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Where has all British Airways First Class Avios flight availability gone?

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For the last few days, has been showing virtually no Avios availability in First Class for 2019.  I sat on the story because I thought it may be an IT glitch, but it does now seem that ‘something’ is up.

The ‘something’ is potentially linked to the Avios and British Airways Executive Club changes discussed here by Alex Cruz, although the problem with that conspiracy theory is that Cruz said that the IT required would not be in place until the year end.

What is odd is that not all First Class availability has been removed.

British Airways First Class Avios availability reduced

As of last night, there was still 2019 availability on the following routes (E&OE):

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Bahrain
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Doha
  • Dubai
  • Kuwait
  • Riyadh
  • St Lucia
  • Tel Aviv

It doesn’t take a genius to spot the pattern:

Middle East and Caribbean routes retain F Avios availability in 2019

North, South and Latin America, Africa and Asia routes have no F Avios availability in 2019

If you assume that this is not an IT issue and is not linked to reduced availability ahead of a big cash sale (but I normally get notification of those) then you can only assume that British Airways is trying to introduce some immediate changes to Avios redemptions.  This would be in advance of the planned bigger moves, presumably ones that can be done now with the current IT infrastructure.

Options could be:

A major reduction in routes with First Class from 1st January (but if it was being cut, the Caribbean routes would be on the list and New York would not, and in any event seats are being sold for cash)

First Class to be relaunched from 1st January as an uber-premium service which will be so exclusive that BA does not want it tarnished by anyone unwilling to pay for it (but, if so, it would be put on the Middle East routes as a priority since BA is losing premium business to Emirates and Etihad, and those are still open for redemption – and anyway, does anyone believe that BA is capable of offering a super-premium First Class service like Lufthansa or Air France?)

First Class redemptions restricted to certain groups only (eg British Airways Silver and Gold members, potentially no oneworld partners or Blue / Bronze) – the issue here is that this strategy doesn’t have any benefit to BA, since BA First Class is not exactly a premium product on the world stage.  This also makes no financial sense, because IAG makes a lot of money if a Blue member transfers 150,000 Amex points to book a BA First Class redemption, and zero money if a status member redeems 150,000 miles earned from flying.

‘Dynamic pricing’ to be introduced for First Class ahead of its introduction in other classes (but that would require IT capability which Cruz implied was not yet available)

…. or something else?

Whatever it is, British Airways will need to come clean very quickly as it is now clear that ‘something’ is up.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2023)

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:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard is doubled to a crazy 50,000 Avios! Apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is doubled to 10,000 Avios. Apply here.

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

CRAZY 50,000 Avios for signing up (to 30th May) and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (only to 30th May) 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

25,000 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 £12,000 Read our full review

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

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

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

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! 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

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

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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 bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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 (233)

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

  • Simon says:

    I booked First Class 4 days ago London – Singapore return , booked using a Joker to release space possibly that would make a difference

    • Joan says:

      Can I ask – what does that mean – using a “joker “ ?
      Interested because I’m so disappointed reading this article this morning . I have a big plan with my latest 241 voucher -which has just been awarded . I want to go to Malaysia winter 2019/20 and am saving up my avios so we can go first class ( it’s on my bucket list ) . I’m going to be so gutted if my plans are scuppered ☹️

      • Lochlann says:

        They’re for Gold Guest List members – two ‘jokers’ annually where you can force reward availability if certain fare classes in F are on sale for cash

        • Joan says:

          Oh I see – thanks . I’m only bronze so no good for me ☹️

      • Anna says:

        +1! Was planning for the day when our son is old enough that we can leave him at him (or put him in WT!) so can book 2 x F instead of 3 x CW ????

  • David says:

    I booked F returns to LAS in late January for Jan 2019, 355 days out or whatever it is. So this is a recent development.

  • JamesB says:

    E&OE…E&ME, but that doesn’t fit the list either?

    Knowing BA, they would be much more likely to try and spin existing F as uber F. No new IT is required for them to manage reward inventory with current pricing system.

    My guess is it will all be redundant in the medium term anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if BA totally ditches F in favour of more CW seats.

  • Trevor Kislingbury says:

    I’d noticed this myself over the last 4-5 days, let’s hope they come clean soon.

  • Talay says:

    Arse about face knee jerk reaction without due planning and consideration is my bet.

    BA doesn’t have a business class worth having so only first redemptions make Avios worthwhile.

    If they go, then my £xxx,xxx of BAPP spend will disappear.

  • KevMc says:

    OT the Amex £25 back for £75 spend at Claridges, The Connaught and The Berkeley is back.

    Managed to save one on my own and my wife’s Platinum Card, so it looks like we will be booking ourselves in to one of them for a nice dinner with 33% off, again.

    • Joan says:

      Ooh thanks for pointing that out – it’s one of my favourites … have just searched and saved it . We always use that offer for a bottle of champagne in the bar at the Connaught ????

    • Tilly says:

      Great thanks! Just logged on to save offer to my card. Really enjoyed the last time I used the offer. Lovely food and great service!

      • Tilly says:

        Just a shame it expires end of May. Have afternoon tea booked with a friend for 2nd June. Will have to the the husband for dinner I think.

    • @mkcol says:

      Good spot. What is bizarre is that the AMEX app has a “Redeem online now” button however when you read the T&Cs it says that online use is excluded.

  • Charlie says:

    The only reason we collect avios is to redeem in F, so if that option goes then i can see us ditching the BAPP and the £xxx,xxx that gets put through it each year, along with crediting our OW flights elsewhere.

    I wonder how Amex will feel regarding this, if it turns out to be the case that F redemptions are no longer available I can see a lot of BAPP holders looking elsewhere!

    The only explaination that i can find for BAs changes over the last couple of years is that Cruz has taken out a massive short on IAG shares and is doing his best to run the company into the ground!

    • James says:

      I’m pretty sure Cruz is being paid by Juncker to ruin our national carrier 🙁


    • Archie Bob says:

      Yep, totally agree. Ability to redeem in F in conjunction with companion voucher is only reason I now bother with Avios at all these days. Club World is a joke and simply not worth the hassle of collecting points and paying the £500 of ‘taxes’ when compared to the £1000ish biz class fares now frequently available on QR and others.

      I’ve had a long ride with BA, redeeming close to 4,000,000 Avios and more than 20 Amex 241’s over the past 10 years or so, but this might be the time to move on.

  • Mike G says:

    I ditched my BAPP before its renewal date, and I’m very glad I did. BA really is circling the drain at this point.

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

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