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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 ….


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 (61)

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

  • DS says:

    They have a quite nice GT set, wonder if that is included in the allowance?

    • the real harry1 says:

      Did you see their drinking on board rule? – Only alcoholic drinks purchased on this flight may be consumed.

      That’s their plane, their rules – but as noted the other day, BA are perfectly happy to let passengers bring on board & consume their own booze, naturally ask nicely first!

      • Rob says:

        I thought they had brought in rules to stop this due to the incidents of people getting drunk and endangering the plane? To me it doesn’t make sense to allow people to bring their own drinks on board as the airline is liable so need to be able to monitor what people are drinking.

        • the real harry1 says:

          Plenty of BA cabin crew over on FT have confirmed the BA rule. At Easter, I also asked a member of crew if I could bring drinks on board next time and they said yes. I think it’s one of those situations where you act friendly, polite and quiet/ humble/ sober, along the lines of ‘is it OK to drink a glass or two of this wine with my lunch, I thought I’d ask if this is OK first?’ and you’ll get the nod.

        • TimM says:

          I have never heard of an airline permitting alcohol not supplied onboard to be consumed onboard. Most British airlines say so in the second announcement.

          In recent years, the rule is a revenue-protection measure, just like the ‘no-liquids’ rule in airport security, dressed up as a health/safety/security measure. Most airlines now only sell duty-frees in the last 20 minutes of the flight for this reason.

          The low-cost operators will sell passengers alcohol from the bar until they are beyond paralytic, perhaps their commission influences the cabin crew’s judgement, but should a little old lady take a swig of a flask out of her handbag, the plane will be diverted and she will be put-off and prosecuted.

          If common sense and proportionate security measures were re-introduced, air-travel would take half the time but cost twice as much.

          I remember the days when the advice was to arrive at the airport an hour before the scheduled flight departure time and, when arriving ten minutes less than this at the check-in desk in a panic, being told anything up to 20 minutes before is fine. That was in the days when it took 5 minutes to walk through security and passport control to the gate and the plane actually took off on time!

        • the real harry1 says:

          @Tim – you heard now! 🙂

        • Callum says:

          Tim – I’ve seen loads of cases on BA where they’ve allowed people to drink their own alcohol. I also don’t recall ever hearing an announcement saying you can’t (though I don’t really listen properly).

          The no liquids rule is not a revenue protection measure. It’s definitely moronic, but I’d say it’s fairly obvious the US government (the instigator of these rules) isn’t conspiring to help boost WHSmiths drink sales!

        • Alex Sm says:

          @TimM and others – everything is tightening up. I remember the days when 30 mins before departure at LGW were still ok to catch your plane. Then I had – twice – situations when I turned up at the airport (LHR and DME) 5-10 mins after the official check in closing time and was still allowed to check in luggage etc.
          But last month – even having been checked in online but without boarding pass issued – I was declared a no-show by BA ground staff at LIS 55 mins before departure (with hand luggage only). No one wanted to help and my partner who stayed with me but ran to the gate after all was denied boarding (with 5 or 6 other passengers) despite being at the gate on the dot.
          My complaint to BA was rejected bluntly with the response that we were ‘late’ without going into nuances, or showing any compassion or goodwill. Do you think I still stand a chance to fight them or should give up?

      • Ben says:

        I know this has historically been allowed, but the latest copy of High Life magazine I saw states that “passengers should only consume alcohol purchased onboard” or words to that effect.

        • Nick says:

          Yes, and this is wrong and has been submitted to Cedar (who create Highlife magazine) for correction. BA’s rules DO allow for the consumption of outside alcohol. Crew are permitted to stop you drinking and confiscate any remaining alcohol but only if you are drunk and misbehaving and there is a procedure around what they must do in this case.

          There’s occasionally crew who don’t fully know the rules (almost always when they’ve come from LCCs and have been ‘indoctrinated’ into believing there’s a law when really it’s just those airlines wanting to sell more themselves) but they are very soon corrected by their seniors.

          Strange, but true. And to be honest BA has so few incidents of drunken behaviour that really they don’t even care about changing the rules. Perhaps they do still have a ‘different class’ of passenger, who knows.

        • TimM says:

          @the real harry1, that is very good to hear. Rather like finding a good unlicensed restaurant where you can take your own wine. They are very rare!

          This policy adds around £20 to the value of a BA flight to me :-).

    • Kevin H says:

      Pleased to confirm it is included – snd very good too!

    • Billy says:

      It is 🙂

  • Rob says:

    Just one point. I assume the 30,000 Avios in the Article was for the total fare and charges? I find Vueling good value for redemptions as you can redeem 100% (it costs more Avios but I get them for business travel so am not very Avios sensitive) Living in Spain I can often spend 20,000 Avios on 100% free ticket with Vueling or 9,000 on Iberia and still have to pay 80% of the fare in TFCs.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, £180 of fare would be roughly 30k Avios but a cheaper fare would require fewer.

  • Kevin H says:

    I’ve flown Vueling Excellence Class a number of times (usually between AMS and AGP) and have to say it’s been very good – I must have been lucky.
    You can order whatever you want off the menu for “free” and I have never been asked to pay for coffee/kitkat etc ordered later in the flight once I’ve finished my G+T and any food.
    One very good initiative to note is the hand luggage storage. There is a separate overhead bin for Excellence Class which is clearly marked and is monitored by the crew during boarding. Anyone who tries to put something in it who is not seated in Excellence has it removed – as I’ve witnessed!

  • Marcw says:

    Excellence is good as long as everythibg runs smoothly. The choice of Snacks/beverages is great, perfect for every occasion. At least after a busy day at work, you’re not served just a “prawn salad”, you have many choices. Never ever asked to pay for anything. Depending on the route, fares can be affordable/cheap compared to any EuroBusiness.

    • Michael Jennings says:

      I think this is true of Vueling in general. I’ve flown them a few times (not in Excellence) and I have found them to be okay. The horror stories from other people when things have gone wrong, though…

  • Billy says:

    I have flown Vueling Excellence a few times and paid €99 ow each time.

    You can order anything from the menu.

    • Billy says:

      The thing that annoyed me about Vueling is the lack of policing of Row 1. They let a lady sit with her son, she acted distraught that they had been separated. Her son proceeded to ignore her for the entire flight. As I suspected, it was a ploy to get off the flight first.

  • Adrian Norris says:

    I need a flight to BCN in October. I was looking at my options yesterday – avios / ryanair / easyjet. Vueling are offering excellence on my date for 99euros….. That’s a price that looks pretty darned attractive – if it all worked.

  • Nigel T says:

    That’s if the flight goes! I’ve booked Vueling twice. On the first occasion they “moved” the return flight by five minutes but then I noticed it was ten days and five minutes later (on a four day holiday!). On the second occasion they simply cancelled both flights! I wouldn’t go near them again with the proverbial barge pole.

  • ADS says:

    the other thing to bear in mind that if you are downgraded from Excellence on a Vueling plane, the seating can be so tight that it’s claustrophobic !

    the only time i’ve ever felt like the seat in front was in my face was on a Vueling flight.

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