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

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EDIT:  On Tuesday morning, the seats reappeared.  A mistake or a plan which had to be reversed under public scrutiny?  Click here for my thoughts.

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.

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

British Airways First Class Avios availability reduced

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.

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Comments (234)

  • Doris Williams says:

    Just wondered as people are mentioning 2 for 1 with Avios, is this only available in economy? I was thinking about changing to BA miles is this better?

    • JPV says:

      The 2-for-1 is a voucher that can be used for any class where there’s availability (including first), but there are other restrictions. Rob’s article on it is at https://headforpoints.com/2017/01/23/how-to-use-ba-amex-2-4-1-voucher/

    • DavidK says:

      I don’t know what you are changing from so is this better is difficult to answer without knowledge of what you are doing but 2 for 1 is available in all classes. At the moment it is anyway!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Doris you get a 2-4-1 voucher for after spending £10k on the Amex BA premium plus credit card which costs £195/annum (there is an alternative route via the free BA Amex but you should ignore this option). The 2-4-1 voucher can be used on any BA plane (must be BA metal and not simply a BA flight number) where there is Avios availability and you must depart from the UK. You will have to pay taxes for both persons too which are circa £500 each for long haul J or F. The voucher makes most sense to use for long haul J or F to unlock enough value to compensate putting £10k through a credit card etc. You can also fly into and out of different airports in different classes i.e. LHR to Singapore in F, KL to LHR in J.

      • Doris Williams says:

        Thanks, I’m debating if I should change or not, I spend around 20k on my credit card, I have 214,000 Avios at the moment, could I transfer them? Will it still be Avios with the BA card or is it BA miles? Can I still do part miles part cash?

        • Matt says:

          So you already collect avios? BA’s currency is avios. If you have 214,000 avios already then that’s enough for say 2 x club world return to New York. If you are interested in travelling to Asia or South America then you should put £10k of your annual credit card spend onto a Amex BA premium plus card to earn the 2-4-1 and then book your J/F reward flight as you’ll have all the avios you need. I would then recommend you find an alternative credit card to put your other £10k worth of annual credit card spend through.

  • dps says:

    Part of AC’s brilliant pincer strategy to first devalue then destroy the credibility of Avios: 1) you can no longer burn them for a seat in F that you reluctantly booked because J wasn’t available; 2) you can no longer even waste them on a cup of tea in Economy (that is already free to Emeralds on AA)

  • Ruth4325 says:

    Purely on a revenue F basis, what are BA’s most profitable F routes? Just wondering…or do they end up making a loss on most of them?

  • Londonbus says:

    I work in Riyadh and do BA to LHR 2/3 times a year – with my ex RUH sector being in J and return in W. Regularly get POUG for F; and colleagues who do both sectors in J get the same.

    Pretty sure BA struggles to sell the seats.

    RUH cannot be described currently as a tourist destination. The route is also very peaky with aircraft being full ex RUH on a Friday departure and the same ex LHR on Saturday/Sunday – but much emptier at other times.

  • DavidK says:

    Well this is certainly disappointing if this is the way it is going. I have always been reluctant to collect miles in the past due to trouble finding suitable redemptions and point devaluations…

    I committed to it this year and have managed to save nearly 150k plus get a companion voucher with a view to doing a redemption in first to New York in 2019. Timed it perfectly by the look of it. Grrrrr!

    Businesses ought to give notice if they intend to move the goal posts. I think I will look elsewhere for point spending in the future. Always fancied trying Cathay Pacific.

  • Steve says:

    A lot of assumption going on here. Just wait and see what unfolds. If they were pulling F from redemption everything would have gone including the middle east and why just start from 2019 onwards, again no logic.

    Probably just someone’s forgotten to click a button and one day in near future, 3 months of availability will return suddenly 🙂

  • Doris Williams says:

    Thanks, I’m debating if I should change or not, I spend around 20k on my credit card, I have 214,000 Avios at the moment, could I transfer them? Will it still be Avios with the BA card or is it BA miles? Can I still do part miles part cash?

    • DavidK says:

      You only get avios with the BAPP card and there isn’t anyway to stop them going straight to your account. You can of course use them to book flights on other oneworld partners like Cathay or Quantas. In order to get more flexibility you would need to change to a Gold or Platinum Amex but then you only get 1 point equivalent per £ spend on most airlines.

  • Bonglim says:

    Has anyone else noticed changes in availably for US internal flights, when booking on BA.com?

    I had been planning a return in 241 to IAH (Houston) in F and back from Chicago (ORD) in J for thanksgiving. Then booking an internal flight in business class between the two cities.

    All of that was available and I booked it over the last week or two. Luckily.
    The internal flight was not on the exact day we wanted – although there was very good availability on the other days. I have since been back to see if any new ones appear on the day we actually wanted. But there seems to be no availability through the entire week.

    Might just be coincidence.