British Airways Airbus A320 'Club Europe' business class

Review: British Airways Airbus A320 'Club Europe' business class

Airline:
BA (British Airways)
Cabin Class:
Business
Aircraft Type:
Airbus A320
Flight:
BA2582
Seat:
2C

service:

meals:

seating:

overall:

What's Hot

  • The cabin crew elevate the experience to one closer to 'real' business class

What's Not

  • Economy-style seats & meals

X-Factor

  • Incredibly generous total baggage allowance of 110kg to 142kg per passenger

Introduction

Found at the pointy end of short flights within Europe, British Airways’ Airbus A320 ‘Club Europe’ business class service provides a better-than-economy option for passengers seeking a little luxury on their European holidays or business trips.

Australian Business Traveller reviews a recent BA Club Europe journey from London’s Gatwick Airport to Venice, but as you’ll find, many aspects of the experience are closer to economy than true business class.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: British Airways Executive Club, Oneworld. Australian travellers also have the option of earning Qantas Frequent Flyer points and status credits aboard BA flights.
  • Priority check-in, security clearance, boarding: Yes to all (look for the 'Premium Gatwick' channel at security), plus priority baggage tagging and delivery.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 2x32kg bags (64kg), plus a further 32kg bag for Executive Club Gold and other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers, including Qantas Platinum members.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x126cm bag plus 1x85cm laptop bag, each weighing up to 23kg (46kg).
    All up, that provides a whopping total allowance of 110kg for 'regular' business class travellers or an even-higher 142kg for Oneworld Emerald cardholders.

Lounge

Business class passengers can make use of an all-new British Airways Galleries Club lounge at London’s Gatwick Airport before their flight, offering continental breakfast and machine-made espresso coffee before our morning departure.

As with many of BA’s other lounges, Champagne is also available by request if you know to ask for it, but isn’t displayed at the self-serve bar.

Executive Club Gold members and other Oneworld Emerald travellers – including Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge cardholders – can instead visit the also-new BA Galleries First lounge next door.

Seat

If you were hoping for an actual domestic-style business class seat as you’d find aboard Qantas or Virgin Australia back home, prepare to be disappointed – as is common across Europe, business class simply means an economy class seat with business class amenities and a vacant seat next to you.

In other words, while the aircraft seats come in a 3-3 layout, only two seats in each set of three are sold in the business class zone: giving every passenger either an aisle or window seat – not a middle – with a guaranteed ‘shadow’ next door.

In that space features a handy and leather-clad cocktail table, shared by the passengers on either side…

… but in front, there’s no forgetting that you’ve been sat in what’s otherwise an economy class seat, with some – but not much – legroom…

… and when the passenger in front of you reclines, any knee space which previously existed disappears, as does your ability to work on an open laptop: something we’d expect to be able to do at any time in business class, regardless of how other passengers are enjoying their own flight.

You can slightly increase the space available by moving everything from the lower seat pocket to the one above, positioned well away from your knees…

… while your coat or jacket can be hung from the hooks in the centre to avoid creases.

(In times gone by, the crew would hang your jacket in the closet – but this has now been removed from the aircraft in favour of extra seats at the front of the business class cabin.)

Also gone: the artwork displayed on the cabin bulkhead walls which previously brought a more premium feel to the service…

… while USB and AC power charging ports aren’t to be found here, either.

Meal

On today’s flight came an offer of muesli and yoghurt or a hot breakfast (chosen), delivered in an economy-style foil container with eggs, sausages, mushrooms, bacon and a tomato, plus bread from the bread basket and a “fruit salad”.

We use that term lightly, because five bites – and yes, there’s with only one individual grape – doth not a “salad” make.

However, in true British style you won’t be starved of hot tea, served in Royal Doulton chinaware.

There’s proper Champagne too with Castelnau Reserve Brut offered in individual glass-and-a-bit-sized bottles.

Entertainment & Service

Any inflight entertainment enjoyed on these jets is that which you bring yourself, as BA offers none at all, unless we’re now counting the inflight mag as entertainment.

Fortunately, the design of the seat allows you to mount your tablet at eye-level instead without needing to use the tray table. Just slide its cover or kickstand down into the literature pocket and you’re in business, if you’ll pardon the pun:

But despite BA’s shortcomings – and indeed, the limitations of the ‘Euro business’ concept in general – the actual service received on today’s journey was excellent, beginning with chirpy check-in staff at Gatwick Airport and continuing with friendly cabin crew once on board.

The inflight crew also took time to stop by for a chat, and on discovering that I and my travel companion were celebrating a special occasion, ensured there was no shortage of Champagne to be had:

Overall, by Australian standards BA’s Club Europe business class service is nothing to write home about, although when compared to the short-haul business class offerings of other European airlines – many of which don’t even provide a cocktail table in between the seats – BA certainly doesn’t place last among the ranks.

Chris Chamberlin travelled at his own expense using frequent flyer points.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

16 comments

  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    29 Mar, 2017 07:43 am

    Nice review. The legroom is truly dire on the BA A320s and the only row worth sitting in if you're over 5'5 is row 1 or voluntarily swapping with someone at an emergency exit in economy. BA's strength is their service but the hard product within Europe has made buying a Club ticket hard to justify, especially if you're already able to access the lounge and perks like extra luggage via frequent flyer status - unless you're connecting to / from Business or First long haul on the same ticket. Or you just don't like sitting next to people ;-P 
    No member give thanks

  • eminere

    eminere

    29 Mar, 2017 11:53 am

    But even the service can be a hit-or-miss. Just see any of the complaint threads on FT.
    No member give thanks

  • James Ward

    Jamesward

    29 Mar, 2017 09:35 am

    What an embarrassment Euro business class is compared to Qantas, VA or any US airline. And of the Euro airlines, I reckon BA is the worst. I'm ashamed their my national flag carrier.
    Member who gave thanks

    wdeguara

  • cd1982

    cd1982

    29 Mar, 2017 10:22 am

    Whilst its true it is not an uncompetative product when compared with other European short haul business class offerings, I really wish they would give a couple of extra inches legroom as it really is budget airline level pitch. Small touches like proper plates for the meal would definitely help, it looks shocking when you see it on a picture like that. I do find their service on board, and the generally short duration flights, means I don't exactly sit there seething.. particularly as I only fly club europe when using avios or when connecting to long haul in Madrid.
    No member give thanks

  • Packetman21

    Packetman21

    29 Mar, 2017 11:32 am

    This looks worse than the US carriers.... that is saying something.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris_PER

    Chris_PER

    29 Mar, 2017 11:46 am

    Such a lazy and horrible way that they just convert an empty economy seat into a table.
    No member give thanks

  • kimshep

    kimshep

    29 Mar, 2017 01:09 pm

    .. let alone the 'lazy' (and disgusting) aluminium foil tray sitting in a Royal Doulton dish. What is wrong with BA? Don't they have automatic dishwashers in the BA kitchens? Hmm, I might take a second and third look at their metal cutlery in that case.

    Personally, had I been served in the above manner, upon being served - I would have transferred the contents of the foil tray into the Royal Doulton and then immediately asked for the foil tray to be taken away.

    No member give thanks

  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    29 Mar, 2017 04:00 pm

    I felt tempted to do the same but the tray that holds the aluminium is actually plastic and not for eating on. Only the cup and plate are Royal Doulton. As for the breakfast, it's the same as long haul economy breakfast hence the use of aluminum.
    No member give thanks

  • Serg

    Serg

    29 Mar, 2017 02:18 pm

    I use it few times and while it slightly better I personally would not buy it to fly just within Europe. Different story though if you have connection to intercontinental flight - then it make sense especially from baggage POV. IMHO most disgusting things that you have to ask for champagne - they not offering it "by default". Also keep in mind that it incredibly easy to score seat in J with FF points and it very cheap in points currency. So my strategy is to buy commercial ticket to say LHR and back and then get one by points to one city of Europe and another one from another city - cheap and convenient solution to avoid to be bored by the same place when holidaying in Europe.
    No member give thanks

  • Joe

    Joe

    29 Mar, 2017 04:23 pm

    Calling this 'Business Class', British Airways is committing the crime of the century...talk about false and misleading.
    No member give thanks

  • Steve987

    Steve987

    29 Mar, 2017 09:12 pm

    Have never flown the service but was intrigued to find out more. 

    Found on the BA site that they promote the 30" seat pitch provided in Club Euro, while not promoting any pitch dimensions in Euro Traveller. The uninitiated could easily think this meant a difference in pitch (or that 30" was somehow good!).
    No member give thanks

  • bl812

    bl812

    30 Mar, 2017 10:03 am

    indeed flew a few times -the only acceptable seat is row1 beyond that is just economy disguised as business class-but what do you expect from BA????
    No member give thanks

  • Looking

    Looking

    31 Mar, 2017 07:14 am

    One note that BA Club fully flex is around the same price (but if from LGW much cheaper) as Qantas Economy fully flex on short haul, typically ?550 LHR - MUC rtn. vs QF $880 SYD - MEL rtn. So if comparing price for offering than BA is more generous than QF plus you get all the extra points
    No member give thanks

  • Looking

    Looking

    31 Mar, 2017 07:14 am

    Where did my ? pound sign go?
    No member give thanks

  • JOHN

    jgb59

    31 Mar, 2017 03:38 pm

    I agree it is a poor seat offering for business class especially when coming off a long haul from Australia. I flew Finnair and did a leg from Helsinki to Rome in their version of business class luckily in row 1 which was ok but on Finnair they don't have a tray on the middle seat apart from standard fold down tray that every seat has. The soft product was really good and the crew was great. It kind of works against the European carriers for us in Australia as we can now go to so many European cities if full business class on Etihad, Qatar or Emirates even if the final leg is on an Emirates 777.                                                                                                                     I seem to remember many years ago maybe 1979 on a Qantas 747 that the middle seat on the ABC or HJK the B and J seat had a fold down part of the seat that had a little tray in it if it was unoccupied.

    No member give thanks

  • flatout

    flatout

    1 Apr, 2017 09:17 am

    You can pay extra for a "front row" economy seat only to loose it if the CE cabin is expanded (moveable curtain & convertible seats).
    No member give thanks

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22 May, 2019 01:06 am

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