Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Want Avios reward flights? These BA routes have the most Avios seats in Business and First

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Here is something to strike up a debate for your Monday morning.  Which British Airways routes have the most and least Avios availability in Club World business class and First Class?

Two years ago we did an interesting analysis to answer this exact question. A lot has changed in two years, of course.

In terms of Avios availability, the biggest change has been the retirement of the Boeing 747 fleet. These aircraft had 14 First Class seats, compared to eight (or indeed none) on BA’s newest and refurbished aircraft, so there was clearly going to be an impact on availability.

Which routes have best and worse Avios availability

How did we do our analysis?

We asked SeatSpy to help us.

SeatSpy is a convenient way of finding reward seat availability on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

It is by far the easiest way of seeing Avios and Virgin Points reward seats across an entire year without having to search individual dates.  It is the only service of its type with Virgin Atlantic availability. Regular readers will have seen us using SeatSpy screenshots in recent articles to highlight routes with huge amounts of Avios availability.

As well as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, you can also search for award availability with KLM, Air France, American Airlines and United Airlines. Etihad is also available although still marked as ‘Beta’.

Whilst you could do the analysis manually, we cheated and asked SeatSpy to download all of its Avios reward data on their website and send it over. 

Which routes have the best Avios premium availability?

What you have below is very simple.

It is a list of British Airways long-haul destinations and the number of days (out of 355, the BA booking window) that you can get 2 x Club World or 2 x First Class seats for an Avios redemption FROM London.

BA routes have the most Avios availability in Business and First

There are a few things to bear in mind when you look at these numbers:

  • BA guarantees 4 x Club World seats on every flight.  If a route shows a very low number, it does NOT mean that seats were not released.  It means that they were booked immediately, often the full 355 days in advance, and that this is a route where BA rarely releases more seats.  (Remember that you can use seatspy.com to set up alerts so you are emailed when seats open up on your preferred route.)
  • This only looks at OUTBOUND seats from London.  For low numbers, the situation is worse than it looks – if there are only 35 dates with two seats to Seattle, for example, the chances of you finding two seats BACK from Seattle when you want them are very low indeed.
  • The analysis takes no account of seasonality.  There may be 142 days when you can fly to Dubai but many are in June, July and August when you probably don’t want to go.
  • The analysis takes no account of short notice availability, which can be very good but obviously only suits certain people. I am writing this on Sunday morning and there are Business Class seats to the Maldives available for Monday (ie today) and Wednesday, for example.
  • If a route has First Class, you cannot add together the number of dates with 2 x Club World and 2 x First Class.  If there are 50 days with 2 x Club World and 20 days with 2 x First Class, there are NOT 70 days you could potentially travel with a flat bed.  It is more likely to be just a little over 50 days.
  • Some of these routes do not run every day, so you wouldn’t expect a big number in the first place.
  • We ran this analysis in November.  Does the number of available seats change over the year? 
  • Sydney is artificially low because it just looks at ‘through flights’ – there is marginally more space if you are willing to break your trip in Singapore

Remember that this analysis is based on two seats. Solo travellers have more choice, families less.

Here is the table, ranked by Club World availability (out of 355 possible days). You can also search for a specific destination. If the table is mangled I recommend visiting HfP on a desktop computer.

City2 x Business2 x First
Accra318 
New York316 
Abuja31259
Boston30942
Riyadh309 
Lagos308102
Amman285 
Bahrain282 
Washington DC2802
Kuwait272 
Hyderabad255 
Bangalore255 
Islamabad238 
Dallas Fort Worth2371
Doha234 
Hong Kong2334
Mumbai231 
Delhi229 
Houston229 
Philadelphia22235
Baltimore221 
Mexico City21610
Atlanta20316
Sao Paulo195 
Johannesburg1881
Chennai184 
Austin181 
Tel Aviv181 
Toronto166 
Rio de Janeiro153 
Montréal149 
Nairobi149 
Buenos Aires147 
Chicago147 
Dubai142 
Shanghai135 
Beijing134 
Santiago1156
Bermuda11558
Denver114 
Miami105 
Tokyo95 
New Orleans87 
Nashville85 
Cancun79 
Los Angeles65 
Nassau60 
Phoenix58 
San Francisco55 
Cape Town55 
Grand Cayman54 
Orlando52 
Kingston, Jamaica51 
Antigua49 
San Diego47 
Punta Cana45 
San Jose, California45 
Singapore402
St Lucia40 
Tampa39 
Vancouver37 
Seattle35 
Lahore26 
Port of Spain21 
Las Vegas20 
Bangkok15 
Male15 
Tobago15 
St Kitts15 
Montego Bay, Jamaica12 
Barbados11 
San Jose, Costa Rica11 
Providenciales8 
Grenada7 
Mauritius4 
Sydney2 

Conclusion

Business Class availability is as good as it was in 2019. There were 26 cities with at least 2 x Club World seats available for half the year. In 2021 …. there are 26 cities with at least 2 x Club World seats available for half the year.

Remember that there were four Business Class seats on every flight available at some point. BA is releasing the seats 365 days per year, assuming the flight runs daily, but they are being snapped up.

The biggest change to our 2019 analysis is, unsurprisingly, First Class availability.

Back in 2019 we found 17 routes with over 50 dates with 2+ First Class reward seats available.

As you can see above, there are now precisely three cities with over 50 days of First Class Avios availability. If you don’t want to visit Nigeria, this number drops to one city.

I think the situation will improve. The problem for BA at present is that it is forced to pay substantial compensation if you book an Avios seat in First Class and the aircraft is later switched to one without F.

As the airline has little visibility of what aircraft will be best suited to what route in 2022, it may just be holding back the seats. After all, what is the point of opening two First Class seats on one flight from New York on 7th June but none for the rest of 2022 – and none outbound at all?!

Take a look at the chart and make up your mind whether the current situation works for you.

Thanks to SeatSpy for their help.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2023)

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:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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.

Comments (82)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Anna says:

    Be aware that GCM and NAS are the same flight so there is less availability than the chart suggests. (avios seats are per flight, not per destination). There are a few NAS services which don’t go on to GCM, which explains the slightly higher number to NAS.

  • Alan says:

    Mattb, I also tried to call You First, but still could not get through!

    • Anna says:

      You should have been able to book a mixed cabin route with the 241s online, unless the 241s belonged to different people?

  • Ken says:

    If I read correctly, the article refers to BA having to compensate passengers who have booked Avios first class seats which BA subsequently change aircraft and reduce the seats to Business Class. This has happened to me recently. What is the compensation and how does this work please?

    • Chas says:

      You are entitled to a 75% of what you paid for the involuntary downgrade, but only after you have taken the flight, and only if you didn’t accept a refund in the difference in fare which you had paid (or avios redeemed). BA will sometimes offer to refund you this difference, because it’s a lot less than what you can claim otherwise. In your situation, so long as you didn’t accept the downgrade or refund, you should get back 75% of the avios you paid, plus 75% of the fees (YQ), not genuine taxes, which you paid in cash.

      • Robert says:

        I would also like some clarification on these refunds, as that sounds like a contradiction to say ‘don’t accept the downgrade’ but you can only be compensated ‘after completing the flights in the downgraded cabin’
        For all the times this has happened to me I’ve been happy to be reimbursed the difference between CW and F, so don’t fully understand how and why BA would pay back 75% additionally.

        • Daftboy says:

          The 75% is specified in EC261 (now UK262 post Brexit)

        • Rob says:

          Why? Because it’s the law.

        • Chas says:

          It’s never happened to me, so I am only going on what I have read on here. I think there are two key points things: you tell BA that it’s an involuntary downgrade, and on that basis you will take the flight; secondly they won’t give you the 75% additionally, it’s instead of the difference in avios between the F and J fares. The 75% is compensation, and is worth substantially more than the fare difference, hence why BA often offer to voluntarily refund you the difference. The moment you accept the difference, you have accepted the change in cabin class, and it’s no longer an involuntary downgrade so no compensation.

          • Lady London says:

            Chas you haven’t necessarily accepted the difference in avios as full and final compensation for the downgrade if you accept it and there is case law where that’s said.

            It’s just that it keeps it really clear that your downgrade was not voluntary No sense giving BA a way to chip away at your case. So avoid accepting. If they refund you unilaterally anyway, which is a tactic BA uses not just in this case, best to put in writing to them promptly when you notice it that you reject this and do not accept this as settlement, you will be claiming the full value due to you for involuntary downgrade after the flight and will contact then when flown unless they are able to reinstate you the seat in First Class on tge flight that you booked.

        • AJA says:

          The EC261 regulation is downgrade compensation ie not simply a refund. You are entitled to fly in the cabin you booked ie 1st so if you are forced to fly Club you are not receiving the product you booked and are therefore receiving compensation for receiving an inferior product/service. The reason it is 75% is to discourage airlines effectively conning you into paying for a product they don’t intend to offer. The reason you can only get the compensation after you’ve flown is that you have to “suffer” the downgraded service instead of taking another flight in 1st class. If you simply accept the refund then you’ve chosen to accept the downgrade and then waive your rights to compensation however I’d argue that if BA automatically refund without your consent you can still go for the compensation. This is because while BA will argue against what they have done is cancel your flight in 1st and rebooked you in Club. And under EC261 cancellation gives you the choice of either rerouting in the same cabin ie 1st at the earliest date, OR a later date acceptable to you OR a refund. It is up to you what you do. BA unilaterally refunding is against the regulations as it’s not your choice. BA will argue that its not a flight cancellation but an aircraft swap for operational reasons. I’d argue that as they normally offer 1st class for sale on the route it is a deliberate decision by BA not to swap the plane with another with a 1st class cabin. Therefore I’d calculate the 75% figure and deduct the automatic refund and say BA still owe £x + (y Avios if a reward flight).

          • Sean says:

            Strictly speaking the 75% back isn’t compensation it is re-imbursement (that’s what the legislation says).

          • AJA says:

            @ Sean. Yes you are right it is reimbursement. My apologies.

        • Lady London says:

          The key is that it’s an involuntary downgrade ie you do fly in the lower class but you did so reluctantly and did not choose it. Wisest to avoid any partial refund (eg difference in avios between classes, if offered) as it keeps it clear that you did not “settle” for this.

          Just to give you an idea, if BA is so naughty as to deny your claim for 75% reimbursement for involuntary downgrade under EU261 and its UK equivalent after the flight, which is mean because your right to this is really clear, then in MCOL, at the end of your recovery process you’ll be including in your MCOL claim 75% of avios paid requesting (and getting) 1.6p per avios. As courts are geared up to award money not avios. After all who’d want more avios back from an airline that downgraded you then denied your right to the statutory reimbursenent?3

        • Lady London says:

          You have 6 years from date of each downgraded flight to claim

      • GS says:

        I used your previous article to claim the downgrade compensation. Customer services direct you to fill out the online claim form (where there is no obvious form for downgrades), and despite filling this in twice, I’ve heard nothing back after 2 months. Would the next step be CEDR or is there another BA channel to try? The Customer Relations department are no longer on the phone – all through those online forms. Looks like they have conveniently let it slip to the bottom of the pile!

        • AJA says:

          @GS Send a “letter before action” to Legal Department, British Airways plc, Waterside, PO Box 365, Harmondsworth Middx, UB7 0GB. Title the letter “EC261/2004 Downgrade reimbursement claim, Flight no BAxxx on dd-mmm-yyyy” (enclosing copies of the online claim forms you filled in if you have them) detailing when you were downgraded and why. Remember you can claim for each passenger downgraded so enclose approval for you to contact BA on behalf of any other passengers.

      • Robert says:

        Thanks for the advice, that makes sense and I can now look forward to a nice bit of compensation once my affected trip completes.

  • Tracey says:

    Yesterday I managed to book St Lucia in CS out, CW back for next week.

    Surprised and delighted.

    • Polly says:

      Tracey,
      Are you not concerned about testing? Hope it works out for you.

      • Geoff 1977 says:

        If you can afford it and are able to work remotely then is there much to be concerned about?

        Yes you might have to isolate abroad, but that’s going to be the cost of doing business when it comes to holidays for a while yet.

      • Tracey says:

        The only testing out there is a temperature test at the airport and the UK requirment for a LFT before we come home.
        If we got covid out there, unless we were seriously ill, you are allowed to isolate in your resort hotel. It would be a pain to do that, but manageable I hope. Also we are both in our 50s, relatively healthy and have had our boosters, so would hope not to be too ill. Have bought LFTs to take with us for the return journey (after your experience of a false positive).

  • Andrew says:

    Do I remember seeing an article showing the reward routes Avios cost per mile flown? It would be interesting to see this data merged with that.

    Why is the bottom of the chart dominated by Caribbean destinations? I’d have thought people would save Avios/241 for the most expensive routes. Are these typically the most expensive routes compared to North America where the JV’s keep prices high?

    • Anna says:

      Check prices for Barbados and Bahamas in peak season!

    • Bagoly says:

      They are aspirational holiday destinations, so Avios seats to there get booked quickly.

    • Mark says:

      I doubt many people apply that logic. Sure if you fly a lot at your own personal expense and only have enough Avios for a proportion of your trips you might, but I suspect most people are looking to use Avios for occasional leisure trips. Clearly the vast majority of people flying to the Caribbean are doing so for leisure, so more people are likely to be looking to snap up the redemption seats in proportion to the seats released. Of course many Caribbean destinations also attract relatively wealthy visitors who are likely to have Avios and/or shell out a bit more for cash fares in a premium cabin for a leisure trip. So given the typically smaller business class cabins (e.g. 32 seats for most of BA’s Gatwick based aircraft) they probably don’t have too much trouble selling them.

      At least BA release some redemption seats – it’s been nigh on impossible to get Virgin Atlantic UC redemption seats to the Caribbean recently.

    • FatherOfFour says:

      Additionally, many of the Caribbean destinations aren’t daily (eg, Grenada, Port Of Spain, Providenciales etc. run 2-3 times per week, rather than some of the US destinations which have multiple flights per day.

      I know that Rob acknowledges in the article that it is raw volumes and doesn’t factor for frequency, but it would be an interesting additional optic, i.e. how many dates with Avios availability OUT OF the dates with scheduled flights. (actual flights more useful, but don’t think SeatSpy goes down to that granularity)

  • Big says:

    Is there any link between this (Avios reward flight availability) and 2-4-1 availability or is the availability completely different?

    • Rhys says:

      The 2-4-1 unlocks additional availability (which SeatSpy cannot see) https://www.headforpoints.com/2021/09/06/british-airways-american-express-241-voucher-availability/

      • Mark says:

        But only on vouchers issued since September…

      • Rob says:

        Only for a newly issued (post 1st Sep) BAPP 241.

        Availability for pre-Sep 1st 2-4-1 vouchers remains as you see here.

        There is no additional F availability for new 2-4-1 voucher holders either, just CW.

      • Simonbr says:

        SeatSpy needs to sort this issue out, especially for punters forking out the top fee level. I’m in situation that I have an outgoing flight to mle booked with the new 241 but I cannot now see incoming availability on BA.com because the voucher is in use, so forced to randomly call them to check, taking an hour if i don’t get cut off.

        • Rob says:

          It’s not that simple. No-one knows what the algorithm is. It is somewhere from 6+ ‘I’ class seats being available for cash sale, but sometimes the seats get released when there are 6 and sometimes it needs 10 etc. It would be a doddle if there was a firm rule.

  • Red says:

    Thank you for a very timely post. I investigated using our 241 which is due to expire in May 2022 and found availability in February to Phoenix in CW (now booked). Also used my Intercontinental Ambassador reward night for a weekend at the Kimpton. Happy days!

  • G says:

    Hey there,

    What – in general – are the best tips for guaranteeing a reward seat in a higher demand class (Prem Econ or Biz)? I’m planning Sydney in February 2023; so, roughly when will seats be available for this route?

    Outbound Tuesday 14th Feb 2023
    Rtn: Thursday 9th March 2023?

    Can I book this route then from the 4th Feb 2022 with Avios? and call up BA to add the return leg in advance or is it best to wait until the 27th/28th Feb when the return leg should (in theory) become available?

    • FatherOfFour says:

      For Sydney, if you wait until the return leg is available, the outbound will be gone.
      You’ll need to call as soon as the inbound is released. In actual fact, call before it is released, with a view to getting through just before midnight so the agent can snap up the seats for you. Easier said than done with variable wait times on the phones!

    • Thywillbedone says:

      Might as well call this the ‘unicorn redemption’ …chances are that low unfortunately.

      • Saintly says:

        I craftily managed to nab two first-class seats for Easter next year to Sydney. Fortunately, a combination of the 50% avios discount voucher which they reapplied, a 2-4-1 and a gold upgrade voucher bagged these for me – especially as thanks to this site I could direct the agent to check ‘A’ class seats rather than the redemption bucket. Now I just have to hope it all goes according to plan! Thanks to Rob for running this site.

        That was my last avois purchase and ran me down to 12 avios, life means I’ve switched allegiance to Star/SAS – if only there was a site like this in Scandi to help me navigate the complexities!

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