BA Club Europe London to Stockholm review – was it worth the extra money?

BA Club Europe review London Stockholm

On the way to pick up our ex EU flights to Auckland from Stockholm, I had a fantastic flight in Club Europe which I thought I would share with you. Stockholm is classed as a long route so gets the full 3-course meal service which is an improvement from the previous Club Europe food. The medium and short routes don’t get anything like this, unfortunately. You can work out what you will receive in Club Europe using my Guide to new Club Europe Catering.

Roving Reporter travelled on the same flight in economy so I was also mention some of his experience as comparison.

Check-in and lounge

As usual, I used the First Wing check in and was in the First lounge in just a few minutes.

The First lounge is for Gold card holders and those travelling in Forst but if you are actually travelling in First you would be better off in the Concorde Room. On this day the lounge was very crowded and a complete mess. Every table and even one chair was piled up with used glasses, plates and general rubbish. The staff appeared harrassed and fed up. We eventually managed to find a seat on the terrace to be faced with a dry January display of soft drinks everywhere. Given that I was travelling most of January, dry January was definitely not happening for me or Roving Reporter! Fortunately, we managed to find some Rose Henriot champagne to drink instead!

the Terrace, BA First lounge T5 Heathrow

The Terrace, BA First lounge T5 Heathrow

Since Roving Reporter was going to be slumming it in economy, we decided to have something more substantial to eat in the lounge and had a look at the current menu.

BA First lounge Heathrow T5 menu

BA First lounge Heathrow T5 menu

We both decided to try the duck bao buns as they are one of my favourite things to eat. The buns were tasty although not the best I have had (Virgin’s clubhouse ones were better). The kettle chips with them was a strange choice though even if they were chilli flavoured!

BA Club Europe review London Stockholm

Duck bao buns

If you have travelled through Heathrow I am sure that you will have had the text survey asking about your lounge experience. I filled this in with my honest reaction to the lounge which was not at its best. I was truly surprised when upon landing in Stockholm I received a call from one of Heathrow’s BA Managers to discuss my comments. He was genuinely apologetic and explained they were short staffed due to illness and offered to credit me some Avios without any prompting. Sure enough 2 days later 3000 Avios were credited to my account. Whilst the lounge experience wasn’t great, the fact that this service recovery was done makes a huge difference in my eyes.

You can see more in-depth reviews of the BA Heathrow lounges for Club and First here.

Boarding

The new boarding process has started but since we were going to be bussed to the aircraft it was completely pointless getting there too early as we would simply spend even longer standing on a bus waiting for all the other groups. I will report back on the group boarding experience after my flights over the next couple of weeks.

Onboard service

I was in my usual seat, 1F which has loads of leg room unless the rest of Club Europe which has the same legroom as economy. In fact, Roving Reporter had more leg room than most of Club Europe as he was in the exit row!

BA Club Europe review London Stockholm

View from 1F and a little G&T before dinner

I was served by a wonderful cabin crew called Gary. Not only did he look after me extremely well he took the time to have a chat and a bit of a laugh. This is why I still enjoy flying BA even with the ups and downs. When you get a good cabin crew member they can’t be beaten by many airlines. Whilst a lot of airlines have a more consistently good service, when you get one of the great BA crew, I always enjoy the banter which you don’t get elsewhere.

We were given a hot towel and a printed menu to have a look at.

BA Club Europe review

The menu looked pretty good to me and I had trouble choosing which main course I wanted as they both sounded tasty. I decided to give me a bit of challenge and go for the lobster pasta. Pasta on a plane is always tricky as it is usually very overlooked or dried out.

Before dinner I decided to have a G&T for a change as I am a bit fed up with Castel-no champagne now. There was a choice of Gordon’s or Tanqueray. Naturally I went for the Tanqueray. Gary, bless him, seemed to be on a mission to get me drunk and kept offering me extra gins! Normally I would have been delighted but on this occasion I was trying to get an article done before RR and I started our journey to New Zealand the following day.

BA Club Europe review

Tray with starter, cheese and dessert

The tray was presented as usual with the starter, cheese and dessert. BA use very small square trays in Club now which I find very irritating. They don’t actually fit on the tables properly as it overhangs the end and everything is squeezed in really tightly. The prawn salad was OK though the prawns were a bit dull and I’m not a huge fan of wakame. BA seem to have gone a bit ‘wakame’ recently as it seems to appear on very menu.

I stuck with my G&T during dinner as I still had some work to do. If I had wanted wine, there was a choice of 2 red and 2 white from large bottles. I have tried the wines a few times and always find them disappointing. They are generally pretty cheap Spanish or Italian wines and the white is rarely at the right temperature, most usually being lukewarm.

BA Club Europe review

Pasta main

The main course was more successful.  It was a very generous portion and although I am sure a lobster did not go anywhere near the dish unless the chef waved one of the pot, it was still tasty. The sauce tasted more like a creamy tomato sauce than anything. The chicken was moist and flecked with herbs and the pasta was actually not too overdone or mushy. The generous amount of sauce meant that it was not too dry either. Overall a decent dish.

I was glad to see BA had finally changed from cheddar although it didn’t really help me as I can’t eat Brie! The pudding didn’t taste much like hazelnut which is good as I don’t really like them. It tasted more like a tropical cheesecake and was not too heavy or cloying.

Roving Reporter, of course, did not get anything in economy. Unsurprisingly he had come well prepared with a Fortnum and Mason hamper from T5. These give you a full meal in a lovely blue Fortnum’s cool bag. You can read more about the Hamperlings in this article. Overall RR had saved around £50 on his journey compared to me and ended up with a similar amount of space around him with 2 seats free next to him and a decent meal he bought himself. Obviously he only got 5 tier points versus my 40.

After dinner I finished my article and decided to have a Brandy as they serve the Camus VSOP cognac in Club Europe which I enjoy. All throughout the flight Gary had worked his socks off up and down the aisle making sure everyone was topped up and chatting away with the passengers.  Still worried by lack of alcohol consumption (perhaps I had flown with him before?!) Gary bought me not 1 but 3 cognacs! I was very restrained and just drank one and took the other 2 with me.

Conclusion

Apart from a slightly odd starter this was a great flight and for me worth the extra money. I only ever buy Club Europe in a sale where you can normally get seats around £200-250 which is not ridiculous.

Having the extra middle table allows me to work and have a drink at the same time. It may not be a great seat compared to the US domestic First but for Europe it is fairly standard apart from the legroom beyond row 1.

Gary was a delight and made my flight for me. If only BA could achieve a consistent level of service it would make a huge difference.

For me it was worth the extra money but Roving Reporter was also happy with his exit seat. At the end of the day it’s down to personal preference and whether you need the tier points.

You can find more information about British Airways Club Europe here and find more of my Club Europe reviews here.

2 Comments on "BA Club Europe London to Stockholm review – was it worth the extra money?"

  1. Another great review thanks for all your valuable information. I recently flew from AMS-BKK and found three out of my four flights in Club were excellent. AMS-LHR-AMS legs the breakfast were all piping hot and both the crews were really chatty. Boarding at AMS was chaotic due to economy passengers queuing in the priority lane, however stayed in the queue due to being bused to the aircraft. Lounges at AMS and Heathrow were nice and quite due to my early departures and loved the Bacon butties at Heathrow.

    On my fight from LHR-BKK my club lounge experience was very poor, I started off at the North Lounge, but I could not find a single seat and thus left. I then made my way up to the South Lounge and although this time there I did find myself a seat there was nothing to eat other than kettle crisps. I was told that I had unfortunately arrived between a breakfast and a lunch changeover. When the dishes finally arrived it was like waiting in a que at a buffet wedding. On the plane the crew were a lot older than you see on Qatar, but they all worked their socks off and everybody in club could not thank them enough on their arrival. The meal presentation was extremely high and very tasty. The drinks were always flowing, because the crew wanted to really look after all their club passengers. They even dealt with an emergency in club and probably saved a guys life. The club kitchen was also well stocked.

    On my way back from BKk-LHR I used Cathy Pacific Lounge that was very nice, but it sooner filled up and some passengers ended up sitting in the noddle bar that is far less comfortable. Boarding worked well and people did not rush to the front either. The sad part was the crew were a mixed crew. They were a young crew, the same age as a Qatar crew, but not the same efficiency. It was sad that not one of them even smiled, during my flight. The presentation of the food was really bad, there was gravy down the sides of the plates and the presentation was atrocious. I was sitting in row three and every meal in my vicinity went back, because the dishes were so over cooked. The light meals were exactly the same. The club kitchen was not filled once during the 13 hour flight other than with apples and bananas. Even when departing the crew did not look up at any of their deaparting customers to say goodbye.

    I just have a few questions to ask you why is there such a big difference between the older and mixed fleet crews? Is the training different or is there some other fundamental problem? Why is there no consistency on BA?

    My other question relates to a flight I have from LHR-HEL later in the year. I bought an economy ticket thinking I could use some of my 50,000 points to upgrade, however I can upgrade but it will only allow me to use 6100 of more points plus £190 for the upgrade. Is this normal or is there another way you can increase the amount of points paid in order to reduce my cash payment?

    Thank you again for your informative site.

    • Hi Ian. Thanks for your kind comments. With mixed fleet they have a high turnover so often lack in experience onboard and due to their younger average age sometimes lack in sophistication and life experience. The legacy crew have no turnover other than people leaving as they don’t recruit anymore for them. I believe the lack of consistency is poor management on BA’s part. They work with different people on every flight and unless someone complained they can be poor without anyone knowing let alone doing anything about it. I have had excellent and shocking crew from both fleets so I think it is luck of the draw often. With your upgrade it sounds like you are being offered a cash upgrade which you can reduce with Avios. You probably have an economy ticket that is one of the fares classes that can’t be upgraded. You can only upgrade the higher cost more flexible tickets. The best way to do it is as part of the booking process as then you know that you can definitely upgrade that ticket.

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