How to upgrade your British Airways flights using American Airlines miles

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This article looks at how to upgrade British Airways flights using American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Being able to upgrade British Airways tickets using Avios is a well known feature of the programme as I wrote in this article.  There is also a full page on explaining how it works.

Whilst upgrades from World Traveller / Economy are restricted (the cheapest ticket class – Q, O and G – cannot be upgraded), virtually any ticket in World Traveller Plus or Club World can be upgraded using Avios.

The only condition is that an Avios reward seat must be available in the class to which you want to upgrade.  The upgrade comes out of the same ‘bucket’.  The only other rule is that you cannot upgrade at the airport or on board with Avios, although ‘at airport upgrades’ – for cash, possibly not for Avios – are being trialled for users of the BA app

Upgrading with Avios is not as good a deal as it was before the 2015 Avios devaluation.  It currently costs 40,000 Avios, for example, to upgrade a return World Traveller Plus ticket to New York to Club World on peak days or 48,000 Avios on off-peak days.  Before 2015 it cost just 25,000 Avios and was arguably the best ‘sweet spot’ in the scheme.

How to upgrade british airways flight using american airlines miles

What fewer people know is that you can also upgrade British Airways flights using American Airlines miles.

Upgrading BA tickets using American Airlines miles is not as lucrative, because you are restricted to full fare tickets except in Club World.  It CAN be done, however, which makes it an option for using up any AA miles you  have accrued.

All the details can be found here on the American Airlines website.

Only full fare World Traveller (Y, B class) and World Traveller Plus tickets (W class) can be upgraded using AA miles.  Whilst it says ‘full fare Club World’, it also says it includes C, J, D and R booking classes – and R is one of the non-refundable Club World booking classes.

Here is another snag:

You must book your BA ticket via American Airlines in order to be able to upgrade it using AA miles.  Alternatively, there must be one AA flight (which can be a codeshare, but must have an AA flight number) in your booking.

The pricing is reasonable and on a par with using Avios.  A World Traveller Plus to Club World New York upgrade would be 25,000 American Airlines miles each way as the chart shows.

One other benefit (admittedly of less use if you live in the UK) is that AA lets you upgrade up to three flights per upgrade ‘fee’.  If you are flying from the US via London to, say, Moscow you could upgrade both for the cost of just one.  BA would charge you for each leg separately if you upgraded with Avios.

Iberia flights can also be upgraded using the same method.

This is clearly not something that would interest everyone, but if you travel for work on flexible fares, have a few AA miles sitting around unused and have the ability to ticket your BA flights via then it may be of use.

(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. You mean ….40k off-peak and48k peak

  2. Guess there needs to be award spacing to upgrade using aadvantage miles though?

  3. Thanks Rob, do you have anything on how to upgrade AA flights if all my miles are within BA?

  4. My understanding was that ticket stock matters too. You can only upgrade using AAdvantage miles if it’s on 001 ticket stock, and only upgrade using Avios if it’s on 125. Has this now changed?

  5. David S says:

    Can Redemption class codes U,P and X be upgraded themselves using Avios provided that seats are available ?


  6. Hi, OT and this is probably a long-shot but I’m a bit desperate so why not give it a go.
    I need to book a BRI-LGW flight on 22 Apr to come back home after easter, but cash tickets are astronomical and there is no Avios availability. I managed to get a seat on Business for my wife and daughter, but missing my own ticket.
    Is there anyone with BA Gold that would be willing to use ‘Gold Priority Rewards’ to book a seat for me? I’d of course be happy to reimburse cash value for those 15k Avios, or book similarly-priced Avios seats using my points (I have the Avios, just not the Gold, and have not managed to find any friend/relative with Gold)

    Thanks a lot, and apologies if this an unreasonable request (or against the rules of the website etc).

    • What do you class as astronomical? Easyjet do one-way fares from Bari if you have no other way of getting back. The prices will be silly as April 22nd is Easter Monday and a lot of people will be on their way home from holiday.

      • Thanks, there are a number of airlines flying from Bari or Brindisi – Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizzair, as well as BA. As you say, the problem is the date, but unfortunately due to work I am quite inflexible.
        Around 200 euros one-way on Wizzair is the cheapest – hence my willingness to buy Business fares at 15,000 Avios, or double Avios for an economy seat if I was Gold – but it looks like that might be the only option. Annoyingly BA had a couple of Economy seats that had dropped in price a few days ago to around €240 which was acceptable in hindsight (as I would have been able to use the Business seat I’ve already booked with Avios), but I was too late and now the cheapest on that flight is Business at €400!

  7. Kilburnflyer says:

    Could one upgrade both legs of an LHR(BA)=}JFK(AA)=}SFO ticket in Club/Business to First class with AA miles, as long as it was booked on AA code in “R” class? If so, how many miles would that cost?

    That way you could also have First on A321T leg for JFK=}SFO and access Flagship First dining #Krug 😎

  8. I am sorry I am confused. New to all this.

    I flew with AA last and received Avios correctly in my BA Exec acc. But I was told I cannot accrue AA as well as Avios?! Have I got this wrong? Are they not linked via the same avios? Sorry for my lack of knowledge in this field.

    • Shoestring says:

      you can collect both ‘currencies’ (Avios & AA miles) but have to choose 1 of them per flight

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