Avios First Class availability to the Americas, Asia and Africa is back!

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It’s back!

Four days after British Airways removed all Avios availability in First Class to the Americas, Asia and Africa, the seats have returned.

It isn’t clear what is going on.  However, my article on its removal on Monday was the most read article on Head for Points – ever.  Including our email list, the article had over 50,000 views.  It was also picked up by the press.

So, error or not?  Is it possible that all First Class availability from 1st January could be pulled at the same time to the Americas, Asia and Africa – but not the Caribbean or Middle East – by mistake?  It seems very unlikely.

My best guess is that BA did this in advance of something but that something is not ready.  The big shake-up of the avios.com platform isn’t happening for another 4-6 weeks, for a start.

It would, of course, be easier if BA acted like most other UK travel loyalty schemes and showed me what they were planning in advance of it being announced, but they don’t.  I could at least then calm nerves if there is no genuine reason to worry, even if I can’t say what is going on.

All I can say, short term, is that if you were planning on any BA First Class redemptions for 2019 – remembering that you only book until late March at the moment – you do it sooner rather than later, just in case.

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  1. Due to pouncing on Robs alert the other week of a bargain MAN > AKL Q cash flight with QR I have 300,000 more than I expected so have been contemplating how best to spend them and was in a mild panic over the weekend. I don’t really want to use them prior to March 19 though. Can someone remind me how much I lose if I grab F flights whilst they are available and then change them to something more suitable later in the year?

  2. Steve says:

    This is what I think happened: something has been deployed last week (6pm a day before the long weekend) and key people went on holidays. Wouldn’t be the first corporation this happened to. Also, I believe, no one in here has any trust in BA being able to do some consistent ‘agile’ management of these situations. That would explain the absolutely no PR around it, but if there would be any that would mean that actually, something bad happened. That never happens to us! Anyway, fix has been deployed. Everything is ok. No one is responsible for anything. Let’s tweak these numbers a little bit and we actually over-delivered for 2018 already. Bravo. Well done everyone. Short week! The pub, early Thursday!

  3. Peter Sharp says:

    Maybe they took all the comfortable seats out of the planes to replace all the cheap hard seats on the Thameslink class 700 trains which are now running all the way through from Brighton to Cambridge and Horsham to Peterborough.

    • Brighton Belle says:

      I feel that pain

      • David says:

        Controversial, but I actually prefer them…the old style make my bad back worse but the new 700’s are ok. Very pleased they brought them in for my Hove – LBG commute 🙂

  4. Out of interest is there an example of an airline loyalty scheme which blocks first class for redemptions?

  5. What concerns me is if there is a move to remove redemption function on BA,com to Avios.com is that currently we are unable to transfer between accounts on several of our BA household accounts to and from Avios – something that wasn’t a problem until recently. I wonder how smooth any transition will be particullarly if you have an “extended” BA household “family”. I hope that if there is such a move they give the option to consolidate by agreement all householder accounts into the head account at no transfer costs and then transfer that account ove to Avios, Still it is early days ….

  6. Bosco says:

    Aren’t you a bit embarrassed that your most read article was a jump the gun conspiracy theory that proved to be a damp squib?

    • AndyGWP says:

      Not sure waiting a few days before publishing anything is jumping the gun. I think most people would prefer to have issues highlighted and it’s a key reminder that change is the biggest risk to points collection.

      (Anyways, for all we know, the article triggered a quick fix, so could’ve been worth it regardless.)

    • Bosco your comment could almost be taken as being a criticism rather than being appreciative of the hard work that Rob does for us all.

      • AAlsc says:

        Could be taken as criticism? That was how it was intended I would imagine! Also, let’s not forget that quite frankly BA are under no obligation whatsoever to drip feed changes to their programme to anybody in advance and the comment “be easier if BA acted like most other UK travel loyalty schemes and showed me” is coming across as some sort of flying Messiah complex.

        • It simply makes sense, given how much negative publicity towards BA my article on Monday caused.

          You ALWAYS brief the media in advance about what you are doing if you are sensible, under an embargo if necessary.That is how you manage the story.

          When Hilton makes changes, for eg, Mark Weinstein – who runs HH – calls me and we chat about what they are doing and why. It tends to result in more favourable coverage too because I understand, even if I don’t agree, where they are coming from.

    • George says:

      I wouldn’t be embarassed. Media exposure to issues like this is what usually triggers a response, be it a simple statement, or, a correction with no explanation offered.

  7. Polly says:

    Just be glad it proved to be a damp Squid! A lot of people can actually get on and book their trips now. It’s hard work collecting to an F 241 redemption, so yes it would have affected many of the readers.
    Then comes along a great Qatar J ex EU sale, and some end up cancelling their F 241 tickets!…it’s a fun game but nail biting to say the least…

    • Be glad IF it proves to be a damp squib*. I still suspect this is a precursor to negative changes coming between now and 2019… If I had enough points to redeem for First I would be doing so ASAP.

      Squib, not squid. Not sure of the origin but I presume it is related to the usage of the word as a small explosive charge, which would indeed suffer from being damp. A squid lives in water and so should always be damp!

  8. James says:

    I don’t want to fly BA business class as it’s crap compared to the competition so if F rewards are removed I’m absolutely dropping my collecting of Avios and thus the use of Avios’ partners and I can shop around more freely without factoring Avios into the equation.

    This needs a statement from BA. Now.

    I’m sure that Cruz has been employed to degrade BA’s reputation.

  9. It may have something to do with BA removing the First Class Cabin from all except 3 777-200ER

  10. Vivian says:

    sorry O/T but no “bits” today…just had to share this

    I hope this doesn’t happen to any of us!

    • Tilly says:

      Haha! Excellent. I’ll be sure to keep all windows shut at our hotel when we’re in Canada next month.

  11. Richard says:

    OT (no “Bits” today) — Are there any points bonuses currently available for adding partner cards to a Platinum or Gold account? There’s the usual online form to do so, but no promise of extra points.


    • Tilly says:

      I didn’t have anything to say they’d add points for adding a first supp card to my platinum after upgrading from gold but as soon as I added my husband as a supp card holder I got 5k MR post.

    • wally1976 says:

      Generally, it seems, for a first supplementary card you get 3k for gold and 5k for platinum but not guaranteed.

  12. Prins Polo says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the change (to reinstate F availability) was triggered by Rob’s article. The great thing about HFP is that it’s very visible, the audience is wide, and the articles are often picked up by other media outlets. It is easier for BA to ignore a couple of disgruntled posters on Flyertalk than wide media coverage on HFP and in mainstream media. Thanks Rob!

  13. Kerry Kenton-clarke says:

    It’s interesting to note that, as an example, checking First availability LHR/JFK via BARedemptionFinder shows all 2019 flights in grey (“available, but price unknown”) – but checking via BA Exec Club shows no First availability outbound on several of the February dates I checked (which showed as available on RedemptionFinder), although there were some dates showing available Outbound – a similar situation on inbound flights. It looks like there must be some incompatibility at present between BA and RedemptionFinder …? Comparing between the two sites for 2018 flights for LHR/JFK was more accurate, although I still found quite a few dates where RedemptionFinder showed availability whilst BA showed none.

    • BARedemptionFinder while useful on occasion, is not without its flaws. It should have a specific search criteria for BA flights as opposed to other O/W carriers.

      e.g. search LHR-TYO might show 2 first class seats on a given date leaving the user (who is aiming to use a 241) delighted….until they search BA and find its a bloody JAL flight!

      Would be very easy to do….am sure the guy behind it can resolve this obvious flaw.

      • Also, BARedemptionFinder should have the ability to search across two different classes on a return trip.

        e.g. out in F, back in J (without having to perform two separate searches and then having to perform amateur hour by having different browser windows open to match them up)

        and by extension….search open jaw returns (across two classes) e.g. outbound LHR-KUL in F, return HKG-LHR in J.

        Again, it’s an easy fix to rectify these obvious flaws.

        • Memesweeper says:

          > Again, it’s an easy fix to rectify these obvious flaws.

          It’s a great tool , it does what it does, it’s free in the basic form and , if it lacks a feature you need that’s not a ‘flaw’ IMO. You could scrape it and fix this ‘obvious’ flaw if you wished. I’d be delighted to see the URL for the fruits of your ‘easy’ labours published here tomorrow.

        • Stu N says:

          I think it plugs into the same data that the BA iOS app uses so that’s probably the source of the limitation. The iOS app only allows you to search for one way trips or simple returns (i.e. xxx-yyy-xxx in the same class both ways) but it is very quick to run a search for multiple cities and travel classes. When I’m actively looking for stuff I can whizz through my range of options in a couple of minutes on the train into work in the morning.

          The app – and so BA finder – should only show BA metal though; occasionally it has false positives which I assume are a time lag as the source data isn’t quite in real time but the booking page on ba.com is real time. You may be seeing this if someone has nabbed the newly released BA availability ahead of you but JAL has been sitting there throughout.

          In some ways I like that there is no 100% guaranteed easy way to find awards – the imperfections add to the sport and also reward those who have put a bit of effort into learning the tricks of the trade and are most keen to find seats.

  14. CW to the Caribbean looks like slim pickings and odd in places. There’s decent outbound availability for SLU but nothing inbound. I know the Caribbean is popular, but did it just get worse?

    • Louise says:

      No have been looking myself and availability been like that for late 2018/2019 early for a while

      • England tour the Caribbean next Feb/Mar, so I guess the tour operators may have reserved quite a few seats for the Barmy Army? I guess if you can afford to take a month or two off to follow the team you may well be able to afford F/J too.

  15. TravellingJake says:

    Is it usual to struggle to find F seats on the A380? Seems every route for every date I’ve checked, can’t find F for avios on the A380.

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