How to get British Airways' Euro business when you book economy

By John Walton, June 7 2012
How to get British Airways' Euro business when you book economy

If you're flying British Airways around Europe, how does sitting in a business class seat when you're booked in economy sound?

After a few test runs, we're confident that this travel hack works the majority of the time, leaving you towards the front of the plane, in a wider seat with extra legroom and nobody beside you.

Essentially, you get all the benefits of Club Europe apart from the inflight food and the choice of a glass of champagne to drink. Sounds good to us...

First, you need to understand how Eurobusiness works

The trick is to keep an eagle eye out for when the final seat layout is released a day or two before checkin starts.

BA runs convertible "Eurobusiness" seating that can be winched from 3-3 in economy to 2-2 in business class with the help of a special tool.

A moveable curtain and plastic overhead dividers separate the exalted heights of Club Europe from the peons of Euro Traveller.

Almost always, the curtain (and dividers) will be moved at the beginning of the day to take account of the plane's business class needs for the whole day's flying.

And the seats will be winched to give extra width in business but less room in economy. Here's what the business layout looks like: 

To take account of the varying starting row for business, economy passengers can only pre-select seats a certain way forward -- usually these tend to be the non-convertible, economy-only seats in the back -- when picking seats on booking.

(Note that only frequent flyers holding a oneworld Ruby equivalent of Qantas Silver/BA Bronze -- or higher -- get to pick seats for free. Everyone else has to pay.)

A day or two before online check-in starts, BA's staff figure out where the curtain goes.

It's then that the convertible seats to the rear of the curtain become available for Euro Traveller passengers, and you're free to pick them -- and their extra legroom -- although in a 3-3 configuration rather than the wider 2-2 of Club Europe.

But there's one row -- the "golden row -- which is in 2-2 Club Europe layout, but behind the curtain.

Finding the "golden row": the best two seats in economy

The best of the convertible seats in economy are the seats immediately behind the curtain on the left hand side, which are usually adjusted to a two-across Club Europe mode and not three-across Euro Traveller positions. This is sometimes called the "golden row".

The seats you're after are on the left in the picture below:

Here's what the seat map looked like on a recent Airbus A321 flight I took (that's me in 9A):

You can tell that row 9 is the "golden row" because there are only two seats, A and C, there.

(9A and 9C expand sideways into 9B in Club Europe mode, leaving 9B about a foot wide -- just about enough room for a briefcase or laptop bag during the flight and certainly not wide enough for anyone to sit in.)

And that's it: no middle seat passenger, extra legroom -- and with my oneworld frequent flyer card, I get into the lounge anyway.

As an extra benefit, BA tend not to sit any Club Europe passengers in the row in front of Euro Traveller (probably to avoid the knees-in-back issue), so you'll often have even more legroom than the people paying for Club Europe.

So the only difference between me and the person in Club Europe two rows in front of me is that I don't get a meal and the option of a tiny bottle of champagne during the flight. I can handle that.

Consider the upgrade if...

But also consider: if you happen to be flying from London Gatwick (which is much less miserable than it used to be, thanks in part to a great new BA business class lounge) BA usually runs a deal where you can upgrade to Club Europe after purchasing your Euro Traveller ticket for GBP 69 or EUR 99.

(That works out to A$110 if you take the pounds option or A$127 if you take the Euro option -- you get the pounds option if you book the flight starting in the UK.)

The London Heathrow version of the same scheme is £100 (A$160). 

If you're chasing Qantas (or other oneworld airline) frequent flyer status, the extra A$100 might be worth it for the extra status credits, let alone no middle seatmate and extra legroom.

Take advantage of the upgrade offer via the "Manage My Booking" page if you've booked with BA, or at check-in if you've booked with another airline.

Has the hack worked for you? Do you have a favourite European airline trick that you'd like to share with your fellow AusBT readers? Drop a comment below and sound off!

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

07 Jun 2012

Total posts 32

BA Bronze and above can now choose seats for free, which means that all OW Ruby and above FFs can as well...

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

Good point -- I'm so used to BA requiring Sapphire for seat picks that my brain hadn't registered that BA Bronze was also an option.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 260

I had an A321 flight from FCO-LHR not too long ago, and was the last person to check in. When I got on board and sat down in my aisle seat it took me a few minutes to realise that i'd scored a ClubEurope seat. If I had've known I would've gone for the upgrade though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2012

Total posts 43

I have to say, BA Europe is very un-inspiring. 

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

Compared with domestic Australian flights, absolutely. Compared with the EU's one of the best.

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