I recently tabulated that we've earned over a million miles in the last four years. You've certainly tabulated that British Airways program has gone through major changes in the last year. While going anywhere far and meaningful in first or business class has all but gone out the window, flying short distances, especially on "off peak" avios mileage deals is a better value than ever. The purpose of reviews like this one are to educate, curb enthusiasm and give the tools necessary to make a decision on whether or not it's right for you. I redeemed 7,750 "Avios" for a peak at British Airways Club Europe from Paris Orly, the far closer, smaller and better airport to access Paris to London Heathrow. It was simple, it was great and given the value for such few miles I found it tremendous. Just don't expect a bed or even a great big seat. Oh and since I just got 5,000 miles for my flight from New York it was a very even trade!
Going carry on, only thanks to Luggage Forwarding, I decided to check in online and skip the priority "Club Europe" line using my mobile boarding pass to head straight for security. If you have bags, the check in can be found by walking further into Terminal Ouest (West) around area C on the left side of the area if facing the gates. Fortunately, Club Europe does involve a fast track and it really came in handy here. There was a terrible line for economy yet it took me only mere seconds to get through. That's worth more than a little to me.
After a breeze through security I made my way downstairs. They say you build from the ground up and I guess the french builders took it literally. Regardless, I made my way to the British Airways/Open Skies joint lounge. Ok so the entrance probably won't win any design awards, but the brand new "212" at Orly is a great experience.
The design is inspired by Manhattan loft living with exposed beams, windows that remind me of British Airways first class and nice seating areas.
This particular area reminded me less of New York loft living and more like old style train and rail service with facing seats, large windows and great art. As you'll see in the next picture, for a loser like me it also provided a great view....
Much to my delight, the lounge was on the ground floor below the main gate area allowing for stunning views of this Air France 777-300 pushing back from the gate. I even got the gate in mid push! Loved it.
Of course, in a lounge most of you are much more concerned with the food and drink offerings than the taxiing planes outside. I was in the lounge during breakfast time and though there were no hot food offerings there were nice pastries, fresh fruit and a great cappuccino maker. I had two cups! Fortunately, my mom and dad were close on my tail and sent me these photos from their time in the lounge on the later afternoon flight. It appears there were nice hot and cold options including pasta as well as high end wine.
Ah the French, they do pastry so well yet manage to be so thin... Bastards.
Thanks Mom for the picture below, looks good to me! Nice to know there is warm food offerings for the lunch/evening time.
The Seat + MEal + Booze
As you may have guessed, business is basically just an economy seat in the front of the cabin with the middle seat blocked out. You can use the middle seat and attachment to store items or get some work done which is handy for some. For a flight of this magnitude I found the seat more than adequate though nothing to smile about like some of these. Because of the brevity of options (none) and flight I chose to lump the review of the seat, food and drink into one section.
I must say I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of service given the one hour or less duration of the flight. For those of you who think British Airways meals are crap, come ride around in the states, dogs eat better! I really enjoyed my cold antipasto breakfast.
And of course the only thing better than breakfast is a champagne breakfast. I just loved the mini bottles!
And the only thing better than reaching your final destination with champagne and coffee is all the above with a fast track ticket through customs.
Celebrities do a terrible job at blending in. Even though I got through immigration very quickly it was my first time entering the UK since applying for Registered Traveller and thus I needed to wait to receive my special card. Fortunately this gave Laura time to spot Chinese mega chef Ken Hom. Who clearly looks like an extra from Men in Black and The Matrix....
I guess the primary question is would I pay cash for this. Unless I was on a very tight schedule or in a major hurry for time I would probably say no. The ability to redeem just 7,750 Avios one way, which carry a cash equivalent of $77 if used towards the price of a paid ticket represents excellent value. For my flights the return price for Club Europe was over $400 meaning I got more than $200 worth of flying for a pittance in miles. If you are mileage rich the upgraded experience from check in through immigration is worth a few extra miles to me, maybe just not a few more dollars.
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