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How many Avios do you need to fly First Class?

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How many Avios points do you need for a First Class flight?

A lot of people have flying First Class on their bucket list.  It CAN be done with Avios points, but my advice – as we will see in a minute – is that Business Class is a more achievable goal for a newcomer to frequent flyer miles.

Let’s take a look at the Avios pricing table:

Following a recent revamp of the British Airways website, you can no longer see a simple chart of how much an Avios redemption flight costs.  You are expected to plug your route into this calculator.

Luckily we have a copy of the chart here.  The basis of Avios pricing is this simple grid, which prices British Airways flights based on the one-way distance flown.  This is the pricing chart introduced in April 2015:

Redemption chart 2

The zones relate to the distance flown:

  • Zone 1:  1 – 650 miles
  • Zone 2:  651 – 1,150 miles
  • Zone 3:  1,151 – 2,000 miles
  • Zone 4:  2,001 – 3,000 miles
  • Zone 5:  3,001 – 4,000 miles
  • Zone 6:  4,001 – 5,500 miles
  • Zone 7:  5,501 – 6,500 miles
  • Zone 8:  6,501 – 7,000 miles
  • Zone 9:  7,000+ miles

If you want a simple list of cities listed by the Avios needed, I have put one together.  Click here for our full list of Avios redemption pricing by destination.

In theory, looking at the chart above, the cheapest First Class flight is just 15,500 Avios one way.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that British Airways doesn’t have First Class on short haul flights.  The only place you are going to find a First Class seat on a flight of under 650 miles, which is the limit for the 15,500 Avios pricing, is with a BA partner airline such as Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines.

If you are heading to Asia on holiday then you might be able to find a way of fitting in a regional First Class flight at low cost.

If you want to fly British Airways in First Class, your options are limited.

Zone 5 is the cheapest long-haul zone which covers Dubai, New York etc.  This requires 68,000 Avios one-way off-peak and 80,000 Avios one-way peak.  This is a lot of points, clearly.

The only exception is Heathrow to Moscow.  Sometimes, but only sometimes, British Airways operates a long-haul plane on this route.  Such an aircraft will usually have First Class and this would be bookable for 40,000 Avios one way.  Russian Visa requirements are tricky, however, so it isn’t a trip you can book on a whim.

British Airways Dubai lounge

If you want a premium flight experience with Avios, try Business Class

Look at the chart again.  The cheapest Business Class Avios redemption costs just 7,750 points.

7,750 points is what you need for a one-way flight from London to a European city under 650 miles away.  This covers much of France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

You might think it is extravagant to fly Business Class for such a short flight.  I disagree.  This is what you get for your 7,750 Avios, plus £25 in taxes and charges, flight to Amsterdam:

Use of priority check-in desks – no queueing!

A bigger luggage allowance – 32kg

Use of ‘Fast Track’ security – less queuing than you would have otherwise

Entry to the British Airways lounges, where you can eat and drink, entirely for free, to your hearts content before the flight.  You can also stock up on newspapers and magazines, use the business centre and generally just relax.  A handy tip is that champagne is not on display with the rest of the wine but is available (free, obviously!) if you ask.

Priority boarding – you are given ‘Group 1’ boarding

Seating in the first 3-4 rows of the aircraft

An empty middle seat guaranteed

A free meal – and they are generally OK these days

Free hot and cold drinks, including champagne

Doesn’t that sound better than heading to Luton or Stansted and dealing with the crowds before finding yourself on Ryanair?

Of course, if you want to a flat bed Business Class seat to a long-haul destination it will require more Avios.

First Class requires a lot of Avios.  That said, it certainly isn’t impossible – in fact, if you’re willing to take out a few credit cards (this is the list of the highest Avios credit card bonuses) you will be in the air sooner than you think.  My personal view, however, is that an easier place to start is with 7,750 Avios to fly Business Class inside Europe.

(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.)