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

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EDIT, Thursday: a LOT of this availability has now been removed.  Was it a mistake – it was there for five days – or not?  We’ll probably never know.  Do keep checking as pockets do still seem to be there.

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 ba.com 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 rewardflightfinder.com 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:

and

and

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.

But 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 taxesand 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 ba.com 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.

(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.)

Comments (161)

  • Alan says:

    Given the massive points inflation in the USA with regular ginormous sign up bonuses, 35% transfer bonuses to BA, etc. they definitely need to have these high surcharges to offset. Shame for any UK residents looking for booking a one way back from the US though (eg after flying a different airline outbound)

    • Doug M says:

      When those US credit cards give those bonuses they’re buying the Avios from BA, so that’s not a cost for BA, its income.

  • Craig says:

    OT, no bits: There is a Father’s Day offer from Beer52 for £24. Works well with the Amex £10 credit

  • Frenzie01 says:

    OT: The 241 voucher spending target tracker disappeared from the AMEX app and mobile site for me.
    Anyone else noticed this?

    • Anna says:

      It can come and go, usually around the time your statement is being produced, it’ll probably reappear in a couple of days.

  • Andrew says:

    Any ideas on the Off-Peak/On-Peak BA calendar for 2020?

    • Rob says:

      No, I checked yesterday actually.

      • Andrew says:

        No worries, thanks.

      • Alex says:

        Rob any lights on school break dates for Easter, my kids school have not published the calendar yet for 2020 so I couldn’t plan the travel right yet! We luve in South East

        • Rob says:

          The lights will be working!

          Vast availability over Easter, although my kids get 3 weeks which makes it easier.

          • Shoestring says:

            How many weeks’ holiday do they get? In state schools it is regulated and all schools teach 39 weeks with 13 weeks of hols.

            My elder son now goes to an agricultural college, run with sort-of university terms: so 30 weeks of study & 22 weeks of hols, not 10 week semesters, though – they get a break in the middle, which all makes life interesting! (he’s got autism, ie 22 weeks of finding interesting things to do together as opposed to 13). The upside is: now my other 2 kids don’t really want to spend all their school hols out at our place in the sun – and are of an age, together, where another adult (mum or dad) can be absent, this means elder son & I can get extra weeks of hols out at the place in the sun. Which is the plan: summer hols & October half term gets me 2 more weeks out in paradise 🙂

          • Rob says:

            Lose track – 3 at Easter, 8 in the Summer, 2 in October, 3 at Christmas, 1 in Feb, so probably 17 weeks off.

        • Shoestring says:

          your best bet is to ask the school secretariat as they probably already know the dates

          I could give you our 2 schools’ Easter dates but it’s pointless as each institution (sometimes whole county or LEA) can set their own dates.

          usually with a late/ish Easter (as in 2020) you can be pretty sure it’s back to [state] school the Tuesday after Easter Monday (14/4/2020) – that’s true for us – but ISTR Anna already said one of her schools returns a week later

        • Anna says:

          That’s ridiculous – there are lots of professions where employees have to book their leave 12 months or more in advance!

          Yes, my son’s school doesn’t re-start till April 27th next year which has saved us a few thousand avios on our return leg as peak season is only till about the 20th. But as Rob said, vast availability over that period, until I cancelled my alerts yesterday Reward Flight Finder was updating me several times per day on CW and F availability to the US!

          • Rob says:

            In my experience, the school does know the dates and if you email the administrator they will tell you.

          • Michael C says:

            Yes, we get our dates about 18 months in advance…and are on the Osaka flight in J on March 29!

  • N says:

    Thanks for adding the quotation marks around ‘taxes’, etc – a step in the right direction!

  • jarvester says:

    O/T I have two 2-4-1 AMEX vouchers, 175k avios and 275k Amex points. I was planning a reward trip in BA Club World to Asia with my wife and two kids but I am not sure using the vouchers will give me the best value, due to poor availability of CW seats and surcharges. Can anybody who has been in a similar situation advice whether I am better using the vouchers or using my points with a different airline (s)? We’ll be flying ex-Scotland
    I know it’s a bit of an open question but it’s my first reward redemption and considering recent Amex changes I might need to wait a few years for the next one! Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences!

    • TripRep says:

      Jarvester try pricing it out of INV, it maybe worth positioning there first.

      • jarvester says:

        Thank you all for your suggestions. I’m using rewardflightfinder but that’s not good to check options positioning ex Inverness. Can you recommend what other tools you use to check seat availability and costs? Cheers

        • Rob says:

          Do the long-haul first, on the assumption that you’ll never struggle to get an Inverness flight.

    • Anna says:

      I don’t think you’ll ever get better award value than using a 2 4 1 (or even better, 2!), especially if you’re travelling in school holidays. Would 500,000 avios get you to and from Asia at the time you want to travel and is there award availability? Remember that (for now) you get regional connections with BA for 0 avios which might be useful for you.

      Only you know what’s the best option for your family, but rather than potentially losing the 2 vouchers I would personally find an available destination and cabin class and build my holiday around that.

      • Nick_C says:

        Anna – you said a couple of days ago that you redeemed a Lloyds upgrade voucher by phoning BA. Did the charges go thorough to your Amex as BA or Avios?

        If the charges are billed as BA, then this is obviously better then using the voucher on line through Avios.com, which I would otherwise do.

        • Anna says:

          I can’t remember TBH – the only cash element was 2 x RFS charges which wouldn’t have generated a huge amount of avios however the payment was processed. But the email confirmation was definitely from avios rather than BA as it was under the old system, so I’m guessing the whole thing would have gone through as a avios transaction.

      • Lady London says:

        Personally if you dont have to travel at absolute peak periods, these days i’d want to know cash fares were not a better option before using Avios. Remember longhaul cash fares do earn miles and tier points and avios bookings dont. If booking cash on BA in particular ( as compared to Sri Lankan, Cathay, Qatar) i would also check if worthwhile using cash+Avios, or not,to reduce cash payable and yet still earn avios and tier points.

        Remember a well planned trip to Asia can get you very close to Silver as well, if cash.

        Lastly if you do have some cash available then you could also check J availability, book same flght in py and then and there upgrade with Avios.

        All depends on balance you have available and your likely earning possubilities in the future of Avios…and cash!

        • Shoestring says:

          good point about 4 legs on Qatar (for example) to a destination in SE Asia can earn you pretty much enough to give you BA silver & lounges etc – just need to add in 4 cheap European legs and Bob’s your parent’s brother

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Forget about your 241s and look at where Iberia flies. There are cheap flights direct from Edinburgh to Madrid … and trains, underground and buses to the city from the airport. So even if one not running, you have other options.

  • Dave says:

    I was looking at a hong kong booking next easter and the taxes were £923 per person I thought it was just a glitch 🙁

    • Matt says:

      Surely that’s a glitch? I booked Australia (F out, CW back) and the ‘taxes’ were around £705 per person.

    • tom1 says:

      Did you see that on BA or RFF ?
      I noticed that RFF is reporting charges around £800 to SIN, but that’s not what the BA site says. I reported to Tim but he said that is what his data source is reporting, and sadly couldn’t fix it.

      Moral of the story… if you need the right amount, go to the BA site and click all the way through.

      (Still love RFF though!)

  • Nick_C says:

    Of course the ex UK charges are also getting pretty ridiculous at around the £665 mark for the US. Unless you have a voucher of one sort or another, a cash ticket in a sale is probably better value.

    • Rob says:

      £2698 for 4 CW to San Fran for us last night, blow softened with 2 x 241.

      It is possible that the higher surcharge led to these seats opening up, as BA gets more revenue which triggers some threshold in the system to justify selling a seat for Avios – although that does not explain the lack of Asia seats.

      BA may also be able to leg over AA by releasing transatlantic seats – after all, Finnair and AA take the bulk of any financial hit.

    • Stian Eriksen says:

      Now that the taxes and charges have risen to such ridiculous levels, is it still right to value an Avios at about 1p?

      • Rob says:

        I got 4 CW to San Fran for 300,000 Avios + £2700.

        I would pay £1750 for CW to San Fran and could probably get it at that over Easter, although probably with changes. I lose flexibility for cash but earn miles back.

        On that basis, it works out at 1.6p per point. Without any 2-4-1s it would be 0.8p per point, but only assuming that £1750 is a realistic price for a cash ticket.

    • Nick says:

      I guess it depends on the redemption. I just spent 70k Avios plus a 241 and £110 for two return first class flights to Moscow. We were the only ones in the cabin and the crew managed to wedge in a full first service and a good few bottles of bubbly. I would have happily paid 400 each for that so got well over 1p per point. And I generally get well over 1p per point for economy RFS redemptions. Our last use of Avios for a US trip was probably an enhanced pay with Avios deal where a stack of Avios and about £800 got us return CW to SFO. If you decided you would only redeem where you got more than 1p per point I imagine you would still have dozens of options a day.