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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)

  • 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…

  • Waribai says:

    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?

    • Vand says:

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

      • Rob says:

        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.

        • Vand says:

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

        • Waribai says:

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

          • Vand says:

            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?

  • 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

  • Vand says:

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

  • Peter says:

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

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • david says:

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

  • James says:

    What an easy life you have if this is a major concern.

    • Rob says:

      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.

      • James says:

        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.

  • Mr Dee says:

    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.

    • Mr Dee says:

      It now seems that Buy On Board is now the premium offering :/

      • Andi F says:

        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.

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