Genuine improvements when booking with Avios on ba.com

The BA Executive Club representative over at Flyertalk announced some genuine ‘enhancements’ to ba.com functionality this week.

To give BA credit, their online booking system for reward flights is getting pretty darn good now. It isn’t perfect – anything requiring more than one connection generally throws it – but it beats a heck of a lot of the competition. Lufthansa, for instance, doesn’t let you book any rewards online unless they are on Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian or LOT.

One of the more glaring omissions, though, was the failure to book mixed class redemptions. Just a fortnight ago I had to call to book a Club World out / First back ticket – luckily they waived the telephone booking fee for me.

This has now been fixed, although oddly the system can only handle three booking classes! Search for First or Club World and you don’t see Economy results, only World Traveller Plus, Club World and First. Search for Economy (World Traveller) or World Traveller Plus and you don’t see First!

Here is a typical screenshot with the new look:

BA screenshot

avios.com, of course, has had this functionality for ages. However, that was no use if you were booking with a 2-4-1 voucher or booking a BA partner airline. (avios.com still allows you to see seats in all four booking classes at once, rather than just three!)

There are also some other little tweaks on ba.com, to quote:

Improved RFS (Reward Flight Saver) signposting and new icon to distinguish from standard redemptions
A ‘change flights’ button on the fare quote page to make it easier for you to change selected flights
A new ‘back’ button on the fare quote page to allow enable easier navigation between pages

So, thumbs up to BA for this one. What we REALLY need – although this is unlikely to happen – is for BA to dedicate an special fare class to reward seats in the Global Distribution Systems. This would allow you to use a 3rd party service such as ExpertFlyer to list flights you wanted to fly on and then to receive an email if Avios seats opened up. You can already do this for a lot of airlines.

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Comments

  1. What is the issue with one connection now? This is probably why when I tried a dummy booking fot DUB-BKK and BKK-GLA it only shows me BA availability with the one stop in LHR. In past it would give me 2 stop optionz with AY, MH or RJ. I guess I now have to call to book these? You mentioned booking a return; is there any advantage of doing so cersus two one ways?

    • I need to travel from Glasgow to Berlin in December, and for the first time, the system offered me e.g. GLA-LHR-FRA-TXL and GLA-LHR-DUS-TXL, partly on Air Berlin metal. No Reward Flight Saver though plus a higher Avios requirement, so I’ll stick with GLA-LHR-TXL on BA.

    • Booking a return on BA metal, long-haul, is often cheaper because BA plays games with fuel surcharges, which actually differ based on the ability of the market to sustain them. A one way London to New York and a one way New York to London has SUBSTANTIALLY higher surcharges than a LON-NYC-LON return.

      • Thanks, will be careful to check that out in my redemptions for next year. However, I guess I will be losing avios and cash if I had to cancel or change return leg after departure? For the moment I’m sitting toght for a conversion bonus from Tesco. If it doesn’t appear by the week following next statement I will probably just convert anyway in hope of a redemption sale from BA later in the year. Best result though would be another premium seat sale with WTP to BKK, HKG or SIN around £800-1000 in conjunction with availability for MFU but I realize thats a lot to hope for :)

  2. I never had to pay a phone booking fee for multi class reward redemption. The argument was no other option. It was a pain. Glad it’s been fixed. Thanks for the info :)

  3. The functionality is much improved, when i search for GLA – KUL it now uses MAS for a GLA – LHR – KUL.

    Previously a search would have routed me either via Helsinki with Finnair or HKG via Cathay Pacific.

  4. I thought the major issue with Avios.com was that unless you start in London you can only book economy flights.

  5. Now if they can also add the ability to book or upgrade open jaw online that would be another big improvement. I often fly LHR-AUH DXB-LHR, usually booking WT+ and upgrading to CW with Avios and they never waive the booking fee even though it is impossible to book online.

    • The policy is to only waive the telephone booking fee when the website will not allow you to book something that it was designed to do. As the website isn’t set-up to book open jaws, the policy dictates that you pay the telephone booking fee.

  6. it seems to not let you book a lhr-dubai flight if you choose a qantas flight. you can see the avaliability however you cant book it. its been like that since qantas splt up with ba on the kangaroo routes. anyone know why?

    • AA does not show these, so I think it is a bug. Either that, or they are only available if booked with a DXB SYD (the old ‘married segment’ chestnut).

  7. Anyone know how I can book an open-jaw flight with Exec Club, either full Avios or as an Avios for Upgrade? Will I just simply need to call them and make a fuss that it’s the only option if they want to charge me a fee?

    • It depends on what you’re wanting to book – if it’s an RFS booking then you can just book as 2x one-ways (as taxes/fees are precisely half). However if you’re wanting to book it all as one, either to use an Amex 2-4-1 voucher or due to the taxes/fees for 2x one-ways being greater than a return (as noted above) then you need to call them. It’s certainly worth asking nicely re fee being waived – I’ve certainly heard of folk being successful.

      • Thanks. I called them this morning to book and the agent informed me at the start of the booking that as an open-jaw upgrade booking couldn’t be made on-line there wouldn’t be an off-line service fee. So that was good, no need to even have a rant.