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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.


British Airways BA Amex American Express

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Comments (126)

  • AAlsc says:

    You book a CE seat with 24 hours of departure and they can’t get food right. What possible hope is there if you upgrade air side?!

  • Scott says:

    Personally if the was no food for me on a SH flight I’ve paid to upgrade at the last minute, I would be more than happy with 3000 Avios rather than a salad (especially as I would have probably eaten in a lounge anyway).

  • Alex Sm says:

    I saw this button being active before but when you click through – it leads to nowhere, like a starting page or something

  • Alan says:

    Any word yet on whether these are being offered for anything other than direct flights to/from London airports? Certainly POUG offers never worked for bookings with domestic connections so I wouldn’t be surprised (given BA’s general approach to things) if the same applied here…

  • Neil Macdonald says:

    If there’s empty seats, they should allow upgrade for Avios like any other grown-up airline.

  • Alex Sm says:

    Slightly O/T, but speaking of upgrades, wouldn’t it be useful to run (or re-run) an article about upgrades at check-in / gate. What’s the guiding principles behind these, how and when are they awarded, what perks of higher class you do get and which you don’t etc etc Should be an interesting read especially if you have some real insider info from airlines (not only BA). Thanks

    • Rob says:

      Good idea, hampered by lack of personal experience (!) – but I will have a think.

    • will says:

      I only have a single data point for this. BA flight HKG-LHR, both myself (GGL) and partner (Silver) upgraded from club to first at the gate. Seat numbers hand written on boarding passes by gate agent with explanation of upgrade due to busy flight. Flight was purchased as a heavily discounted sale fare, TP’s and avios awarded as per club not first.

      • Alex Sm says:

        Case study 1: I was travelling to Moscow in July last year on a BA flight (on a mid-tier booking class M) and was queuing for boarding when a passenger in front of me had an issue with her boarding pass. It turned out she’d been upgraded (I saw she was Silver). When I heard the same magic beep sound at scanning of my b/pass, I jokingly asked the staff member: “Have I been upgraded too?”. “I don’t think so”, she rebuked in a typical Come-Fly-With-Me BA fashion. “Oh, you have actually been”, she said in a second as if I was taking her own seat. Anyways, it was an ex-BMI A321 aircraft, so I got a nice 7F seat and CW food but no extra tier points. I am Bronze, btw.

        Case study 2: I was in Moscow again in February 2017 on a super expensive ticket (eye-watering £600 in Economy, booking class – Y, fully flexible) and the flight was full. I was so much hoping to get an upgrade, but all in vain. Had to sit in economy and chew on an egg-and-mayo sandwich, which was “actually quite nice” if you are inclined to believe BA staff, of course.

        Case study 3: I was flying on S7 (member of Oneworld alliance) on a domestic Russian route on 31 December 2014 with my partner but he had a separate booking. The flight was superbusy, and I got upgraded at the gate but I let him sit there instead of me (as he let me sit in SAS+ for him two months prior to that). He got a nice seat but Economy food while people around him got Business class food!

        Case study 4: My friend was flying BA from London to Bucharest in July this year. He is BA Silver and AA Platinum. He was hoping for a QR aircraft and wanted to upgrade to CW. And he had the most amazing interaction with a BA staff member (BA customer service at its best). An attempt to use AUP fails, after trying to investigate why, the puzzled agent told him: “Looks like they upgraded you for free as the flight is oversold. What a silly thing to do”, he said to his face, “why lose the money you were willing to pay?” 🙂

        Case study 5: Another friend (he is German) was flying from Denver to Abu Dhabi via Boston and was upgraded from Business to First on a United-operated US leg of his flight. He has status with Lufthansa (nearly all Germans seem to have it, no?).

        • bruciebonus says:

          Managed to somehow fly out of Miami on Friday, 8 Sept. We were upgraded at the gate from Club to First and we had booked using BA Amex companion voucher!

    • TripRep says:

      I’ve twice done airport upgrades on a redemption booking with VS PE–>UC, 12.5k pts & £60

      Very happy with them 😀

  • Max says:

    I saw this on a recent flight from MAN-LHR-CAI. It gave be the option to upgrade the MAN-LHR leg to Club Europe but when I went to select it I received a message saying that the offer was no loner available; which is fine as I wouldn’t really pay more for CE on a 35 minute flight unless I really needed the Tier Points. I was more interested to see how it worked.

  • Adrian says:

    Something we have touched on before is the lack of a quality CE product. We are off to OSL on Sunday and the plane is only a third full, so in theory BA would love to offer us an upgrade. As we are almost certainly guaranteed an empty seat between us, why would we bother? If we were on AA for example then the bigger pitch, wider seat is more attractive than a tray table between us. If we are already checked in then we are only talking about the seat (which is the same, with the same pitch) and food, so I can’t see us ever bothering.

    • will says:

      Lounge access too I presume.

      I would guess it might appeal to someone who doesn’t frequently fly and is interested in seeing what club is like more than a frequent flyer.

      If you have at least silver, then as you say club Europe is a bit of a joke really. That said a frequent flyer may pay the delta for the TP’s.

      It’s a nice additional thing to offer though, and doing it in the app is very convenient. I think we should applaud BA for this, even if the actual product is disappointing.

      • the real harry1 says:

        there aren’t many European business offerings any better, though 🙂

    • Brian W says:

      Out of interest Adrian, how do you know the plane is only a third full? I realise you can look on the seating map to see what seats are still available to be reserved but where are you finding out how many people are on your plane but haven’t reserved seats yet or will just take the one assigned at check in? Could the plane not actually be 95%? Have you called BA and asked them or is there another way of finding this out?

      • Tina says:

        Subscription websites like ExpertFlyer.com can provide that sort of data.

        • Brian W says:

          Hi Tina,

          Many Thanks, haven’t heard of this website before. Looks like a good tool 🙂

          Their user guide is pretty comprehensive but doesn’t suggest they have or can provide this data. Reward seats, current seat prices, etc etc yes, many threads of data that are commonly available elsewhere, but not the info Adrian seems to be privy to…..that I would imagine all airlines are very protective with. Where do they provide this info and what link have they got that shows what each airline has actually sold? I’d be amazed if this info is actually available anywhere but happy to be proven wrong?

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