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How far in advance can you book flights with Avios?

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I am often asked by readers ‘how far in advance can I book with my Avios points?’.  Today I wanted to look at how the system works.

The British Airways booking system lets you book flights up to 355 days in advance.  This applies to both cash and Avios tickets.

If you want to fly on 20th April 2020, you can book the outbound from 30th April 2019.

This matters, because British Airways guarantees that two Business Class and four Economy seats will be released for Avios booking as soon as the flight appears in the booking system.

More tickets will probably be released over the following 355 days, but the 2 + 4 are guaranteed.  Similarly, there is no guarantee that World Traveller Plus / Premium Economy seats or First Class seats will ever be released for any specific flights, but they do usually pop up at some point.

Do I earn Avios and tier points on reward flights?

If you want to be 100% certain of getting the seats you want for a particular day, you need to call British Airways on the dot of midnight when the seats open up 355 days in advance.  

This is your ONLY chance of getting tickets to ‘peak’ destinations such as Sydney or, over Christmas, many other places.

The UK call centre is closed at midnight so you need to call the US – you can Google the current number equivalent to your membership tier.  You will only be able to book the outbound flight at this time.  You will need to call back a few days later to add your return flight when it becomes available.  BA does not, at the moment, charge a change fee for doing this.

It is important to note that you shouldn’t try to use the website instead.  There is a small delay in ba.com showing what is happening ‘live’ in the BA ticketing system.  It is likely that the seats will have been booked by a telephone caller before they turn up online.

To be honest, I have never done this.  My family never plans so far ahead and, as we tend to need four seats in Business Class, we are reliant on waiting for additional availability to pop up over time anyway.  If you don’t have flexibility in your travel dates, however, you will need to follow the guidance above.

What about using Avios to book on other airlines?

Whilst you can book flights on many other airlines using Avios – here is the full list of airlines – BA has no control over when those airlines choose to release seats.  Partner airlines such as Qatar Airways do NOT release seats so far in advance.

The other thing to remember is that, irrespective of the airline policy, ba.com can only book 355 days in advance.  Even if another airline has reward seats showing more than 355 days in advance on its own website, you won’t be able to book them via BA with Avios until we get to 355 days.

This actually works in the favour of UK residents.  American Airlines passengers can book BA reward seats using their own American Airlines frequent flyer miles, but the American Airlines website only books 335 days in advance.  This gives Avios members a one month advantage to book before the 20+ million members of the AA scheme can jump in!

(This article is part of our ‘BA Q&A’ series which explains how British Airways Executive Club works.  You can see all of our ‘BA Q&A’ articles here. )

(Head for Points is the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website with 1.5 million monthly page views.  Want to learn more about earning and spending Avios?  Click here to read our latest news storiesclick here to join our email list and click here to read our ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.  Read this article to learn how you can get 10,000 FREE Avios by signing up for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.)

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