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BA Club Europe revolution – cheap one-way tickets, no ‘Saturday night’ rule and free same day changes

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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):

Hamburg price

and here is a return day trip:

Hamburg 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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Comments (115)

  • William says:

    I used to travel Club Europe a lot until they cut the legroom. Now I don’t use BA shorthaul at all. They can reduce the fares all they like but they won’t tempt me back until they reverse their “densification” strategy.

  • Anon says:

    Lenin nearly started a revolution. The Ford Sierra was revolutionary. But £190 a ‘sensible price’ for a one way economy ticket coupled with a stale croissant, dodgy coffee and guaranteed free middle seat? That BA themselves have been selling for £60 worth of Avios points plus £17 for 6 years? Revolutionary?

    • Rob says:

      Agreed 😉 Was a tricky headline to do given the character count limit though!

  • ian says:

    £124 for lounge access, some sub-standard refreshments and some extra tier points is still awful value for money, whoever’s footing the bill.

    • Rob says:

      Strongly disagree. You or your employer clearly places a low value on your comfort. Even for a 2 hour flight we are talking, from check-in to deplaning, about 4 hours. That is 8 hours of ‘an easier life’ for £124 return.

      If your employer won’t pay that, I’d be questioning why. (For clarity, Anika has an ‘all J’ clause in her contract.) And I’m happy to pay £124 for 8 hours of easier life for myself.

      • Drav says:

        “easier life”. lmao, not quite sure what you consider a struggle…..

        • Peter K says:

          I’ll tell you what a struggle is….
          Flying easyJet (Copenhagen) and taking 45-50mins to check in a bag, 20mins security then 15 mins run to not miss your flight while your wife has a bad stomach from a bug that’s going around (she got it that morning). Fast track check in and security would have been worth a fortune.
          (I nearly booked it but my wife convinced me not to).

          • John says:

            CPH is a victim of its own success. It’s a great airport to arrive at and transit through but departures is (relatively!) horrible.

            Airside is also a nice place to sleep if you have an overnight transit (just puttuing this here to annoy any snowflakes) and don’t want to pay DKK 1000 for a hotel.

          • James says:

            That can all happen with BA too, economy or CE !!

      • ian says:

        Just how ‘uncomfortable’ is the economy alternative in comparison Rob? For a 2 hour flight?

        If I’m running the business I want maximum return on capital, and I’m sure the shareholders do. That £124 comes straight off the bottom line.

        We’ll have to agree to disagree.

        • czechoslovakia says:

          My 2p`s worth…
          I fly PRG-FRA-MAN every 3 weeks or so, and the sums work out as:
          ECONOMY:
          £180 – Corp Tax (£145.80) plus 625 M Miles, 150 PPB points average
          BIZ:
          £320 – Corp Tax (£259.20) plus 3750 M Miles, 1500 PPB points average

          I booked Y for a trip to the US and immediately used 8000 PPB points to upgrade to C. The cash price difference was £1,200, so say 1.5p per point. But take into account there have been double, even quintuple points periods in the last 12 months.
          The M Miles my experience values also 1.5p each for flights.
          So based on the above, the bottom line is:
          Y: £134.18
          C: £180.04
          That`s based on 4 segments, so an extra £11.47 for lounge access, fast track, meal, free empty middle, 2x32Kg luggage etc… I can easily earn that back working in the lounge instead of standing in the economy check-in queue….

          • the real harry1 says:

            those points have a value, not as if you get them for free – & they are a currency in their own right

        • HAM76 says:

          I’m running a business, too. My people have to focus and think after the trip, and the next day when they returned. Standing in a slow moving line for 45 minutes is exhausting for someone who wants move things forwards. Wasting 90 minutes a day with strangers instead of the family on non-revenue generating time is not lifting up their mood. Compared to salary and taxes for that time, we are talking about a tiny amount anyway.

      • aviator says:

        Rob,
        Let me know if you are hiring…or even part time/oneoffs 😉

      • Alan says:

        I think you’re a pretty generous employer compared to most!

    • John says:

      Basically, some people value £124 at what you (or at least I) would value at £30.

      • Frenzie says:

        You know I often look at the back of an A320, and I have to agree with Rob.
        Behind the curtain THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

  • Drav says:

    faat track security? not worth it. maybe saves 10 minutes. pay for some actual food not the crap served in the lounges or on board the plane.
    need lounge access? get a priority pass

    you would still come out well ahead of that £62 per journey

  • HiDeHi says:

    £62 E/W for club world over economy is actually fairly reasonable if you don’t have status and need the tier points. With BA status, I would definitely pass unless I badly needed the Tier Points. The actual in-flight Club Europe experience is of minimal value imo, most of the value is in the lounge/fasttrack etc.

  • Jimbo says:

    So, looking forward, price of Club Europe falls towards former price of economy, half of each plane becomes Club Europe due to people willing to pay, but overall revenue goes down, BA abandons the whole idea, but no-one is willing to fly BA in economy anymore because BA is perceived as a low cost airline on a par with Jet2. Short term solution: short IAG.

  • the real harry1 says:

    you certainly won’t see me parting with cash for CE

    but I think some of you are a bit harsh

    an extra £62 each journey breaks down easily into

    lounge pass = £35
    free F&B on board = £15
    extra checked luggage = a possible £40 saving for some
    get off plane ‘first’ & straight through security
    that cosy ‘m’as tu vu/ I’m better than the riff raff’ feeling
    you get the best cabin crew
    priority boarding so limited queueing, cabin bag always right above you – peace of mind & easy access to gadgets
    no annoying elbows/ fat gut in the middle seat
    don’t CE get to choose seats a bit earlier, as well?

    • the real harry1 says:

      & dedicated check-in desks with shorter queues at main airports

    • Genghis says:

      Reasonable arguments but I wouldn’t pay cash for CE, though burned an expiring Lloyds upgrade voucher for CE in Sep (my argument that it cost an extra £15 for two in taxes and that was worth it). CE passengers select seats same time as ET at t-24 (unless have status but that’s same for either cabin).

    • Drav says:

      you’ve overvalued everything else but hit the nail on the head. people pay for the “im better than the riff raff” feeling and then figure out ways to justify it empirically to fit their narrative. But it esentially comes down to that and nothing else. Especially as nearly all those other things can be obtained in their individual parts and you can save money.

      • John says:

        Completely agree. As gold and always HBO on short haul, everything there is precisely £0. The food may be somewhat improved from before but I’d happily go without, so it is worth £0.

        I usually overtake all the CE pax on the way to immigration.

        I prefer keeping my backpack under the seat in front of me.

        • the real harry1 says:

          but £35 IS the typical cost of a kounge pass at Heathrow

          and £15 for onboard F&B IS the actual cost of a couple of G&Ts & a sandwich

          and £40 IS the cost of an extra checked bag

          none of which I would choose to pay, either 🙂

          • Drav says:

            Except lounge access can typically be acquired for much less than that with either status or priority pass (either directly or via amex cards). and there are constantly offers for priority pass making the cost even less. So it doesn’t need to be £35.

            again if you have lounge access – why pay for more food on board? especially for a 1 or 2 hour flight. The vast majority of us spend every single day going hours at a time without consuming some sort of food. Eat and drink in the lounge OR terminal (again you can get away with spending less than £15) beforehand and skip it on the flight. I don’t know what it is about flying that makes people suddenly turn incapable of going without sustenance.

            Again, most of us do not need a checked bag for a trip to Europe. And even then sometimes the more flexible ticket which includes a checked bag, can often be less than £40 higher. And if it isn’t and you really need to check in a bag, then fine, £40 it is.

          • the real harry1 says:

            [Drav] I totally agree

            on my last couple of flights out (no driving the other end) I avoided the lounge just to be miserly and to better keep an occasional eye on my 3 teenage kids

            last one I went on a Duty Free tasting tour and must have had about 8 different Scotch whiskies, I guess you get about a quarter measure each time, then hit the pub for 2 pints of Guinness & a spirited conversation with a great guy from the States called Michael

            sandwich & an apple from home, all done for under a tenner 🙂

        • Sussex Bantam says:

          I’m in the same position as you John – other than the backpack thing as I always go for an exit row.

          However I do find it interesting that there are lots of complaints about BA cuts and yet when offered the chance to buy a much improved service for a relatively modest cost many contributors say they don’t value these things very highly at all. It would be an interesting exercise to see how much more people would be prepared to pay for CE – surely the lounge, F&B and other benefits must be worth something ??

          (The only exception is legroom – although even this is somewhat improved by having a guaranteed vacant seat in CE)

          • David Murray says:

            I think the reason we don’t value these things highly is because, as status card holders, we already get the ground experience and, usually, the blocked middle seat.

            So it’s a question of where on the plane you sit, plus how much food you consume/extra baggage you use (which will never come anywhere near £60 for me).

            But for a once-a-quarter (or less) solo traveller who can afford it – it’s good value.

    • Simon says:

      Depends on the value you put on your cash.

      One gold bar is not worth that much to someone that has 1,000 of them, but might have a different value to someone that has only 10 of them….

      By a strict measure, £62 is a fair enough premium. But then again, for some routes if I was in club and someone offered me £62 in cash to forgo the lounge and sit a bit further back in the plane I probably would.

      The employers aspect kind of boils down to costs as the premium would be material to some but not so others. Anika’s case is slightly different as all her flights are able to be monetised by way of review and as such, pay for themselves and then some. I can’t see a intra-Europe economy flight review getting much interest, but a business class one would despite the fact it’s been done many many times.

    • signol says:

      I recently flew with the family in Y, BLL-LHR on a redemption. Even if we wanted lounge access, with my PAYG Priority Pass access is £15 each. Of course everyone wanted a drink and snack on-board, but that still only totalled £12 for all of us. For me, the only thing I’d pay for is legroom, but as CE doesn’t have additional, then it’s a No from me for all short haul routes except perhaps MAD.

      • signol says:

        I should add there was no priority boarding for anyone on this flight…

      • HAM76 says:

        To me there is a value to basically have guaranteed lounge access in T5 with minimum queuing vs. having to queue at the Aspire lounge and having to make a separate paid reservation beforehand. Status gets me into the BA lounge, but not the family. CE does.

  • Startupflyer says:

    Personally I think this is a good move, I’ve had four European flights recently to Switzerland & Germany all done in Swiss & Lufthansa business as BA was twice the price on each route.

    Swiss short haul biz is far better than ba though, so this would be purely for tier points. Agree with other comments though, if your at silver why would you choose CE?

    • Rob says:

      Perhaps because – even ignoring the Avios and TP – you’re actually happy to pay £60 to make your life more pleasant for a couple of hours, before you die?!

      • Leo says:

        As a tall silver I’d rather take my chances on getting the exit row.

      • John says:

        Rob, I don’t understand why you have this antagonistic attitude to anyone who values things differently from you. It is also evident on your posts on flyer talk. Personally I don’t find CE pleasant at all.

        I actually like BOB because it means I can just ignore the crew and everyone else once the safely demo is over rather than waiting in suspense for my biscuit and tea (I don’t drink alcohol).

        • Billy Buzzjet says:

          So much analysis, comment and twaddle from a bunch of people who have no intention of flying BA let alone CE. Well don’t then. Simple innit !!

    • barey cutters says:

      At £600 for a one way obviously I wouldn’t be paying for it. but at £60 more than economy – I think its worth it . Good move from BA id say .
      Fast track & lounges don’t bother me as I am gold anyway but I think there’s worse things to spend £60 on.

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