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Avios changes 6: why are off-peak Club World upgrades now more expensive than peak?

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Executive summary:  the biggest ‘hit’ from the Avios changes is probably the increase in the cost of upgrading from World Traveller Plus to Club World.  Off-peak upgrades are more expensive than peak upgrades.

Key link: ‘Club Changes’ page on

Here are the other articles in this series you may have missed:

1. Understanding the new tier point rules

2. Understanding the new earning rates

3. Understanding the new spending rates

4. What is an Avios point worth after April 28th?

5. Exploiting the ‘no repricing on date changes’ rule

7. Save 43% of your Avios on long-haul redemptions if you fly Iberia

8. Partner redemptions may be cheaper if booked on

9. What will happen to airline partner earning rates?

10. Are you a winner or a loser overall?

Historically, the best use of Avios points – bar none – was to upgrade a cash ticket booked in World Traveller Plus to Club World.

You were swapping a slightly bigger economy seat for a 6 foot long flat bed.  The cost was negligible – upgrading a World Traveller Plus return flight to California would only cost 25,000 Avios points.

Even better, you would earn Avios points on the ticket based on the World Traveller Plus rate.  A Silver or Gold member would earn back the entire cost of the upgrade.

For a BA Silver, the maths to San Fancisco currrently looks like this:

  • Cost of return upgrade from World Traveller Plus to Club World – 25,000 Avios
  • Base Avios earned back (125% miles flown) – 13,396 Avios
  • Status bonus (100% miles flown) – 10,716 Avios
  • Total Avios earned – 24,112 Avios
  • Net cost of upgrade – 888 Avios

This will change substantially after April 28th.

The cost of upgrading from World Traveller Plus to Club World is simply the difference in Avios points required for a straight redemption.  Let’s look at the new redemption table:

Redemption chart 2

Let’s look at the cost of upgrading Word Traveller Plus to Club World for the long-haul zones.  These figures are EACH WAY:

Zone 5 (New York) – now 10,000 Avios, becomes 24,000 off-peak and 20,000 peak

Zone 6 (California) – now 12,500 Avios, becomes 30,000 off-peak and 25,000 peak

Zone 7 (Asia) – now 15,000 Avios, becomes 36,000 off-peak and 30,000 peak

Zone 8 (Asia) – now 17,500 Avios, becomes 42,000 off-peak and 35,000 peak

Zone 9 (Sydney) – now 25,000 Avios, becomes 60,000 off-peak and 50,000 peak

This is an astonishing jump in many cases.  It is even more shocking when you look at the NET cost.

This was our old calculation for a current World Traveller Plus to Club World calculation for a BA Silver flying to San Francisco:

  • Cost of return upgrade from World Traveller Plus to Club World – 25,000 Avios
  • Base Avios earned back (125% miles flown) – 13,396 Avios
  • Silver status bonus (100% miles flown) – 10,716 Avios
  • Total Avios earned – 24,112 Avios
  • Net cost of upgrade – 888 Avios

These are the new costs:

  • Cost of return upgrade from World Traveller Plus to Club World – 60,000 Avios off-peak / 50,000 peak
  • Base Avios earned back (100% miles flown) – 10,716 Avios
  • Silver status bonus (50% miles flown) – 5,358 Avios
  • Total Avios earned – 16,074 Avios
  • Net cost of upgrade – 43,926 Avios off-peak, reducing to 33,926 at peak

This is a shocking increase, however you cut it.

Let’s be clear though. A net cost of 44,000 Avios is still a good deal to upgrade a ‘slightly bigger than usual’ economy seat to a 6 foot flat bed Club World seat for 24 hours of flying time.

More importantly, the two Club World redemption seats you need to be available in order to do the upgrade are more likely to be there now.  The old ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ deal was astounding, but it remained theoretical if you couldn’t get the seats.

PS.  The cost of upgrading from Club World to First has not increased.  For a California return trip at peak times, it remains at 50,000 Avios return.  At off-peak times it has actually got cheaper, dropping to 45,000 Avios return.

PPS.  British Airways states on their website about the changes that, starting in December, it will be ‘easier’ to upgrade from World Traveller to World Traveller Plus because more fare classes will be upgradable.  Technically that is true.  However, World Traveller Plus is a very small cabin with very few seats made available for Avios redemption.  In reality, your chance of being able to upgrade from World Traveller will be slim.

Click for the next article – Save 43% of your Avios on long-haul redemptions if you fly Iberia


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard is doubled to a crazy 50,000 Avios! Apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is doubled to 10,000 Avios. Apply here.

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

CRAZY 50,000 Avios for signing up (to 30th May) and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (only to 30th May) 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 £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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

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

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! 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

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 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 (52)

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

  • richie says:

    This is a massive jump. I have been doing this for all my long haul flights thus retaining status and gaining most tier points back. I am quite flexible and didn’t really have an issue with getting availability. Eg in the sale last week I got nyc from lhr for £800 paid 20k avios and £100 to upgrade. Did the same for Delhi in march and Punta cana in may. I need to change my way of thinking now I think. The 241 Amex has just got 50% more valuable

    • Worzel says:

      richie: ‘The 241 Amex has just got 50% more valuable’.

      I mentioned the 241, and my view that the cost of the BAPP will probably go up in a comment yesterday. When they all sat down and planned their devaluation strategy the 241 will probably have been an irritation -but what to do?

      Scrap it?: “Too much at this stage we”d lose too many collectors”.

      Increase the charge for the BAPP card and place a minimal one the formerly free card, there’s some revenue to be had there?: “Great idea, how long shall we wait for the dust to settle?” Six months?

      • Mr Bridge says:

        I guess that would be in the numbers

        commission from amex paid to ba – cost of 2-4-1 redemptions =????

  • Kiran says:

    I think gold upgrade for 2 and gold upgrade for 1 vouchers are now very valuable unless BAEC have quietly devalued those too. I need 50TPs in February to hit 3500TPs before March 8th and so have a little more insentive to do this.

  • Tom C says:

    Excuse my terrible ignorance on this, but how do you go about upgrading using Avios having purchased a ticket? Or is it only possible to do when booking a ticket in the first place? I’ve ever only used Avios for purchasing the entire flight. Due to my height I cannot travel anything less than Club World, so wouldn’t want to book a flight and find I cannot upgrade it later on.

    • Mark says:

      You can upgrade later via Manage My Booking online or by phone, but only if there is Club redemption availability on the flight and you have to pay the difference in taxes and fees as well as the avios. That is usually somewhere around £100 from memory on a return flight.

    • Rob says:

      You can do it via Manage My Booking at any tin as long as reward seats are available in the higher cabin, your ticket is in the right fare class and it wasn’t bought via a travel agent ( with some exceptions).

  • James67 says:

    Ist is this change alone that has cost BA my business. It is unlikely they will get a longhaul flight from me ever again barring a decent CW sale. I had planned most of my travelling over next couple of years would be WTP UuAbit now I will just find best J seats on trip by trip basis. I think your assertion that the 42k UuA to SFO remains good value is wrong because the typical WTP fare is probably going to be similar to that I pay for Asia; about £1200ish. Only an idiot would pay this plus the miles required without first checking availability of special fares in J with other airlines. At peak times to USA or if booking close-in it probably does remain good value but for all other times, advance bookings and other destinations I would expect to find revenue J fares costing not much more. BAs belief that UuA from WT to WTP will be welcome and popular is also misguided for similar reasons; BAs economy fares rarely offer good value when compared to the competition even in a sale, pax will not have or not be willing to part with the miles they have, and will turn their noses up at increased tax required. I believe WTP is currently only viable due to UuA; I suspect BA may have inadvertently killed it off. Airlines have difficulty making premium economy work, some have scrapped it while others are in process of doing so.

    • Tim says:

      Actaully is £1200 about the price of a BRU-HNL in Club right now (plus a wadge of TP)?

    • james says:

      I don’t think WTP will be going anywhere because of the huge number of firms which now specify premium economy in their travel policies for all but the most senior executives. And on US routes there is no competition in this area except from Virgin Atlantic. WTP on LHR-JFK is always packed with jaded Gold Card business travellers who aren’t allowed to fly Club World on work’s buck and haven’t been able to upgrade with Avios/their own cash. If anything, I could see BA getting rid of First and expanding WTP.

    • Mark says:

      I mentioned £1500 J cash fares from Madrid to Miami the other day. Looking around I can see other options that would also easily trump a BA UuA under the new rules.

      Qatar currently (for the next 3 days) has an offer on UK to Phuket valid for the remainder of the year – can be booked in J for as little as around £1300 via a third party site.

      It is also possible to book Frankfurt – Kuala Lumpur for around £1250. £120 cash or £35 plus 9k avios (8k under the new rules) will get you to Frankfurt and back.

      By comparison the direct BA flight W->J UuA is pricing up at about £1150 – at the moment with 35k avios. Under the new rules that will be 70k avios peak and a massive 85k avios off-peak with reduced earnings compared to the Qatar option.

      Hmm – less than £1300 (Qatar) or £1150 plus an extra £72k avios minimum (BA)… I really don’t see the value in that outlay for a £150 saving a direct flight.

  • Mr Bridge says:

    lots of flights have opened up on BA now.
    its time to activate my companion voucher, to get in before 28/04
    i bet are busy with cancellations…( laughs out loud)

    • Rob says:


    • dynamo says:

      Is this the best way to bring forward amex spend? I have 1500 to go for the 2-4-1.

      • Rob says:

        Buy a fully flex BA ticket (albeit you pay cancellation fee) or a fully flex hotel room via h.c – they will still insist you pay in advance but refund immediately when cancelling.

  • Nick says:

    Managed to upgrade with Avios on return trip from Barbados last month for all of my family for just 50,000 Avios – children couldn’t believe it! I bought premium econ tickets (rather than economic) for this exact reason – kept checking the website for Club World availability but none. Then one day before return flight BA offered be GBP400 per ticket to upgrade. I didn’t feel like paying GBP1600 for us but looked at the cost in Avios GBP172 plus 50,000 Avios : which I quickly snapped up. Strange thing was when we boarded I saw that only 2 of the prem econ seats were taken, but club was full??
    A real shame BA has changed the attractiveness of this

  • Deb says:

    Now have I got this right, it will now cost me 120k points to upgrade 3x WTP to Club LHR to JFK
    in peak times instead of 60k points?

    Thanks Deb

  • Mr Bridge says:

    what is the chance of amex increasing from 1.5 to 2 to match bmi??

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

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