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Review: British Airways A320 Club Europe Business (FCO-LHR)

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Our time in Italy had come to a close and it was time for us to begin the trip home. First up, a flight in British Airways Club Europe from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport to London Heathrow


Booking

Award availability to and from Europe has been in extremely high demand this summer as people return to the skies. I shopped around for a while before I found Business Class tickets on British Airways from Rome to Houston via London on British Airways. I booked our tickets for 57.5k American AAdvantage miles each plus a whopping $500 in taxes and fees. Those fuel surcharges when transiting London are steep but it was still a better deal than paying cash for our tickets.


American had availability on FCO-DFW-AUS but wanted over 200k miles per ticket so this seemed like a no brainer. Our routing did require an overnight stay in London, but we moved our flight up to allow us to spend some time in the city.


Pre-Flight

We arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino airport just after 11:30a and returned our rental car to Avis. Though our fight wasn’t until later in the afternoon, some of our traveling companions were on the 1:55p American flight to DFW so we wanted to make sure they had plenty of time as well.

We walked over the skybridge from the rental car return to the Terminal 3 ticket hall and found the British Airways desks at stations 226-229. There were a few folks in the Club Europe line who were trying to get some travel issues sorted out but we were able to check our bags and get our boarding passes printed within 15 minutes. We also asked about moving to one of the earlier flights but were told that they had been delayed and our regularly scheduled flight was due to depart before the earlier ones.

Boarding passes in hand we headed off to security and passport control and we were airside just before noon, only 20 minutes after arriving at the airport. We followed the signs for the departure gates and the British Airways Lounge to relax before our flight.


Lounge

The British Airways Lounge in Rome was opened in 2018 to great fanfare so I was excited to check it out. The lounge was quite spacious and had plenty of seating and natural light. It also featured some massive floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the ramp which was great for plane spotting. You can read the full review of the lounge here.

While the lounge was nice, 3 hours is still a long time to sit in an airline lounge, we did venture out into the terminal to do some shopping and get a real, sit down lunch before boarding.


Boarding

Our flight was departing from gate 31 in the E gates, and the satellite at that, so we left the lounge at 2:30 to start our walk over. Some portions of the terminal were under construction so be sure to follow the signs.

On the tram ride over from the main terminal I managed to get a glimpse of G-EUYN, a 11 year old A320 that would be taking us to London.

British Airways A320 G-EUYN at Rome-Fiumicino Airport
G-EUYN is our ride up to London today

Boarding began at 2:40p, a five minute delay from our scheduled boarding time, and there was a mad rush towards the gate. The British Airways agents called group numbers initially but everyone seemed to ignore it and swarmed the podium. We made it through the swarm only to be stuck on the jet bridge as the crew was still in the process of cleaning the aircraft.

Rome-Fiumicino Airport Jet Bridge
Waiting to board our A320 to London

British Airways

BA 547

FCO-LHR (Rome-Fiumicino International - London Heathrow)

Seat: 11C (Business)

A320-200 (G-EUYN)

Scheduled: 3:10p-4:50p

Actual: 4:00p-5:26p


Once on board, we made the long walk back to row 11 and found our seats. The Club Europe cabin on this flight took up the entire front half of the plane but we got lucky with the fact that the exit row was marked as Club Europe giving us some additional legroom.

British Airways A320 Club Europe Business Class Cabin
British Airways A320 Club Europe Cabin

It was noticeably warm on board the aircraft and one of the flight attendants was running around with his shirt untucked and it was covered in stains, they must have had a wild ride down from London earlier that day.


Seat

As most people know, intra-Europe business class consists of nothing more than an Economy seat with a blocked middle. Aside from the bulkhead, all of the seats have the same legroom as Economy with the exception of the exit rows.

British Airways A320 Exit Row Seats
British Airways A320 Exit Row

Most of the business class seats had a small tray table in the middle seats but it seemed there weren’t enough loaded on this aircraft. The last few rows of Club Europe were missing them, though we didn't find that to be an issue.

British Airways A320 Club Europe Business Class Blocked Middle Seat
British Airways A320 Club Europe "Blocked" Middle Seat

Legroom was decent and the seats had a tray table that folded out from the seat in front. Power outlets were also located underneath the seats.

Unfortunately, these seats were the newer slimline versions that have become popular for many airlines. There wasn't much padding and support and my back was starting to hurt towards the end of the flight.


Menu

During boarding, flight attendants came around with the menu for today’s flight which you can see below.

The British Airways buy on board menu was also in the seatback pocket and had a wide variety of snacks and drinks available.


Departure

As the final preparations for departure were being made, the captain came out into the front of the aircraft to do preflight announcements and also informed us that we had been given a one hour slot delay into London Heathrow. He promised to keep us up to date as he got more information.

British Airways A320 Interior
In my experience, when the Captain stands at the front to make announcements you're probably delayed

A few minutes after his initial announcement, he came back on the radio and told us that our delay had been shortened to 35 minutes. At this point, flight attendants handed out water to both the Club Europe and Economy cabins.

British Airways Water Service
Water service during our slot delay

The doors closed at 4:00p and by 4:15 we were airborne and climbing out of Rome.

We flew west out over the Tyrrhenian Sea before turning northwest towards London.

British Airways A320 Departing Rome-Fiumicino
British Airways A320 Departing Rome

In Flight

Beverage service started 15 minutes after takeoff. I had a glass of champagne which was accompanied by a bag of Socca nut mix.

British Airways Club Europe Business Class Pre-Meal Snack
British Airways Club Europe Pre-Meal Snack

Unfortunately for my appetite, the person in 2D decided to kick his shoes off and prop his bare feet up in the aisle. At least I was 9 rows back and didn’t have to smell it.

Barefoot man on British Airways flight
This Should be Illegal

A little over an hour after departing Rome, the flight attendant reached our row and took our order. Both Mrs. ATX Jetsetter and I had the pea and barley risotto with grilled prawns or, as the kid in front of me kept calling it, the Shrek pasta. The full meal service was served on a single tray.

British Airways A320 Club Europe Business Class Meal
British Airways Club Europe Pea and Barley Risotto with Prawns

The meal itself was ok, though the shrimp was overcooked and had a consistency closer to a chicken breast.


After the meal I headed to visit the lavatory. Though this plane was only 11 years old, the lavatory was showing some signs of wear and there was a significant stain in the front sink. (Are they pouring coffee down this thing?)

Back at my seat, I spent some time talking with Brian, the purser on our flight. He wanted to hear all about our travels and provided us some recommendations on places to see and things to do while in London. Brian spends part of his time as cabin crew and part of his time working with VIP guests at Heathrow, so he had a lot of interesting insights to share with us.


Towards the end of the flight, I was getting thirsty and decided to order the Speed Bird OG IPA. This beer was a partnership between Brewdog and British Airways and was specially created to be enjoyed in-flight. This is similar to the partnership Delta and Sweetwater Brewing have in the states. The beer was good, though I couldn't tell a noticeable difference between this beer and one on the ground (which is probably the point).

British Airways Brewdog Speedbird IPA
Please do not make fun of me too much for this pour

Arrival

We began our descent just before 5:00p local time and at that point I was able to see London off in the distance.

British Airways A320 View Approaching London
View Approaching London

We touched down at London Heathrow just before 5:20p local time and taxied over to Terminal 5 B.

We parked at the end of the terminal which made for a long walk to the terminal train.

Immigration was a breeze and we found ourselves at baggage claim 20 minutes after arrival. From there, we headed off to the tube station to catch our train into London.


Summary

Aside from the delay, which was out of the airline's control, I was pleasantly surprised by this flight. It had been a few years since I've last flown British Airways and I wasn't sure what to expect. European Business Class isn't anything special but on this flight, having extra legroom in the exit row combined with decent food and great service from the crew, makes this one rank up towards the top (Aside from Mr. No-Shoes in 2D). Combine that with a great outstation lounge in Rome, and I'd gladly fly British Airways on this route again.


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