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Travel agent and corporate BA tickets now upgradable – full details confirmed

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Well, via this link we now have full details of what has been rumoured for a few days – that British Airways tickets issued by travel agents, most importantly corporate travel agents, will be upgradable with Avios points.

There is quite a bit of confusion about this topic, in particular what the effect will be on ‘standard’ Miles for Upgrade transactions.  I will try to separate out the facts and the considered speculation from the hype.

For the first time, tickets booked via a corporate or standard travel agent can be upgraded with Avios to the next class of travel

British Airways 747

BA has allowed tickets booked on to be upgraded with Avios for some years, via a process known as MFU (‘miles for upgrade’).  The key MFU rules will also apply to upgraded corporate tickets:

  • You can only upgrade by one class (World Traveller to WT Plus, WT Plus to Club World, Club World to First, Euro Traveller to Club Europe)
  • The ticket must have been issued by BA (ie have a ticket number starting 125-) and, if multi-segment, must only contain BA flights
  • The cost of the upgrade is the difference between a one-way redemption between the two classes (ie First Class one-way to New York is 60,000 Avios, Club World is 40,000, therefore the upgrade from Club World to First costs 20,000 Avios)
  • You can do the upgrade online or by phone, although for the rest of this week you may have to ring if you do not see the option to upgrade showing in Manage My Booking
  • You CANNOT upgrade from the cheapest Euro Traveller or World Traveller tickets.  You CAN upgrade from the cheapest World Traveller Plus and Club World tickets.
  • You can only upgrade if Avios redemption availability is showing for the upgraded cabin on your flight, as the MFU ticket comes from the same ‘bucket’ as a standard reward ticket.
  • You will need to pay extra taxes if the upgrade causes you to pay additional fuel surcharges or Air Passenger Duty based on your new class of travel
  • You receive Avios and tier points for the class you originally booked, not the class you ended up flying in

Here are some special rules related to the upgrading of travel agent and corporate tickets:

  • You will still be able to upgrade if your company has a special fare deal with BA
  • You will be able to upgrade tickets booked prior to today
  • You will NOT be able to upgrade if your flight was sold as part of a package holiday, including via BA Holidays.  (For those who understand the jargon, ‘IT fares’ are exempt.)
  • Your company CANNOT do the upgrade for you.  You, the passenger, must go into and personally upgrade your ticket using your own Avios.
  • Once you have processed the upgrade, your corporate travel agent loses all control of your ticket and can no longer make any changes to it.  If you need to change your plane home, you can no longer ring your corporate travel agent – you will need to ring BA.

So, what is the net result of all this?  Will it mean, as some online commentators have suggested, the end of upgrade availability for the general public?  My personal view is ‘no’, and I think I will personally benefit from this change.  Let’s look at some facts.

Most personal reward flights are booked months in advance.  Most corporate flights are booked a few days in advance.  You are not therefore competing for the same reward availability.  Corporate upgraders are taking availability from flights that BA opens up for Avios redemptions at the last minute – when did you last book a family holiday at 3 days notice?

Flyers will need to use their personal Avios to do this.  Some may prefer to keep back their Avios to travel with their family, rather than use them on a work trip.  And if they are using them for short notice upgrades, then there will be fewer people with enough Avios to be fighting you for those Summer tickets to Florida.

Some corporates and travellers may not be happy with their corporate travel agent losing control over the booking, which will make them less keen to upgrade.

More importantly, a lot of business travellers will not be willing to pay the extra taxes, which will be coming out of their own pocket.  On Heathrow to New York, for example, the tax on a World Traveller Plus return is £414.  The tax on a Club World return is £520.

All in all, I am not too worried.  I don’t think there will be fewer Avios seats when I book my family holidays six months in advance.  I will also, given our huge Avios points haul between me and my wife, be able to upgrade her on business trips without it making any real dent in our balance.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital on Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (3)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Gibraltar Airport Flyer says:

    “Future changes moving forward” would also cover, for example and hypothetically, a mid-haul fleet with just business and economy, etc.

  • Teece says:

    Gibraltar Airport Flyer – why would any change be needed for that? The current scheme already deals with two-class flying, ie, Short Haul.

  • Gibraltar Airport Flyer says:

    Teece – It would be the most minor change imaginable. The two class is currently termed ET to CE. Just a matter of allowing it (on two class services) from WT to CW.

    However, what I was really trying to raise as a thought was that now BA will have some routes (although officially unannounced when I wrote that yesterday) which just have WT and CW, if they do allow upgrades on thouse routes you will have a situation where you can upgrade from WT to CW on some routes but not on others. Which is less than ideal. [Even more so if any of the routes end up being mixed between 3/4 class and 2 class services.]

    [It will also mean that both AA and IB will allow Economy to Business upgrades, but BA won’t. Yes, they fly different portfolios of cabins, but it will still be odd, a Y ticket can be taken to a bed on AA+IB, and now on some BA routes, but not others. As such, could BA be going to allow WT to CW on all routes? – It is restricted to Y,B,H as the underlying.]

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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