It’s fair to say that intra-European business class isn’t great.
A blocked middle seat and free food and drinks is (with a handful of exceptions – looking at you Turkish and Aeroflot) about as good as it gets.
That said, British Airways has an extensive European network and its short haul business class product, ‘Club Europe’ is a solid way to travel.
The big catch is that on the short-haul Airbus aircraft you’ll be likely to fly, you’ll only actually get more leg room if you’re travelling in row one – and these are blocked for British Airways gold card holders (though they may be released 24 hours before departure for other passengers).
Everyone else will find themselves sitting in a regular economy seat, albeit with the centre seat blocked, meaning all business passengers can choose an aisle or a window seat.
So what do you get for your money (or miles)?
This review covers a flight from London Heathrow to Budapest, Hungary.
Booking the flight
This flight was booked around six weeks in advance direct on ba.com.
We booked Reward Flight Saver redemption tickets, which are a good use of Avios (BA’s air mile currency) for European business class flights.
The price for this one-way journey was £322 plus 32,000 avios for two adults and two children.
Boarding was chaotic for this Sunday evening flight as none of information screens in Terminal 3 were working, meaning we had to visit the BA lounge to find out our departure gate.
When we arrived at our gate, the information screens displayed Barcelona as our destination, though this was another technology fail.
Boarding was delayed because the flight deck and cabin crew weren’t on the aircraft and only began at our 7.45pm take-off time.
This Airbus A320 was set up in the usual BA short haul configuration, with five rows of business class seats. There were three seats on each side of the aisle, though the middle seats were blocked.
There were about 15 passengers in business class, meaning the cabin was about three-quarters full.
Classical music was played during boarding and Robbie, the customer services manager, welcomed us on board and asked us to let her know if we needed anything.
We asked if the kids could visit the cockpit but, understandably with the delay, the crew asked us to do this on arrival in Budapest.
The first officer explained that our delay was caused by multiple issues at Heathrow, including a baggage system going down, aircraft delays and bad weather, adding that our flight would take around two hours.
We pushed back from the stand at 8.15pm and took off at 8.40pm – almost an hour later than our scheduled departure time.
After take-off, drinks orders were taken and passengers were asked for their choice of hot meal.
We were all able to have our choice of main course (probably helped by the fact we were seated in row one and served first).
The food quality was good, especially the chicken main course, the cheese and the dessert.
A choice of wine and spirits was available and the cabin crew were only too happy to keep the champagne flowing (even with just 20 minutes to landing). The Union coffee was also good.
The washroom was kept (mostly) clean throughout the flight and was stocked with White Company toiletries.
We arrived at 11:30pm local time – one hour ahead of the UK, and about 20 minutes late.
Although it’s not universally popular, Club Europe is about as good as it gets for European business class and I appreciate the extra space, comfort and free meals provided.
Reward Flight Saver redemptions can be great for securing business class seats when cash fares are high – as was the case with this flight at the start of UK half term.
What do you make of European business class?