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

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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 (88)

  • CT says:

    I was able to book 4 of us in Row 1 very recently no problem with me being the only Gold

    • Mark says:

      Ditto for me. Only recently achieved Gold and no problem booking 1A and C to Oslo to include my wife and baby. Doing the ‘HfP Run’ Osl-Doh-Akl on Qatar Business, connecting via BA.

  • Mark says:

    I called yesterday to move my husband to row one being a gold card holder and I was told no, we had made separate bookings but last week we flew Alc – Lgw and could both seat in row one ?

  • AndyR says:

    I find row 1 has plenty of room to stretch your legs out.

  • Ross says:

    Good. Why the hell should a family of 4, who are perhaps 50% non golds get to sit in the front.

    This is the same policy as many other OW airlines where they protect the front row for their Elite flyers – not just their family members who are piggy backing.

    • the real harry1 says:

      A bluey writes – well, status is earned through loyally flying BA’s routes (or at least crediting Oneworld tier points to BA 🙂 )

      it was a perquisite of Gold status to select seats that kept your co-fares/ family sitting near you in good seats – that perk has now possibly been taken away

      what’s wrong with rewarding loyalty? – that’s the whole point of loyalty schemes…

      file under enhancement?

      • Luis says:

        Yes rewarding loyalty for Gold members not a all group/family crashing on the benefits of one Gold card! What about the other Gold card passengers!? If you flying with family just seat further back! simple!

        • Alan says:

          All sounds selfish and arrogant to me…..”think I’ll book the whole row as I’m gold.”

          • Luis says:

            That’s the point! You can’t anymore! 1 gold card = 1 seat in row one! as it should be! there are many other rows you can book for yourself and your non status friends/family!

      • TT says:

        Question is” how far should loyalty stretch?” Surely having your other half sit far away of you when traveling is more of a reward! It makes them realise who is the daddy in the household!

        • Yuff says:

          These are perks of the scheme that are used to reward loyalty.
          Most of us read this site to try and find shortcuts to enable us to benefit from these perks 😉 ( Hilton diamond status match springs to mind) and when too many people have access to these perks some get removed because there is a finite amount of availability/resource.
          Loyal members should get perks and really they should be just for the member, as that is who the perks are meant to be for. If they are travelling as a family then they can’t expect the scheme to cater for non gold members, if a gold member would like to sit in those seats.

  • MTodd says:

    I am not against this policy, I think a better version would be restrict a Gold to booking Row 1 plus the adjacent seat, so 1 A&C or 1 D&F rather than with a family of 4 only being able to book the entire 1st row.

    You wold be able to sit the rest of the family behind in row 2. But still allows a GCH the ability to have his partnr next to him in row 1.

    On long haul it is different as 1A&K are not as important for couples as there are actually seats together so I support the BA Policy on this.

    • Clive says:

      Well I thought all perks were limited to one guest anyway – I agree it makes sense to include a companion and maybe not an indeterminate number of children or other family members.

  • Paul says:

    I just don’t understand the mentality of BA and the processes which bring about changes like this. If you are travelling with wife or partner you loyalty and status counts for nothing. If with family even less and that on top of the the one guest rule which also penalises family.
    With the exception of BAEC household sccountbBA has always been (and IMHO) continues to be, a business that is anti family. They don’t get kids, never have and I suspect never will.
    I have for the last 15 years travelled with children from when they were 8 weeks old and both my kids have had silver cards since they were infants. It didn’t matter if the flights were in F J or Y BA have never excelled. Nothing in the premium cabins is designed or laid on for them, from cutlery, chinaware to headsets. Small kids especially don’t operate well in confined spaces with glass and China and cramped world was awful for us as a family beyond the rear facing pair of Seats on the last row.
    In contrast QF were fabulous with kids, handling things from my daughter of 16 months becoming unwell and highly distressed on a SIN LHR flight just and hour out of SIN. I also awoke on a LHR SIN QF service to find my son playing with most of the kids stuff from duty free trolley. It turned out his IFE failed so the crew kept him occupied with regular offerings.
    But CX were the best. As a family of 4 in F my wife and I forgot we had kids ( and the kids that they had parents) it was simply fabulous.
    Not being able to bag 1AK as a gold was / is frustrating as they are the best seats to dump kids in if travelling F. It helps everyone in the cabin.
    Many years ago and before I had kids I can remember and advert from Singapore airlines. It was simply a picture of a young child peaking their head through the dividing curtain into First Class. The tag line was something like today economy passenger is tomorrow’s First class passenger. It was very forward thinking, very Singaporean and very true.
    My kids are now young teens and to my shame have never flown long haul Y. (They are in for shock.) But even now BA is not a choice they would make.

    • Simon says:

      Flying in CW with an 18 month old (with mixed fleet, for those who track that sort of thing) I had a stellar crew. Passengers were proactively but subtly moved away from us pre departure. My daughter got the first bread roll out if the oven to keep her going. We worked out which side orders from the menu she might like and she had a bespoke meal (because she was in our lap we hadn’t been able to order a kids meal, but obviously we’d brought provisions too). Sitting on the foot rest facing us during meal time worked well.

      Overall really felt that the crew knew that if she was happy she’d be quiet, and if she was quiet the cabin would have a good flight.

  • Tim Millea says:

    I am 6’4 and the possibility to “stretch out your legs under a seat in front” is zero when one’s knees are jammed hard into the seat in front.

    Once upon a time extra legroom seats were informally reserved for tall people and allocated at the check-in desk free of charge as part of the service. Now they are sold to anyone with the money or reserved for ‘status’ regardless of height, i.e. the _need_ for extra legroom.

    This type of article makes me furious – the privileged grumbling that they cannot reserve these extra legroom seats for their children! Children!!!!

  • Luis says:

    Great change finally! Who wants to seat in the front row with a all family there!? Only gold should be allowed as in many other airlines! If you have a family go to the back to don’t disturb the other frequent flyers!!!
    Totally agree that only gold cards should be allowed to book it! In Lufthansa, Swiss or Austrian Airlines even the first row of economy in Europe/and Worldwide is reserved for gold cards and the seat next to you would be automatically blocked for Senator (Gold) unless the plane is fully booked! That gives you more space and is a great thing!

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