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

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(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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  1. No problem two weeks ago getting 1A & 1C for me (LTG) and my wife (Blue) for Dec 26 ATH-LHR using my Avios but have often in past had to call to get PNR’s linked when we’ve each used our own.

  2. Ian Booth says:

    On Domestic Club to EDI, I was allocated 1F, my wife 2F but I changed her to 1D on MMB

  3. zephyr148 says:

    From my recent experience, I called the Gold line last week to request 1C in December (I was already 1A, separate bookings). The person on the phone said I can’t request row 1 for others, but they had to refer my request to the ‘gold seating line’. 1C was confirmed a few days later…

  4. Slightly OT. I cancelled a couple of Reward Flight saver bookings recently. One was made a couple of weeks ago, the other made two months ago. When I cancelled each booking though, I received a refund on the taxes to my credit card. Is this an error?

    • doesn’t sound like it – taxes should be refunded (they cannot charge tax on something that does not happen)

      • It is an error. You should have paid the £35 cancellation fee (or the taxes paid, whichever is lower) per ticket which would have eaten up your refund.

        • ah, good point! – I wasn’t thinking of the cancellation fee

        • Ok, thanks. I thought as much. Well, I think I’ll keep that to myself as that’s a nice £210 unexpected refund!

          • Doesn’t that mean it’s correct .. that your taxes were much higher than the cancellation fee, so you have paid the fee, but the taxes have been refunded as normal?

  5. Eastbourne Guy says:

    Why anyone would want row 1 is beyond me… you can never get handbags in the overheads due to crew bags and equipment, and if row 2 has boarded before row 1 they get the overheads first.

    Secondly on LGW flights there is no bulkhead on the AC side, which is great if you want to stretch your legs out, but everyone trips over you on boarding …

    Much prefer rows 2 or 3

  6. Selected first row CE for myself (Gold) and father (no status) without issue about three days ago

  7. Good to see you edited 1F to 1K as I suggested, although I’m not sure why you deleted my comment

    • I was deleting a lot of others at the same time 🙂 and yours seemed to have served its purpose since it made no sense once the text was changed.

  8. Only row 1 BA restrict to Premier, Gold Guest List and Gold are in First on long haul flights.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

    • the real harry1 says:

      got a feeling Raffles knows about this! 🙂

      doesn’t change much on a full plane in any case

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