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 – if they ever reopen – are universally liked)
Dedicated check-in desks if you have luggage
Fast track security
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 (once the current cardboard boxes are replaced with the normal offering, which shouldn’t be too long now) 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.
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 £95 for the ‘be driven to your plane’ First Class lounge (which is very cool)
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, when a normal food service is operating. 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 don’t do it from London City …. unless there are no other seats available or you have a lot of luggage.