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. I ended up using a 2 for 1 in CE a couple of weeks ago LCY – LIN. Terrible waste but would have expired otherwise, and I fancied trying LCY for first time. Overall experience was pleasant, crew were really good. Security was slow though (8am) which is one thing I was not expecting although there were quite a few delays that morning that might have something to do with it. What made the redemption a good result was our flight was delayed over 4 hours so have just received £426 EU comp. Hotel paid for!

    • flyforfun says:

      I did the same a few years ago and it looks like I might need to do it again as I have a 241 expiring in 6 months and no options to use it as yet due to circumstances. I know there’s no lounge, but if it means saving the long journey to Heathrow or an overnight stay to get an early Gatwick flight, I’d rather burn it at LCY.

  2. Colin JE says:

    That’s interesting. You got compensation even for an Avios redemption flight? Have you got it yet?

    I agree with Rob about the lower value, though economy seats rarely available from City to Edi, at least with the sort of lead time I book, so I do sometimes use CE.

    However I’ve just discovered how easy it is to get to Gatwick from London, thank to Rob’s piece on rail links, so that might now be my route of choice. (Though bizarrely I found the price of a single rail ticket to London Bridge was still £17.50. I thought it was about a tenner and only the Gatwick Express trains were £17.50.

    • Yep for both of us. Got the compensation the other day, applied for it on the 15th.
      btw for getting to Gatwick have you tried using oyster / contactless? £8.50 off peak from VIC so should be similar from London Bridge?

      • Colin JE says:

        Yes, I was using contactless. But as you say, only off-peak (06:30-09:30) is £8.30, peak is £15.10. My bad

        • Colin JE says:

          Oops, got that the wrong way round. Peak is 06:30-09:30 and 16:00-19:00. TFL don’t mention the evening peak slot unless you look carefully.

        • flyforfun says:

          I got caught out and charged something close to £18 for coming in to Gatwick going to London Bridge and then changing for zone 2 on the tube. My journey started at around 3.30, but finished at 4.30pm.

          Last month I just went to London Bridge and bought paper tickets from the office for £21 return, outbound off peak, return was during the morning peak. Fed up with the randomness of contactless fares when using rail.

    • Absolutely – compensation is to the passenger, irrespective of whether cash or reward (or someone else paid)

  3. Chris L says:

    I would encourage BA to take a tip from SWISS when it comes to business class on a 2×2 aircraft. They only sell the window seat and leave the aisle seat free.

  4. Worth mentioning that you should do your sums. Depending on how you value your Avios, twice this year so far it’s worked out cheaper for me to book into economy cash basic fares (check the specific fare bucket though – must not be G, O or Q) and then call and upgrade with Avios. Then the flights also earn a few Avios & TPs/count for status.

    Downside is you do loose the flexibility though if that matters to you

  5. Tom Cook says:

    I know that companion vouchers shouldn’t be used ideally for CE flights etc, but we have 3 vouchers to use ATM, with one expiring in the next 6 months and so with the loss of amex bonuses we’ve used one to get 3 bus class return flights for our summer holiday to PMI from MAN, for 60k avios and £150. Priced up the same flights which are showing a £1200 so we feel like we’ve got some value.

    • We’re using one of ours for a family trip to Rome at Easter in CE (we had a bumper points and voucher collection year last year thanks to HFP!) and I feel it’s decent value as it’s an expensive time to travel.

  6. Another reason to avoid BA from LCY is that your plane might land in the wrong city

    • Callum Reid says:

      Lol – just read the story on BBC. I hope someone who reads hfp was on the flight and can give a low down on how no one noticed until it was on approach to Edinburgh. At least it was a beautiful morning here today!

      • Surely that’s two segments with Double Avios and Tier Points for the price of one!

      • Julian says:

        I would definitely have noticed if there had been no or only modest cloud cover. Although I would anticipate that it would be very difficult to make the average member of cabin crew believe me and bother to talk to the captain about it.

        But on a solidly cloudy day the the only way to notice would have been if one had a BA in flight map (probably not available on an Embraer although can’t remember now). Was it a solidly cloudy flight when this happened?

        • Julian says:

          No mention of the weather at the time and whether the ground was visible in the media coverage.

          Surely it must have been cloudy virtually all the way for no one to realise. On the other hand I very often feel like I’m one of the few people on a flight who actually properly looks out of the window and takes in the things I am seeing below me.

          I also reckon if I had been on board the ill fated Helios Airways 737 flight that failed to pressurise I might have noticed what was going on from the altitude gauge on my Casio watch as it started to show cabin pressure of way over 10,000 feet.

        • I’m in Glasgow and I can tell you that yesterday was clear blue skies.

  7. Nick Burch says:

    OT but BA – GGL has just got better

    “As one of our most valued Executive Club Members, we know it’s important for
    you and your loved ones to share the experience of our luxurious lounges
    whenever you travel.

    That’s why we’re delighted to let you know that you can now invite up to
    five guests travelling with you to use our lounges, whenever you travel
    together. Not just on your next trip – but on all of your future trips. It’s
    now a permanent advantage of being a Gold Guest List Member.”

    “Whilst we will make every endeavour to accommodate your guests, additional
    lounge access is subject to capacity and limited to a maximum of five
    additional guests travelling with you on the same flight (in addition to any
    partner card access). Should your first choice of lounge not be available
    you may be asked to use the business (Club World) lounge.”

    So, GGL now gets 5 guests on the same flight

    I assume it’s either “5 guests on the same flight” or “2 guests on any BA flight”, as GGL always had the extra guest in their lounges

  8. 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.

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

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

  10. 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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