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My failed attempt to review Vueling’s short haul business class

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This was meant to be my review of Vueling’s Excellence business class service.

In October 2017 IAG’s low cost carrier Vueling joined Avios with a rather complicated way of earning and spending points.  Rob’s article explaining how to earn and spend Avios on Vueling is here.

Over the last year we have been trying out Business Class seats on the other IAG airlines apart from BA:

That just left Vueling.

We thought it would be interesting to try Vueling’s business product, which is called Excellence.  Head for Points spent £185 on my one-way flight from Gatwick to Barcelona – it turns out this wasn’t the best ever use of company money …..

What is Excellence?

Vueling is a low cost carrier and their planes are not set up to accommodate a proper business class. Instead the airline has decided to sell the four front row seats at a premium o rice, keeping the middle seat free (like BA) and offering free food and drink.  Excellence passengers also get fast track, lounge access and priority boarding.

With just four seats per flight, you can’t argue that it isn’t exclusive ….

The lounge

Vueling operates from the South Terminal at London Gatwick, alongside British Airways.

Vueling uses the No 1 lounge.  This is a bit odd.  IAG paid No 1 Lounges £10 or so to look after me when it has a perfectly acceptable – and rarely packed – British Airways lounge about 30 seconds away …..

If I had British Airways Gold status, and my Vueling ticket had been issued by BA with a BA flight number, I could have used the BA lounge.

My flight was on a Wednesday morning which apparently is peak time at Gatwick. The queue for the No 1 lounge was very long, but staff went along the line to let guests who had access via their flight ticket skip the queue.

I reviewed the No 1 lounge at Gatwick South here and Rob reviewed it here, so I won’t go into detail. Let’s just say it was very busy and I ended up sharing a table with four other travellers, which wasn’t ideal.

Vueling Excellence business class review

I left the lounge when the screens told me to go to the gate as I didn’t know how far I would have to walk. It was just around 10 minutes in the end.

Vueling Excellence business class review

There was a desk where my ticket and passport were checked and I was told that my seat had changed. Instead of 1D I was now in 2D due to an aircraft swap. I asked if the 2nd row is still business class with extra legroom and was assured that it was.

Weird, but I thought I’d wait until getting on the plane to find out what my seat change was about.  It was possible they might not have a row 1 on the new aircraft – some short haul British Airways planes are missing half of Row 1, after all.

We all had to wait in this toilet-less area.  Looking out of the window, I couldn’t see a plane by the gate …..

Vueling Excellence business class review

After half an hour or so a plane appeared – but it was not a Vueling plane. Instead it was a Privilege Style Boeing 757.

I thought this aircraft might have a proper business class seat and that’s why they changed mine ……

Vueling Excellence business class review

….. but it didn’t.

I was supposed to sit in row 2 with almost no legroom at all and must have looked very irritated as one of the cabin crew came up to me and asked if everything was ok.

It wasn’t.  I told him that I paid a higher price for Excellence to sit in row 1 and had been moved to row 2. He checked his list and said no one was sitting in row 1 so I could of course sit there.

Vueling Excellence business class review

The seat was nothing special but I did have legroom and a free middle seat where I stored my backpack. On the other side of the aisle were two passengers who also booked Excellence.

I was sitting on the aisle seat but was pretty much forced to move to the window seat later on.  Passengers using the front toilet were happily standing in between the wall and my legs, bumping into me ….. I unbuckled and sat on the window seat – which invited the passengers who were waiting for the toilet to sit down on the aisle seat.

Vueling Excellence business class review

Food and drink

After pretty much everyone on the plane had used the toilet, cabin crew started the on board service.  The cabin crew was not a Vueling crew. They came with the aircraft and didn’t know much about the Vueling service.

There was no food menu in my seat pocket and I didn’t know what was included in my ticket.  It turned out that the cabin crew thought nothing was included in my ticket.

The two other passengers in row 1 were handed two menus and ordered some food and drinks. I was not given a menu and when I asked to see one they said that they had coffee, soft drinks and snacks.

I felt like testing them so ordered a coffee for a start – and was told to pay something like €2.60. That’s when I got the confirmation that they didn’t know I was Excellence. I showed them my ticket for a second time and they apologised and said as I changed from row 2 to 1 they thought I was not Excellence.

I was then finally handed the menu and told I could have whatever and as much as I wanted.

I’m not sure if this is how it normally works but I decided to have prosecco, the coffee, water, olives and a toastie.  If I had more time to look at the menu before it was taken off me I could have probably found a better sandwich.

Vueling Excellence business class review

The toastie was wrapped in plastic and had obviously been heated inside the foil. The plastic broke when I tried opening it and I do not know how how much melted plastic had entered the toastie. To make it even worse, it didn’t taste that great.  See below.

But I did like the prosecco ….

Vueling Excellence business class review


As my aircraft including crew had been swapped, this is obviously not a proper Vueling Excellence review.  I also didn’t have time to properly look at the menu before I forced to hand it back and couldn’t figure out the maximum value I could have got from the food and drink available.  I also don’t know if, on a proper Vueling flight, Excellence passengers can actually order everything and as much as they like.

If you want to book Excellence on Avios, it is a little complex.

There are usually two ways of booking Vueling seats with Avios points.  You can book via Iberia Plus on the Iberia website, which charges you based on the standard distance-based redemption chart.  Alternatively, you can redeem your Avios using the Vueling website by moving your points to Vueling Club /  This scheme is revenue based so you won’t get great value for your points.

However, if you want Excellence, this cannot be booked via Iberia Plus.  Your only choice is to use Vueling Club and do a revenue based redemption.  My one way flight would have cost roughly 30,000 Avios based on 0.6p per point.

You do this by opening a Vueling Club account on the Vueling website and then using ‘Combine My Avios’ on to move your points to – which is your Vueling Club account in disguise.

Please let us know in the comments if you’ve booked Vueling’s Excellence seats before and what to really expect because we still don’t really know ….


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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:

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

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Comments (61)

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

  • Genghis says:

    How much compensation was given?

    • Al says:

      Compensation! Ha!

      You must not have flown recently on Vueling’s services Genghis.

      • Rob says:

        Obviously they are scared that if they let IAG know that Compo was paid out they might ask for it back!

      • Leo says:

        But she wasn’t actually downgraded ultimately was she, where was her loss? – so unless you actually want to lie/mislead IAG or your much vaunted MCOL…..

      • HAM76 says:

        It‘s an economy fare wih extra benefits. Same way as Lufthansa‘s EW. Even the class named BIZclass (formerl BEST) is categorized as economy on EW.

      • the real harry1 says:

        @HAM this was a clear downgrade, it seems Anika got into the lounge but was downgraded at the gate.

        I don’t believe people upgraded from (say) Economy to Business always get the tier points and extra miles? The downgraded need to claim them back retrospectively but do usually get them.

        What was the result for Anika on this front? (Not that it was an upgrade! lol)

        Anyway, simply on the basis of a fairly cr@p experience all round, I’d be claiming my 30%.

        Simple question: did Anika get a business class experience – binary – yes/ no?

        —> If no, claim compo.

  • James says:

    We are talking about IAG so none of this surprises me.

  • Carl says:

    I actually think that was an excellent review of Excellence. It has firmly put me off ever considering flying it.

    • Lady London says:

      And put me off ever considering Vueling, for that matter, not even in standard seats.
      I’d swim sooner than fly them now.

  • Tony says:

    I flew excellence with my wife back from BCN to BHX a few months ago. It was a fraction of the price of flying Y into Heathrow and I live mid-way between the two, so it made sense.

    The folk on the other side of the aisle seemed like seasoned pros at this, each ordering two food items, one alcoholic drink and one soft drink. The inference I got from the cabin crew is that they served excellence first, then after that if you wanted more you were on your own £, but they were so busy I never got the chance to test it (and didn’t really need a second beer).

    Ground handling in BCN was utterly third rate – length wait for boarding, bus to plane, long ground hold. All felt very budget but there was a French ATC strike going on so we were lucky to fly at all.

    The extra to fly excellence was also very modest, so given the free F&B, fast track security (but not immigration), seat allocations, luggage allowance and lounge access, I thought it provided good value. Think it was £40 more than the basic fare.

    (As an aside, the other two passengers – who were travelling together – had each booked window seats, leaving myself and my wife to take the opposing aisle seats. That would have been fine TBH, but the crew were having none of it, insisting that they sit together so we could, too…)

    • the real harry1 says:

      It’s perfectly OK to politely refuse to move seats if you prefer not to. A lot of people put some effort into choosing (and even paying for) a seat they like. Whilst I would always move to accommodate children getting moved (some over-11s won’t necessarily be seated with a parent), I would refuse to move out of a window seat or exit seat just to let a couple sit together. Well, unless she was wearing a wedding dress, I suppose. And I don’t like middles or getting moved down towards the back.

      If you are asked to move for a safety reason, eg balancing the plane’s weight or because you are an unsuitable person to be sitting in the exit row, you must move for take off/ landing but should be able to go back to your preferred seat in-between.

      • Rob says:

        I am always happy to move as long as I retain my seat type and it isn’t too far. 7F and 8F no problem. but 3F and 23F and I won’t do it. I also will never sit in a middle seat due to claustrophobia.

        One time in backfired though when I was sat in 3A and a couple came in who were 3C and 3D so I offered to move to let them sit together. After we got settled I rechecked my ticket and I was actually in 3F (It was my fifth flight of the week and all my others had been in 3A) so I had actually swapped to give them someone else’s seat. Luckily the guy who did have 3A was understanding and took 3F instead.

        • Alex Sm says:

          What about 11D and 15D on a 2-2 plane on an AMS-LCY flight? My boss was in 11F and I asked politely a seasoned English banker traveller who was in 11D to swap seats as we had to discuss some work stuff on the flight. He agreed but gave me such a look as if I asked him for €1m interest-free loan… Would you swap or not if you were him?

  • Nigel the pensioner says:

    I read 2 thirds of your article Anika…..and that was enough to confine Vueling to the bin along with Lyin (sic) Air! This sort of IAG incompetence really annoys me. If one considers Center Parcs to be a luxury haven retreat, then carry on with “excellence” in Vueling – you will probably love it!

  • Paul says:

    You have been “Cruzed”

    I think this is a wonderful insight to what Club Europe will be in the near future.

  • Tony says:

    As I said, we were cool with it. It was the crew who were having none of it. After all, those views on approach into Birmingham are utterly breathtaking……

    • Lady London says:

      I don’t think crew should have forced that couple to move from seats they’d chosen fair and square. After all, it wasn’t a safety reason. Even if I’d been the beneficiary of such a wrong decision I would lose respect for the airline not respecting their customers and would avoid them in future.

  • Tom says:

    After being offloaded from a BA flight in CE for medical reasons we were rerouted with Vueling to BCN in Excellence for part of our journey. We were thoroughly impressed. A lovely plane, we were the only passengers at the front and the cabin crew could not do enough to keep us all happy. We are a family of 4 and they were falling over themselves to offer drinks, snacks and food. To top it off, the food was great! Far superior Spanish nibbles, cured meats etc. And limitless wine and cava. A world away from the insipid food offered on CE and the usual looks of disdain dished out by BA cabin crew!

    • Rob says:

      I agree, I have only flown excellence once and it was at least as good as Club Europe if not better due to only being 2 excellence customers on our flight.

      Is it the best service in the skies? No, but I think we paid 180€ for a flight when Club Europe was looking for 400€ an hour earlier so it was a no brainer.

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