British Airways restricting 1st row of Club Europe to Gold only?

(EDIT:  comments below suggest that people have been able to book non-Gold companions into Row 1 on flights booked in the last couple of days.  This could imply that recent issues have been IT related rather than BA policy.  Let’s see.)

One of the perks of having a British Airways Executive Club Gold card is that you can book Row 1 in Club Europe on short-haul flights.

I  know there are mixed feelings about Row 1, because you can’t stretch out your legs under a seat in front.  For me it is a major improvement on sitting in Row 2 or further back – especially if the person in front reclines into your face as happened to me on the way back from Geneva last week.

The rule for Row 1 was this – a Gold member could book Row 1 at the time of booking for his entire party.

This has been hugely useful for us as a family because – booking well in advance for leisure trips – there would be no other Gold card holders already in Club Europe and we could select 1A, 1C, 1D and 1F for the four of us.  The kids don’t get squeezed in and there is no-one in front to get a six year old tugging at their seat back.

There are some indications recently that this policy has changed.

Looking at recent Flyertalk reports, it appears that you may now only be able to book the Gold card holder themselves into Row 1 in Club Europe.  Any family members will need to sit elsewhere.

It is not fully clear exactly how this is working though.  A few comments below from HFP readers suggest that they have still been able to do it recently.

If this was the case, it would be a copy of the system that already exists in First Class, whereby a Gold card member can pre-book 1A but cannot put their non-Gold partner into 1K.

There is some logic for doing this, of course.  It is possible that, on business routes, some travellers were booking a group of passengers together on one ticket.  This would get everyone in Row 1 via one Gold card, pushing all other Gold card holders further back.

I’m not sure that is hugely likely though.

What IS odd is putting this rule in place on leisure routes.  How many Gold card holders are flying, on their own, from Gatwick to Barcelona for example?  Very few.

How many Gold members are travelling with their partner or families for a short break to Barcelona and would like to be allocated Row 1 but now cannot get it?  Quite a few.

Row 1 will open up nearer to the time of departure, but at that point any Club Europe passenger will be able to move forward irrespective of status.

I haven’t seen this in action yet because we only have one family trip booked and that was set up months ago.  I can imagine it being frustrating for us next summer if it really is new policy, rather than a number of isolated IT incidents.  Let’s see.

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Comments

  1. What an easy life you have if this is a major concern.

    • You’re talking to a guy who gets to write a blog for a living, occasionally breaking off for another First Class flight or, as of yesterday, private jet trip 🙂

      Not that I don’t appreciate how lucky I am.

      • A while ago you changed your username from Raffles to Rob. I think you should go one step further: Rob from Rotherham. The step after that, of course, would be Rob of Rotherham. But that’s probably a few years away yet at least.

  2. After recently having afternoon tea in CE with an Avios redemption, I don’t think I can justify the difference in Avios or Tax again apart from if there is limited availability. The food offering is bad I mean 3 miniature sandwiches and a miniature dessert is not my idea of any type of premium meal, I think many will be asking themselves where the scones have gone and also why!

    For the saving in Avios I could actually get a decent offering with buy on board like at least 7 of their sandwiches, I can’t see anyone with status for lounge access getting much benefit in CE anymore.

    • It now seems that Buy On Board is now the premium offering :/

      • The actual food may be better with BOB but you are taking a gamble on there actually being food left by the time the trolley gets to you. My last 3 trips in ET – One sandwich left (my last choice), only crisps left, only nuts left. And I was sat about half way down the plane in all cases. Meanwhile in Club, I can prepare for the on-board portion sizes by taking advantage of some lounge food before hand.

  3. Samuel - Business Travel Agent says:

    Hi Rob

    A correction to something in your article
    You stated that anyone can select row 1 close to departure – this used to be the case up to last year when BA implemented the new Altea FLY dispatch system, which includes a module called ‘Theoretical Seating’. This ensures that no matter how close to departure (including at online check in) the available seats on the seat map are adjusted based on a passenger’s status. For example, a Silver member will still see row 1 seats blocked at online check in whereas a Gold member can select them (assuming they are not occupied). The idea is that if there are any spare seats, they will be next to a Gold member as only a Gold member can see the full seat map availability.
    More info here http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1787834-theoretical-seating-master-thread-blocked-seats-status.html

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