The abilty to upgrade a British Airways World Traveller Plus cash ticket to Club World, using Avios, is one of the most attractive parts of the Avios programme.
Upgrading from Economy / World Traveller to World Traveller Plus is a bad deal, because it is not possible from the cheapest economy tickets – the sort of tickets that leisure travellers will buy. However, there are no restrictions on which World Traveller Plus tickets can be upgraded to Club World.
Any WTP ticket bought on ba.com, even one bought in a sale, can be upgraded with Avios to a flat bed Club World seat as long as there is Avios redemption availability in Club World. (I’m not sure about the rule for BA Holidays bookings.)
But the process is broken …..
Over the summer I received a couple of emails from readers who felt they were being ripped off when trying to do this. They would be quoted a price for a World Traveller Plus ticket but – when they tried to make a booking using the ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ function – the ticket price suddenly jumped sharply.
The good news is that there is a way around the problem. The bad news is that a lot of people have probably over-paid for an ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ flight in recent months.
This problem seems to be limited to US routes only although I cannot be 100% certain of this.
Let me tell you about Dual Inventory Fares
Dual Inventory Fares are an interesting British Airways pricing initiative. Put simply, it is a way of keeping a fixed gap between the prices of two different cabins.
British Airways doesn’t want the price gap between World Traveller and World Traveller Plus to get too big. If it did, people who would otherwise have paid a premium to upgrade will decide not to bother with World Traveller Plus. This costs BA money.
So, if economy flight prices are reduced to create a ‘too big’ gap between World Traveller and World Traveller Plus, ba.com will (and I am stripping out a lot of technical details here) automatically adjust the cheapest World Traveller Plus fare downwards.
This is actually a sensible business move by BA. The reason it is called a Dual Inventory Fare is because you are sold a hybrid ticket type which exists in the BA booking system as both WT and WTP – don’t worry, though, this has no impact on your Avios or tier points which credit as usual.
But when you do ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ …..
When you do ‘Upgrade Using Avios’, ba.com makes a mistake. Instead of giving you the Dual Inventory Fare, it gives you the standard World Traveller Plus ticket. This means that you are overpaying for your ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ ticket.
It is easier to explain with an example
This screenshot shows the cost of a World Traveller Plus ticket to New York between 5th and 12th February.
The fare is £818 consisting of £376 base fare and £442 of taxes and charge. Click to enlarge:
However, this is what you get when you try ‘Upgrade Using Avios’.
The fare is now £1,212 consisting of £684 base fare and £528 of taxes and charges – plus, of course, 44000 Avios for the upgrade to Club World.
The actual cost of this ticket should be £898 plus 44,000 Avios. The cash element should be the original World Traveller Plus price plus the £80 of additional Club World taxes and charges.
In reality, you are being asked to pay £1,212. You are over-paying by £314 per person.
The good news is that, now you know there is a problem, you can fix it
There are two ways around this, assuming that it kicks in when you try to book your next US flight:
Call British Airways to book. It seems that the call centre is able to upgrade a Dual Inventory Fare.
Do your booking in two stages. Do NOT use ‘Book With Money, Upgrade With Avios’. Instead, break it into two stages. Book the World Traveller Plus ticket for cash and then immediately go into ‘Manage My Booking’ and upgrade it with Avios, or call BA to do it. If, for some reason, it fails (eg the Avios inventory in Club World disappears) you can cancel your WTP ticket for a full refund under the ’24 hours cancellation’ rule.
If you are planning to book a World Traveller Plus ticket to the US on ba.com using the ‘Ugrade Using Avios’ function, make sure you check the WTP pricing for a standalone ticket first.
If the non-upgraded WTP ticket is cheaper, use one of the two methods above to book it for the original price.
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