The British Airways ‘On Business’ programme explained (Part 2, 2016 edition)

This is Part 2 of our look at the British Airways On Business loyalty programme for businesses.  This allows a company to earn On Business points – to redeem for flights or upgrades – at the same time as its travellers earn Avios points.

Part 1 can be found here if you missed it.

The sign-up page is here.  If you are signing up, you will qualify for a special sign-up bonus of triple points for your first six one-way flights within 12 months of joining.  If you say on your application form that you were referred by member OB10171896 then I receive a small referral points bonus – thank you!

Today I want to look at whether it is worth redeeming for flight upgrades, and how to earn more points with the British Airways Corporate American Express card.

Redeeming for flight upgrades

The reward chart for upgrading flights using OB points is no longer published, but there are some examples below.  Note that, unlike upgrading with Avios, you can only upgrade with On Business points if it is done at the time of booking.

Upgrades are potentially more attractive than outright redemptions, which I discussed in Part 1.  Almost all economy tickets can now be upgraded with points following the 2015 changes to On Business.  ALL Club World seats are upgradeable.

Upgrades start at 5,000 points long-haul for World Traveller to World Traveller Plus, from 10,500 for World Traveller Plus to Club World and from 7,000 points for Club World to First.   These are one-way prices.  Remember that On Business availability is better than Avios availability so you have a decent chance of being able to upgrade if you wish.

As an example:

Hamburg – Euro Traveller to Club Europe – 4,100 points each way

Dubai – World Traveller to World Traveller Plus – 6,000 points each way

New York – World Traveller Plus to Club World – 13,000 points each way

Tokyo – Club World to First Class – 20,000 points each way

These prices are generous – someone who travels on fully flexible Club World tickets for a Tier 3 company will earn enough for a one-way upgrade to First for every 2-3 return trips they take.

On Business logo

Boosting points with corporate credit cards

American Express issues two British Airways corporate credit cards although I don’t discuss them much on the site.

The details are here.  The earnings rate is no better than for the personal BA Amex cards, but you will earn a 50% bonus on all On Business points when you buy flights using the card.

If you are using your own money to buy a lot of BA long-haul premium tickets, and you have your own company, this benefit could be valuable.  If you assume that 1 OB point is worth 4 Avios (I discussed why in Part 1) and 1 Avios point is worth 1p, then you are arguably getting back an extra 2% of your British Airways expenditure from the additional 0.5 On Business points per £1.

Take care when you join to get the best sign-up bonus

Finally, a slightly odd statement – it may pay you NOT to earn On Business points on every flight!

On Business has a semi-permanent sign-up bonus:

to get your membership off to a flying start, your company will earn triple On Business Points on the first 6 flight sectors your company takes on qualifying flights in your first 12 months of joining

This triple points offer could be hugely rewarding.  You should plan it that the first six sectors you credit are high earning ones.  It is worth NOT putting your OB number in short haul flights if you think you will have longer flights later in the year, as you want your first six ‘triple point’ sectors to really count.

Don’t forget PartnerPlusBenefit – the Star Alliance alternative

Finally, if you are thinking of joining On Business, you should also join PartnerPlusBenefit.  This is the Lufthansa-managed competitor, allowing you to collect on ten of the airlines in Star Alliance.

Full details on PartnerPlusBenefit can be found on Head for Points here.  It also has a sign-up bonus.

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  1. Danksy says:

    I presume uuob (upgrade using onbusiness) generates the tier point and avios entitlement of the equivalent cash ticket?

  2. Is it possible to do one way upgrade?

  3. Genghis says:

    Raffles – FYI I didn’t receive the email of this article this morning but did receive the other two.

  4. Not so sure about the generosity, Rob – if instead a Tier 1 company and non-flex tickets (as is more likely the case) then earnings are massively reduced and it would take much more than a few returns to earn enough for an upgrade. The new earning structure has decimated earning, not to mention making it far less predictable than it used to be.

  5. Would be nice to see an example of upgrading an ex-EU fare with OB points.

    The few times I’ve tried to price this the cash fares the OB site found were way more expensive than the ones had on offer. The OB FAQs make very little mention of what fares/booking classes are eligible to upgrade with points.

  6. Did you know that if you book flight + car hire, or hotel through British Airways no BA OnBusiness points are awarded? Most business travellers will require accommodation or transportation at their destination so I can’t see the logic in this.
    I also tried to use OnBusiness points to upgrade from Club World to First on a recent trip to Australia. The basic cost of the Club World ticket increased by almost £2000 pounds in order to be able to upgrade to First…the mind boggles…

    • Yes, I changed the Part 1 to mention this after it was published. Same applies to BMI credit card holders who claim their 10% discount.

  7. NoneHere says:

    Since the changes last year I’ve found reward availability to be no better than, and substantially less than BA Gold in OnBusiness

    • It is definitely still better than a non-BA Gold gets as I have found myself recently on a couple of occasions.


  1. click hyperlink

    British Airways On Business explained