With no fanfare so far, it seems that British Airways has finally decided to bite the bullet. Club Europe tickets are now available at sensible prices on many routes without the need to buy a return or stay for a Saturday night.
Here is an example. A one-way to Hamburg next Tuesday comes in at £190 for the prime 07.10 departure (click to enlarge):
and here is a return day trip:
You would historically have been looking at £600+ for such a flight, I think.
These tickets also now come with some flexibility.
Time/date changes permitted at any time before each flight departure for a change fee of £100 or an upgrade fee of £100 plus any difference in fare. Free changes on the day of departure provided changes are for same date/cabin/route/airport. Changes subject to availability. Fees apply per ticket.
The downside is that these tickets book into the ‘I’ ticket bucket and there isn’t much of that around at short notice. However, as long as you can get the fare on one flight on the day you want, making that free change to a more convenient service should be possible.
If you can book further ahead than a few days, these prices are easy to find. Looking for a return flight to Hamburg for mid September, I can get the £305 fare on the majority of flights.
Is this a smart move by British Airways or not? The airline is clearly going to lose some revenue from companies who would book Club Europe for their employees irrespective of cost. There are still plenty of those around, in the City hedge fund and private equity boutiques at least.
On the other hand, the gap between Club Europe and Euro Traveller is now a lot smaller. In the Hamburg example above for next Tuesday, Euro Traveller is £181. The Club Europe premium is ‘only’ £124.
If that becomes the typical gap, then some companies will decide that it is worth paying. Getting their employees lounge access, fast track and free food and drink will be seen as a good use of an additional, in this case, £62 each way.
Some passengers may also decide that it is worth paying the extra themselves in order to pick up 80 tier points and additional Avios.
It remains to be seen if this is just a trial or the start of the long-awaited adjustment of Club Europe pricing to commercial reality. I am feeling positive though.
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