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 3,750 Avios – assuming you are flying to a country near the UK like Germany, the Netherlands or France on an off-peak date – you would get:
Lounge access (I am generally positive about the BA Heathrow lounges, unlike some people, and the new Gatwick lounges – back open from 5am on Monday – 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 (in theory the food was upgraded this month, although I haven’t tried it yet) and premium drinks including all the champagne you can drink
I think that is EASILY worth an extra 3,750 Avios – £30 of Nectar points – and £7.50 of extra charges on the outbound flight (this is based on the ‘classic’ price which is usually the best value of the 5-6 prices offered when booking). This is especially true 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 Airport
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 – 31,500 Avios per person return versus 16,500 Avios for Euro Traveller on a peak date.
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, although it is not clear if it has reopened yet)
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 the best part of the London City British Airways experience. As I wrote in this review, it is 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.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2022)
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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
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 10,000 Avios.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.