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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)

  • Simon says:

    Slightly O/T. If I take up the offer of an upgrade from my Plus fare to CE will I still be able to change flights on day of travel free of charge?

    • Nick says:

      I upgraded a Plus fare to CE recently, and was told I couldn’t then move it – you get dropped into the cheapest CE fare class and so lose the flexibility.

  • Russell says:

    Are we sure that upgrades trigger the appropriate level of tier points? If so – it’s worth me upgrading a work flight with my own money to get my silver, but not if I’m going to end up with 5TP and a very expensive bacon roll

    • Memesweeper says:

      All the other upgrade methods involving money not Avios are earning points at the upgraded level, so I’d be astonished if this one didn’t.

    • Polly says:

      All,paid upgrades are granted TPs and avios at the new level

  • R says:

    In my experience all paid for (£) upgrades provide full new class benefits (TPs, Avios, Lounge access, in-flight service).

    I have little to no experience on Avios upgrades they seem very hard to come by it seems.

    In terms of operational upgrades, those given to you by BA at their discretion be it at the gate, checkin or any other time will definitely not include the new class TPs and Avios. I can’t speak for lounge access as a Gold card I always have the same level regardless.

    In-flight service tends to include the same benefits of the new class in terms of meal, amenities, etc.. (e.g. pyjamas and nicer bag if moved from Club to First), in long haul flights this as always been the case.

    For short-haul CE upgrades they do tend to include a meal and drinks. I did have a few cases where I was told discretely that because I had been upgraded I would only get a meal if there was a spare as one was not loaded for me this was on a return to LHR service.

    Now as to when you get these operational upgrades that still baffles me or not but mostly they are due to oversold flights. The method not highly publicised in my view changed a few years ago from status tier priority based to paid fare so a higher fare gets upgraded before a higher EC tier (i.e. Gold will only be preferred to Silver if on the same fare, etc…) in terms of fares a full-fare will be the best one to guarantee one.

    This is mostly based on my experience and not based on any official guide, hope that helps.

    • R says:

      I forgot to note that for operational upgrades lately the app based boarding cards will show the seat in the new class but the paid class name. e.g. a WTP seat number but WT is displayed on the boarding pass which can be confusing for some.

    • the real harry1 says:

      if you get a free upgrade to a fare class that includes lounge access, you get the lounge access

      • Richard says:

        I know that finnair for one keep track of operational upgrades and don’t give them to the same passengers again and again. The idea being that if you try business class for free you might pay for it in the future. If you don’t pay and keep flying economy they lower your priority in the op-up queue and give the chance to somebody else.

        • Rob says:

          I know that BA stops offering upgrades via Manage My Booking and at the airport to people who accept them.

          Which makes sense, of course, because if people were 100% sure of being offered a cheap upgrade they wouldn’t pay the higher Club price in the first place.

          It is same discussion around whether Avios seats should be made available at short notice. If BA routinely opened up all unsold seats for Avios 24 hours in advance, people who buy expensive flexible tickets would move to Avios instead.

          • James says:

            How do you know this though? Isn’t it just incidental evidence? If a flight is overbooked in economy, and no-one has booked in CE, then are the algorithms going to block upgrades via Manage My Booking? And even if you have it on authority that BA stops offering upgrades via Manage My Booking, a) BA’s IT is sh***. b) For what period of time is the alleged block? A week? A month? A year? Two years? In five years or so as a G, I’ve consistently and continuously received ‘Offer to Upgrade’ – especially on LGW to JER, and LHR to BRU (and vice versa). But again, this is just more incidental evidence…

          • James says:

            Just to add Rob – I’m not being critical. And you know significantly more than the most of us. I just have a bit of a cynical view on these sort of things and also my own experience doesn’t mirror what you state.

          • James says:

            Also – I find that BA DO now open up large number of Avios seats on intra-EU 24 hours before flights. Since Club Europe has been introduced on UK domestic, it’s easy to see this: if Club Europe is available, but economy is not, you can damn well bet that economy will more than likely open at 1am the day prior to the flight. More flights are now available at the last minute – for my intra-EU routes anyway than have been previously. The downside is that – I find – there is significantly less – none even – availability from T-7 to T-1, especially on UK domestics. But LAST MINUTE availability is always there. Incidental evidence: my UK last-minute domestics since around this time last year have all been Avios. It really is that good!!!

          • James says:

            How about a HFP experiment? Take twenty EU routes and check availability each day for three weeks. I’d wager there will typically be a bit of economy availability between seven and twenty-one days out. Minimal economy availability seven days out. And much economy availability on most of the twenty routes from one day out. I’d also wager that the key indicator to availability in economy is the number of CE seats available – especially during the last 7 days.

          • Rob says:

            Not much of a data point, but I checked Geneva at 3pm yesterday and I could have got on the 5pm or the 8pm in both classes, which surprised me.

          • the real harry1 says:

            just checked our route out to the sun for next week – whilst there is next to zero RFS availability in ET, there is plenty in CE virtually every day next week, with numbers of seats available often 4-8, so you might have a point

          • Nick Burch says:

            Last Friday some friends of mine got to CDG, and discovered they’d booked their flights for the wrong week! I was able to book them flights to LHR on BA with Avios for the flight leaving in 80 minutes, or the one in 3.5 hours, seats available in both cabins. Compared to the change fee on their cash tickets, the avios got amazing value!

          • the real harry1 says:

            @ Nick Burch – good way to monetise your Avios stash? 🙂

            or are they paying you in beer? lol

    • Peter Taysum says:

      I would have thought that’s a breach of contract. If they are selling as “Club Europe” you have to get the benefits (unless there’s small print to rescind this).

  • Scottydogg says:


    I upgrade from Amex gold to Amex Platinum a few months ago , (mainly for the lounge passes)
    We have had 3 bills now but the £450 fee has still not been taken . We are now wanting to cancel the card , anyone have experience doing this .
    When we had the BAPP card , we phoned and cancelled and had some of the fee refunded pro rata , I believe this happens with the black card as well , but we still haven’t paid the fee ? im confused

    • Genghis says:

      Just cancel the card. Don’t ask about the fee for obvious reasons. Been there, done that.

    • Polly says:

      Say nothing, ask nothing, you are one of the lucky ones slipped through the net. Only hold onto the card if you still need the priority pass. Once you cancel the plat the lounge visits will be charged and you will get a bill.

    • Harpo says:


    • Polly says:

      Forgot to ask.did you get the 20k bonus avios for a small spend?

      • Scottydogg says:

        Yes , didn’t need to spend anything , think as soon as I activated it I got the 20K dropped in

        • YNJ says:

          Did you take out the gold, get the bonus and then upgrade for the additional bonus? Thinking of this route if it’s doable?

  • Mark says:

    The reasons I upgrade shorthaul are speedy check-in, fast track security, lounge access and now food. If i’m already past security and heading to the gate i’d be reluctant to upgrade for anything more than the cost of lunch.

    • the real harry1 says:

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

      that’s just the cut-off point

      most people would presumably upgrade the day before

  • John says:

    OT any views on club Europe row 9 emergency exit seats, worth paying more for leg room?

    • Rob says:

      Very rare CE goes back to Row 9! Arguably paying for seat selection in CE isn’t necessary as the empty middle seat gives you space to sit sideways. You could also lose your exit row if they shrink the CE cabin or change the aircraft type. That said, if you’ve paid for CE then a tenner or so to lock in an exit row is a decent deal (cheaper than doing tier point runs to BA Gold in order to bag Row 1 …..)

  • Rich. says:

    Row 9 on what aircraft?

  • Martin says:

    It’s really a slap in the face for Elites.

    As BA silver, I get upgraded a fair amount, including from Club World to First on long haul, which is pretty nice. This typically happens at the Gate, so I don’t get the lounge upgrade, but still.

    Now it seems that upgrade slot might be sold for a lousy 50 quid to somebody else, who perhaps has no loyalty to BA.

    • the real harry1 says:

      doesn’t seem to be offered for long haul yet, just European short haul

      if it were, LH upgrade cost more likely to be £hundreds, not a lousy £50 🙂

    • Alan says:

      Interesting – I’ve only once had an upgrade as Gold. Generally I don’t see upgrades (except when spending Avios) as a status benefit with BA – by contrast with the US mileage programmes it’s a key part of what they offer (as no lounge access for them)

      • Alex W says:

        When I was Gold I had quite a few upgrades on LH, and when silver as well. But I’ve never once been upgraded to CE from ET. Makes me wonder whether upgrades exist on short haul!

        • the real harry1 says:

          plenty in Europe, see the FT thread

          probably route/ time dependent – not likely in peak

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