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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.

Comments (85)

  • Paul says:

    Lounge access (I am generally positive about the BA Heathrow lounges, which are getting a little quieter now, and the Gatwick lounges are universally liked)

    There were reports earlier this week that the Galleries first lounge was so busy BA offered £30 to passengers to stay away!

    On Wednesday around 6pm every lounge showed at capacity! Not sure where the little quieter comes from

    • Rob says:

      There was definitely a blip.

      What I don’t understand is that BA is renewing status for people who hit 2/3rd of the total which is not a good way of thinning things out.

    • G says:

      I do not value any of the British Airways lounges. Even the “First Class” lounge now only has a (poor) buffet, and the drinks quality also has come down. I liked the choice before and table service. But they also cut that.

      • LittleNick says:

        So much for S.Doyle making it a world class airline.

      • Alex Sm says:

        BA lounges at Heathrow are crap – full stop. Furniture, space, food – all this is horrible compared to LH, UA, SQ, AC etc. All of these are a head above BA poor standard. All other aspects listed by Rob are reasonable but not the lounge

    • Jack says:

      That was a huge blip based on one persons account nobody else has reported this at bar this one source . Also very few people have been given status who haven’t earned the right points unless there is a reason for it

      • Rob says:

        BA confirmed to The Sunday Times, who covered this today in a story I helped develop, that this was happening more broadly.

    • Harry Holden says:

      Agree with this sentiment. Sunday 17th at 1pm, I was looking for someone to ask for my £30 as there was as good as nowhere to sit.

  • Neil Smith says:

    They were asking people to move to the B gate lounge when I went through yesterday (Sunday) as “the lounge is approaching capacity” – I’ve never seen it so unpleasant. I really hope it is just a blip rather a long term symptom of these seemingly endless double TP promotions.

  • John says:

    > Heathrow of Gatwick
    A new royal family has arrived

  • Mark says:

    Have said it before, quite often if a flight is in high demand, cash prices are high and there is no ET redemption availability you can redeem for CE from city and get more than 1p per point compared to paying cash for a ET ticket

  • MT says:

    I find actually CE from LCY is often one of the best value redemptions as get much more than 1p per avios, and often CE is the only avios available. I often can also get 2C which I very much prefer to the standard seats, but again I realise there is varied opinion on prefered seat. Plus a few drinks and suddenly to me it becomes good value.

    Other big plus is you will always be allowed to take on your hand luggage, which on a busy flight isnt always the case, which now you can take liquids in hand luggage makes it of extra value in getting out of the airport at the other end!

    • lumma says:

      The 2+2 seating means that there’s 2 less passengers per row fighting for the overhead lockers

    • Doug M says:

      Your carry-on remark is not my experience. Thursday on the Berlin flight they asked for volunteers, didn’t get enough and announced they’d be looking for more carry-ons to check for groups 4 to 9. Flight back to LCY tomorrow and BA already sending emails asking people to check carry-ons.

  • Gordon says:

    I know the lounges have busy over the last year or so but
    Could there be a link between the lounges being so extremely busy that BA are offering a financial insensitive to deter pax from using them and people waiting until the peak travel school holidays are over before travelling off peak.

    I am hoping the reason is the above, if not it’s something we will have to get accustomed too! Saying that I would take the £30 and dine in Waga!

    • Sharon says:

      I would take the £30 and then use a lounge on my free NatWest Dragon pass assuming there was space.

      • Gordon says:

        Yes, Also have 4 x comp dragon passes from Barclays premier and Barclaycard, But waga is just too tempting!

  • Michael says:

    Not sure about lounges getting quieter BA Galleries First was full on Friday – struggled to get two seats together. Lots of people with no manners – E.g. someone not looking where they were walking (on phone) tripped over member of staff hoovering and then had audacity to have a go at them for being in the way.

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

      Some of the biggest irritants of lounge users are the walkers and talkers and those that feel their bag needs a seat of its own

      • Gordon says:

        It makes my day to ask someone to move their bag etc, so I can be seated, especially if they take umbrage to the request as the look on their face is a picture. Not that they will learn the error of their ways!

  • Mayfair Mike says:

    Lounge access from LCY fairly redundant as any experienced traveller can arrive bang on time and be at the gate 10 mins after drop off.
    Thankfully very few tourists, families etc with their pointless questions at check-in and tortoise-like behaviour at security.

    • flyforfun says:

      That is changing. It’s a 60% business 40% leisure now, down from 70/30 pre-pandemic.

      I swear that at my first LCY fight circa mid 90s it was mainly leisure that I saw. Maybe the flights I was doing to the Netherlands, but not much of a business crowd back then. It wasn’t BA of course, Air UK was my first flight out and that may have bee on the back of a collect 12 coupons in a paper deal. Ah those were the days! My first Eurostar trip was on one of those deals too!

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