British Airways' Airbus A320 Club Europe business class provides all of the typical business class perks – priority check-in, airport lounge access and priority boarding to name a few – except for an actual business class seat!
Yes, fly in Club Europe and the seat you'll find on board is no better than in economy, except with a cocktail tray beside you instead of a seatmate: so choosing the right seat for your flight plans becomes even more important.
Australian Business Traveller scopes out your best options whether planning to work, dine, relax or even nap on your next Club Europe flight.
British Airways Airbus A320 Club Europe business class: the basics
Officially, Club Europe offers a 2-2 seating layout: although realistically, there are still three seats on either side of the aisle – the middle seat is just never sold when business class passengers are on either side.
Business class begins at row 1, but the size of the Club Europe cabin can vary from flight to flight owing to a moveable curtain between business class and economy, with cocktail shelves in the middle seats removeable so that each row can be converted to economy.
On flights that require more economy class seats and fewer spots in Club Europe, British Airways can slide the curtain forward, detach a few cocktail tables and voila – what was business class is suddenly cattle class!
It's for this reason that we always select a seat further forward wherever possible, to minimise the chances of being relocated if the rows further back are switched from business class to economy.
AusBT review: British Airways Club Europe business class
British Airways Airbus A320 Club Europe business class: best seats
The best seats in the house – 1A, 1C: Not only do these seats look great on a boarding pass, but despite what the BA seat map suggests above, many aircraft no longer have a bulkhead wall in front of this row.
Instead, you can stretch your feet forwards as far as you like and can chat with the crew if you fancy during take-off and landing as they're seated opposite. You're also guaranteed to be the first off the plane as you arrive, because the door is quite literally next to your seat.
However, this row does feel quite 'exposed' during boarding as all of the other passengers walk directly in front of your seat (and stand on your toes if you're unlucky), so avoid rushing to board or plonk yourself elsewhere if you value your privacy.
... and given that the remaining rows of Club Europe seats feature no more legroom than in economy, this is a much more important consideration than on your typical short flight with Qantas or Virgin Australia, because when a passenger does recline, there's barely any room for your knees, let alone your laptop:
Just note that these jets don't offer AC or USB power, so make sure your gadgets are charged-up before leaving your the lounge, office or hotel.
For high-flying couples – take your pick: With the middle seat blocked from sale in Club Europe, couples, friends and colleagues can take their pick of business class seats, with one passenger choosing the aisle and the other selecting the window in the same group.
For enjoying the inflight meal – aim further forward: With meal service beginning at row 1 and then proceeding rearwards, sitting closer to the front means you'll receive your food faster and will have the best chances of securing your preferred dish.
That's especially so on very short flights like London-Paris where pilots often commence their descent only a few moments after you've been served!
For a sneaky nap – take a window seat: With nobody stepping over you, you're cleared to doze from gate to gate – but even if you can't, there are often some great views to be enjoyed, particularly on flights between the London and Italy.