Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Can you no longer ring British Airways at midnight to use a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher?

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British Airways guarantees to release at least 2 Club World and 4 World Traveller seats on every long haul flight for Avios redemption.

These are made available as soon as tickets for the flight go on sale, which is at midnight 355 days before departure.

Further Avios redemption seats in Club World and World Traveller, as well as seats in First and World Traveller Plus, are likely to be made available later on.  This is a random process, however, driven by how well the flight is selling.

Avios wing 7

These seats do not seem to be immediately available via ba.com because of the way the site is updated.  They are available on the dot of midnight (or 1am during British Summer Time) to anyone who calls BA.

The problem, if you are determined to snag seats on a particular flight, is that the UK call centres are not open at midnight.

I recently ran an article to promote a website which will give you the telephone numbers of BA call centres around the world which are currently open.   It looks like you might not need it any longer.

According to a few recent experiences of Head for Points readers, the USA call centres are now refusing to process 2-4-1 bookings during hours when the UK call centre is closed.  Whether this applies to both UK and US based BA account holders is still not clear – I have heard stories both ways.

Take a look at this comment here and this comment here, for example.

The excuse being given is that this is somehow ‘fairer’.  It isn’t, because the seats become available for online booking in the early morning irrespective of whether the call centre will book them.

This means that anyone wanting to add a return leg to an existing one-way 241 booking is at a 5-6 hour disadvantage to anyone who is not using a voucher.  The latter can book online during the night whilst the former needs to wait until the UK call centre opens at 6am.

I’m not sure how this will play itself out.  I can understand that the overseas call centres are fed up with an influx of calls at midnight UK time, especially as that may be a peak time in their own time zones.

This will clearly make it harder for some people to snag the 241 return flights they wanted, but how many remains to be seen.   I don’t have any skin in this game – I have only ever once booked an Avios redemption at 355 days in advance.  As a family of four, the release of two Club World seats doesn’t excite me much.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

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

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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:

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

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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Comments (153)

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

  • James Ward says:

    The only time I’ve called up at midnight to do this, the US number was picked up by the call centre in Manchester. I don’t know whether they were handling the US’s calls as a one-off; I suspect not as they guy who handled my call was familiar with the reason for my call.

    • JAXBA says:

      The last US call centre closed in Dec 2013. All calls have flowed to the UK or India since then.

      Whenever I call, as a mere Blue, I regularly seem to get the Avios call centre outside MAN, rather than an actual BA office.

  • Sam G says:

    I thought the US call centre was gone and all calls were handled in the UK / India

    Rob – the main reason people have to call is they want to add on their return leg to an existing outbound booking they made at T-355 . This process isn’t possible online

    The seats themselves do come available online at midnight, so you can snag the outbound without having to call

    • Sam G says:

      Which you’ve said in the article now I’ve reread it 🙂

      I guess if everyone is waiting until the UK opens it shouldn’t be too bad. The only risk is someone not using a voucher nabs the seat online

      In my experience seats booked and cancelled very early do reappear , so one strategy if you had enough avios is to book them online at midnight and then call UK to cancel and add them to your existing booking

      • the real harry1 says:

        I’ve seen this reported as well – they said the cancelled redemption seats re-appear as available redemptions almost instantly. Another good reason to build up a decent bank of Avios, eg when the next 150K @ 1p IB offer comes up.

        • Lev441 says:

          You say that but what happens if people book these seats online…. the you won’t have any seats to take in the first place if they’ve all gone?!

          • Genghis says:

            Which is why you get online and snag them quicker!

          • Anon says:

            Lev – they’re suggesting we book them online as one way redemptions at thr stroke of midnight, utilising a healthy Avios balance. Go to bed have some sleep. Then later than day phone up UK call cntre and cancel the online one way redemptions and rebook with 241 voucher whilst still on the same telephone call.

            Make sense? (Its early for me too) 🙂

        • Genghis says:

          I’ve not heard of this method. So it’s as easy as book the two single flights as soon as they come out, pay over the odds for taxes and then call up the morning after booking the return leg and asking them to cancel my return booking and add it to the 241, I’ll get a refund of the return leg taxes and then they true up the outbound taxes to what they should be for a return?

          • Genghis says:

            Do any readers have actual experience of this method?

          • Lev441 says:

            It is far too early for me.. however, I’m sure in one of the recent posts – maybe even rob suggested that this doesn’t necessarily happen – especially on busy routes..

            It’s a gamble as the seats may not necessarily go back into the reward inventory as BA has technically held their word that they released 4 Y and 2 J seats…

            What really needs to happen is for the whole adding a return journey to a 241 booking to be completely bookable online… and that if you’ve selected the seats they actually hold them for you (twice have I got all the way to the payment page for it to tell me there’s an error as the seats have clearly been snagged quicker… it would remove the need to call up!

  • Aliks says:

    Although people with UK accounts will be at a 5 or 6 hour disadvantage, they will probably be looking for flights back to the UK. There may be less competition for reward seats because there are fewer people with a desperate need to travel back to the UK on a fixed date.

    • Anon says:

      But it does favour those that don’t need to use a 241.

      Again Singapore & Male always likely to go instantly.

      • Temp says:

        Just out of curiosity, why Singapore? People going to Oz or as an access point to Asia? If the latter surely BKK, KUL and HKG just as good?

        • Rob says:

          The BA flights to Australia go via Singapore. This means that the 2 available CW seats opened up at -355 days are wanted by both Australia and Singapore travellers.

        • Temp says:

          Ignore, I should learn to read full thread before asking (obvious) questions!

          • Temp says:

            Thanks Rob. Guess they should give 4 seats for routes like those… 2 for each destination. As it happens I have redeemed avios to Singapore in biz last minute (a couple of weeks out), but appreciate that is not an option for most.

    • Rob says:

      Agreed, which is why I said it might not be as bad as we think except for US routes, as they have a similar voucher.

  • Titti says:

    I really hope it’s not the case. I called less than a week ago the US call centre to book the outbound and there was no mention of this new policy, I.e. I could book.

    • Joe says:

      Me too, I did use Skype (1800 numbers are free on Skype) so it may have shown as in us.

    • Grimz says:

      I was refused a booking from the US number 355 days out in November

  • SLS says:

    I recently rang the Tokyo office on be stroke of midnight and it worked perfectly. Was simply told the booking has been added to my PNR and I needed to ring the UK centre back in the morning to pay the taxes.

  • Anon says:

    “These are the rules of the BAPP Amex 241 Hunger Games, may the odds be ever in your favour…”

    Morning all – it was partly my experience that prompted Rob to issue an update.

    Here’s my experience from the last few nights…

    The USA phone number wait times are in excess of 20mins, hence why they want to restrict UK residents phoning outwith normal UK office opening hours.

    If I got through in time, I have been told on multiple occasions I have to wait until the UK office opens, this was despite me informing them that this removes my opportunity to book a rtn of a 241. “Sorry sir, you can always pass your feedback via our online customer services”

    Popular routes like Sydney-Singapore-LHR and Male-LGW are in such high demand they disappear instantly, maybe due to the techniques outlined above (book online then cancel later same day over phone, rebook immediately), this is something I may consider in the future and as mentioned its another good reason to have a healthy Avios balance, that said I do think call centre agents had the ability to snag the redemptions a minute or two in advance and hold/block them immediately.

    I managed to use my resourceful wits and get the (now offpeak) flights I was after on hold to then call in the UK office the following morning to pay so that they can be ticketed.

    So a weekend of non ideal sleep patterns and wired nerves, its as tiring as doing the flight itself. Qatar Business class sales will get an even more serious consideration in the future.

    • Genghis says:

      So how did you bag the tickets in the end?

    • Grimz says:

      I had this experience back in November but I was fortunate the seat I was after was still available in the morning

  • xcalx says:

    One agent could be the cause of this, a couple of people get this person and it’s reported here and on FT to a captive audience. The old BMI faithful will remember Denis and his award search skills.

  • Matthew says:

    Best way to avoid the problem…don’t fly BA! Never have and never will fly BA long haul. Vote with your feet…

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

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