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It’s back – 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 credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

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

Comments (38)

  • 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..