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How I recreated British Airways Club Europe on easyJet for £107 one-way

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I was in Gatwick’s North Terminal last Thursday reviewing the new Club Aspire lounge – that report will follow soon once we’ve edited the accompanying video.

Rather than go through the hassle of getting a Gatwick North airside pass, I decided to tie in my visit with a planned trip to Paris.  This meant that I would need to fly easyJet for the first time in about 18 months as it is the dominant airline in the North Terminal.

I thought I would see if it was possible to recreate the British Airways Club Europe experience on easyJet and how much it would cost if I did.  No particular reason why, but it seemed a good idea at the time.

In the end, it came out at £92 for the one way trip, although that would have increased to £107 if I didn’t have lounge access via Priority Pass.  The base fare for the flight could have been a little cheaper had I booked further out than 16 days in advance.

This is how I did it.

easyJet

The cost broke down as:

£5 for use of the Priority Security lane at Gatwick

£63 base fare

£17 additional payment for a Row 1 seat, which includes Speedy Boarding, two cabin bags and a dedicated bag drop desk

£15 notional cost for the Club Aspire lounge, although I got in for nothing using my Priority Pass from my American Express Platinum card

£7 for a meal deal snack, comprising a bacon baguette, coffee and a Kit-Kat (prosecco would have added an extra £7 but it was 8am ….)

This replicates, almost perfectly, the British Airways Club Europe package with the following exceptions:

DOWNSIDE – easyJet sells the middle seat; easyJet won’t pay for air bridges so getting on and off the aircraft is a pain; no wardrobes; no checked baggage allowance

UPSIDE – far wider food selection on easyJet; seat selection is included in the prices I quoted; Row 1 is not restricted (as long as you pay up) as it is on BA

Let’s look at how each part of the package performed in practice:

Priority security

Here is a very handy tip.  Premium Security – bookable here – costs £5 per person at Gatwick North.  However, for the same price of £5 you can pre-book your slot in the No 1 Lounge at Gatwick North via this link and this comes with premium security for free.

If you have a Priority Pass or other lounge access card, it is pointless booking Premium Security on its own.  Reserve your No 1 Lounge visit for the same £5 price and forget any concerns about the lounge being full.

If you don’t want or need to pre-book your lounge visit, you can get £1 off Premium Security most of the time by registering for MyGatwick and searching through your tailored offers.

The lounge

We’ll talk about the Club Aspire lounge later in the week, but it was OK.  The No 1 Lounge on the floor above is better but busier.

Club Aspire clearly isn’t the same scale as the British Airways lounges in Gatwick South which we reviewed here, which are arguably better than those at Heathrow.  The No 1 Lounge comes close though.

Subject to capacity I could also have used my Priority Pass at My Lounge, reviewed here.

Speedy Boarding

On British Airways I would have boarded in Group 1.

easyJet gave me Speedy Boarding.  There was a dedicated Speedy Boarding line and it was well policed.

On landing I was first off the plane but the use of buses to get us into the terminal in Paris meant that I ended up about 20th in the passport queue.

Seating

I was in 1C.  On British Airways I target 1C or 1D.

The difference here is that 1B was filled, so there was the usual jostling over the armrest.  Because easyJet charge a chunky premium to sit on the front row, you probably won’t get this on a non-peak flight.  As it happened, my flight was TOTALLY full and easyJet was asking for volunteers to take €500 plus a free taxi to get the 4pm flight from Luton (8 hours later!).

They found two takers.  I did check to see if I could get a last minute Avios redemption on BA around noon but there was nothing bookable and I wasn’t prepared to lose eight hours of a short trip.

Food and drink

The upside of easyJet is that you get a far wider variety of food and drink than you would get on British Airways.

If you go for the £7 meal deal, you can choose from the following main course options:  hot bacon baguette, hot toasted ham and cheese, hot margherita mini calzone, Southern Fried Chicken sub roll, feta and rocket sandwich, mezze snack box or a tapas snack box.  You also get a non-alcoholic drink and a chocolate / crisps / olives snack

I have to say that the bacon baguette was pretty good.  It is only a shame that the crew don’t remove it from the plastic wrapper for you.

It would have cost £7 to add a 200ml BA-sized bottle of prosecco.  Champagne is also available but only in large 375ml bottles (£16).

Conclusion

What have we learned from this important state-of-the-nation experiment?  Not much, obviously.  If there is a lesson, it is that the low cost carrier experience does not need to be low quality if you, erm, spend more money so that it isn’t so low cost any longer ….

In the end I spent a notional £107, and £92 of real money.  British Airways Club Europe flights seem to start at £141 one-way (Heathrow to Paris) and – given the empty middle seat, Avios, tier points and the fact that Heathrow T5 is simply a more pleasant place than Gatwick South – I would probably choose the BA route if £107 vs £141 was the option on the table.

Coming home, of course, I took Eurostar which beats the plane any day …..

PS.  By coincidence, 24 hours before I flew to Paris, Anika was in Gatwick South.  She was trying to get a Club Europe-style experience on Vueling, by paying a 300% premium for Vueling Excellence.  It all went wrong as you will find out soon …..


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Comments (121)

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

  • @mkcol says:

    Did you investigate how to buy a 2nd seat to have as your empty middle seat?

    I’ve tried asking easyJet this twice, gone round in circles to the point where I’ve eventually given up the thought.

    • HAM76 says:

      You can buy a seat for MR SEAT CELLO, but then Easyjet expects you to bring a Cello on board….

      • @mkcol says:

        Perhaps I should book it for Mr Back Pack.

        • Bagoly says:

          As everyone checks in online, and few check bags, they don’t know who is actually showing up until the registration at the gate.

          If you book the ticket and buy the seat in the name of a family member (who just can’t make it at the last minute), and check-in well ahead of time online, then you will get an empty space except in the case where they overbook.
          They do overbook a little, but much less than legacy carriers.
          The problem is that if that flight is overbooked, the person next to you will be one of the last to have tried to check in, which usually means an infrequent flyer, who won’t understand about having to put overhead bags in the bin etc.

      • MattC says:

        Does that still work when they have sold over 100% of the seats?
        Wouldn’t they have bumped Mr CELLO to the hold rather than refuse a warm blooded passenger?
        I seem to have read about this happening to symphony cellists (including with a Stradivarius) on airlines, leaving the cellist to walk or trust the expensive/irreplaceable to the careful work of expert baggage handlers…

  • BJ says:

    Is there an option to book the middle seat with easy jet to keep it empty? Could be a steal if booking far in advance? Wouldn’t mind selling it for €500 too 🙂 Probably booking rush hour flights Monday morning and Friday evening could amount to free trips to Paris.

  • Genghis says:

    I hope you sanitised the tray table before putting part of your bacon roll on it!

    • Mike L says:

      Good point Genghis. Flew Gla – Agp two days ago and opened up the table to find that someone / thing had projectile vomit. Cabin manager was good tho, she thoroughly cleaned it with wipes but it was horrendous looking.

  • Erico1875 says:

    Now that Easyjet are overselling, there is no point paying extra for an empty middle seat as they will just plonk an overbooked passenger in it.
    Ryanair do not overbook, so you potentially could have an imaginary child sitting next to you.

    • Michael Jennings says:

      Vaguely relevant I suppose: several months ago I was on the early Ryanair flight back from SXF to STN. Due to it taking 45 mins to get through security – abomination of an airport – I missed the flight. As I needed to be back in London to go to work as quickly as possible, I bought a seat on an Easyjet flight to Luton four hours later. I checked in, and used Priority Pass to go to the lounge. (It’s tiny, but a great deal better than waiting anywhere else in that terminal). I did not go through security again, as I was already through security. When it was time to board, I went to the gate and when my boarding pass was scanned, I “got the beep” and was told that my seat assignment had changed. My assumption is that this was because Easyjet’s system decided I was a no show due to the fact that I did not scan the boarding pass at security, and my seat was then allocated to someone else. This was irritating, as the original assignment was a window and the new one was a middle seat. Does this make sense?

      • Rob says:

        Do airlines have links to the security channel feed?

        • Bill says:

          I was told that is the case. I was told EasyJet use it to get the number of people who are in the departure lounge for a specific flight

      • Lady London says:

        did you just say “to hte careful work of expert baggage handlers… ” @Mattc? that;s my bigest laugh of the day so far 🙂

  • Myer says:

    It all sounds a bit silly!

  • Andy says:

    To completely replicate (and improve) the CE experience on easyJet it is necessary to book the middle seat.

    This is most cost effective when travelling with a pair but I will only fly easyJet when I have the front row to ourselves as a pair.

    I have always achieved this by booking the additional seat in my own name and (this seems to be critical) insisting on the scanning of both boarding passes on boarding.

    This does change the cost structure slightly but you cannot have a properly comparable experience without the free middle seat.

    It is also worth noting that row 1 also tend to book.quickly with at least one person each side so to make this work you need to book early or be very lucky.

    On the while though I tend to be happy with the easyjext experience when it works out because I can take direct flights from my 2 most local airports MAN and LPL (the latter being something of a delight with VIP parking and transit).

    • the real harry1 says:

      I am surprised this can happen (scanning 2x BPs in the same name but only one physical person flying) as one of obvious defences against terrorism is checking that number of BPs = number of passengers and that the passengers really are flying with BP & passport match. The logic being that it cuts down likelihood of bombs on the premise that suicide bombs are far less likely (most people don’t want to kill themselves) than conning the system you are flying, checking in your dodgy luggage then not actually flying.

      • Andy says:

        That is why you need to use your real name, where is the risk given that you are who you are and can identify yourself. Bookng in any other name but your own even A Cello surely does give rise to this risk.

        Bookng the additional seat in my own name was actually suggested to me by Easyjet customer support some time ago and I have the online chat record to back it up.

        Unless you have the BP scanned however it is possible for some late boarders to take the seat. I have sometimes encountered reluctance to scan the 2nd BP but when I explain the rationale it has never been a problem.

        I have encountered issues on other airlines by not scanning the 2nd BP. Aer Lingus once cancelled a return booking for my 2nd seat as a result.

    • Catalan says:

      Doesn’t scanning a boarding pass for a passenger who is not physically on the aircraft cause a discrepancy with the passenger manifest? I’m surprised easyJet allow this.

  • Czechoslovakia says:

    Been a while since I flew easyJet, but those drinks sizes are truly miniature! I assume you mean cl, not ml? 30ml is about a bottle of tippex, for those remember.

    • Matt says:

      +1

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I never found one bottle of tipex to be enough to quench my thirst.

    • RussellH says:

      Yes, 200ml botle of prosecco will be what Rob means. And the “large” 375ml bottle of champagne is only a half bottle, so actually small. A bottle is 750ml, (UK bottles used to be 1 1/3 pints, a US Fifth (of a US gallon) is 0.9907 of 750ml.
      Most of the individual bottles of wine I have seen are only 186ml – I have never been sure why this was decided on, but it is 6.29 US fl oz. and a standard galss of wine in California last year was 6 US fl oz., so I would guess that it is the same bottle, buit with a bit more squeezed in.
      I was alsways amused when working in the US that while all the fine chemicals the University bought were metric (100g of this and 250g of that), liquids were sold as 946ml or 473ml, becuase no one made metric sized bottles. (946ml = 1 US Quart, 473ml=1/2 US quart – Americans never knew what a pint is or was)

      • Cat says:

        The individual bottles are usually 187.5ml or a quarter bottle (half of 375ml)…

  • Lyn says:

    Checking a bag, if taking a longer trip away, would increase the Easyjet fare.

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