British Airways Releases TONS Of Business Class Award Seats

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One of the things that I appreciate about British Airways Executive Club is that they guarantee a certain amount of award availability on each flight.

British Airways guarantees a minimum of two business class and four economy class award seats on all British Airways flights, which are made available 355 days before departure. It’s nice to have some guaranteed award space, even if it comes with high fees.

British Airways now has even more award seats

At the moment British Airways is doing even better than that.

British Airways has announced that they’ve made more than 50,000 additional award seats available across their Club World (longhaul business class) cabin.

This is valid for bookings through December 2, 2018, and for travel between December 16, 2018, and March 31, 2019.

You’ll find these additional award seats across routes to all of British Airways’ longhaul destinations, and they should be bookable regardless of whether you’re redeeming British Airways Avios or partner airline miles.

I’ve never seen British Airways availability this good

This isn’t just a gimmick, I’m legitimately seeing a huge increase in award seats here. For example, historically flights between London and Los Angeles are among the toughest to snag award seats on, while right now I see business class award seats almost every day this winter.

And it’s not just that there are additional seats on many flights, but the number of additional seats is almost mind-bogglingly good.

For example, picking a random date in January for travel from London to Los Angeles, I see at least nine business class award seats on two flights, and eight on another flight. Wow, I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen this much award space on British Airways.

These flights come with significant carrier imposed surcharges, so it’s not all great news. A one-way from London to Los Angeles will cost you 62,500 Avios plus $392.35 (which actually isn’t that bad, given that this includes the roughly $200 UK Air Passenger Duty — the surcharges are much higher if originating in the US).

Upgrading British Airways flights is an even better deal

British Airways uses the same availability for both award tickets and upgrades. So a good value could be to book a British Airways premium economy ticket and then upgrade to business class for a reasonable number of Avios.

For example, and I’m sure there are better values out there, you could book a roundtrip premium economy ticket from Los Angeles to London for $1,375.

Then you could redeem 30,000 Avios in each direction to upgrade to business class, and then you’d earn miles for the ticket (which you could even credit to a partner airline if you wanted to). You would have to pay any incremental fuel surcharges and fees for business class over premium economy, though.

To figure out how many Avios are required for a ticket, consult the Avios award chart:

Zone // Flight DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Business
Off Peak // Peak
First
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 200,000

The number of Avios required to upgrade is the difference in Avios required for an award ticket between the cabin you book and one cabin higher (so in this case it’s 62,500 Avios one-way for a business class award and 32,500 Avios one-way for a premium economy award, so you’d need 30,000 Avios to upgrade).

This is an excellent opportunity, so hopefully lots of you can take advantage of this additional award space, either to book an award ticket or to upgrade.

There are lots of ways to earn Avios

If you want to earn Avios to be able to book these tickets, British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, and there’s also the British Airways Visa Signature® Card.

Earn Avios

On top of that, through today (November 14, 2018), Amex is offering a 40% bonus when you convert points to British Airways Executive Club, which can get you even more value with your Avios.

Do you plan on taking advantage of this additional award space?

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Comments

  1. Lucky, in your case for using Avios to upgrade PE fares, don’t forget that BA charges the incremental fuel surcharges between the PE and J ticket. Departing the US, these incremental fuel surcharges can be in the $300-700 range for a round trip, in my experience.

  2. Well of course they would : their YQ is probably like 75% of the J fare, so it’s not like they are losing anything by releasing more seats….

  3. I feel like if BA had a better Business class, I’d take up this opportunity
    But given that they have a highly uncompetitive Business class, I wouldn’t
    P.S. Is the premium economy good? Might try for that

  4. Lucky, don’t forget that BA charges incremental fuel surcharges for the higher cabin when upgrading using Avios. For roundtrip PE-J upgrades departing the US, these incremental surcharges can amount to anywhere between $300 and $700 in my experience, and can alter the value proposition for some.

  5. Anyone know why JNB-CPT now has $115 fees on an award flight. I am pretty sure last week it was between $40-$50. Did BA raise the surcharge across the board? Looks like economy went up also to $65.

  6. Regarding what Derek stated about the changes to upgrade. I’ve found that the vast majority of BA agents calculate this incorrectly and so you can get wildly different numbers for the same upgrade. If you take the time to calculate the difference in YQ charges you can correct the agents and get a much lower rate. GSTP had a good write up about this that was most helpful.

  7. Every time I fly LAX-LHR and reverse on BA in the winter, the business cabins are 75% full at best, and they are trying to upsell WT+ at check-in, so this is probably a way of them to come to terms with sluggish winter sales

  8. “…this is probably a way of them to come to terms with sluggish winter sales”
    Yup, I’m sure this is the reason behind it.

    Hmmm… why would Lucky use the cheaper LHR -LAX cost as an example instead of the much more expensive LAX-LHR flight? Many people, like me, who live in California would book a round trip ticket so that we could get home. Why not present the real cost of a round trip flight instead of hiding the cost of a LAX -LHR flight?

    “You would have to pay any incremental fuel surcharges and fees for business class over premium economy, though.” After all the effort put into writing this article, why not include how much the incremental costs are? Is it because you don’t want to show how much more it will actually cost? As a travel master, it would be very easy for Lucky to post these important numbers.

    Could it be that the purpose of this article is to help BA generate more business? This does not sound like an objective article.

  9. @beachfan

    Given BA and LH have both made their YQ much higher out only out of the US recently, it seems safe to assume it has something to do with how much cheaper and easier it is to collect miles in the US than in their European home markets. They may well feel mileage redemptions has become too one-sided.

    It’s also worth noting demand from the US end has generally just been much higher the last couple years than vice versa – paid prices across the Atlantic are generally cheaper from UK/Europe as well.

  10. @Kerry

    You’re probably correct. There are likely to be more Avios collectors in the U.S. via credit card bonuses and transfers, and we do like to fly premium class given the chance! With regard to the generally higher pricing out of the US, this may also be pricing what BA assumes the market can afford? Anyhow, despite the high taxes and fees, we’ve enjoyed our Summer trip to the UK in BA Club World, although it’s sad to admit that we enjoyed United “fake” Polaris (on 787) last week better – the FAs are more comfortable in their roles and proactive in their service (i.e. topping up wine without asking). We do like the lounges in T5 and T2 too ;>)

  11. Interesting, and yet there is not a single day with 2 First class awards available on any LAX-LHR flights with BA.

  12. BA may be offering great availability, but this is ridiculous when trying to fly them. I went to see if I could surprise my wife and kids with a trip to London and the award would cost me 575,000 miles for 5 business class seats. That’s the good part. The bad part….they want me to fork over $7,235.65 in taxes and fees ($1,447.13 per person). That is f***g outrageous. Who would pay $7k in fees for an award ticket?!? So while they are making seats available, the taxes and fees might might just prevent people from availing themselves to these seats. BA might actually see that the flood of seats will actually do little to advance bookings on these flights and it should give them insights on how unreasonable the taxes and fees on award flights if the intended to see an influx of bookings.

  13. Greg, I’m pretty sure there s only one F class award seat per flight. I have tried many times.

    I guess BA don’t like people using 2-4-1 deals in F

    Patrick,

    People do pay these feees. I’ve done a few times. If the alternative is a 5K round trip for cash, the award is still a good deal

  14. You left out the phrase “absolute panic at BA due to Brexit-induced chaos in UK politics – including inability for BA to fly vast numbers of their routes.”

    No-deal Brexit is a real possibility, and while a few people have been making noises about aviation side deals, no one who has paid any attention to how the negotiations have been going thinks any side deal will be straightforward. Time’s running out.

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