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Who can book and sit in exit row seats on British Airways?

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Who can book and sit in the exit row seats on British Airways?  It is not a simple question as there are legal issues as well as ones imposed by BA.

British Airways places restrictions on who can book exit rows on its aircraft, in the same way that they restrict the first row of every aircraft to British Airways Executive Club Gold card holders.

The BA rules are in addition to the legal restrictions on exit row seats which the Civil Aviation Authority administers. This means that you must be over the age of 12 and able-bodied to be seated in an exit row since you are required to operate the exit in case of an emergency. You can read more about the CAA requirements here.

Who can book an exit row seat on British Airways?

The rules for booking exit rows on British Airways are as follows:

On shorthaul aircraft, those with Executive Club Silver or oneworld Sapphire status (or higher) are able to book exit row seats free of charge at time of booking. Bronze and oneworld Ruby members can book these free of charge 7 days prior to departure.

On longhaul flights, Gold members are permitted to book exit row seats at time of booking for themselves and their companions on the same booking. All other members can pay for an exit row seat between 14 and 4 days before departure.

In reality, there may be occasions when you cannot select an empty seat even if meet the status requirements.  On lightly loaded flights, for example, British Airways will often stop anyone booking the seat next to a Gold member.

This article explains how much it costs to reserve an exit row seat on British Airways if you have no status.

(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. )

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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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