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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)

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You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

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

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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.

  • Alex Sm says:

    If my memory doesn’t fail me, I was on a Vueling flight from LHR T3 to Barcelona a few years back, so it’s not a complete novelty for them to operate from Heathrow 🤓

    • lumma says:

      Yeah, I’ve got a photo from the Cathay lounge with a Vueling plane outside

    • ChrisBCN says:

      They didn’t do it for long, and I think they stopped in the year before the pandemic, but they sure did this!

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Why, oh why, if BA has to slot-sit does it not use them for central Scotland flights to LHR so we can connect with their long-haul routes?

    (Yes, I know that if you only offer a few flights on a route where you are the only operator, then you can ramp up charges! Only just managed to avoid £350-500 one ways in economy EDI-LHR by using last-minute avios bookings.)

    • ChrisBCN says:

      You didn’t read the bit about lack of aircraft? You want them to move a plane from a route which makes more money (or loses less) to a route which makes less money (or loses even more)? Insane business model!

      • Stu_N says:

        Just looking at the BA app, there are 12 flights today EDI-LHR and 10 from GLA-LHR so not far off an hourly service. What more do you want on LHR?

        There are 6 and 4 to LCY respectively – I think both airports have chopped a couple of flights due to half-term. Gatwick was discussed ad nauseam yesterday I suspect.

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        @ChrisBCN I just think they could make more money flying some people from Scotland who want to connect to long-haul. There are plenty of those passengers – who use KLM and the ME airlines. They can’t even consider BA because they don’t have sufficient seats to LHR!

        The lack of aircraft isn’t an issue – because they have brought in Vueling ones! Or they could wet lease?

        • Catalan says:

          @Colin, flights to and from Scotland proved non profitable for Virgin Little Red. Why they be profitable today for BA?
          Unfortunately for some, airlines are in this game to make money. That’s the bottom line.

          • Chris R says:

            The passive aggressiveness is getting worse on this site daily. As mentioned several times today and yesterday, people are expressing that there’s demand for the routes and a willingness to pay for them. I think we all know how businesses work.

  • lumma says:

    Although I’ve never had any operational issues flying Vueling, for some reason their seats always leave me in agony, similar to Wizzair. I never have the same issue with Ryanair, who I’ve flown on four hour flights with in the past.

    • ChrisBCN says:

      I actually prefer them because up front (rows 1-4) you get more legroom than BA CE.

      • lumma says:

        It’s not even a legroom thing for me. It must be something about the angle of the seat as it only happens on Vueling and Wizz. Never have the same problem on BA/Iberia/Finnair/Ryanair/easyJet

  • roberto says:

    I flew both Vueling and Wizz recently having vowed never to fly them again and had a faultless experience on both.

    I needed to be back in the UK a short notice and other carriers did not offer the takeoff times I required.

    Both flights took off and landed on time, were clean and tidy , well staffed and a pleasant experience. However when things go Pear shaped I would rather pluck out my own eyes than travel on either.

    • Graham D says:

      Likewise, have flown Vueling twice this year and absolutely nothing to complain about.

      Newer aircraft than BA’s LGW offering, very punctual departures (one flight actually left early), cabin crew more engaged and cheery, plus the wine is 100 times better than BA’s atrocious economy offering in cans. Boarding was also less of a scrum than it often is with BA.

  • Dan says:

    Wow the amount of snobbery on here is hilarious! Vueling is, like Ryanair, what it is. It gets you from A-B cheaply. I don’t understand what else you would want for 2 hours?

    Those saying about customer service. Have you tried to contact customer services with BA or Virgin recently? I have and they are god awful. BA don’t give a rats and Virgin don’t respond.

    I had a better experience with Ryanair.

    • Richie says:

      Proper business class seats 2-2 on an A220 aircraft.

    • Andrew. says:

      Vueling is just white label IAG.

      The only issue I’ve ever had with them is that they rarely have the vegetarian Tapas option available to BOB. The meaty one is perfectly edible, it’s just that I really like the veggy one.

      • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

        what does ‘white label IAG’ mean?

        • Andrew. says:

          “White label” is essentially where you create a product but leave a space to put the branding in. If you have an account with Lloyds, Halifax, MBNA or BoS the layout for everything is the same it’s just the brand name and colour scheme that changes.

          Same for white goods. Eg Same product but AEG or Hotpoint logo fitted.

          • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

            I’m aware of that.

            I want you to explain what you mean by “white label IAG” when IAG isn’t an airline!

    • m says:

      Because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Ryanair.

    • Lou says:

      It’s not about when things go right, it’s about what happens when things go wrong

      • Richie says:

        BTW If Vueling cancel your flight go into your booking on the Vueling app and pick a replacement ASAP.
        I’m part of an exclusive set of passengers that has got EU261 compensation from Vueling for a cancelled flight, it was a long time ago, it’s quite rare now.

        • ChrisBCN says:

          Congrats Richie, it’s next to impossible now!

        • John says:

          I got EU261 comp for a few reservations as during 2021 they canx flights on some of my routes because of lack of pax. They canx it 3 or 4 days before departure. It took a long time and regulators but they paid out. I was going to cancel on of the flights myself but they did it before I could.

    • Bernard says:

      It’s not snobbery but experience.
      Ryanair is amazing for customer service compared to bottom league Vueling.
      When things go wrong on Vueling there’s no help, their website is abysmal (especially if it’s been sold as a BA codeshare), and the staff at Barcelona hide.
      Terrible airline and you can see why it gets such terrible skytrax quality reviews.

      Ps good luck on a once a day Orly service. If/when they cancel you’ll be arriving 2-3 days late

  • Joe says:

    There was me thinking I could get a cheap Olympics flight but they already priced them high!

  • His Holyness says:

    Was BA’s favourite Pay2Fly wetlease unavailable?

    • Londonsteve says:

      My thoughts exactly. Why wouldn’t BA get the likes of Avion Express to run BA flights on a wet lease basis that BA can sell for premium prices because it carries a BA flight number? And if it has to be Vueling, who wants to fly to Orly in the middle of the day rather than take Eurostar? It feels like a destination chosen for its short block times rather than any real commercial imperative precisely because all they’re doing is slot sitting. They might not care of the plane takes off with 20 pax.

      • Rhys says:

        I think in a year with the Paris Olympics, betting against Paris flights may be the wrong position to take…

        • Londonsteve says:

          Fair point. But why not then create additional BA flights and get a wet lease operator to fly it? It would have the added benefit of being a service onto which OW passengers could transfer onto while on their way to the ‘greatest show on earth’ via LHR.

      • Alex G says:

        “who wants to fly to Orly in the middle of the day rather than take Eurostar?”

        People who have friends and family south of Paris! I often used to fly Air Liberté from LHR to ORY.

      • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

        Slot sitting is a commercial imperative.

        BA doesn’t want to lose them as they are valuable assets . Heck at LGW they’ve even leased them to EasyJet rather than give them up.

        Bringing in a wet lease costs BA a shed load of money and brings in a shed load of complaints as well (even when it’s the likes of AY!)

  • kevin says:

    Thanks Rhys. Interesting move by IAG.
    Lounge access when flying EI is a bit confusing too, as are baggage rules. I often do DUB-LHR-JFK and there’s always an issue either at checkin or at the gate in Dublin. A easy to read and understand flow chart might be useful. Maybe I’ll do some research and make one!
    Surely it would just be easier for IAG to allow Oneworld benefits on Vueling and EI? Granted they may not be able to offer some of the benefits but surely it wouldn’t cost that much?

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