How to find a British Airways office open at any time (eg midnight for 241 bookings!)

I get a constant stream of emails asking for advice on booking British Airways redemption flights using the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

If you want to be 100% certain of getting the flights you want, you have to follow a very strict routine:

You need to book your outbound flight 355 days before you want to travel, which is the time that tickets become available for sale and BA releases the guaranteed two Business Class and four Economy Class seats

You need to call at midnight (1am during British Summer Time) because the flights do not drop into the online system until later

Book the outbound flights you want as a one-way booking

When your return flights become available at 355 days before departure, you need to repeat the process – and usually paying a £35 per person change fee (EDIT: comments below suggest that BA is now waiving this) – to get the return added on to your outbound

The snag here is that the UK BA call centres are not open at midnight ….

British Airways A350

Which British Airways offices are open now?

A few years ago, Flyertalk member dunk created a website which lets you bring up a list of which BA call centres are open at any particular time.

You can access the tool here.  It will show you which of the UK, German, Japanese, Hong Kong or Indian BAEC service centres are currently open, as well as other general BA numbers.

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this tool but I’ve never seen any complaints about it.    There is one bug – I couldn’t get the ‘give me a number which is open when my local time is XX:XX’ button to work, so you are reliant on looking at the site at the time you need to call and using one of the ‘currently open’ numbers.

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Comments

  1. If you call the New York number you get redirected to Warrington, Cheshire anyway. The agent told me that you can also ring this number to make changes until 1am… 0800 597 7580

    • that number isn’t open at 1am GMT

      Voice message says “this number is closed and will reopen at 06:00-20:00 daily.”

  2. rams1981 says:

    Has anyone managed to book Sydney or Cape Town in business before for a Dec/Jan outbound/inbound?

    If so, any tips? Is it possible to book outbound online? And when adding the return what is the best number to call at midnight UK time to add the return leg given the stories above about being told to call the UK call centre the morning after?

    • Frankly, Sydney is best done for cash. Even with a 241, it isn’t great value if you can pick up a cash ticket for £1500 – £2000 return on a half decent airline in business.

      • As we’re straying off topic. Do you happen to know when the next Qatar seat sale will be?

        Thanks!

      • Only if you have the cash! Given the popularity of the route it seems many don’t.

        I want to book to SYD using a Lloyd’s upgrade voucher – is there a way of calling them at midnight? Or do I have to wait until the UK call centre opens at 8am?

        • I have the same question regarding the lloyds voucher. If you are trying to use it as on upgrade for two people one-way then you have use the call centre which is not 24hrs. I you are using it or one as a return upgrade then you can do this online.

          • *If you are using it for one….

            Does anyone know if you can contact the avios customer services at midnight?!

          • Seems to have trouble if flying from the regions too or if trying to do an open jaw. I don’t think they’re as flexible as BA either when it comes to the ability to call back to add on return leg, although happy to be corrected.

      • Rob, do you have a reference article on redemption destinations that tend to be considered good and poor value? I have noticed, for example, that a lot of people appear to redeem on trips to Japan.

        • It isn’t that simple because it also varies by season. Even economy tickets can be decent value if you are redeeming for long haul at the busiest times of the year.

          Japan tends to be pricey because capacity is restricted into the airports there and demand outstrips supply. It is really a case of looking at where you want to go, seeing what sort of prices are about for cash.

          A lot also depends on your willingness to be flexible. Qatar’s sale may well have, for example, Tokyo for under £1000 from Europe. However, do you want to go London – Brussels – Doha – Tokyo even if it means getting Qatar business class and 560 tier points for £1000? Some people would do it, others would not.

          It also depends on how Avios rich vs cash rich you are, and also how you got your points – if you earn all your points from work travel, and so they don’t cost you anything, you may have a different propensity to redeem vs someone who converts Tesco Clubcard points to Avios which cost them the opportunity cost of another Clubcard redemption.

      • surely 0% chance of getting Business flights for that over Xmas / NY tho?? :/

    • I’m in the Qantas lounge in Singapore at the moment, half way back to Oz in Club using a 2-4-1 voucher. We managed to get flights SYD-LHR in mid Dec 15 and mid Dec 16 and have them booked for mid Dec 17 with LHR-SYD in Jan 16 and today with only one bad experience and only missing out on our ideal dates once, using the advice given here and on Flyertalk to book the outbound online and calling to book the returns at midnight. It can be done!

      Living in Oz but with elderly parents in the UK, one of whom we lost last summer, we really value the flexibility of award flights. Fortunately we were able to use AAdvantage miles to fly Etihad when we needed to get back at short notice then. Otherwise we’d make use of the cheap business class flights ex-EU.

  3. Just to add that of the 2-4-1 vouchers I have used over the past few years I have not booked any at T-355, more commonly between 4 and 6 months out, so all is not lost if you don’t get something straight away! I’ve used the voucher for a mix of easier places like JFK (sheer volume of flights) and Mexico City (weaker premium demand I think), but also some trickier combinations like Seattle/Vancouver, Houston, and Sao Paulo/Rio.

    My advice would be to keep checking and have a few different options if feasible (i.e. multiple US gateway cities near where you want to be), and if you see something that works with availability be ready to book it, don’t hang around as there is no guarantee the seats will still be there when you come back having discussed it with your other half etc 😉

    Subscribing to Expert Flyer may be worthwhile (under $10 per month) as you can set up automated searches that email you if succesful; the free version has less functionality but can also be used.

  4. Good morning to all.

    Slightly O/T but still connected with 2-4-1 vouchers and contact centres.

    Looking at another F trip to Tokyo on BA and wondered whats the best way to take advantage of a low tax return.

    In other words instead of booking the 2 return tickets in F with around £538 to pay each, I wanted to book outbound separately, pay around £355 each and then the return leg again separately and pay only £18.00 each?!

    Can it be done and if it can does this method have any disadvantages as opposed to booking the retune leg and the same time and paying more tax?

    Any particular way of explaining this to the agent concerned without confusing them.

    Thanks

    R

    • If trying to combine it with a 241 then it would all be on one ticket and treated (& priced) as a return once you added on the Tokyo-London leg AFAIK.

    • Can’t be done, almost certainly, because the voucher would expire after the first ticket was booked. Even if you had 2 x 241 vouchers it couldn’t be done because a 241 must start in the UK.

      You either need to cough up for the fuel surcharge on the return or pay the additional Avios to not use a 241 on the return (which would be a mistake I think).

  5. Cristian says:

    Is the 241 voucher for a return flight? Or is only for one way and Then you need another voucher for return? Sorry I’m new to this thank you

    • It is for a return flight if you want a return. It can also be used as a one-way but ONLY from the UK, not to the UK.

      It must be used on a BA flight operated by a BA plane, not a oneworld partner (like Qatar) or a BA franchise or codeshare (like Comair).

      Full taxes and charges must be paid on both tickets.

  6. A point to bear in mind I was specifically advised NOT to offer up the 2 4 1 voucher when booking the first leg since it could not then be redeemed for the homebound return. Happy to be corrected however

    • Not correct! I’ve done several open jaw 2-4-1 bookings and always used the 2-4-1 straight away on the outward leg! CS staff will see the 2-4-1 still when they recalculate how many more avios you need to pay

  7. That is very important if correct – Rob???

  8. I had a really frustrating time recently. I booked to fly to Grand Cayman and used the 2 for 1 to get the outbound flights in CW by logging on at 1 am as they only ever release 2 seats and there are only 4 flights per week. As my voucher was worth 75,000 avios I was prepared to forego the return portion, and 2 weeks later booked the return sector in WT, paying the full avios fare for 2 seats. However, a few days later BA cancelled the return flight. I called them to rebook and asked if, at this point, I could use the return portion of my voucher. They flatly refused and have been refusing ever since, despite several complaints by phone and in writing!

    • the real harry says:

      that’s ridiculously intransigent from the people involved, particularly as they cancellede your return flight!

      decent customer services people would just have bent the rules to make up

      I recently had a very good outcome when I ’emailed the CEO’ – he did what I would have done which is deal with it in 2 minutes by delegating it to the head of CS & no doubt telling her to sort it out to the customer’s satisfaction, as it happens she was charm itself (not BA, but a computer co)

      alex.cruz@ba.com

  9. Jonathan says:

    OT: I have earnt a BA 241 voucher and cancelled my BA credit card. I have subsequently spent the voucher and paid the taxes on my MBNA Virgin Amex. So far so good… But now the wife wants to cancel – what happens with the 241 voucher, Lost or will it get returned to my BAEC account?

  10. I will shortly have two 241 vouchers and whilst I know it will be tough am looking to use them for 4 business class seats for the family. Possibly on the London to Singapore route.

    One voucher is in my BAEC account and the other in my wife’s. Is there any way to simplify the booking procedure so that I don’t have to make 2 separate bookings? In particular if I need to do the outbound by phone rather than online as they come up more quickly, this would then presumably involve my wife also staying up to 1am which is going to be a trickier prospect.

    Any advice appreciated.

    Thank you

    • If you hoping to use for 4x CW you may find yourself out of luck, IIRC only 2x CW are released each day and on the route booking at this time of year they are usually gone in 60 secs..

      If you ate Gold, you could call BAEC and ask them to see if you could force availability but that’d negate the advantage of 241.?

      PS just to clarify its 12 midnight GMT/UTC/Zulu when they are released so 1am BST

    • That said if its a quieter time of year, more availability my get added later, just had a look for 7th Dec next year, 8x CW seats showing, that’s incredible!

      • Katy storie says:

        OT: I am due to fly back into Dublin at the end of a trip to the US (I booked from Ireland as was much much cheaper for Business Class flights) but the connections on the return back to Newcastle are dire. If I do not catch the final connecting flight from Heathrow to Dublin what is the likelihood I will face a penalty and what might thy realistically be?! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

        • Realistically if you don’t do it repeatedly you should be fine.

        • You are most likely to have difficulties short-checking your luggage to LHR, especially with US agents who are generally tough on this matter, without a lengthy layover or overnight connection.

          You would most likely to be fine if doing hand baggage only.

  11. As a beginner at this, can I just check I understand. Do I need to phone say Canada from the UK, just after midnight our time, to be sure of grabbing the redemption seats I want?

    • For your return journey, yes. Outward is booked online as normal, then phone an open call centre as soon as the return seats become available. This is an amendment to the original booking. The call centre staff are usually very familiar with what you are doing! Good luck!