Is British Airways Club Europe Worth It With Children?
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When I searched for last-minute Avios tickets for half term in May with my 4-year-old, the only seats remaining between London and Lisbon were in Club Europe. Initially, I balked. While I’ve flown every class with a baby or toddler on a long-haul flight, I had yet to take him on an intra-European or domestic business class.
The last-minute cash price for the one-way flight from LHR-LIS was £894 (£447 each). However, I paid 13,600 Avios plus £160 (Avios and money) as an off-peak Reward Flight Saver. As I was obtaining a value of 5.3p per Avios (the latest TPG UK valuation is 1.1p) and my son could make it through a 2.5-hour flight without disruption, I decided it was time to try it out.
The Upsides of Club Europe With Children
The team at TPG UK quickly pointed out that my son and I would fly from Terminal 3, and therefore my Avios Club Europe fare would give me access to the whole corridor of Oneworld lounges at Terminal 3. As I hadn’t yet seen the revamped British Airways Kids Zone at Heathrow or the Qantas Lounge kids area, we headed straight to Heathrow to explore for a few hours. The lounge access is certainly an upside, especially with older children with a wide array of food and beverage offerings in Terminal 3.
My son needed to burn off some energy so we ended up back in the main part of the airport to use the soft play after we ate, as the lounges don’t provide an area to run around without disturbing others.
On Board Benefits
We flew on an A320. We normally wait until the end of boarding to get on to burn as much energy off, so early boarding didn’t apply to us. But Club Europe did mean that our carry-on luggage fit in the overhead bins without an issue.
The Tray and Blocked off Seat
I had read that the tray can be cumbersome because you can’t put the armrests up and let your child cuddle with you. Turns out, it was a major bonus for us as we are typically balancing items everywhere. While the new neo planes don’t have a tray, most Club Europe flights still do.
Service and Food
In my son’s 50+ flights with British Airways, this is the first time the crew presented him with the wings sticker. Additionally, the captain came out to greet him. While this was not necessarily because we were in Club Europe, I’m sure that the close proximity to the front of the aircraft helped.
The food was an upside. While there aren’t children’s meals, there was a decent choice and even just the bread rolls were a great supplement to the snacks we had packed. Also, my son had his first onboard hot chocolate. The small cabin also came in handy when he needed to sprint to the restroom and there wasn’t a queue.
The Downsides of Club Europe With a Child
While I obtained good value for my Club Europe ticket due to it being last minute with very high cash fares, it’s very rare that Club Europe does not work out to be the most economical option, particularly if travelling in a larger group.
Seat Pitch and Other Passengers
We were in row 4, and the biggest negative was that the seat pitch was the same as Euro Traveller at 30 inches. While this applies whether you have a child or not, my son had people in front of him and behind him who reasonably expected their Club Europe experience to not involve a child kicking a seat or jumping around. Since my son was the only child in the section, I certainly didn’t want to be the cause of any disturbance to the ecosystem of Club Europe.
In Club World, my children have plenty of space and the benefits are a clear step up from the standard cabins. Luckily on this flight, there weren’t any issues and I felt supported by the crew as someone travelling alone with a child.
While I hadn’t thought I would glean additional benefit out of Club Europe with my son for such a short flight, it actually was surprisingly comfortable with the extra tray, space for our things and personal attention from the crew. I will likely save my Avios in the future when offered the choice of either, but I’ll no longer automatically overlook flights where Club Europe is the only availability.
Featured photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen.
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