Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

British Airways “to cap Club Europe business class at seven rows”

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

When I wrote about the new Club World catering last week, I mentioned that I had also heard some interesting news about Club Europe changes.  I wanted to get some additional confirmation before I wrote about it, and luckily the Club Europe crew we had on Sunday were happy to oblige.

I should point out that whilst the gist of this article appears to be correct, the reasoning for why British Airways is doing it is more speculative.

Club Europe British Airways

Why is British Airways apparently about to cap Club Europe at seven rows?

I have written a couple of articles recently about changes to short haul service being driven by the ‘densification’ of the short haul fleet.

What is happening is that the rear toilets are being removed and moved into the back wall of the aircraft.  Additional rows of seats can then be installed in their place.  BA is also taking the opportunity to introduce a super-slim no-recline seat with a 29 inch pitch which allows even more seats to go in.

At the same, the first deliveries of brand new ‘standardised’ short haul aircraft are about to be made which will have a similar layout.  Identical planes are being delivered to Aer Lingus, Vueling, Iberia and British Airways, even though two of the airlines operate two-class services with full catering in Business Class whilst the other two airlines just sell the odd tube of Pringles to a one-class cabin.

What could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately the story is that the new aircraft about to be delivered, and the refurbished ones coming through, do not have enough galley space.  British Airways has already had to scrap short haul duty free due to the lack of space on these new aircraft and Club Europe catering is the next casualty.

We already knew that BA was planning to cap Club Europe numbers – I originally mentioned it back in my January article It seems that the limit has now been set at 28 passengers, ie seven rows. 

The recent stories we have heard about a further ‘refresh’ of Club Europe catering do not appear to be caused by poor reaction to the last set of changes.   It is being driven by a more fundamental problem – British Airways cannot operate the current tray-based Club Europe food service if it is to sell more than 28 seats.

This is a tricky problem which is going to take time to resolve.  In the short term, my understanding is that British Airways will cap Club Europe at seven rows on flights where a new or refurbished aircraft will, or could, operate it.  This will allow the food service to continue to be tray based with the existing crockery.

The way forward is more complex.  The trays could be removed completely, with crew putting a table cloth on your drop-down table and manually laying out the settings.   Alternatively, smaller items of crockery could be introduced to reduce storage space – the new mugs are particularly large as you will have seen.  We will have to see what BA’s creative teams can come up with.

This experiment will also inadvertently give British Airways some interesting insights into CE demand.  Can it sharply increase Club Europe pricing now that seats are rationed?  Will it hold back seats to sell to last-minute buyers of long-haul tickets looking for a CE connection?  How many people will choose to trade down to Euro Traveller and how much will they pay?  There is lots of learn – and perhaps BA will even decide that capping Club Europe makes sense long term.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (86)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Andrew S says:

    This Cruz fellow will not be happy until he has turned BA into easyJet and completely destroyed all brand loyalty for what was once an excellent full service airline!
    More nails in the BA coffin. 🙁

    • AH says:

      he wants to dumb down the british brand below the spanish brand.

    • Lady London says:

      @Andrew S – please don’t insult Easyjet. I thought he was aiming to match Vueling’s service in Y or maybe maybe just about match Ryanair.

  • AH says:

    about time they had the flag stripped from them.

  • Tim Firmager says:

    This looks to me as another step towards the elimination of a Club Europe. I can’t see how any changes BA have introduced over the past couple of years have improved the product. And with a supposed £400m budget to improve the premium offering, it seems contradictory to see more cuts/reductions to CE.
    How would a non-tray-based service realistically work on the shorter routes? I can’t see how it would…but I can see BA using it as an excuse to scrap a food service altogether.

    • David says:

      Have you flown a Long since the CE changes last April? I now only bother with CE for a Long route, but in my view it’s an improvement over the previous offering.

      • James says:

        Agree – I think it’s better than it was a year ago – unless you get stuck with a panini at the back. Had some really nice 3 course meals on the last few trips.

  • JamesB says:

    I didn’t know BA offered business class, must have missed it, is it down the back somewhere?

  • Terri says:

    On the flight back from Palma last Saturday there were 14 rows of Club Europe seating with every seat taken . The Mediterrano lounge (which we renamed Subterrano) was poorly prepared for such numbers. No hot food as the meat looking stew was cold, a few bits of cake and dirty tables galore. OK for getting a drink but otherwise grim.

  • Philip Bramley says:

    Bit of a flippant comment as I do not have to get anywhere in a hurry but I read all this about flying , its a race to the bottom , just go by train . Having said that such as Firsts introduction of new rolling stock on western region seems to follow a similar approach , more seats , much more uncomfortable seats and loss of catering and the first class lounge in London no longer does their wonderful afternoon cakes ( cost cutting), fortunately when I get out of the UK things change a bit , at least for comfort .

  • Down the Back says:

    Rob with the upcoming densification and reduction in CE seats do you know if the exit rows will be changed in any way ? Not sure if they can be changed in any way due to safety criteria unless they are more spacious than the law calls for currently. If you have one of these with the middle seat blocked then it is the best seat on the aircraft.


  • Philip says:

    “Subterraneo” Lounge. Hilarious!

    And, sadly, everything you say about the place is true; though it’s not normally that busy. I guess it must have been all the half-termers returning to UK.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.