BA sale

Why ba.com’s ‘upgrade using Avios to Club World’ pricing may have ripped you off

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.)

British Airways 350 2

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:

Upgrade Using Avios example 1

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.

Upgrade Using Avios example 2

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.

or

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.

Conclusion

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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Review of the Aspire Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 1
Bits: 3600 Avios with LEGO, non-stop to Jakarta with Garuda, Flying Blue 100% 'buy miles' bonus
Click here to join the 14,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Hilton India and SEA sale
Amazon ad
BA sale
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Semi OT: if I transfer Avios from my wife’s Amex in to her BAEC account, can I then book using a BA 241 that’s on my account?

  2. A TA can also book the lower fare and upgrade. This probably has been around since the dual fares were introduced. I first noticed this problem about 6-7 months ago.

  3. OT any promo codes out there for QR ex UK in J. Need to book for November- thanks

  4. Sorry, newbie here, could you explain if this impacts BA 241 tickets booked online for Club World as well?

    And what about Lloyds upgrade vouchers from WTP to CW?

    Thanks!

    • Lloyds is not an upgrade voucher as such, more of a discount to the next class up. As it has to be used against an Avios Reward booking, the above topic doesn’t apply.

      • Yes, no impact. As Mike said, the Lloyds voucher is a massive misnomer. You are not upgrading a WTP seat, you are simply booking a CW seat for the miles of WTP.

        This is not just semantics, because a cardholder might think that Avios availability is needed in the lower class, eg WTP (it isn’t) and that you don’t Avios availability in the higher class, eg CW (you do).

        • Thanks both! The bit about the availability needed in CW instead of WTP (if I’m looking for a CW seat) is very useful information. Thank you!

  5. Slightly off topic but if your flying business/club and land at Heathrow, you should be able to use the fast track security, correct?

    The last time I was told I needed a voucher/coupon even though I had a fast track ticket, there wasn’t actually a queue so wasn’t bothered but if there was a queue I might have been.

    • For arrivals fast track is only for non EU nationals with the voucher

      • the real harry1 says:

        as an egalitarian it does annoy me somewhat that you can get fast track for money on re-entry to UK

        fast track on exit is not a passport exercise in the UK, just a carry-on baggage security check – this doesn’t bother me in the slightest if it gets speeded up for money/ status

        but re-entry is a passport check by Border Agency – IMV all people should be treated equally, according to their grouping ie EU/ EEA or not

        there are no real VIPs where security is concerned IMV, yes I guess I’d allow top politicians or [spits] so-called top 10 royalty as they are different – but not (say) FTSE100 CEOs or media figures – let them queue with the rest of us

      • I see thanks for clearing that up 🙂

  6. Mal Kiely says:

    I tried to upgrade from WTP to Club World using Avios to Dubai in May 2918. The WTP price of the ticket was £641.07 but when I tried using “book with cash upgrade with miles” the price shot up to £1054.07 plus 44,000 Avios.
    So in the end I booked from ARN to DXB via LHR in WTP for £496 return plus only 44,000 miles with £80 extra for the taxes! So £576 return in Club World, happy days!!

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.