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

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For the last few days, ba.com 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 points from UK credit cards

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

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 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 – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

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:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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.

(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 (233)

  • Peter K says:

    That article was 5 months ago but I suppose not much has changed really.

    • TripRep says:

      Sorry, you are quite correct, popped up in my FB feed, thought it was new.

  • Rich says:

    BA are trialling Free soft drinks to Silver and Gold card holders on some flights on the GVA Route.
    I wonder if BA are looking to restrict reward availability in F to a similar audience?
    Whilst I accept BA my make more cash from an avios ticket earned by shopping at Tesco saving for an aspirational F redemption, a Gold may generate substantial revenue for BA and find that the seats have long been booked…..
    I accept that not all Golds are equal!!

  • Richard says:

    as Rob said last week in the big article.. the schemes work because of the Wow redemptions in F and to a lesser extent J.. bad move from BA if true

  • JamesB says:

    For sure BA lags behind most contemporary competitors but I don’t think it is as bad as most here make out. When all goes well it is ok, far from a disaster. I think their biggest problem is the drip drip drip of changes and fees. If they would bite the bullet and make a step change we could all get a grip and accept it for what it is or move on to another carrier. I also think we should all make hay whike the sun shines because I would not be surprised if BA has the last laugh. Once every penny has been squeezed out of economy products and services it is possible, even inevirable, that airlines will try to maintain profits and drive growth by changing premium cabin products and services. If that comes to pass I suspect premium cabins of the future will look more like CW tban Qsuites. How else will the flag carriers compete with LH LCC operatingincreasingly efficjent aircraft between both primary and secondary cities?

  • New Card says:

    There are really only 2 reasons why I choose to collect Avios over eg Virgin miles:

    1. Lap infant redemptions using miles (but when are Virgin going to reinstate this?!)
    2. Redemptions in F with a 2-4-1.

    (A very lazy 3rd is the lack of a Baredemptionfinder-type site for checking Virgin redemptions, unless anyone knows one?!)

    If 2 disappears then the BA proposition becomes a lot less interesting to me.

  • John says:

    Simply they are only interested in gouging the paying public and have found a new way to screw an extra few cents from our wallets

  • S says:

    Defo something up as BA redemption finder has lots of avalibility but price “unknown” for 2019.

  • Shreya says:

    If I cannot travel first class I will not bother with British airways avios any more. There are other airlines that I would then prefer and other loyalty schemes.

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