You can now use Avios to pay for BA seat reservations – but is it a good deal?

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British Airways went live yesterday with its well-trailed plan to allow you to use Avios to pay for seat reservations.

You can find out more on here.

It will be of particular benefit to those in the Blue tier” said James Hillier of the Executive Club in a statement of the blinkin’ obvious, given that all other Executive Club members receive free seat selection.

You won’t be surprised to hear that this is a terrible use of Avios.

I would also be surprised – and quite worried – if it proved popular.

People in the Blue tier are unlikely to have a large number of Avios and are unlikely to want to use up to 35,000 Avios (!) to select a seat in advance for a return Club World flight.

Use Avios to pay for British Airways seat selection

What do BA seat reservations cost?

Full details are on here.

BA now uses dynamic pricing for seat selection.  Pricing varies by seat and by how many seats are available.

Here are the minimum charges, each way:

  • Short-haul economy – from £7
  • Long-haul economy – from £20
  • Long-haul economy exit row – from £50
  • World Traveller Plus – from £18
  • Short-haul business – from £14
  • Long-haul business – from £62 (upper deck seats on a Boeing 747 are £90+)

Seat selection in First Class is free.

Pay for British Airways seat reservations with Avios points

What is the value per Avios?

It is …. and no surprise …..

0.55p per Avios.

This is the same rate that Avios uses for most of its other non-flight redemptions, such as redeeming for wine, experiences, hotels etc.

0.55p per point is a bad dealAs I wrote here in my ‘what is an Avios worth?’ article, you should be looking at 1p to 1.5p per point.

You should never redeem Avios obtained via credit card spend, Tesco Clubcard, Heathrow Rewards etc at 0.55p per point.  You would have been far better off using a cashback credit card, using your Clubcard points for another transfer deal or using your Heathrow Rewards points for airport shopping.  You need to be getting at least 1p per Avios if you are transferring in points from other places.


I am fully in favour of giving people more way to use their Avios.  If you earned your Avios exclusively from flying, so they were effectively ‘free’, then even getting a poor 0.55p per point is worthwhile.  For everyone else, I would try to avoid this redemption option if you can.

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

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  1. Nick_C says:

    OT – just saw this on the Iberia website.

    “Iberia Plus gives you double Avios to get you to your destination twice as fast.

    Book by 15 May to fly wherever, whenever, and in whichever class you want”

    Can’t find any further details, but it may be useful for people booking a BA codeshare who don’t need qualifying flights for tier points?

  2. John says:

    I think using avios at 0.55p can make sense in the scenario where 1) you acquired at least that many avios at (say) 0.4p or less, and 2) you have enough that you won’t be short of avios for any other possible redemptions you want / you’re acquiring more at a faster rate anyway.

    Then you’re just selling something for more than you bought it.

    As I acquire my avios at 0.6p, I certainly wouldn’t sell them at 0.55p, not that I would pay for seat selection in the first place even if I didn’t get it for free.

  3. Georges says:

    Once we get hit with the biggest devaluation ever later this year, 35,000 Avios for return CW seat selection will seem a fair price. Cruz will kill one of the best FF programs in the world as he is doing with the BA brand.

    • mark2 says:

      When you next met Alex could you please ask him how much later. I want to book for Oct 19; will I be too late? Thanks.

    • John says:

      I don’t get Cruz, everyone loves to hate him until they meet him, after which they love him

    • Definitas says:

      What devaluation?

  4. I’ve still got status for now – I’m only really bothered about economy when in short haul and then my only massive concern is avoiding the middle seat. CW seats are not created equal but I can live with most of them. When my OW status goes I’ll stop bothering with BA long haul and just pay for the cheapest J flights I can find. Short haul I’ll pay for extra legroom on EZ. Problem solved. I would actively resent paying to choose my seat (in cash or avios) in PE or J again although I’ve done it in the past for upstairs on a 747.

  5. Slightly OT – I have a non-refundable BA economy return ticket to Asia. Frustratingly, avios business availability has just come up for part of the route, it wasn’t available before. Any suggestions on what I can do/is it worth booking another seat, or should I slum it in economy?

    • lev441 says:

      Depends if you’re happy to loose the cash you have originally paid! Remember on top of the avios you’d need to pay the taxes & surcharges of £500ish

      • Stu N says:

        Not sure how your trip is set up but if you miss a leg of a multiple flight itinerary on a single ticket the rest is almost always cancelled automatically.

    • Memesweeper says:

      Have you tried to ‘upgrade using Avios’? Should be in Manage My Booking.

      • Polly says:

        They could only upgrade to PE anyway. Only one level ug allowed unlike VS who do allow a double ug. However the OPs ticket is probably unchangeable inflexible etc etc.

  6. Flying Misfit says:

    OT as no bits: Amex Plat Supplementary Card
    Does anyone have any experience of getting a supplementary Amex (free as 1st supplementary), registering for all hotel statuses etc, then cancelling the supplementary, then applying for the supplementary again but for another person.
    Would the second time I get a supplementary be free (given it will only be the additional one to account)?

  7. DaveB says:

    I still can’t get my head around how BA can justify charging £70+ to those pax who don’t have status but have shelled out several £k on purchasing CW / First seats just to ensure that everyone in their party can sit together. It really is horrendous.

    • Darren says:

      I agree, a nonsense.

      I saw a discussion that argued that this was a benefit for BAEC Gold members who receive free seat selection at time of booking and the rest of the plebs should be glad to be allowed to fly BA (not using those words but with that sentiment).


      • Louie says:

        Not really astonishing. Say you are a business traveller (so yes, probably gold or GGL) buying extortionately expensive last minute tickets. Would you be happy to have only the cr*ppy, sorry less desirable, seats left to choose from? If you fly with a quality airline, whose seats are all much of a muchness, it wouldn’t matter. But if you are daft enough to choose or have no choice but to fly with BA, where most people only consider one in four club seats acceptable (the windows), those seats will have been gone ages ago unless you (BA) dissuade people from booking them by charging ridiculous amount of money for them. And if people are happy to pay, then you (BA) can live with annoying your business customers because now you have sold the seats for silly money.

        • Darren says:

          Astonishing was my thoughts on the attitude rather than the business practice.

        • Having booked a few short notice flights (short haul) as a Gold recently, seat selection options are surprisingly good due to the number seats held back. The new FLY passenger management system also tries to seat block Gold members in Economy until the flight gets close to full.

        • Why would this be about Gold and FLY?

          As Silver on s/h I usually find the seat map *wide* open at T-36h, I doubt this FLY seeing my amazing silvery powers 🙂 more likely to be a reflection of the high % of non-status pax travelling and them not paying for seat selection.

        • Lady London says:

          Just to upset most of you. British Airways will still be giving free seat selection in Economy, to any booking made by corporate travel agent for a business traveller under deals they offer to corporate customers. Unless that’s changed relatively recently. I never worked for a corporate where British Airways preferred fstcat customers weren’t shielded in this kind of way.

    • Mike says:

      Yup I agree – I have booked AF Prem ecom (via Paris) over BA because I could book seats for free

      • Callum says:

        That makes no sense though… If prebooking a seat is crucial to you (given the wide open availability I see on most flights when I check in, I genuinely believe most people don’t really care) then just mentally include the cost in the ticket price.

        It’s absurd to pay £100 extra elsewhere because you don’t want to pay a £70 seat fee – though I assume you actually had a different reason for opting to go with Air France?

    • Matt says:

      DaveB seat selection is free at the time booking on first class. I don’t disagree with your point about CW though especially as my Silver is about to expire at the end of May!

  8. OT: Is it just me, or is booking JAL return redemptions via BA’s website impossible?

    I have been trying this for a few days. Every time I try, if I book a single JAL leg and a single BA leg it works fine, but if I try to book both legs as JAL the summary does not show pricing information and insists that i select a return leg (I already have); if I try to continue to the next screen it boots me out to the starting page.

    Any thoughts?

    This is probably a moot point as I doubt I have enough Avios for JAL both ways. I might do if I can find off peak JAL dates – does anyone know of a calendar for JAL redemptions?

    • John says:

      Peak and off-peak only exist for BA (and IB but different calendar??) flights. Do you think that the total taxes and charges would be higher when booking JL as two one-ways, if not, what’s the problem?

    • meta says:

      All partner airlines flights, including JAL, are classed as peak. Try booking as two singles then.

  9. I’m just waiting to use my 241 but am worried that things will get expensive after June. As I have no fixed plans that I can trust as yet, I’m going to mostly get screwed. Anyway, after thisl, it will be the end of BA for me. I just can’t be bothered. As long as I can churn the BA amex one more time after my 6 months are up, I should have enough no matter what silly deval they throw at us.

  10. Enjoying our first experience of the Concord Room at T5 waiting for our flight to SIN and then on to Oz in a few days time. Looking forward to our first FIRST experience with BA – we are not frequent flyers so this is a real treat for us. Won’t be paying cash or Avios for our CW seats on the way back from SYD. Fingers crossed we get a seat together at T24hrz. Cheers! ✈️????

  11. Mark says:

    I have to say now that we no longer have status certain Virgin UC redemptions are looking attractive over an Avios CW 2for1 / PE->CW upgrade.

    The slightly higher Tesco rate, regular Tesco conversion bonuses, lower redemption rates on some routes compared to CW, not needing to earn a voucher and free seat selection all adds up.

    With a 2for1 and no status it makes a BA F redemption rather more attractive on certain aircraft. I wouldn’t bother on the 8 seat 787-9 F cabin though as we like window seats, and you can’t get two window seats on the same side of the aircraft unless you’re gold or are very lucky at T-24. Worse, if you are able to select 1A or 1K they’re then liable to snatch it away from you close to departure leaving you potentially separated with no choice, which happened to us (as Silver status holders).

  12. Keith C says:

    O/T but BA – I booked flights LHR to MIA for early next year on the BA website, B1526 (actually AA57) Business Class to MIA, and Premium on BA back to LHR. I’ve just received an e-mail saying that BA1526 is cancelled, and I’m now booked on a less suitable (actual BA) flight 3.5 hours later.

    AA57 is not cancelled. It is, at the least, disingenuous, to claim that BA1526 is cancelled. It is the code share arrangement that appears to have gone.

    Is this a common occurrence? I’m wondering whether it is worth my while trying to get BA to book me on to AA39 instead if that code share arrangement might also disappear.

    • Anna says:

      I can’t understand why the codeshare agreement would be terminated. BA do have a habit of cancelling flights though, but if you call them they are usually quite accommodating about putting you on an alternative if there are seats available.

      • Anna says:

        A One World alternative, that is!

      • Keith C says:

        Regarding BA1526 being ‘cancelled’. I have rung BA, they are adamant that BA1526 (actual AA57) is cancelled, and that AA have confirmed this. Hence I got myself booked onto BA1528 (actual AA39) instead.

        However, on the AA website, I’m now flying twice on the same day – on AA39 at 1105 hours, and on AA57 at 1235 hours, both LHR to MIA. The 2nd flight is shown as a return. Further, BA have, without telling me, reserved a seat on AA39, which I can change on the AA website, but ‘Manage My Booking’ won’t reflect this.

        I’m a leisure traveller, don’t fly often, and only booked Business from LHR to experience what is like on AA (since it is often spoken about favourably) and there were ‘cheap’ prices available. I booked this on the BA website since the return is with BA, and I could redeem and earn points. I really don’t want this hassle.

  13. Rtid says:

    I have just used 2x 2-4-1 for us as a family of 4 from LHR to SIN

    I am BA blue. Seat selection on the upper deck is £100 each. I’d have to pay £800 in seat selections for the upper deck on a return trip!

    • Mark says:

      Which gets very close to the point where it would be cheaper to fly somewhere, e.g. on a Qatar business sale fare, to get enough tier points for Silver than pay the seat selection fees!

      • Polly says:

        Agree completely. One reason we cancelled a BA F 241 KUL a while back to buy EX EU CPH J QR Sale. Gave us our silver once we flew our 4 x BA sectors. If you can be flexible that us.

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