 190 aircraft, as pictured above, have 2 x 2 seating

Priority check-in

Priority boarding – even when BA does try to do this, the high percentage of status card holders flying out of City means that virtually every passenger qualifies for it anyway

You DO get to sit at the front and you DO get better food.  The food is by far the best part of the London City British Airways experience.  As I wrote in this review, it is substantially better than what you get out of Heathrow, because there is no other point of difference between the two travel classes.

(You also, as pointed out in the comments, get the additional Club Europe baggage allowance.  If you are checking in a lot of luggage, a Club Europe redemption can be better value than paying for additional baggage on a Euro Traveller economy redemption.)

So, in summary – I do recommend that you redeem in Club Europe for short haul redemptions if you can, especially outbound and especially if you don’t have BA status.   Just not from London City …. unless there are no other seats available.

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Comments

  1. kryten22uk says:

    I agree with the ‘dont waste your avios’ conclusion. The business class marginal proposition over economy is extremely slight for LCY flights compared to LGW or LHR, for all the reasons above, as well as the fact that you also get free food and booze in economy. Furthermore, being ‘at the front’ isnt necessarily better either. When you arrive back to LCY, they put steps on both front and rear doors, and the rear is closer to the terminal, hence without fail the rearmost pax are the first into the terminal.

    I do however pay for it with cash as I’m chasing TPs, but most of the time its only a £30 premium.

    Also, as a regular, I avoid the 2CD seats like the plague. They have the visual wow factor, but they’re quite possibly the worst seats on the plane, because:
    1. Storage is a nightmare on the E90, as cases cant fit wheels-first. There is no overhead storage over 2CD (nor 1AB for that matter), which means you need to store over row 3, but then they may well already have filled that, so you’re off further down the plane, which means you’re last off.
    2. The stow-away tables are too small, and they bow at the hinge in the middle. Means you have little room nor a flat surface to set your little champagne bottles.
    3. The legroom is irrelevant. Legroom on any seat on the E90 is very good compared to other short haul fleet. So much so that you cant get in a position where the seat in front is a hindrance. Hence making the empty space in front of the 2CD seats a practical irrelevance.

  2. I disagree.

    I have always liked the CE product and almost always fly CE on cash or Avios bookings in Europe. However, after my experiences of this year’s “upgrades”, culminating in four recent cash bookings in quick succession, I have been incredibly disappointed with the service to/from Heathrow whilst I still really like the CE product from City. I accept no lounge/priority/etc., but City is so easy to fly to/from that I’m willing to trade it off. And I also like 2C/D!

    The service and catering on all bar one of my recent CE flights via LHR was so poor that I would actually now rather fly Eurotraveller from City (foregoing the lounge access I have with my status) than CE from LHR. I don’t know what BA are thinking of. But at least I can still enjoy CE from LCY for now! If that goes down the tubes too, then my revenue to BA will also be going down the tubes along with my status, and then I may as well fly with any no frills airline.