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How many Avios points do I need to upgrade to First Class?

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Today I want to give you an overview of how many Avios you need to upgrade your long-haul British Airways flight to First Class.

For other classes, this Head for Points article tells you all you need to know about upgrading British Airways flights with Avios.

The first thing I want to say is that this only applies to British Airways flights.  With only a few exceptions, which are very unlikely to apply to you, you cannot use Avios to upgrade flights with any other airline.

How many Avios points do I need to upgrade to First Class?

Here is a summary of the upgrade rules for First Class

You can only upgrade to the next cabin up – it is not possible to jump from long-haul Economy or Premium Economy to First Class, because you are skipping over Business Classs

The only option is upgrading from Club World business class to First Class.  If you are booked into Economy, the only upgrade you may be able to do is from Economy to Premium Economy.  This article explains the complex restrictions on upgrading from BA Economy to Premium Economy

Any Club World business class ticket, even if bought in a sale, is eligible to be upgraded with Avios to First Class, as long as your aircraft has First Class of course

Extra taxes and charges may be required on top of the Avios needed

There MUST be Avios reward seats in First Class to upgrade

To be eligible for an Avios upgrade to First Class there must be reward availability.

This means that there must be a seat in First Class which you can book directly with Avios.  If there is, you can use the same reward seat for your upgrade.

If there are no seats in First Class showing for Avios redemptions, you cannot upgrade from Club World.  Keep checking back, however, as seats often up closer to departure.

Search on ba.com for a ‘full’ Avios redemption in the higher cabin to ensure it can be done before you start wasting time trying to upgrade.

What does it cost to upgrade my flight with Avios points?

The cost of the upgrade is the difference between a standard Avios redemption in the two classes.

A one-way peak Club World ticket to Dubai is 60,000 Avios for example, whilst First Class is 80,000 Avios.  It would therefore cost 20,000 Avios each-way to upgrade the ticket.

This article shows the Avios needed for EVERY British Airways route – click here.

The table in that article is based on one-way flights.  Look at how many Avios are needed for a full redemption in the cabin you are booked, look at how many are needed for a redemption in the next higher cabin, and work out the difference.  That is the one-way cost of your upgrade.

Note that additional BA charges may be added when you upgrade.  There is no additional UK Government Air Passenger Duty if you upgrade from Business to First.

You can choose to just upgrade a return flight in one direction if the upgrade is not available both ways or if you don’t have enough Avios.

How do I upgrade my British Airways flight?

You can process the upgrade online, via ‘Manage My Booking’, or by calling British Airways Executive Club.

Do I earn Avios and tier points based on the class I booked or the class I flew?

You will not earn Avios and tier points for the upgraded class. As this is an Avios upgrade, you will only earn Avios and tier points in line with the cash portion of the booking.

If you buy a Club World business class ticket and upgrade it to First Class, you only earn Business Class Avios and tier points back.  You can read more about earning Avios and tier points on upgrades here.

(This article is part of our ‘BA Q&A’ series which explains how British Airways Executive Club works.  You can see all of our ‘BA Q&A’ articles here. )

(Head for Points is the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website with 2.0 million monthly page views.  Want to learn more about earning and spending Avios?  Click here to read our latest news storiesclick here to join our email list and click here to read our ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.)


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2022)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £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 UK’s most valuable card perk – the 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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel 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 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

50,000 points bonus until 2nd October – the most generous Avios Visa 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 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 good bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These are available to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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.

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