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How many Avios do you need to fly First Class?

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How many Avios points do you need for a First Class flight?

A lot of people have flying First Class on their bucket list.  It CAN be done with Avios points, but my advice – as we will see in a minute – is that Business Class is a more achievable goal for a newcomer to frequent flyer miles.

Let’s take a look at the Avios pricing table. Following a recent revamp of the British Airways website, you can no longer see a simple chart of how much an Avios redemption flight costs.  You are expected to plug your route into this ba.com calculator.

Luckily we have a copy of the chart here.  The basis of Avios pricing is this simple grid, which prices British Airways flights based on the one-way distance flown.  

Avios reward chart

If you want a simple list of cities listed by the Avios needed, I have put one together.  Click here for our full list of Avios redemption pricing by destination.

In theory, looking at the chart above, the cheapest First Class flight is 42,500 Avios one way.  This is because British Airways doesn’t have First Class on short haul flights.

You need BA partners for cheap First Class flights

The only place you are going to find a cheap First Class seat is with a BA partner airline such as Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines.

Here is the partner reward chart:

BA reward flight avios redemption prices on partner airlines table

If you are heading to Asia on holiday then you might be able to find a way of fitting in a regional First Class flight for 24,000 Avios, which is the cheapest possible First Class seat you can find.

Flying British Airways in First Class

If you want to fly British Airways in First Class, your options are limited.

Zone 5 is the cheapest long-haul zone which covers Dubai, New York etc.  This requires 68,000 Avios one-way off-peak and 80,000 Avios one-way peak.  This is a lot of points, clearly.

The only exception is Heathrow to Moscow.  Sometimes, but only sometimes, British Airways operates a long-haul plane on this route.  Such an aircraft will usually have First Class and this would be bookable for 42,500 Avios one way.  Russian Visa requirements are tricky, however, so it isn’t a trip you can book on a whim.

BA British Airways 2015 first class seat

If you want a premium flight experience with Avios, try Business Class

Look at the top chart again.  The cheapest Business Class Avios redemption costs just 8,500 points.

8,500 points is what you need for a one-way flight from London to a European city under 650 miles away.  This covers much of France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

You might think it is extravagant to fly Business Class for such a short flight.  I disagree.  This is what you get for your 8,500 Avios, plus £25 in taxes and charges, flight to Amsterdam:

Use of priority check-in desks – no queueing!

A bigger luggage allowance – 32kg

Use of ‘Fast Track’ security – less queuing than you would have otherwise

Entry to the British Airways lounges, where you can eat and drink, entirely for free, to your hearts content before the flight.  You can also stock up on newspapers and magazines, use the business centre and generally just relax.  A handy tip is that champagne is not on display with the rest of the wine but is available (free, obviously!) if you ask.

Priority boarding – you are given ‘Group 1’ boarding

Seating in the first 3-4 rows of the aircraft

An empty middle seat guaranteed

A free meal – and they are generally OK these days

Free hot and cold drinks, including champagne

Doesn’t that sound better than heading to Luton or Stansted and dealing with the crowds before finding yourself on Ryanair?

Of course, if you want to a flat bed Business Class seat to a long-haul destination it will require more Avios.

First Class requires a lot of Avios.  That said, it certainly isn’t impossible – in fact, if you’re willing to take out a few credit cards (this is the list of the highest Avios credit card bonuses) you will be in the air sooner than you think.  My personal view, however, is that an easier place to start is with 8,500 Avios to fly Business Class inside Europe.

PS. Avios pricing is actually more fluid than I stated above.  The prices in the chart above are base prices, and are the prices you pay when using an American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher.  When booking without a voucher, however, BA will offer you the chance to use fewer Avios whilst using more cash.  This is generally not the optimum deal, and the ‘base price’ in the chart above is usually the best value option.

(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 (October 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 (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable 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

10,500 points bonus – 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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