Why Did British Airways Rescind Their Free First Class Upgrade Offer?

Filed Under: British Airways

I received several emails from readers regarding an email which British Airways sent out to select Executive Club members yesterday. The email read (in part) as follows:

We recently wrote to you with information about an Upgrade to First offer.

The email was sent in error, we would like to sincerely apologise for this and any confusion caused.

We appreciate your understanding and hope to welcome you on board soon.


This email came about 30 hours after the email about enjoying a “complimentary upgrade to first.”


This isn’t at all an unusual offer on the part of British Airways, as they seem to offer these “complimentary” upgrades to first class a couple of times a year (you have to book at least a semi-flexible business class fare to qualify, so this isn’t quite as generous as it sounds to the average deal-seeking traveler).

So what gives? Why did British Airways rescind the offer? It’s because the promotion is intended specifically for residents of the UK and Ireland, yet they sent out an email blast to all Executive Club members:

This promotion is only open to Eligible Participants. An Eligible Participant is a person: resident in the United Kingdom or Ireland

So it’s nothing personal. British Airways doesn’t hate you specifically, but rather hates all of us outside the UK/Ireland equally. 😉

They sure could use a better filter before sending out emails, because this is far from the first time they’ve made such a mistake.

  1. Totally off-topic, but the BA topic had me thinking about my next trip to South Pacific…
    Is there any good way to use AAdvantage miles to get to New Zealand from US east coast in J/F? With routing rules, seems like Qantas would be the only “cheap” way. Any thoughts?

  2. Didnt the fine print say that you had to be a resident of UK or Ireland to get this perk? I figured I got the correction email since I live in US.

  3. Interestingly, I got the email saying I could upgrade, but no correction email to tell me that the offer wasn’t targeted to me finally. I’m in Canada.

  4. I also received the offer while i have no status whatsoever with BA. They may have accidentally sent the offer to every frequent flyer in their programme, and realized later on that it was only meant for top-tier elites?

  5. After I saw the subject “Apology from British Airways” I was just glad it wasn’t another hacking issue.

  6. Nai: Two options that I can see, neither of them very good, but here goes…

    First is to find a connection through HNL. The planes that tend to fly those routes available for award fares typically don’t have premium cabins that are suited for a long flight, and the booking seems to want to stick me on in an economy seat for at least one leg of the journey even on a business award.

    Second option, it’s longer and costs more points (95K per leg vs. 67K). Book a flight on JAL to Tokyo, Japan, and from there you’ll be able to book a flight on Qantas to AKL, SYD, or anywhere in NZ or AU. Not the most ideal option, but at least it will get you there in premium cabins. Food for thought.

  7. This is the third apology-for-the-mistake email I’ve reveived from BA in the past six months…

  8. I got the apology email too, but i’m from Ireland and my exec account is registered there too so i was technically eligible – maybe just a blanket apology so??

  9. @Nai, Qantas is notoriously stingy with their award space. I’ve only seen Qantas J/F open a handful of times via AAdvantage award charts. I called AA reservations to try to book a one-way in J/F from New Zealand but the only routing they could find was with Fiji Aiways or Hawaiian.

    Surprisingly enough, the “best” program to get to/from the S. Pacific is SkyMiles (Delta is partnered w/Virgin Australia). A tip- only search award tickets to/from LAX. I managed to pay just 80,000 SkyMiles for a ATL to ZQN (Queenstown) biz class ticket, but those are impossible to find now. But if you run that same route search today, it’s about 125,000 SkyMiles.

  10. @ Nai — Qantas is the only good way, unfortunately. And given the lack of award space, it’s tricky. You can always book two awards and go via Hong Kong instead.

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