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BA testing ‘upgrade for £ in the departure lounge’ via their app

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Very quietly and very slowly, British Airways has started to roll out one of the new features it trailed over the summer – the ability to upgrade your flight via the BA app after check-in.

British Airways has, for a number of years, been offering cash upgrades in advance of travel via ‘Manage My Booking’ at discounted prices.  This is not what we are discussing here.  What you can now do, on selected flights, is purchase an upgrade AFTER you have checked in online.

I haven’t had any personal experience of this yet, but reports on Flyertalk suggest typical pricing of £75 to £100 each way on short-haul flights.  There are no examples of this being offered on long-haul yet.

British Airways BA 777X 777 9X

This is what is known, or suspected, so far:

The offer is available via both the Android and iOS apps

It will only be shown after you have checked in (if at all)

It is not offered on Avios bookings

It seems to be available until 45-60 minutes before take-off, so you can upgrade in the departure lounge if you wish

I fully expect that you will receive Club Europe Avios and tier points after upgrading – which is one good reason to do it

This offer should also be available on tickets booked via travel agents, as BA has control of your ticket by this point

Here is a screenshot of what you will see:

AppUp screenshot

Do let use know via the comments if you have any experience of seeing or booking these.

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Comments (126)

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

  • Omar says:

    “new features it trailed over the summer” – it trialled?

  • Anja soby says:

    See them all the time. But £510 one way to Dubai is a touch too much for me! (WTP to cw) They only seem to appear on flight only bookings as well

    • the real harry1 says:

      I think the difference here is between pro-active upgrades – which have been available for years, online (and could be used on Avios bookings, when offered), which can appear any time after ticketing – vs upgrade for £s on the app – which only appears after you have checked in, and is a new feature

      it also appears that upgrade for £s on the app is a lot cheaper

  • Bruno says:

    So it’s time now BA updates the business cabin as well. I dont see any reason to upgrade from wtp to cw if I get an aisle seat or one of the twin-ones in the middle. The best seats are obviously gone after checkin and I would go for this only if there is a reduction on the upgrade price or if I can check before paying what seat i will get.

    Thanks for the article!

    • the real harry1 says:

      check-in opens up at different times for different status/ class passengers

      so the best seats are emphatically not always gone soon after check-in opens!

      [even with economy seats opening up @ T-24hrs, yes, many passengers on many routes will check in, in the first 3 hrs (on some routes 50%+) – but that does not mean they have paid to get (say) all the exit seats]

      I guess it would be handy to know if you’re going to be able to get the business seat of your choice before you pay for the upgrade but you can easily check online which seats are still available – I think most people use Expert Flyer – are there any others?

    • Catalan says:

      Rob’s article suggest this is for shorthaul flights (upgrade to Club Europe) not Longhaul.

    • Clive says:

      It’s time BA improves the CW cabin? Why has nobody mentioned this before?!

  • Frenske says:

    “It seems to be available until 45-60 minutes before take-off, so you can upgrade in the departure lounge if you wish”

    There is not much point of upgrading when you already in a lounge. You won’t be able to use fasttrack or extra luggage allowance. Would an average person really pay £100 for priority boarding and no middle seat on a short hal flight.

    • TripRep says:

      But I’m assuming (hoping) the 45-60mins is to ensure that all pax have checked in and appeared at the airport.

      ie hoping BA aren’t putting in place conditions that effectively allows bidding for someone else to be downgraded…

      • the real harry1 says:

        there’s obviously going to be an algorithm at work here

        let’s assume we have a flight where BA will normally over-book seats in business because of a history of no-shows, so from time to time somebody has to be down-graded when they do all actually show up

        yet @ T-24 the app offers a couple of upgrade for £s seats, which are taken up

        at that point the algorithm sees that the maximum load desired for business has been reached, so no more upgrade for £s are offered

        it means that the chances of there being more ‘shows’ than seats (ie over-booking in business) has increased to its maximum point

        then when over-booking does actually occur, the downgrading algorithm kicks in and it makers its logical choice of who will be downgraded

        nobody seems to know how it picks out the unlucky downgraders but it seems to be more likely to be late checker-inners/ low status people than redemption holders

    • Drav says:

      the average peraon certainly wouldnt. but im sure readers of this site would…

      • Genghis says:

        Potentially a cheap and convenient way to get a few extra TPs needed to hit status

        • Drav says:

          Maybe. but on short haul will you really be getting that much more?
          is it confirmed that these upgrades get more TPs or speculation at the mo?

          • Genghis says:

            My collection year is coming to an end and I’m 40 TPs short so I’m doing a cheap TP run on Sat. If I had this option I might have paid to upgrade a few legs cheaply. It could work in such a circumstance.

          • Rob says:

            Not confirmed, but a paid upgrade at check-in desk gets them so 99% certain these will too.

          • Tom says:

            Surely you should get the TPs, as you are paying for the seat, as opposed to a free upgrade when you wouldn’t get the TPs as there is no transaction?

            So I guess it could mean a last minute upgrade to get 40 TPs Lon – Man / Leeds rather than the minimal 5 in economy.

          • Drav says:

            yes agree genghis… certainly in your situation and if you are willing to do a TP run anyway.

    • Tom Murray says:

      Ah, but just think of the food……… 🙂

  • Von Schmallhausen says:

    I assume this will lead to a bit of chaos on board. Flew GOT-LHR on Monday, 3 last minute upgrades to club world meant there was no food on board for them, so up came the M&S trolley blocking the FAs serving people pre booked into CW. Very messy

  • Lisa says:

    I can see this option on 1 of my non avios flights for October.
    Is it worth it and what if you are traveling with children ?

    • the real harry1 says:

      on your app (upgrade for £s)? or pro-active online upgrade?

      £70 from where to where?

      you can leave children 12+ on their own – just a ‘parental’ stance, if you are on a short haul flight then even younger if there are a couple of them, I guess I started sitting in exit rows and leaving our 3 on their own when they were about 7, 9 & 11 (always SH)

      • Lisa says:

        On my BA app I can see the upgrade option. I’m flying Gatwick to Glasgow . It says I can upgrade for £70 per adult.

        • the real harry1 says:

          sounds like you are seeing proactive online upgrade via manage my booking

          £70 could easily be worth it if you could use the extra luggage and all the other extras

          but since over here at HFP we all pretty much know how to get cheapish lounge passes (Gatwick No1 is £25), if that’s the main benefit plus some extra elbow room (ie extra luggage means nothing to you, same as it means nothing to me) – then rather expensive food/ drink lounge/ on board

    • Genghis says:

      I think there’s a bit of confusion over the new feature.

      • Ben says:

        I used the upgrade feature flying from JHB-LHR last month, it was not a proactive upgrade. As I checked in it offered my £550 from WT+ to CW. I took it as it was an overnight flight. When I sat down there were a few questions about where I was supposed to be sitting but all worked out ok in the end.

    • Rob says:

      That is the usual offer. This is a different version which now appears post check in.

  • Lee says:

    Expect not to receive a meal though on European flights.

    I doubt that they will load extra.

    • Rich says:

      I guess that measuring ‘take up’ will be part of the trial and thus enabling an educated approach to meal loading in future and less waste?

  • Barbara says:

    I used this feature on my last trip to Lanzarote to upgrade a few friends who where travelling ET. Funny thing is BA, actually held the flight for 30mins to load food on board. I am not sure, if this was mainly due to us who preorder our meals or the new upgrades. All in all everyone got what they order, for the first time BA didn’t forget my Kosher meal. Impressive. Is it value for money? No at £120pp it honestly was not worth it, the only good thing was the ability to have my friends sitting next to me.

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