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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)

  • El Capitano says:

    What about redeeming from Southampton? Recently did that for flights to Chambery for the school holiday ski season…

    • flyforfun says:

      I redeemed to Leeds, but on BMI. I even upgraded as I had vouchers I wasn’t going to be able to use!! I was a day trip too!

  • MuslimTravelGirl says:

    I flew into City recently as it was the only date available I needed. I didn’t mind the seat it was a decent space and with a 4-year-old was good. But the food was non-existent in business more like a salad that wasn’t even edible. On top of everything we got diverted for 4 hrs to Stansted due to a plane issue infront of us that closed the runway. The only benefit for me was the easy access to transport.

  • lumma says:

    Personally, I only book Club Europe if there’s no economy seats available on the flight I want, no matter which London airport I’m departing. I feel like I’m giving up a future redemption (or about £50 worth of points on the shortest flights) for lounge access and a meal.

    Having said that, I would pay it from LCY if it meant getting the flight I want and there were no economy redemptions, rather than compromising with a very early or much later flight where I could sit in eco

  • Jonathan says:

    It’s better to save Avios for long haul routes, or a route with a wide body aircraft being used, as I wouldn’t spend excess Avios to get a seat that’s the exact same as Economy

  • Mikeact says:

    We’re happy to use these aircraft for CW….out of SOU at weekends.

  • Linda says:

    To add to the general opinion, the South LHR lounge was ridiculous on Tuesday. Had a long layover and it barely thinned out over 5+ hours. Food was okay but virtually no seats and filthy floors and table. In contrast the much maligned Admirals Club in DEN. Was clean, quiet with nice staff and the free food and drink was fine. BA used to pay for their passengers to access the “paid for” menu but that never returned after covid. But I’d spend time in the AA lounge in preference to BA in LHR any day!

  • Sam says:

    Everything you say is correct, but being roughly equidistant between all airports in London, if I was travelling with someone else I’d pick LCY if could only choose CE from all 3 airports. Just the whole airport experience and speed of getting it through outweighs a glass or three of champagne. And the legroom is much better than LGW/LHR A320’s…

  • David S says:

    Flew CE out of LGW last Weds. No Priority Boarding at all – everyone was boarded in the order they turned up at the Gate, but they hadn’t told you that. Food was grim to put it mildly – Beef Rendang, Katsu Curry or a Salad. This was a flight by a British Airline flying mainly British passengers from a British Airport. My OH is allergic to Chilli. I thought BA were promoting the Best of British products in their dining offering.

    • Rob says:

      Katsu Curry is now up there with Chicken Tikka Masala as an Anglicised dish. There are two Katsu Curry places within 60 seconds walk of the HfP office.

      There is a preference for serving spicier dishes in flight because it overcomes the dumbing of the taste buds due to altitude.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      The Royal Navy was the catalyst for the creation of Japanese curry.

      • flyforfun says:

        Source? (or should that be sauce?)

        I thought it was the Portuguese that took curry to Japan when they started trading there after Japan’s isolationist period (Eido era??). At least that’s what I read on my trip to Lisbon over the summer!

        • Harpo says:

          Not sure whether it’s up there with peer reviewed journal articles but Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible mentions it.

    • Dave says:

      Start a campaign for eel, pie, mash and liquor

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