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Vueling launches Heathrow flights to Paris and Barcelona, redeemable on Avios

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Low-cost carrier Vueling is not the next airline you’d expect to launch Heathrow flights, but it is launching two new short haul routes to Paris Orly and Barcelona.

According to Carolyn Prowse, Vueling’s Chief Commercial, Customer, Network and Strategy Officer (CCCNSO anyone?), the launch “has been possible thanks to our strong collaboration with British Airways.”

What is happening here, I think, is that IAG – the group that also owns BA and Iberia – is using Vueling capacity to mop up some Heathrow slots that BA and Iberia are unable to operate due to a shortage of aircraft.

Vueling launches Heathrow flights, redeemable on Avios

Airlines are subject to ‘use it or lose it’ rules when it comes to take-off and landing slots at Heathrow. Whilst suspended during the pandemic, airlines must once again operate at least 80% of their allocated slots or face losing them in the coming season.

As Heathrow slots are extremely valuable, British Airways has leased them to Vueling in the short term as a way of keeping them for the long term.

Both routes will begin on 7th April with tickets now on sale.

There will be one flight per day to Orly (the only Heathrow service to Orly on any airline) and two flights per day to Barcelona.

What about lounge access?

Normally, a British Airways Gold cardholder DOES get British Airways lounge access when flying Vueling – but only if the flight has a BA flight number and was ticketed by British Airways. This is a good benefit when flying Vueling from London Gatwick.

(A British Airways Silver cardholder will never get BA lounge access on Vueling, irrespective of whether the flight has a BA flight number or not.)

However, Vueling will operate from Terminal 4 and not Terminal 5. As there is no British Airways lounge in Heathrow Terminal 4, British Airways Gold cardholders are stuck.

There are, however, a couple of decent Priority Pass options – the Plaza Premium lounge Heathrow Terminal 4 (review here) and the Blush by Plaza Premium lounge (review here).

Earning and spending Avios on Vueling

This is a complex and painful topic, to put it mildly!

To separate out the discussion, we have run another article today on how to earn and spend Avios on Vueling flights. You can read it here.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 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

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There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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British Airways American Express

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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

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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.

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American Express Business Gold

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (73)

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

  • AL says:

    Before I even remembered how crap Vueling is, it struck me that the only two reasons to take these routes would be (a) if you were offered an absolute steal, and/or (b) really needed to get to Orly, by plane, and really needed to depart from Heathrow.

    I imagine if IAG/Vueling expect lower sales on these routes, they are trading that off against losing some slots.

  • tony says:

    I know a sample set of two is pretty useless, but I’ve flown them twice and never had a problem. I’m no LCC fan-boi either, but it worked for me (including a very cheap CE-style seat from BCN to BHX when the London flights were stupidly priced).

  • daveinitalia says:

    Thanks for the article, I would have thought they’d operate from T3 like they did when they operated before the pandemic, so operating from a terminal with no BA lounge is a shame for anyone gold or above.

    As T4 is the SkyTeam terminal they should move Virgin and Delta there to make room for Vueling in T3

    • Amaranth says:

      You think Heathrow and Virgin/Delta should go through extreme hassle and cost move two major airlines with multiple long-haul flights per day to another terminal in order to make room for a low-cost carrier operating three flights per day on a (presumably) temporary/seasonal basis?

      • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

        Access to a BA lounge for what’s going to be a handful of people trumps any sort of sane thinking about check in and gate space!

        (And I think this would only be the BA lounge at T3 and not any of the others)

      • daveinitalia says:

        There was supposed to be an emoji at the end of that line! I know HAL isn’t going to kick one of their major airlines out of T3 to fit in a LCC.

  • executiveclubber says:

    The only airline to ever put the phone down on me. Worse than Ryanair. If anything goes wrong you’re stuffed.

  • Chris W says:

    My least favourite European airline. Awful, awful staff.

    Imagine if you book a flight through the BA website, with a BA flight number, don’t realise it’s operated by Vueling and then see it’s Terminal 4 with no lounge access.

    No thank you.

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

      Imaging booking through the BA website / app and totally ignoring the fact it clearly states “operated by …” with name of other airline and a picture of their tail fin as well.

      • yonasl says:

        These are the same people that book a flight to Grenada or San Jose, US when they want to fly to Spain or Costa Rica.

  • Lady London says:

    They should try offering LHR to Florence at least April to October if they could dig up slot allowance at Florence. I think they’d sell for good money, not dilute sales on any current BA LHR route and the passengers might include some of the LCY crowd where BA is only offering holiday routes for the very short summer peak.

    I sincerely hope enforcing some of the relatively mean carrying luggage requirements of Vueling will not give BA earlier encouragement to be more LCC in service but at least Vueling is at T4 not T5.

  • Lady London says:

    Could these flights still be sensibly priced during the Olympics period? If so then be quick.

    Wonder if they will be ticketable all the way from UK domestics via Heathrow to Orly on one ticket so as to have protected flights.

  • Seagull says:

    +1 to how truly awful Vueling are. My last time of using them from Gatwick was genuinely the worst aviation experience I’ve ever had in 30+ yrs of flying. You couldn’t pay me to take a flight with them.

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      When are we getting chapter 2 of this story?

      • Seagull says:

        The very abbreviated version is a 12+ hr delay for LGW-BCN that got me in at 4:30am. We boarded and deplaned the aircraft 4 times, each time sitting on it for over an hour. There were multiple issues with the aircraft but the biggest issue was the complete and utter lack of help / info / interest / empathy from the Vueling staff. They were actively going out of their way to make the situation worse.

        One of the problems was fuel gushing out the wing tank requiring 4 fire engines and a VERY rapid deplaning. Others were crew not turning up and another mechanical. However, the final problem was one of the cabin crew open a rear door with the slide armed, which obviously then deployed. There was a time delay with this, but the bigger issue was they now needed to reduce the number of pax on board as they had 1 less exit with a slide. They then selected 20+ pax to deny boarding to, and for some reason decided that 5 familes, all with small children, were the perfect candidates. No amount of protesting from them, and others, changed this and after being at the airport for over 12 hrs they bumped them to a flight the following day. Oh, and also told them to find a hotel themselves.

        This simplifies it massively and I (along with other avgeek savvy pax) were frantically trying to rebook on to other flights, trains etc but there was no real suitable alternatives that day. One of the acquaintances I made was Alex Hunter who is half of the “Layovers” podcast which I can highly recommend. Yes, this experience made it on to an episode.

        Alex also produces the award winning Attache Travel films (find them on YouTube), which focus on a city at a time and again are excellent. Finally he is ex-Virgin and part of the founding team of Virgin America so the long hours were filled with much aviation talk which was the only positive to the whole sorry debacle!

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