Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

British Airways to trial ‘automatic check-in’ at Heathrow and Gatwick

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

British Airways has announced the launch of a new ‘automatic check-in’ service.  This is being trialled on a selection of routes from both Heathrow and Gatwick, including Vienna, Copenhagen, some Canadian routes, Cancun and Mauritius.

I am not desperately keen, as I will explain.

This is how it works, to quote from BA’s news release:

6 days before travel, eligible customers will be sent an invitation to opt-in, asking them to set their preferences.

At -48hrs before departure the option to be automatically checked-in closes.

Between -48hrs and -26hrs seat assignment will take place and customers will be automatically checked-in.

Customers departing from London Heathrow Terminal 5 will be sent an email with boarding pass attachment at -25hrs.

All remaining customers will be sent email at -25hrs confirming check-in and asking how they would like to receive their boarding pass.

Can you see the snag here?  You receive no option to allocate your own seat.  This is not an issue for BA status customers, of course, but is for the rest of the passengers who do not get free seat allocation until check-in opens.

Unfortunately, if you want full control over where you sit, this new scheme will make it harder for you.  If you don’t opt-in to automatic check-in, many others passengers will and that will reduce the seating options for you to choose from when check-in opens.

I would have slightly more faith in this if it wasn’t for the fact that BA’s seat selection software works in hugely mysterious ways.  If you have status, BA gives you a seat when you book and then gives you the option to change it.  The software is perfectly happy to split up family groups or – if you both have ‘aisle’ as a preference in your profile – sit a couple directly behind each other in two aisle seats.

If you don’t like the seats you are given, I am told:

Should customers wish to change their seat allocation following ACI they must call their local Contact Centre for assistance as this cannot be actioned online.

…. which may lead to a lot of telephone calls heading BA’s way.

At present, people already receive an email asking them to use the online check-in service.  BA clearly thinks that not enough people are using it, so wants to roll this out.  Let’s see how it goes.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2023)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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

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

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) 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 £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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 a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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 (10)

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

  • Mark says:

    I noticed earlier in the year that on full flights to and from Dubai, BA seemed to have allocated seating to everyone prior to online check-in opening. It just wasn’t possible to see what we’d been allocated.

    In particular on the flight back I was aware for some days prior that there were a couple of seats available on the UD. At some point prior to online check-in opening these were showing as taken on expertflyer, but on going into online check-in they’d been assigned as our default allocation.

    We checked in the moment it opened, and that there was only one other free seat in the whole of club to choose from (not likely one of us was going to move downstairs…).

    That may have been unusual due to the flight being full, or maybe the cabin was full of people with status or who’d paid to reserve. In any case, auto check-in on those flights would have made very little difference.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.