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How many Avios do I need to upgrade to First Class?

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Today I want to give you an overview of how many Avios you need to upgrade your long-haul British Airways flight to First Class using Avios points.

For other classes, this Head for Points article tells you all you need to know about upgrading British Airways flights with Avios.

The first thing I want to say is that this only applies to British Airways flights.  With only a few exceptions, which are very unlikely to apply to you, you cannot use Avios to upgrade flights with any other airline.

How do I upgrade my flight with Avios?

Here is a summary of the upgrade rules for First Class

You can only upgrade to the next cabin up – it is not possible to jump from long-haul Economy or Premium Economy to First Class, because you are skipping over Business Classs

The only option is upgrading from Club World business class to First Class.  If you are booked into Economy, the only upgrade you may be able to do is from Economy to Premium Economy.  This article explains the complex restrictions on upgrading from BA Economy to Premium Economy

Any Club World business class ticket, even if bought in a sale, is eligible to be upgraded with Avios to First Class, as long as your aircraft has First Class of course

Extra taxes and charges may be required on top of the Avios needed

There MUST be Avios reward seats in First Class to upgrade

To be eligible for an Avios upgrade to First Class there must be reward availability.

This means that there must be a seat in First Class which you can book directly with Avios.  If there is, you can use the same reward seat for your upgrade.

If there are no seats in First Class showing for Avios redemptions, you cannot upgrade from Club World.  Keep checking back, however, as seats often up closer to departure.

Search on ba.com for a ‘full’ Avios redemption in the higher cabin to ensure it can be done before you start wasting time trying to upgrade.

What does it cost to upgrade my flight with Avios points?

The cost of the upgrade is the difference between a standard Avios redemption in the two classes.

A one-way peak Club World ticket to Dubai is 60,000 Avios for example, whilst First Class is 80,000 Avios.  It would therefore cost 20,000 Avios each-way to upgrade the ticket.

This article shows the Avios needed for EVERY British Airways route – click here.

The table in that article is based on one-way flights.  Look at how many Avios are needed for a full redemption in the cabin you are booked, look at how many are needed for a redemption in the next higher cabin, and work out the difference.  That is the one-way cost of your upgrade.

Note that additional BA charges may be added when you upgrade.  There is no additional UK Government Air Passenger Duty if you upgrade from Business to First.

You can choose to just upgrade a return flight in one direction if the upgrade is not available both ways or if you don’t have enough Avios.

How do I upgrade my British Airways flight?

You can process the upgrade online, via ‘Manage My Booking’, or by calling British Airways Executive Club.

Do I earn Avios and tier points based on the class I booked or the class I flew?

You will not earn Avios and tier points for the upgraded class. As this is an Avios upgrade, you will only earn Avios and tier points in line with the cash portion of the booking.  If you buy a Club World business class ticket and upgrade it to First Class, you only earn Business Class Avios and tier points back.  You can read more about earning Avios and tier points on upgrades here.

(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.)


Get 20,000 Avios from Amex Gold, or 30,000 Avios from Amex Platinum! (November 2020 offer)

The sign-up bonus on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold converts to 20,000 Avios and the card is free for the first year!

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American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

You don’t qualify for the Amex Gold bonus if you have a British Airways American Express card. You DO qualify for the bonus on The Platinum Card, which converts into 30,000 Avios – find out more here:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have your own small business, the best way of earning Avios is via the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa. It has a sign-up bonus which converts to 10,000 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

You can find out more about ALL UK credit cards which offer travel rewards in this article, updated monthly.