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What do we know about BA’s new ‘Club Europe’ on DOMESTIC routes?

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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.

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Comments (107)

  • Sam G says:

    I imagine some of the issues you mention could be causing the delay whilst they crunch the numbers on how to resolve

    -going 2×2 on busy flights could loose revenue unless they make sure they are yield managing effectively and dropping the low fare pax off of these flights
    -dropping business UK could alienate a set of very profitable customers who cannot book business class fares due to corp policy, but keeping it will potentially be confusing
    -what to do about avios seats, CE connections etc – all of which will bump up the numbers at a potentially low yield but require blocked seats
    -what to do about earnings – do they go 20tp like Iberia or 40tp
    -do they free-sale the tickets with multiple fare classes, implement married segment logic to restrict the “CE” cabin to just long-haul connections only or just open J class which is available for full fare and connections

    Interesting to see what eventually happens….

    • Aeronaut says:

      Agree with all that. Could get messy if Business UK goes or loses its Fast Track privilege in particular… don’t think one should underestimate the corp travel policy issue here. Plus the lost capacity from middle seat blocking.

  • Anon says:

    Whilst its obvious BA had to do something or risk lose its northern CW/First customers to the ME3, its Shoddy treatment for anyone flying from next week until its introduced.

    Classic PPP from BA management IMHO.

    • James67 says:

      I’miss already fed up with it. Using Finnart exEDI and giving KLM a try next time as Finnart flight is currently seasonal. No chance I’might going via London to Europe anymore so also trying easyjet this year for the first time.

      • John says:

        I’m just surprised it’s taken you this long to switch away

        • James67 says:

          Well, I only went across with the demise of BMI, and then I had a whole bunch of avios to use, picked up a whole bunch more thanks mainly to HFP, and like any bad soap opera it was habit-forming and is difficult to wean myself off of it. As it stands I still collect avios but unless some more amazing opportunities come along then the limit of my ambition is a pair of longhaul CW returns to z7 each year. Apart from that I will need to rely on revenue fares for which BA will be near the bottom of the list.

  • Phil G says:

    BA club europe is a shocking attempt at ‘Business Class’. I recently used it after booking a long haul from AMS instead of LHR (for a 60% cost saving) and being in a normal seat with the middle one blocked is not worth the extra and hardly classes as a luxury option as described and therefore justify the extra tax. Qatar managed to find planes with proper luxury seating for a 50 minute flight.

    • the real harry says:

      on our flight back this Monday there wasn’t even a curtain up to keep hoi polloi from using the front loo 🙂

      must have been in the wash

      • James67 says:

        Cannot be that Harry, any BA plane I’ve been on recently was very dirty.

      • Cate says:

        On our last run the front loo didn’t work and there were items missing from both my tray and companions. Also, are we ever going to get in flight entertainment in biz on short hauls??

        • the real harry says:

          doubt it

          I reckon they’ll just think it’s preferable/ better long-term solution in terms of capital investment to provide free Wi-Fi and let passengers use their own devices

      • Tom Murray says:

        On a recent CE return from VRN two rows behind us (just in front of the invisible curtain) were 2 + 1 eco-pax sitting in last row of centre blocked ‘CE’ seats. Stewardess twigged this after takeoff on the hot towel run and was told by CSD (CSM?) in my earshot ‘oh leave them there now’. Received CE meals and their ‘we cracked it’ giggling was quite apparent as the drinks flowed. They weren’t mates or staff so perhaps just easier to leave them there rather than upheaveling (new word) them 🙂

  • Sean says:

    I have just booked a flight in August to Manchester. I have got 1A&B. There was no mention of CE in the booking so I guess I will be bumped when/if it happens.

    • Ian says:

      We have a LHR-GLA flight booked for July and expected to pick up seats at the front of the cabin but the first 9 rows (outbound and return) were blanked off, leaving us to choose 10A,B. Maybe BA have decided the MAN route is too short but are leaving their options open on GLA?? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

      • James67 says:

        Interesting, same on our INV flight, I called CS on it and they could not help, they said front nine rows were totally unavailable to anybody.

        • Kinkell says:

          I’ve got 2 flights-redemptions- from/to Inverness and have bagged exit row . Annoying the front of cabin is always blocked off. Our onward flights are CW
          Priced up a flight from Inv to LHR. In June for 2 of us …..£200+. Easyjet to Luton/ Gatwick..£79. . So, easyjet it is. Can’t believe you’ve never flown easyjet, James67. In for a cheap treat!

          • Genghis says:

            I don’t mind flying Easyjet. My boss certainly likes it – 58 quid back end of last year to ZRH vs around 300 on BA.

          • James67 says:

            Will be trying easyjet on flights from Edinburgh to Milan and Copenhagen this year. I have not been in Europe much in recent years and before moving to Edinburgh I lived in London so much more choice. I’m not averse to LCC. Any idea why they block the whole front cabin, and when do the eventually release the seats?

          • the real harry says:

            J67 – it’s trim management, I assume

            the seats get released closer to flight date when they can be sure the weight distribution won’t be wrong

      • CV3V says:

        I have GLA – LHR flights booked for June as part of a F redemption. Front 9 rows blocked off on in and out flights. Seat reservations were done at the time of the booking in June 2016.

        • James67 says:

          Definitely seems like something up then, this oractice was not always the case.

          • the real harry says:

            see immediately above

            I don’t think it’s new practice, used to be 5 rows blocked at the front on a lot of flights, sometimes the 2 rows immediately at the back as well from memory (most of my peak flights are jam-packed these days!)

          • James67 says:

            @Harry, ok thanks but I’m surprised that is necessary on an aircraft as big as an a319.

          • CV3V says:

            James for your easyjet flights i recommend choosing Upfront seats – it adds on Speedy Boarding and allows an extra carry on bag. At EDI when you see how strictly they enforce the bag restrictions, and when the queue for standard boarding starts to form an hour before the flight you will be glad of the speedy boarding.

          • CV3V says:

            For one of the the flights i referenced in previous comment i thought it worth a check, BA1474 in June, there is now a very different seat layout shown for the first 8 rows.

            Seat layout is 1 – 2, then then next row 2 – 1. A search on Expertflyer, for Business Class on BA1474 confirms the layout.

  • Martin says:

    Something needs to be done, charging people paying for J or F tickets (whether full fare/sale or redemptions) for tea/coffee or whatever is pretty shocking to be frank.

    • James A says:

      I agree. Regular route for me is GLA to EWR round trip in BA Club circa £2-4K depending on how late I book and on the domestic leg where am about to be charged for a cuppa despite being BA GOLD.
      Goodbye BA am off back to underwhelming United direct flight (avoiding LHR) you’ve really pushed me this time.

  • James67 says:

    Any upside for regional passengers on redemptions may be questionable because at the moment something very odd goes on with seat allocation on the domestic sector flights. Seats allocated are often about the worst imaginable way down back and opportunities to change are limited to a very few other bad seats. I guess folks can live with it for a short flight but why they do this is a mystery because otherwise we get premium benefits for the domestic connection too including priority check in, fast track and lounge access.

    The reason for the silence may be very simple!

  • In the bmi days I remember the highest domestic business fare used to be the same as the highest economy fare (until they scrapped it and it became a flexible economy cabin which was 3×3 but complimentary catering).

    When BoB was announced I thought BA would have taken the bmi of latter years approach where the flexible economy (Business UK) tickets could take the front rows and get complimentary catering.

    As for BoB itself I’m surprised most crew I’ve spoken to tend to be in favour of it, except for one who was ex-bmi and thinks they’re repeating the mistakes of their previous employer. One yesterday was happy with the technology aspect of it, saying they’ve streamlined the buying process with the new tablets so it should be a better experience than other airlines that offer BoB.

  • Paul says:

    Would “club Europe” be an acceptable term in Brexit Britain….especially to Scotland!
    Any of tinkering with the product is not going to help London Airways improve. Flybe might but what’s needed is better competition on the LHR domestic routes.

    • mark2 says:

      People voted to leave the EU not Europe

      • the real harry says:

        you can’t impute a dislike of Europe in the (small) majority vote to leave EU political structure

        I think if you phrased a question such as: how do you view European culture, diversity, history, destinations, peoples – positively or negatively? – the answer would come back overwhelmingly positively, I think most people under the age of 60 are rather in love with Europe

        • John says:

          To someone who has never heard of it before, “Club Europe” sounds really tacky.

          My dad thought CE was the Economy class and “Euro Traveller” was the Business class the first time he heard the names

    • James67 says:

      Sure, Europe is a geographical region not a political entity.

      • Rob says:

        Given that Gatwick South has had a lot of very expensive Club Europe signage installed very recently, I doubt they will go with something else!

    • Martin says:

      Yes, travel will still be within Europe. We haven’t raised anchor and drifted into the north atlantic