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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)

  • G says:

    The timing and convenience of flying from city, especially as I can get to tottenham court road (and therefor lcy) much easier then Heathrow outweighs any soft product at the airport. Perfect for a quick getaway.

  • 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.

    • G says:

      Hello G number 2.

      Am I thinking that the only BA lounges worth going out of our way for are Soho/Chelsea and the CCR?

      • SammyJ says:

        The First lounge at LGW is decent – still has a menu to order from with table service, it’s a world apart from the equivalent at T5.

      • Alex G says:

        T5B is certainly the best of the BA lounges at LHR

        The BOS lounge is good

        • yorkieflyer says:

          Thinking of T5B, I wonder when the lounge dragons at say galleries north know the gate for SIN, as I’d rather go straight over to T5B

  • Richie says:

    I’ve been in a empty CE cabin from LCY, never had that at Heathrow or Gatwick before. No problems at all and double TPs.

  • Sharka says:

    Whilst you may miss out on a lounge at LCY (but not at the departure location on the return), the BA lounges at Terminal 5 are fairly forgettable. The LCY flights have more pleasant seats and aircraft, the crew seem more attentive and diligent, and LCY is a much quicker process than LHR in terms of security and so on.

    So, I am unsure that I can agree with the conclusion from recent experience.

    • lumma says:

      I think the point of the article is that if there’s both CE and ET seats available, then there’s value in the extra points and cash you need if you fly from LHR or LGW.

      If you fly from LCY and both cabins are available, then you’re paying double points and a little more cash for basically a better meal and the ability to take a second case for free

  • flyforfun says:

    For those of us with easy access to LCY, the lure of a lounge, but after a 1hr+ journey vs a 10 min taxi or 20 min DLR trip makes it an easy choice. I actually did a connecting flight in AMS once because it was roughly the same total journey as if I’d gone to LHR.

    What makes it hard is when there are £69 flights from LGW vs £400 from LCY (Just booking work trips at the moment!).

    But I have done a couple of redemptions from LCY in CW and the short journey time outweighs the lack of a lounge.

  • Lady London says:

    Of course if your LHR departure would be out of T3 then worth thinking about vs LCY.

    T5? not so much

  • Steve says:

    Apologies for OT: Has anyone tried to apply for BAPP with personal income less than 35k but household income more than 100k and got accepted?

    • Neil says:

      Yes, I’ve got too many Amex cards so they won’t let me have any more in my name. My wife applied (income less than £35k) but overall household income £250k, got referred as it was her very first credit card – a few days later the card arrived with a hefty limit to boot.

  • JP says:

    Was in Galleries North on Friday late morning, standing room only. By no means a premium experience.

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