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

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If you are a newcomer to the world of Avios (and this is an article aimed at newcomers), 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 a relatively modest extra number of 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:

Club Europe redemptions from London City Airport
  • 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
  • A meal (and they are pretty good these days in the evenings) and premium drinks including all the champagne you can drink

I think that is EASILY worth an extra few Avios – usually £30-£50 worth, although the exact number depends on route and which ‘Avios and cash’ combination you choose.  It is an especially good deal 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.  A handful of short haul airports don’t even have a lounge, or BA won’t pay for it. 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 for Avios is higher than it would be to, say, Amsterdam.

Why you shouldn't use Avios on Club Europe redemptions from London City Airport

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

  • A lounge – City Airport has no lounges, and the ‘be driven to your plane’ pay-to-use lounge in the Private Jet Centre did not reopen post-covid
  • An empty middle seat – the Embraer 190 fleet, as pictured above, has 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.  Historically the food served from London City was substantially better than that served from Heathrow of Gatwick – because there is no other point of difference between the two travel classes – but I honestly feel that Heathrow and Gatwick have now closed the gap.

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. If you’re flying into an airport which is known for bad post-Brexit passport delays for UK passport holders, you may also value sitting at the front and being first off.

So, in summary – I do recommend that you redeem Avios in Club Europe for short haul redemptions if you can, especially outbound from London and especially if you don’t have British Airways 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

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

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

40,000 bonus 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

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.

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 sign-up 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 (85)

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

  • Jack says:

    I personally prefer London city owing to the convenience of being able to get there 20 mins before and board straight away . Arriving takes minutes versus long waits at heathrow for example . I have never had any issues getting a seat in the lounges even at the busiest times , lounges will always be fuller at certain times of day . One person being offered a voucher is not everybody and was only after major disruption . There is plenty of lounges to use at T5 alone . The lack of a lounge at LCY is minor compared to the convenience of being able to get there easily and go straight through the airport

  • Imran says:

    I took my mum in her (and mine) first Club World return flight to Singapore from Heathrow recently. We both enjoyed the flight (Club Suite) seats on 777. But we both thought the lounge at Heathrow and Singapore was a bit naff all things considered. The BA lounges don’t feel like you value you should expect if you just spent several thousands of pounds each on a flight. I “think” Singapore, Qatar, Emirates are probably way better but I wouldn’t know. Bet they are. Asians do quality luxury better than Brits if the airline is anything to go by.

    • Harry T says:

      All of the above are better than BA in the air and on the ground IME. Lots to look forward to 🙂

    • Gordon says:

      Is this “Tiger of ham” incognito!

    • Londonsteve says:

      When I’m sitting in a BA lounge prior to a short haul flight in Economy, I’m often thinking, “this is a bit naff,” but relative to the low cost of the flight I can get over it. You raise a good point however: the lounges are mostly shocking for someone that’s dropped thousands on a Club World flight and has experience of what the competition offers similarly high spending passengers. My feeling is that Club World ticket holders will be granted access to First lounges in the future (but not where there isn’t a tier above, aka Concorde Room equivalent), leaving Galleries for Club Europe and Silver card holders (and OW equivalents).

  • Alex Sm says:

    Also, BA LCY flights offer the same bag of crisps and a small bottle of water in Economy as everywhere else, no difference in service with BA from LHR/LGW

  • David says:

    That’s not correct. CityFlyer economy offers a choice of 2 sandwiches with a small cup of water, plus a full drinks service (except champagne) included in the ticket price !

  • Benjamin says:

    I know Rob doesn’t recommend this, but just to note that BA has started to deviate from its guaranteed 8x economy seats and 4x business seats from LCY. It now seems only to release 2 avios seats in each class which is a bit of a shame. I assume their cover for this is that flights from LCY are technically a subsidiary of British Airways. If so, how long until they use the same loophole to limit avios seats on LGW flights as well. Would it be possible to look into this?

  • Robert says:

    I had CE from home airport RTM to LCY a few weeks ago for the simple reason that there were no economy seats available with Avios (I booked and travelled on rather short notice). Flight attendant explained the breakfast option but also pointed out the 35 minutes flying time which made me, and others decide, to skip the breakfast.
    But.. RTM had a lounge, unlike LCY. I don’t know when that opened and how I could have missed it..

  • VP1964 says:

    Email headline says “Should” instead of “Shouldn’t”!

  • Janet Eagland says:

    I completely agree that it’s a waste of Avios to book Club Europe from City for all the reasons Rob gave. I fly often to Bergerac and BA only fly there seasonally from City. In June there was an extremely poor meal service on the return leg. I’m still waiting for a reply to my written complaint 3 months later. What a waste of my Avios points.

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

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