Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to upgrade British Airways flights with Avios points

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In this series

This article explains how to use Avios points to upgrade British Airways flights.

The “Avios Redemption University” series is a good starting point for beginners, although I hope everyone will learn something from it.  Click here to see the other “Avios Redemption University” articles.

I run occasional articles on the vexing question of ‘What is an Avios worth?‘.  The maths shows that using your Avios to upgrade a flight is often the most valuable use of them.

What is the best Avios credit card?

What is best way to upgrade flights using Avios?

In particular, upgrades from World Traveller Plus to Club World are a great way to redeem for people who only earn a relatively small number of Avios per year.

You can’t say the same for upgrades from World Traveller (economy).  As I show below, for the general public buying their own tickets it is possible – due to the fare type – that they will never buy a ticket that is upgradable, let alone find that reward upgrade space is there.  British Airways should not be advertising the ability to upgrade economy tickets as a benefit for the average Avios collector, because it isn’t.

Technically, the process of using Avios to upgrade is now called – fairly logically – ‘Upgrade Using Avios’. However, many people still call it ‘Miles for Upgrade’ or MFU, since that was the name BA used in the past.  Both name refer to the same process.  Here is the official page explaining how upgrading with Avios works.

British Airways BA A350 inflight

What do I need to know if I want to upgrade my flight with Avios?

‘Upgrade Using Avios’ allows you to upgrade a CASH-bought British Airways ticket to the next class of service.  There are a number of rules to get your head around, but in summary:

You can only upgrade by one class (World Traveller to World Traveller Plus, WTP to Club World, Club World to First, Euro Traveller to Club Europe)

Upgrades must be arranged in advance, not at the airport or onboard

You can upgrade either at the time you buy your ticket (log-in to British Airways Executive Club and use the ‘Book and Upgrade’ tool here) or later, via ‘Manage My Booking’ on

You can only upgrade via British Airways Executive Club, so if your Avios points sit at or you will need to transfer them to BAEC first via ‘Combine My Avios’

You can only upgrade British Airways flights (with some rare exceptions for American or Iberia flights – see below)

You can only upgrade if there is Avios reward availability in the higher class.  This means that your ability to upgrade may vary from day to day depending on whether Avios reward seats are opened up on your flight.

You cannot upgrade the cheapest non-refundable Economy tickets.  Booking classes Q, O and G cannot be upgraded.  This is the biggest downside of the scheme, and the one that hits the ‘casual’ leisure traveller the hardest.  British Airways has made some positive improvements here in the last couple of years, with more tickets types now qualifying, but the cheapest tickets can still not be upgraded. In any event, World Traveller Plus – the next category up – is a small cabin so the opportunity to upgrade will always be limited. You will also need to pay the higher rate of Air Passenger Duty if moving up to WTP.

You can upgrade virtually any World Traveller Plus or Club World ticket

On a multi-flight ticket, you can upgrade legs one at a time as availability comes up.  You do not need to upgrade every flight on your itinerary at once.

You can choose to just upgrade one leg of a ticket.  You may, for example, be happy in World Traveller Plus on a day flight but prefer to upgrade to Club World if the return is overnight.

You earn Avios and tier points for the class you originally booked.  Sometimes, for technical issues, your flight will post with 0 Avios, but a quick call to BA Executive Club will get this fixed.

You can upgrade a ticket issued by a travel agent.  This is great news for anyone who wants to upgrade their work trips.  If throws up an error message when you try to do this, as it often will, you will need to call.  It is unlikely that package holiday tickets (except for BA Holidays) can be upgraded as these are usually issued as Bulk Tour or Inclusive Tour tickets which are excluded.

How do you upgrade a flight with Avios?

It is a simple process. Go to, enter ‘Manage My Booking’ and select the relevant flight. At the bottom of the page will be an option entitled ‘Upgrade Using Avios’.

The key point to remember is you can only upgrade a flight if there is Avios reward seat availability in the higher class If there are no Club World redemption seats available, for example, you will not be able to upgrade a World Traveller Plus ticket.  Just because there are seats available in Club World for cash does NOT mean that you can upgrade.  You MUST be able to see Avios reward seats.

Do keep checking back as reward availability moves around from day to day. You are especially likely to find seats opening up in the last few days before departure.  You can use the SeatSpy website to set up email alerts to let you know when British Airways open up award seats.

So, what does it cost to upgrade with Avios?

A return upgrade will cost you the difference between the Avios needed for a return flight in the upgraded cabin compared to the cabin in which you are already booked.

This is the current Avios redemption pricing chart:

British Airways one-way Avios reward flight prices (plus taxes, fees and charges)
Zone Distance Economy Premium Economy Business Class First Class
Offpeak Peak Offpeak Peak Offpeak Peak Offpeak Peak
1 1—650 miles 4,750 5,250 8,500 9,750
2 651—1,150 miles 7,250 8,250 13,500 15,750
3 1,150—2,000 miles 9,250 10,750 17,750 20,750
4 2,001—3,000 miles 10,000 12,500 20,000 25,000 31,250 37,500 42,500 50,000
5 3,001—4,000 miles 13,000 20,000 26,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 68,000 80,000
6 4,001—5,500 miles 16,250 25,000 32,500 50,000 62,500 75,000 85,000 100,000
7 5,501—6,500 miles 19,500 30,000 39,000 60,000 75,000 90,000 102,000 120,000
8 6,501—7,000 miles 22,750 35,000 45,500 70,000 87,500 105,000 119,000 140,000
9 7,001+ miles 32,500 50,000 65,000 100,000 125,000 150,000 170,000 200,000

To San Francisco (Zone 6), for example:

  • World Traveller on an off peak day is 32,500 Avios return (the chart above is one-way)
  • World Traveller Plus is 65,000 Avios
  • Club World is 125,000 Avios
  • First Class is 170,000 Avios

A return off-peak upgrade would therefore cost:

  • 32,500 Avios from World Traveller to World Traveller Plus
  • 60,000 Avios from World Traveller Plus to Club World
  • 45,000 Avios from Club World to First

Here is the major irony of this pricing method: upgrading to Club World on off-peak days costs MORE than upgrading on peak days!

Let’s look at the same exercise again using Peak Day pricing. A return upgrade would cost:

  • 50,000 Avios from World Traveller to World Traveller Plus
  • 50,000 Avios from WTP to Club World
  • 50,000 Avios from Club World to First

There will be some additional taxes to pay when you upgrade.  The fuel surcharge is higher for Club World compared to World Traveller Plus.  You will also be asked to pay an additional sum if taxes have gone up between the day you originally booked and the day you do the upgrade.

If you are upgrading from World Traveller (Economy) to World Traveller Plus, you will also need to pay an extra chunk of Air Passenger Duty.  The Government sets two levels of APD – one price for Economy and one price for all other classes.

Are Avios flight upgrades good value?

There is value to be had by using your Avios points to upgrade.

Let’s imagine that the typical price gap between World Traveller Plus and Club World is £1,000.  This means that you would be getting between 1.66p and 2p per Avios point of value using the San Francisco example.  This is a far better return than you get from an ‘all Avios’ redemption.

And, of course, you will earn back a large percentage of the Avios points you spend on the upgrade.  Your underlying flight still qualifies for Avios and tier points.

Can I upgrade flights on other airlines using Avios?

Yes.  You can upgrade American Airlines and Iberia flights using Avios IF you booked the ticket via British Airways.  For economy flights, you need to be holding a fully flexible economy ticket (Y or B class) which means that it is very rare that your ticket will qualify.  Iberia is slowly introducing Premium Economy on long haul.

Iberia does not have First Class so you cannot upgrade from Business.  American Airlines has international First Class on a limited number of routes but you MUST be holding a fully flexible (J, C or D class) ticket.

You cannot upgrade flights with any other airline.


As you can see, ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ offers good value for your points.

It is a shame that discounted Economy tickets do not qualify, although the small number of World Traveller Plus seats available for redemption means that most people would be disappointed anyway.  ‘Upgrade Using Avios’ is also a very efficient way to redeem your Avios if you only collect, say, 50,000 per year.

PS. It is also possible to use American Airlines miles to upgrade British Airways flights, under certain circumstances.  Click the link for our last article on this.

Want to learn more about how to maximise your Avios redemptions?

You can see the full list of all 15 articles in the ‘Avios Redemption University’ series here.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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 £15,000 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points 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

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 sign-up 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 (7)

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

  • Ian S says:

    OT: Does the latest government travel advice extending the do not go abroad to indefinitely mean that travel insurance wouldn’t be valid on any new bookings?

    • Lady London says:

      Check the terms of your policy and see if it’s there. If it’s not, you’re cool

  • Gary says:

    Does the Avios upgrade only work with flight only trips? – I have tried in the past to upgrade from WTP to Club World on a BA Holiday and they would not allow me to do this?

    • Rob says:

      These are ‘Inclusive Tour’ / ‘Bulk Tour’ flight tickets (which is why they are cheaper than standard flights booked on and so not upgradable.

  • Ronald Neil says:

    Can you upgrade using a household account ? or does each passenger have to the required Avios in there own right ?

  • James B says:

    Earlier this year I tried to upgrade with Avios from WTP to CW on a BA leg of a mixed BA/AA itinerary (booked through BA). Couldn’t upgrade online via manage my booking; website told me to call BA. Told by BA call centres in both the UK and the US that although there was CW inventory to upgrade, I couldn’t do so because the limitations of the IT system mean upgrades with Avios on mixed carrier itineraries (even if booked through BA) can’t be done. Are they right?

  • DavidB says:

    I’ve used Avios to upgrade from Club World to First but was surprised that unlike upgrading from lower cabins, there was no increase in the UK fees that are based on cabin flown. Seems like another toss to the 1% while anyone going from WT to WT+ or WT+ to CW gets hit with hefty £s charge.

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

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