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)

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

30,000 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 (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel 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 (153)

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

  • rams1981 says:

    OT has anyone been charged the wrong taxes by BA before after adding a second leg of a 2 for 1? The tax looks more like a premium economy tax rather than a club world.

    • Anon says:

      IIRC WTP & CW APD taxes are the same, Airline fees and surcharges however are likely to be different

  • FIRSTclstraveller says:

    I’m confused. I always thought that both outbound and return legs in a 2-4-1 had to be booked at the same time? Is that one of the conditions?

    So, if this is possible, what do you ask the BA res people on the phone please?

    • Rob says:

      Nope.

      You can book the outbound and then call later to add a return if you want. Or just leave it as a oneway, as long as it is a one way FROM the UK.

      • Talay says:

        Going on the call to USA/Tokyo/Singapore/Canada etc. this evening but I want to know whether you can do the following:

        1. Book 241 outbound at T355
        2. Book inbound for Avios (no 241) on their respective T355
        3. Get BA to combine and refund the relevant Avios.

        If not possible, then in theory does this work:

        1. Book 241 outbound at T355
        2. Book inbound for Avios (no 241) on their respective T355
        3. Go on phone to BA at some weird time when no-one else will be up (!) and release 241 and 2 x Avios redemptions and then (hopefully) be able to book them as (if) they are put back into the pool ?

        • the real harry1 says:

          first scenario doesn’t work

          second scenario: not quite sure why you say ‘release 241’ but this is essentially the scenario we mention above – the second part of your 241 is: you grab the inbound Avios redemptions purely using Avios, ***online*** at midnight – then when you can get through to a call centre, you cancel those return flight redemptions, having warned the agent to grab them back as return flights on your 241 redemption

          • Talay says:

            Sorry, I meant to release both the outward and the inward, theoretically allowing both legs to be booked online, if all were released back to the pool.

            As an aside, I have tonight secured the return legs of an outward booked weeks ago on T355. I called the Australia centre, located in Delhi and the timeline was thus:

            Call answered by a human – 1 minute
            Through security – 6 minutes
            Multiple holds to check after giving reference etc.- 12 minutes
            Further holds to come back and conform that T355 was 05/01/18 – 18 mins
            We counted down the last 5 minutes to the 3-2-1 release of T355 on 06/01/18 – 24 mins
            Flights disappeared off BA website and return confirmed on my BAEC – 29 mins
            More holds to calculate Avios and cash – messed up household account balances – 38 mins
            Finally confirmed Avios and cash figures – 46 mins.

  • the real harry1 says:

    O/T Europe BA
    ‘Choose Plus for just +£16 and get:
    •1 x 23kg checked bag included
    •Free seat selection 48 hours before your flight
    •Free flight changes on day of travel’

    Q: can you now also choose seats FOC with RFS redemptions 48hrs before travel?

    • Roger says:

      No, I think 24 hours before when online Check-in opens.
      In reality when we travelled on Christmas eve; seats were assigned a good few days ago; which we could see on our BA App and all of use were assigned seat in single row as we’d have done ourselves selecting seats.

      • the real harry1 says:

        thx

        yep we all got sat together initially on Xmas return flights – 3 different bookings which I’d linked on the phone, daughter still 11YO

  • the real harry1 says:

    How many Avios do you want to use for your flight?
    7500 Avios + £ 17.50
    6000 Avios + £ 32.50
    5300 Avios + £ 37.50
    4500 Avios + £ 42.50
    3800 Avios + £ 47.50
    2500 Avios + £ 57.50

    1p/ Avios

  • Colin mackinnon says:

    If one books a 241 from London to Denver and also books a return from, say Los Angeles, can you change the return to leave from Denver if availability appears after you have taken the outbound flight?

  • rams1981 says:

    At midnight just did a test, no Cape Town to London tickets seems to be released. Johannesburg was there but got snapped up within 5 mins so calling in the morning won’t work… 🙁

  • Talay says:

    Just a quick thought on the LHR-BKK Amex 241 I just secured over Xmas and New Year 2017/18

    Amex fees (current prices) 2 x £195 = £390
    Taxes = £1050
    Avios = 150,000 (both in off peak, just)
    Child cash fare – £1650 (about ?)
    2 x chauffeur = £200 (UK) + 2 x chauffeur = £100 (Thailand) – compared to Etihad (free 4 x chauffeur)

    Total 150k Avios and £3390

    So dump BAPP and save £390.
    Lose 50k Avios so get back 100k Avios (if on free card). If valued at 1p the worth £1000
    Save £300 on chauffeurs
    Save child cash fare = £1650

    Total cash saved = £3340

    Buy 2 adult and 1 child on Etihad costing circa £5000

    Difference is circa £1650 but which generates 3 x 16k points = 48k which is worth about £400 plus some status additions, say another £250 leaving a difference of about £1000 saving to go on BA but being tied to their poor equipment and having very little flexibility on dates.

    It is very marginal for us. I think we might be redirecting spending into the SPG or other programmes going forward and concentrating on Etihad where viable and charging to Miles & More where other airlines are significantly cheaper as they do not expire given credit card.

    Maths could be wrong but ….

    • rams1981 says:

      Did the guy wait on hold with you till it went to midnight UK time? Guess that would help guarantee a booking if you time it right

      • Talay says:

        I did a few test runs on prior days to various BA numbers to see how long it would take to get through to the point where we could look at the availability.

        Quite a mixed bag of delays, from no answer (USA mostly) to long waits (USA mainly) to being very quick to get to the point where we had gone through security (USA) and conversely to protracted waiting (Australia).

        I also refreshed the BA pages waiting for availability to disappear and it was usually between 00:15 and 00:25.

        I was going to bail from the Australia one as she didn’t seem to grasp the need to do it at 00:00:01 on 17/01/17 to secure 06/01/18 and that only 2 seats would be available.

        She did wait for the last few minutes but had she been much quicker to get through her preliminaries, we would have either had to play around looking at pointless flight combinations to waste time or I would have had to ring off and dial up again.

        Thus, even with some decent preparation, I do not think I have a strict plan of attack but merely a moderately usable formula to secure the flights.

        • Alan says:

          Haha I like the idea of looking up pointless flight combos then just before midnight having the ‘idea’ of looking for the one you really want! 😀

        • rams1981 says:

          Thanks! Nightmare isn’t it lol

        • Brad Flack says:

          Quick question if you don’t mind….

          As you called a non-UK call centre, which currency did you pay in? Can you pay in GBP?

          Did you pay just the difference in cost or did they refund the original cost and then charge for the full new amount?

          Lastly, can you pay with a different Amex to the one you used on the first payment?

  • Binni says:

    Is the probability of First opening up random based on loadings?

    I have bagged 2 1st seats going LHR -TOK using 241 but only see 2 business seats opening each day for the return. I presume the only way to ‘confirm’ a seat home is call up to add 2 the business seats to my booking then if the First seats appear at a later date then call up again to change to those, £35 a pop?

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