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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 frequent flyer 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.

How to upgrade british airways flight using american airlines miles

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 – it must be done in advance.

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.

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

Upgrading British Airways tickets using American Airlines miles is not as lucrative, because you are restricted to upgrading 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 return 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.  British Airways 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 American Airlines miles sitting around unused and have the ability to ticket your British Airways flights via then it may be of use.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

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:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (9)

  • Mike says:

    Do I read that right that you can do a full fare economy -> business upgrade? Or will this only be possible on flights that don’t have a premium economy cabin?

    If you can do a 2-cabin upgrade with AAdvantage miles then this could be a game changer for people whose employers buy them full fare economy tickets…

    • AJA says:

      Yes that’s correct. You can upgrade to either Premium Economy or directly to Business for a few more AA miles. I have been slowly collecting AA miles and am hoping to use them this way.

      What I am not clear on is if you can still credit the Y Class base fare to BAEC and earn Avios and TP or if it has to be to Aadvantage.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Has to be AA as I understand it

      • Mike says:

        Well, B and Y class on BA both earn 100% in both AAdvantage and Executive Club so I’d be happy to credit to AA for these flights anyway and concentrate on crediting my personal Club Europe / Qatar R class etc to BA for tier points. Getting a WT -> CW upgrade for the same amount of miles flown as a BA WTP->CW makes that 100% significantly more valuable in AAdvantage than Exec Club IMHO.

        Basically, I’m considering a future strategy of creditng ‘just enough’ to BA to maintain status. It’s easy enough to earn Avios in the UK outside of flying but AA miles are somewhat harder to earn. So, ET->CE POUGS go to BA, my Qatar R class bargain holiday goes to BA. All my B/Y business travel to go to AA as soon as I’ve earned BA status for lounge access.

        • AJA says:

          Thanks both. I have Silver status until Mar 2022 thanks to the extension so am thinking about earning on AA for the next few months.

          • AndyGWP says:

            Possibly worth doing the Gold / Platinum challenge too? (If they still do that)

            I doubt it as you have BA status but you never know (better matching ops, better earning rates, less faff with lounge access if you have to credit to AA etc)

            Just mentioning anyways 👍🏻

  • Paul says:

    What would be better still
    Is the ability to upgrade AA flights with Avios.

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