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.
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.
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.
|City||2 x Business||2 x First|
|Dallas Fort Worth||237||1|
|Rio de Janeiro||153|
|San Jose, California||45|
|Port of Spain||21|
|Montego Bay, Jamaica||12|
|San Jose, Costa Rica||11|
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.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 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:
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.
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.