British Airways Is Introducing Business Class On Domestic Flights

I don’t think there’s a region in the world that has a lamer standard of regional business class than Europe. For most airlines in Europe, business class is simply economy with a blocked middle seat. On top of that you get better food and drinks, and in theory more attentive service.

Club-Europe

Historically British Airways has offered business class on all intra-Europe flights, with the exception of flights within the UK. I’ve always found this to be a curious decision. I suppose it’s because most flights within the UK are quite short, and British Airways doesn’t have much competition, aside from ultra low cost carriers.

The people who would pay for business class on those shorthauls likely wouldn’t be considering ultra low cost carriers anyway, or are likely on a longhaul itinerary, in which case EasyJet or Ryanair wouldn’t be an option anyway.

Anyway, as British Airways has continued to devalue their product to the point that they’re basically a low cost carrier, it seems that they’ve had a change of heart regarding their intra-UK product.

Head for Points reports that British Airways will be introducing a Club Europe cabin on flights within the UK. Apparently the new cabin will be formally announced next week, and it should be available for travel as of April 1, 2017. The product will be called Club Europe, just like British Airways’ business class product on other routes within Europe.

British-Airways-A320

Now that British Airways has eliminated free food & drinks in economy, I guess they think there’s some value in offering the blocked middle seat and free food & drinks even on the shorter flights.

Ultimately I can’t imagine it will be worth paying cash for the product if you’re traveling exclusively within the UK, though the much bigger benefit is if you’re traveling on a longhaul business class ticket. Rather than being in economy on the flight within the UK, you can finally get business class.

What do you make of British Airways introducing business class on domestic flights?

Comments

  1. For all your disdain for business class in Europe because it’s just a blocked middle seat, most carriers still offer hot meals even on short 40 minute hops. And business class comes with lounge access. US domestic first/business are great on transcon flights, but I’m not sure how much better than Europe they are on tons of more regional flights, if at all. Several short hops like JFK-BOS, JFK-ATL, SFO-LAX and even across the border like JFK-YYZ might offer first class with a larger seat but your ‘food’ is a fruit you pick out of a snack basket and except the canada flights, they probably don’t come with lounge access either.

    Asia we can all agree on. They do regional business class well.

  2. @Scudder : LMAO. Club Brexit is more like it.

    “We’ll charge you 6x the price of Ryanair for the guaranteed empty middle seat and the prestige of flying out of London Deathrow”

  3. A 45 minute regional hop on KLM from Norwich to Amsterdam offers a choice of business or economy. Seat pitch is exactly the same in both. Or I can but economy and pay £15 extra to get massive amounts of legroom in the exit rows. Business gets a slightly better snack – but it’s a 45 minute flight, so who cares?

    The only advantage of business is that you’re first off the plane at Norwich, where there’s often just 1 immigration officer who’s barely half awake, and if you’re at the back of the queue it could take some time…

    Back to BA: on most of these short domestic hops I don’t care. I’m OWE so get lounge access anyway. Why would I pay extra for a blocked-off middle seat on a ~1 hour flight (the UK is very small…)?

  4. @Scudder
    Europe = Geography (e.g. Russia and Turkey are partially in Europe, as is Switzerland).
    European Union = Politics

    Sorry for the nitpicking

  5. BA offered business class within the U.K. for decades previously.

    Scudder, Europe is a geographical entity, the European Union is a political entity.

  6. @Paul : “the UK is very small…”

    It’ll only get even smaller if Northern Ireland merges back into RoI and Nicola Sturgeon gets her way.

  7. @henry LAX: Hopefully Northern Ireland doesn’t become part of Ireland would be a disaster for the economy. There’s not much desire in Ireland to ‘take back’ the six counties apart from a small portion. Poor Northern Ireland, no-one wants it..

  8. @Henry LAX
    My sense is most people in England would be a bit sad if Scotland decided to leave the UK, though I suspect that’s primarily because most of us don’t realise how much most of them hate us. (I lived in Scotland for a few years.)

    Conversely, most people in England would be perfectly content for the island of Ireland to be reunited. It’s the “loyalists” in Northern Ireland who would resist at, literally, all costs, while the EU would need to spend squillions baling out the new united Ireland.

    It’s a fascinating example of trans-Atlantic difference: the US fought a horrifically bloody civil war to deny any of the states a right of secession. The UK is very much more relaxed (having “lost” most of Ireland already, and numerous colonies before that…).

  9. Can their cabin names get any more confusing?
    I know Britain is in Europe too, but Europe is in the world too, so why isn’t all business class called Club World?

  10. My dear Queen of The Skies,

    There is nothing new here, apart from the product name. BA has provided fast track and lounge access for domestic flights when booking flexible tickets.Perhaps with the catering changes you’re now getting a bit more than pax in economy. You should have checked your facts with a knowledgeable luxury travel guru. Failing that, ask Princess Royal.

  11. As a frequent BA / OW flyer, I think this makes sense now. I’m often on paid business class tickets from say Scotland to the US, and especially now it feels pretty crazy I’m being asked to pay for food on the shorter flight connecting to London (I overall support the move to buy-on-board, though. Better food, less waste). The connecting flights in the UK are usually ~ 1 hour so the blocked middle is all that is really needed. Intra-US and intra-Asia, the flights are usually 3+ hours and of course then a more dedicated hard product makes sense, so Club Europe intra-European countries I think should have a different seat, intra UK is fine as it is planned to be.

  12. The longest flight within the UK is probably from Inverness to Exeter and that’s maybe a 90 minute flights. Most are about an hour of which about half is at cruising altitude.

    I’m not sure there is a huge amount of demand for premium travel on such short flights. There’s barely time to do a beverage service let alone a meal or a movie.

  13. This is wrong. There was always a product called “Business UK”. It comes with lounge access, fast track security, more Tier Points, flexibility, and priority boarding.

    It can be bought on its own, and is also the fare bucket you are put into when connecting from, e.g. Edinburgh, Glasgow or Newcastle to London for a flight in J or F.

    What’s happened is the product has been upgraded to the Club Europe offer.

  14. “I don’t think there’s a region in the world that has a lamer standard of regional business class than Europe¨. Well, Brazil is not a region, but a country the size of a region. No business class there at all …

    @shanti Why offend Lucky because of his sexuality? Aroused perhaps?

  15. There’s a certain logic to it in that this way a customer flying business class between a continental European city and a British city on BA with a connection gets a consistent experience on both legs of the trip (presuming none of the flights are on an E170/E190.)

    And my 2p on the political side chatter: if push comes to shove, Scotland will probably stay in the UK, as more of their trade is with the UK than the EU27, they get a net public spending subsidy from England, and it would be very difficult for them to join the EU if they left the UK, mainly because Spain. In the run-up to the last independence referendum, the EU (at Spain’s insistence) made it very clear that an independent Scotland would be treated like any other new applicant. An independent Scotland would not get any of the UK’s current opt-outs, which would mean adopting the euro as soon as they met the “convergence criteria”, and probably having to adopt their own currency in the interim, since one of the conditions is that a country has to have its own central bank. They would probably not get any of the UK’s current membership fee rebate. Most importantly, the process would take several years (best estimate was between 5 and 10 years), in which time they’d be on basic WTO trade terms, and would lose the subsidy from England at the same time they’d have additional expenses: a central bank (you have to have one even after joining the euro), a network of embassies/High Commissions/consulates around the world, defence costs, etc. The numbers didn’t work last time with $100-125/bbl oil, and they surely don’t work with $55ish/bbl oil.

  16. @CraigTPA
    That type of calculation is what all the “Remainers”were doing before the UK referendum on the EU, when they conclusively proved that everyone would vote to stay an EU member. Turns out people aren’t dessicated calculating machines, and there are other things than maximising dollars which are important to them. (I think their vote was mad, but what do I know?)

    Scotland had lots of vile numbers about their post-independence economy and still came within a whisker of seceding in the last independence referendum – which was much closer than any of the unionists had predicted. My guess is sentiment has hardened further since then, and the break-up of the UK is a question of when rather than if.

    At which point I guess many of BA’s domestic flights will become international ones.

  17. Rfrn if you’re so excited about food on a one hour flight i suggest you start expanding your horizons and treat yourself to nice food once in a while…. heck even a subway, beats the crap served on short haul flights, especially with airlines like BA.

    Id much rather have a more comfortable seat than a small terrible meal… most people can go a few hours without food…

  18. Now that BA have made (some) of the necessary IT changes to accomodate Club Europe bookings, I have had a nose around. My first impressions are mixed. On the positive side, it could be a good way to top up the Tier Points if you are looking to be slightly short. The return of better catering and drinks are a good thing as well. However, we need to remember that until recently in economy you had free drinks and “snacks” (9 crisps in a packet or 2 biscuits, which was in my opinion a poor offering compared to for example the trains offerings).

    The thing that shocked me most though was the cost of some of the business tickets – I was looking at LHR to Glasgow and it was £370 one way which seemed very high.

    BA have started to launch some other Saturday only flights from the regions too (Bristol for example). If they were to continue this and truely become British Airways, and not London Airways 🙂 then the offering of Club might be something I could be tempted with, particularly as I said before for the TPs if nothing else.

  19. Free middle seat is nice, but in theory (though not in practice) you could get that cheaper by buying two economy seats – shame one can’t do that and keep both of them when they’re paid for.
    But the important bit is fast track security hassle and priority boarding, and lounge access for the non-frequent flyers.

  20. Business Class. Seats for people doing business, no? Prime tool of early-21st Century business? A laptop. Seat pitch on A319/320 in BA short haul fleet? Too tight to open a laptop. With the present pitch it is possible to properly open a laptop only in Row 1.

    Aha, but now we have the middle seat blocked with the drinks table. So put the laptop on that and twist your neck. Such a thoughtful upgrade from BA. Blocking the middle seat is nice: but just make the seat pitch longer.

    So do we now look forward to the SAS-style experience with the little cardboard divider to mark off the ‘free sandwich seats’ from the ‘pay for your gruel’ section at the back?

    Don’t be surprised to see Tier Points remain exactly the same for Club World in UK as for Economy.

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