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Why you shouldn’t waste Avios on Club Europe redemptions from London City

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If you are a newcomer to the world of Avios, I generally recommend that you try Club Europe business class on short-haul redemptions from Heathrow or Gatwick.

I know that this view is not universally shared!

But, if you aren’t used to premium class travel, it opens your eyes to what you are missing.  For an extra 4,500 Avios – assuming you are flying to a country near the UK like Germany, the Netherlands or France – you would get:

Lounge access (I am very positive about the BA Heathrow lounges, unlike some people, and the new Gatwick lounges seem to be universally liked)

Dedicated check-in desks if you have luggage

Fast track security

Priority boarding

Seat at the front of the plane – and therefore also the first off, which speeds up immigration

Empty middle seat

Extra baggage allowance

Some food (which has got a little better recently, although nowhere near as much as BA would like to think) and premium drinks including all the champagne you can drink

I think that is EASILY worth an extra 4,500 Avios and £7.50 of tax on the outbound flight, especially if you don’t have British Airways status.  Coming back, it might not be such a good deal – you may or may not get fast track security and you may or may not find the lounge is good.  Outbound, though, I definitely recommend it.

Except …. if you are flying from London City.

I originally wrote this article in response to an email from a reader who had spent his Avios on Club Europe from London City on a flight to Spain.  Because Spain is further from London, the Club Europe premium is higher – 30,000 Avios per person return versus 15,000 Avios for Euro Traveller.

British Airways Embraer 190 London City

This is what you DON’T get if you redeem for Club Europe from London City:

A lounge – City Airport has no lounges, unless you pay £35 to use the Business Lounge lounge in the Private Jet Centre or £95 for the ‘be driven to your plane’ First Class lounge 

An empty middle seat – the Embraer 190 aircraft, as pictured above, have 2 x 2 seating

Priority boarding – it exists in theory, but the high percentage of status card holders flying out of City means that virtually every passenger on peak business routes qualifies for it anyway!

You DO get to sit at the front and you DO get better food.  The food is by far the best part of the London City British Airways experience.  As I wrote in this review, it is substantially better than what you get out of Heathrow, because there is no other point of difference between the two travel classes.  On the other hand, Economy passengers still get free snacks and free drinks out of London City.

The potential reason to redeem for Club Europe, if you don’t have unlimited Avios to spend, is if you need the additional Club Europe baggage allowance.

So, in summary – I do recommend that you redeem in Club Europe for short haul redemptions if you can, especially outbound and especially if you don’t have BA status.   Just not from London City …. unless there are no other seats available or you have a lot of luggage.

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Comments

  1. TheFamousJames says:

    Quick one – is there a way to upgrade (using avios) an economy ticket that was purchased through my corporate travel office? BA website says no if I try via Manage My Booking. Can it be done at the airport maybe? Looking at a LHR-DUB flight.

    • You cannot upgrade non-refundable flights for Avios. Full stop.

      If it is semi-flex or flex then ring BAEC, they can do it. The website plays up if it wasn’t booked via ba.com.

  2. Norwegian rejig. I’d prefer Dreamliner anyway.

    https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2019/0325/1038491-norwegian-air-boeing/

  3. Would you say the same for BA1 to JFK? Just wondering as this looks like a cool flight I’m thinking of making it my next redemption

    • It is cool – I am going to review it again this year, I haven’t done it for 10 years so predating HFP.

      Do it whilst it lasts, I think. With more Brits having Global Entry the benefit of clearing US immigration in Shannon is becoming more of a pain than a benefit. Even without Global Entry the new electronic immigration terminals are very quick – certainly quicker than the time you spend in Shannon. Note that you cannot use the terminals if you have not visited the US since 2008.

      The 2-2 seating out of City will also start to look archaic once Club Suite is here.

      • Charlieface says:

        I have a funny feeling it’s here to stay, but in a different format: direct both ways in a B737 MAX or A220 (Bombardier CS300) both of which I think have the range and the short-field ability. A small CBP operation in LCY is prob over the top but maybe possible.

    • Julian says:

      It must be a normal Business class redemption but I don’t know what the availability is like.

      Would be interesting in its own right but I have already been to JFK and NYC too many times to justify making a special extra leisure trip just to try this out. Although I did fly to JFK and back in October 2003 specifically only for the purpose of getting one of the last ever Concorde flights back to the UK. Outbound to JFK was in First Class as I was travelling with a BA Amex card holder who had qualified for a free companion flight and had managed to find Concorde availability after months of repeatedly checking for such a possibility.

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