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British Airways Club Europe is the name of their short haul business class. The product divides opinion! The seat is the same as economy, but with an empty middle seat. A lot of people hate this, but I’m actually a fan of their service. I get tons of value from Club Europe. I’ll explain how in this flight review.
My flight from London to Amsterdam was really good. It was also excellent value! I got a terrific price in a BA sale. My infant son also got the empty middle seat to himself.
I was impressed with the food, the drinks and the service. Given that the flight was under an hour, that’s a lot to pack in! With Club Europe, you also get tons of extras. Higher baggage allowance, Lounge Access and Business Class Check in are included.
All of the photos in this review can be clicked, and go into a slideshow.
I booked the flight in a BA sale. For a family of 4, we paid £660 ($800) to fly in Business. My son is an infant, so his fare was 10% of a full price seat. This represented excellent value for me. For this, we got
A couple of features are very interesting. In Club Europe, you get to check in 2 bags. In economy, you only get hand baggage. If you check in a bag, it's often better value to pay for a Club Europe seat.
In British Air Club Europe, you get a standard economy seat - with an empty middle seat. This upsets a lot of people, as they expect a proper business seat. For me, it works out well. I was travelling with my infant son and didn't buy him a separate seat. I was able to put him in the empty middle seat.
Visitors from the US often complain about business class in Europe. However, I disagree with this comparison. If you fly transcontinental business from New York to LA, you can get a fully flat bed. However, these flights charge upwards of $2,000.
The food surpassed my limited expectations. In the 1 hour flight, there was a full meal and drinks service.
I had a vegan breakfast. It contained veggie sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and scrambled tofu. It was served on one tray, also with a fresh croissant, oat biscuits and a chia seed dessert. The food was a proper meal and tasted decent.
I’m not a fan of scrambled tofu, but it’s the default vegan option. It’s similar to steak houses, who often offer risotto to vegetarians!
The BA business class seat is nothing of the sort! It's just an economy seat with the middle seat empty. There’s a tray table on the middle seat. Because my son was using the middle seat, we had to ask for the tray table to be removed. This can be a tricky process, and not all flight attendants can do it.
This type of business cabin is fantastic for the airline. They can grow and shrink the business cabin, according to demand. On premium heavy routes like London to Frankfurt, most of the plane will be business class.
The seat has enough space for my modest 5 ft 6 inch frame. Good enough for my short hop to Amsterdam.
I flew China Southern Business Class, on their short haul service. From Guangzhou to Siem Reap. They had a proper business class seat – similar to international premium economy. However, I still prefer BA Club Europe! China Southern had no bar service and the food was pretty average.
The seat configuration is standard for business class in Europe – all airlines do it. Most airlines don’t have a tray table in the middle seat. I personally don’t like the tray table. It doesn’t serve any purpose. I prefer to have extra space, so my kids can stretch out and sleep.
BA don’t have any in flight entertainment in their short haul aircraft. It’s not an issue on a 1 hour flight. However, I would like to see IFE installed on short haul aircraft. My kids are easily bored, and its great to put them in front of the TV.
There was a full bar service, with champagne available. I didn't get involved however. I got up at 3.30am, before the morning flight. I had a long day planned with the family. I’m old enough to know that getting shitfaced won’t help me!
My family were sitting together on the left hand side of the aisle. I was alone on the right hand side, next to a stranger. He really went to town on the bar! He must have had 4 or 5 drinks during the flight. He stopped the crew every time they went by.
I had a coffee and a water. The coffee tasted like dishwater and was lukewarm! I find this to be a common problem on flights. Tea and coffee is never hot enough and is often bad. I normally don't drink coffee any more, but I was exhausted from my 3.30am wake up.
A special word of thanks to the crew, who were fabulous. This is one area where BA genuinely excels. The Middle Eastern airlines are rightly lauded for their premium cabins. However, the crews can be hit and miss. I find British Airways crews to be consistently friendly.
As we waited to board the flight, an attendant starting chatting to my daughter, as she was so excited. On board, the crew went out of their way to strap my infant son into his seat. I travel a lot with my family, and people are often very friendly. It’s not the same when I fly alone!
I was really happy with my flight. It helped that I paid a rock bottom price! The food, drinks and service were excellent. If you can look beyond the crappy seat, then BA Club Europe can be great value.
Air France is another airline that I really like. I’ve had consistently good service from them, including their short haul business class. The food was terrific and the champagne was free flowing. There was even a choice of dishes from the menu. I enjoyed writing that review!
If you fly through Heathrow Airport, you’ll have a choice of lounges. One of the best independent lounges is the Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 2. It’s often voted as the best 3rd party lounge in the world. I don’t actually agree with that, although I do think it’s very good!