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Is it easier to find Avios seats with the NEW British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher?

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Last week, American Express relaunched the British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card. You can find out more in this article.

As part of the relaunch, the sign-up bonus on the BAPP card was increased to a huge 40,000 Avios.

You may well qualify for this bonus.

Have you had either of the two British Airways American Express cards in the past 24 months? If the answer is ‘No’, you qualify for the 40,000 Avios bonus. You can apply here.

British Airways BA Amex Premium Plus American Express

As part of the relaunch there was a major change to the 2-4-1 companion voucher which comes with the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card.

For vouchers issued after 1st September 2021 (this does not apply to existing unused vouchers), cardholders were promised access to ‘extra’ Club World business class seating.

British Airways and American Express have been very cagey about how this extra availability works. I was told off the record that it was linked to I-class availability, which is BA’s selling class for discounted Club World seats.

This implied that if a cheap cash seat was available in Club World, an Avios seat should also be available.

We now have some real world evidence

A HfP reader had carefully timed his 2-4-1 voucher so that it triggered on 1st September. When it landed in his Executive Club account, he did some random searches at my request.

The route we used was London to Los Angeles across a week in July 2022. Did we really see the extra Avios availability?

This is the message you get when trying to use your new style BAPP 2-4-1 companion voucher confirming that additional Club World seats have been made available:

Let’s look at 2-4-1 availability in Club World to Los Angeles for the week commencing 9th July 2022. This search was done late last week so availability may have changed by now.

BA is currently scheduling two flights per day to Los Angeles for July 2022. These are numbered BA269 and BA281 – we will use these references below. This means that Avios seats could be available on no flights, one flight or both flights.

Saturday 9th July

No Business Class availability shows with a new style 2-4-1 voucher.

The cheapest selling class on the two BA flights is the more expensive R-class. No I-class is showing for cash sale.

Sunday 10th July

No Business Class availability shows with a new style 2-4-1 voucher.

The cheapest selling class on the two BA flights is the more expensive R-class. No I-class is showing for cash sale.

Monday 11th July

No Business Class availability shows with a new style 2-4-1 voucher.

The cheapest selling class on BA281 is the more expensive R-class.

BA269 has seven seats in I-class availability but is NOT bookable for Avios.

Tuesday 12th July

This is where the new style voucher pays off, big time.

With a new-style 2-4-1 voucher, there are at least 10 Club World seats on BA281 (if no seat number shows, the number is 10+). For cash, it has 10+ seats with I-class availability.

The second flight, BA269, has three seats in I-class available for cash but is NOT bookable for Avios.

No Club World seats are available if you do not have a new-style 2-4-1 voucher:

Wednesday 13th July

Club World availability jumps from zero to 8 on one flight, but remains zero on the second flight despite I-class cash tickets being available.

With a new-style 2-4-1 voucher, there are 8 Club World seats on BA281. For cash, there are 10+ seats with I-class availability.

The second flight, BA269, only has the more expensive R-class availability for cash and is NOT bookable for Avios.

No Club World seats are available if you do not have a new-style 2-4-1 voucher:

Thursday 14th July

Club World availability jumps from zero to 10+ on one flight, but remains zero on the second flight despite I-class cash tickets being available.

With a new-style 2-4-1 voucher, there are at least 10 Club World seats on BA281. For cash, there are 10+ I-class seats bookable.

The second flight, BA269, only has the more expensive R-class availability for cash and is NOT bookable for Avios.

No Club World seats are available if you do not have a new-style 2-4-1 voucher. I have not included a screenshot to save space.

Friday 15th July

Club World availability jumps from zero to 10+ on one flight, but remains zero on the second flight despite I-class cash tickets being available.

With a new-style 2-4-1 voucher, there are at least 10 Club World seats on BA281. For cash, there are 10+ I-class seats available.

The second flight, BA269, has seven seats in I-class available for cash and is NOT bookable for Avios.

No Club World seats are available if you do not have a new style 2-4-1 voucher. I have not included a screenshot to save space.

Saturday 16th July

No Business Class availability shows with a new style 2-4-1 voucher.

The cheapest selling class on the two BA flights is the more expensive R-class. No I-class is showing for cash sale.

What happens if you try to book more than two seats?

A couple of people asked in the comments below if anything changes when you try to book more than two seats.

We ran a couple of experiments and all is good. If you try to book 4 Avios seats with a new-style 2-4-1 companion voucher selected (so you would be using Avios for three seats and getting one for free) you still see the additional availability.

This leads to an interesting conclusion – it may no longer make sense to use 2 x 2-4-1 vouchers in the same booking. A family of four may be better off using just one voucher and using the 2nd for their next trip, because it would open up extra availability on both flights.

Conclusion

OK …. this isn’t quite as simple as we anticipated. We are also working off a small sample here so my conclusions are still a work in progress.

It is NOT the case that “if any I-class seats are available for cash, they are bookable for Avios”.

Based on these examples, it seems that you need at least eight, and possibly more than 10, I-class seats to be available for cash before you can book them with a ‘new style’ 2-4-1 voucher from the Premium Plus card.

This will hopefully not be a major restriction on most routes when booked months in advance.

What IS impressive is the number of seats that are being released. In our example, once the trigger for the required number of I-class tickets had been hit (at whatever level that is) we saw at least 8 and often 10+ Club World seats bookable for Avios. These are on flights where there is NO Club World Avios availability for the general public, remember.

If I had to summarise …. it’s not quite as good as we thought, but it’s not bad. It looks like the 2-4-1 companion voucher on the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card is now genuinely easier to use.

Remember that the 40,000 Avios bonus for signing up runs to 2nd November. You can apply here.


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 (94)

  • Tom says:

    Great research, thanks!

    Seems very odd the way BA have set this new feature up because it means loyal members may not get to benefit for up to a year – depending on when their next 241 drops. Personally my next one won’t drop until Q1 2023 at the earliest. Grumble grumble..

    I wonder what happens if you try to apply 2x 241 vouchers to a booking (for 4 people)..an old style one and a new style one. You need to phone up to add 2 vouchers to a booking, but will agents be able to pick from this special inventory, or have to use ‘normal’ Avios inventory, or a mix..? Only time will tell!

  • MisterE says:

    When will Seat Spy/Reward Flight Finder be able to spot this extra availability?

  • Kishan Majithia says:

    Great article. How did you determine what fare class was selling for cash on each of those dates in your sample? Obviously, you could keep search dates on BA.com but I wondered if there was an easy way to determine fare class availability for multiple dates. I looked at expertflyer.com but it requires a subscription and does not make it easy to search for multiple dates at a time.

    • Rob says:

      Manually – searched for 1 seat to see if I was there, and if it was I keep adding 1 seat until I switched to R.

      • Jonathan says:

        You need an Expert Flyer subscription Rob. I’d have thought you value your time at a substantially higher rate than the $9.99 monthly subscription!

        • Rob says:

          I have no use for EF normally.

          • Jonathan says:

            It’s far more useful than Seat Spy/RFF in that it will search for reward availability on almost all airlines of interest. The UI isn’t quite as slick but that’s a function of it having many more options.

            You can also setup seat or aircraft change notifications so you can nab preferred seats for free as soon as available for a bronze/silver. It’s the only way to get detailed fare rules easily as well if trying to optimise TP runs etc.

            Not for everyone I agree but well worth considering instead of Seat Spy if you’re more than a 2 family holidays/year flyer.

        • KZ says:

          You can sign up for a free 5 day trial of the pro version with an email address and nothing else. You can do as many free trials as you have email addresses!

  • Kishan Majithia says:

    Also, the article mentions club world availability. Does that mean these extra seats will not be made available on club Europe (putting aside any qualms about how sensible it is to burn a voucher on short haul)?!

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Any indication how the additional inventory works if you are searching for three seats using a new 241? Can the third seat come from the additional inventory or does it have to come from standard avios stock?

    • Anna says:

      Also – if you book the outbound then call when the inbound is released, will you get the extra inventory to pick from at the second stage?

    • Rob says:

      The 3rd seat DOES come from the extra inventory. We have run some additional searches this morning. The article has been updated.

  • SM says:

    Will I still only have 2 Club seats on the ‘old’ voucher or has that increased to 4 as well?

    • Rob says:

      Not sure what you mean? The new vouchers are ‘buy one get one free’ too.

      • JohnT says:

        If you mean the increased “default” 4 seats in club that has been available for a while on the old vouchers and any other Avios booking.

  • TheThunderer says:

    And what is the price difference between these I-class and other Club tickets? I’m finding more and more it makes as much sense to spend hard cash with BA and get the Avios and TPs and spend the miles on eBay, at Sainsbury’s etc

    • pauldb says:

      I class to LAX in July is £1000+fees. If you factor in £200 as the cost of the voucher you’re saving £900pp. it will cost you 62.5k pp versus earning 16.3k so a 79k swing. Not a great return for the effort, but you do get flexibility; on the other hand I-class can drop toward £800.

      I would say the card/voucher is a good deal with the sign-up bonus. But for ongoing £250/yr, the I-class addition is probably not enough. You probably need to have an expectation to use the voucher for a bigger-arbitrage standard 4-per-flight redemption (and if that doesn’t come off I-class is an ok fall back).

      • Jonathan says:

        It would be incredibly rare to get a cash fare of £800 to LA. If prepared to fly ex EU then £1k is as good as you could expect to see a couple of times a year or £1200 ex U.K. Anything less than that will only be seen in very brief fire sales like the BA cash grab 747 fares or when they’re sabotaging another airline’s sale.

        • pauldb says:

          Sorry, to be clear I meant £800 plus fees (£670), i.e. £1470 in total. The current spring I-class fare is £1599.

          Since you pay the fees on a cash or avios booking, you voucher and avios are saving you just the base fare: £800-1000.

          • TheThunderer says:

            I think we are in agreement. For now I am sticking with the non-premium BA card and will monitor.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        On competitive routes, paying cash for PE & UUA might be better than redemption of a 2-4-1.
        Where the 2-4-1 is good value is on long haul routes that BA has a monopoly on.

  • Jerry says:

    Whilst it’s early days for conclusive research what it does appear to show is how little availability there is for BAPP vouchers already issued – and there are a lot! The unintended consequence may mean more cardholders churn in frustration the fee has gone up and they can’t use the vouchers they already have. I’ve just (mid August) triggered another 241(had to £12k+) and wondering how much use it will be going forward despite 30months validity unless booking 355days ahead.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Given the massive reward seat dump a few months ago when hundreds of us used vouchers for redemptions we never thought possible, there might not be as many as you think, at least amongst the HfP readership.

      • Rob says:

        Existing voucher holders benefit from the 14 guaranteed Avios seats per long haul flight.

        I also have zero vouchers available, having burned four on Barbados for October and Mauritius for May after the aformentioned ‘dump’!

        There will be HUGE numbers of Avios seats coming up as BA adds back flights though. Remember that, for example, on the day it adds a new Maldives flight there will be 4 Club World seats on every flight, every day, suddenly bookable for the length of the timetable. Over the next year we should see huge numbers of services added back.

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