Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Get a free upgrade to First Class when you book British Airways Club World business class

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British Airways has brought back its ‘Free upgrade to First’ promotion.  This runs a couple of time each year.  We don’t often focus on it but this time we thought it was worth explaining how it works for the benefit of readers who have never seen it before.

If you book a cash flight in BA Club World for travel by 30th March, you might be able to get a free upgrade on either the outbound or the inbound to First Class.

To be honest the small print is extensive, but it might work for some.

Who can travel?

You must be a European resident from specified countries.

For transatlantic flights including USA, Canada and Mexico you must be a resident of: UK, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Switzerland

For other long-haul destinations you must live in: UK, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Where can you travel to?

Flights from Russia and Israel to London are included when operated with long haul aircraft.

Flights to Tokyo and Doha are excluded as well as London Gatwick to Barbados, Bermuda, Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, St Lucia, Oakland, Orlando, Port of Spain and Tampa.

As there is no First Class on the London City – New York route, an upgrade to First is not possible.  However, you could book your outbound from London City and the inbound to Heathrow (or vice versa) and be upgraded on the Heathrow flight.

When can you travel?

The outbound flight must be by 16th April and the inbound flight completed by 22nd April.

What sort of ticket do you have to book?

You must book a fully or semi-flexible return fare in Club World (J, C, D or R) and get the other sector in First (A).

Avios redemption tickets are excluded.

The cheapest Club World tickets (which book into I) are excluded.

It is also important to note the restriction on First Class availability.  You will only get your upgrade if British Airways is selling ‘cheap’ A-class  First Class seats on your flight.  There are only a couple of seats per service released in this fare class.  You should not assume that you can definitely have the upgrade just because tickets are still available for sale in First Class.

How can you book?

You must book with a travel agent or via the BA call centre (0344 493 0787) and request the upgrade at time of booking.  This upgrade is not bookable online.

Other bits

You will earn Avios and tier points according to the cabin you actually fly in.  This is actually one of the key benefits of this promotion and which is often overlooked.  You would on most routes receive 210 tier points for the flight you take in First Class rather than the standard 140 tier points for Club World.

To maximise your miles when paying, your best bet is the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card which earns double Avios (3 per £1) when you book at ba.com or via BA Holidays.  You do not get double Avios if you book with the free British Airways American Express card.  Another option is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.

I should have covered the important bits, but here is the link to the BA website with full T&Cs.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital on Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (38)

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

  • Nick_C says:

    The picture of the F seat on BA looks similar to the J seat on AAw

  • IanMacK says:

    Interesting to note that this time around the offer does not restrict the booking to be of UK origin-only. I think that means that a Beijing / Delhi / XXX to LHR and return is eligible for the First Upgrade.
    (This is how it worked when the bonus scheme was first rolled out then the last few have been UK origin tickets only).

  • Nick says:

    Rob/Anika, just a little inaccuracy to correct… it’s not ‘European citizen’, it’s ‘resident’. There’s a huge difference – and not even BA would discriminate in this way.

  • shd says:

    “There are only a couple of seats per service released in this fare class.” … Sorry, but I think you made this up! 🙂

    “F9 A9″… really isn’t that unusual on some routes, see https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/29281887-post986.html for just one example. The next one posted on that thread is F8 A6 … and so on.

    • Rob says:

      True but you won’t see this on a NYC flight booked a week out, which is the typical booking scenario for this promo.

    • Paul says:

      Just what I thought! Often see the whole cabin being sold as A class right up until the day of departure.

  • Brandon says:

    Boo. cant upgrade existing business class bookings, only new bookings..

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

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