Following on from the last post about Reward Flight Saver redemptions, today I will deal with one of the ways to get maximum value for your Avios.
British Airways allows you to buy a ticket for cash, and then use Avios to upgrade to a higher class of travel. BA call this “Upgrade Using Avios” (UuA).
Here is a quick picture guide to British Airways’ cabins, pay attention to the abbreviations, I’ll be using them from now on:
World Traveller (WT):
World Traveller Plus (WT+)
Club World (CW):
What are the rules?
Here are some of the key rules associated with UuA:
1. You can only upgrade by one class (e.g. from CW to F)
2. You cannot upgrade a discounted WT ticket (i.e. cheap economy tickets).
3. You can upgrade almost any WT+ or CW ticket
4. You can only UuA on British Airways, although if you are connecting onto an American Airlines or Iberia flight, you may be able to upgrade all legs.
5. You will still earn Avios and tier points on the ticket you pay for with cash (i.e. when upgrading from CW to F, you will still earn CW Avios and Tier Points)
What upgrade is the best value?
By far and away the best UuA, and potentially the best use of avios overall, is to buy a WT+ ticket with cash, and UuA to CW.
To best demonstrate why buying a WT+ ticket and then upgrading to CW produces the best value, I have calculated upgrades between all classes for a RETURN flight from London to New York or Tokyo, using dates of 2 – 9 September 2013. All these options are freely available on ba.com.
|Destination||Type of Upgrade||Avios to upgrade||Avios Earned on cash part of ticket||Net Avios to upgrade||Price of original ticket||Cash value of upgraded ticket||Difference in price||Value per Avios|
|New York||WT to WT+||20000||6916||13084||£1516||£872||WT+ is cheaper!||WT+ is cheaper!|
|WT+ to CW||20000||8646||11354||£872||£2506||£1634||£0.14|
|CW to F||40000||10374||29626||£2506||£6210||£3700||£0.12|
|Tokyo||WT to WT+||30000||12444||17556||£2000||£1248||WT+ is cheaper!||WT+ is cheaper!|
|WT+ to CW||30000||15556||14444||£1248||£3242||£1994||£0.14|
|CW to F||60000||18666||41334||£3242||£6505||£3264||£0.08|
This clearly shows how upgrading from WT to WT+ is terrible value, as a fully flexible ticket in economy (only this type of economy ticket can be upgraded) is an absolute fortune!
How do I book?
1. Sign into your British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) account, click “Spending Avios” then “Book with cash and upgrade with Avios”
2. Book your flight as usual, then sign into “Manage My Booking” on ba.com and follow the option to upgrade using Avios.
3. Call the BAEC
How do I check availability?
You can sign into your BAEC account, and click “Book flights with Avios”. By searching this way, you can see all the redemption availability for each cabin and route. You can also utilise BA’s helpful “availability calendar” to see a wide range of dates. The availability is identical for UuA and booking flights with Avios outright.
How many Avios do I need to upgrade?
I have put together a chart of how many Avios are needed to upgrade from WT+ to CW for a range of destinations from London.
These are the amounts for a one-way flight, so double for a return flight. You can also double to get the correct figure for a CW to F upgrade.
REMEMBER – these amounts do not take into account the amount of Avios you will earn on the cash part of your ticket. This loophole usually means you will actually pay about half of the amount shown.
|Destination||Avios to upgrade|
|Rio De Janeiro||15000|
UuA used in the right way can extract up to £0.14 value or more from each and every Avios! It also puts into context the value of your 20,000 bonus points from the Amex gold card. You could use these 20,000 for a return upgrade to Club World to New York and back worth £1634!
For more information on this process from BA themselves, click here.
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Thanks for reading!