Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Lots of British Airways First Class and Club World US Avios flight availability

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British Airways has opened up a LOT of Avios reward availability to North America for the Autumn and Spring in First Class and Club World.

If you were thinking about a trip, this may be a good time to lock something in.  I’ve already booked for my family for next Easter.

Frankly, some of the availability is just silly.  Take a look at this screenshot for London to New York JFK from early September (click to enlarge):

British Airways First Class Avios availability

Of the four flights shown, one is showing 5 x First, two are showing 7 x First and the 14.25 is showing AT LEAST 10 x First, out of a 14 seat Boeing 747 cabin.

When does not show ‘x left’ it means that there are more than nine seats available.

Let’s look at this another way.

Here are screenshots from showing all the dates with TWO First Class seats available between London and New York.  It is tight until the end of June, but from July:



You can get two First Class seats virtually every day.  You won’t see any other US cities quite as good as this but availability to most of the East Coast is looking good in First Class for two people.

For the West Coast, the availability is mainly in Club World.  I had NO trouble booking four Club World seats to San Francisco for my family over the Easter 2020 school holidays, using 2 x British Airways Premium Plus American Express 2-4-1 vouchers.

British Airways has whacked up surcharges for US residents …..

Part of the reason for this generosity may be the newly increased ‘taxes and charges’ bill for people who are starting a return flight from the USA.  (All of the major airlines charge substantially higher taxes to US residents flying to Europe, rather than the other way round.)

The BA ‘fuel surcharge’ / ‘carrier imposed charge’ on a return First Class flight from the US to the UK is now $1,600.  This is before you even get to Air Passenger Duty etc.

Here is a random quote from New York to London, return, in First Class FOR ONE PERSON:
British Airways First Class Avios taxes…. and here is the ‘carrier imposed surcharge’ broken out FOR ONE PERSON:

British Airways First Class Avios taxes

If you live in the US, you can make a SUBSTANTIAL saving on ‘taxes and charges’ by booking a redemption as 2 x one-way flights.  This allows you to benefit from the cheaper rate for ex-London flights on the return leg.

In case you’re wondering, the equivalent figure for Club World is now $1,200 return for anyone flying to Europe from the US and back.

It is possible that this release of seats is some sort of error.  BA won’t cancel your booking once it is made, however, so you might want to lock something in.  All you are risking is the £35 per person cancellation fee – all of your Avios, taxes and 2-4-1 vouchers will be returned.

To maximise your miles when paying, your best bet is the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card which earns double Avios (3 per £1) when you book at or via BA Holidays.  You do not get double Avios if you book with the free British Airways American Express card

Another option is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (161)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Gavin says:

    I saw a massive increase in availability for New York (in December) this morning, but most of it has gone now. Seems to be back to normal levels of availability.

    Can’t decide whether to pull the trigger, because with £668 per person in charges, even with a 2-4-1 it doesn’t seem great value (compared to cash, or going on Iberia with Avios)

    • Rob says:

      You’d be bad not to go via IB if there is availability. 68,000 Avios vs 100/120k on BA plus £175 of tax (vs £665 on BA) and you get to keep your 241.

    • marcw says:

      Long haul Avios redemption on BA are a rip/off. Really. IB, albeit via Madrid, is cheaper in Avios & reduced fees.

    • marcw says:

      if you can handle premium economy west-bound, you may consider flying LEVEL from BCN. If you book via, you save plenty of cash (taxes are around 30 eur pp).

    • Tariq says:

      I’ve resolved to only use Avios and 241 vouchers for F redemptions now, doesn’t seem value for money to use them for Club.

      • Anna says:

        It depends on the route and time of year. CW prices to Florida and the Caribbean can easily hit £3k pp at peak times so 150,000 avios, a 2 4 1 and £1300 fees can still be a good deal under these circs. But yes, in many cases it’s only worth doing a redemption in F.

      • Polly says:

        Think that will change as new club suite rolls out. Could be a better use of 241 as folks may not be able to accrue as many avios as before amex changes.
        Haven’t been brave enough to use IB yet tho. Amazing low taxes and fees.

  • Tom W says:

    Has anyone had their Avios through for the Hackett offer? Over 35 days now and no sign of either lot of points

    • Brian says:

      Same. Nothing yet.

      • Spurs Debs says:

        Same for me nothing.

        • Shoestring says:

          Far be it from me to say the Hackett Avios offer is a con…

          • Harry T says:

            I will certainly be chasing them up for the Avios.

            Though the 65b website has been down for at least a couple of days, they are still emailing me to say you can get 10 Avios per pound, and the BA shopping portal is advertising the bonus 3500.

          • Rob says:

            It will turn up, don’t worry about that.

  • Louie says:

    OT: trying to track down which Amex card I used to pay for something! Does anyone know which flavours of Amex start with 376?

    • Louie says:

      And the answer is – BA blue in this instance.

    • Chris says:

      One of our (many) BA Amex cards starts 3760. Also have ones starting 3791 and 3717

  • Shoestring says:

    Which all means RFS is the sweetspot.

    Which all means RFS will be the next to suffer.

  • John says:

    Booked a first class return flight to Miami – only to realise that it is from Terminal 3!

    No CCR!

    • Rob says:

      Good news – Cathay Pacific First Class lounge, even better!

      • Mark says:

        I can vouch after a recent visit to Cathay First lounge, you’ve not lost out at all!

  • Simon says:

    OT: My wife is a US citizen but lives in the UK (indefinite leave to remain).
    We’ve just canceled all Amex cards in order to pick up the signup bonuses in 24 months.
    Is she eligible for any of the US card bonuses? Avios would be the preferred currency, then Delta miles.

    • Rob says:

      If she has a US address then she might get away with it. Doubt Amex would send a card here without proof of US residency. Most Amex cards in the US have 0% FX fees so no problem using in the UK.

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