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A bug that Gold card holders should know about

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One of the benefits of having Gold status in British Airways Executive Club is that you see additional Avios reward space.

This isn’t the bonanza you may think it is. It only applies to Economy flights, and it only applies to flights on British Airways.

That said, there are likely to be times when it comes in handy.

British Airways Executive Club status cards

Unfortunately, there is a bug on which means that Economy Avios seats do not always show as available for Gold members when they really are. This has been a long term problem, not a temporary issue.

To explain the bug, I need to explain where the extra Avios seats come from.

In BA’s ticketing system, Economy reward seats are put in a bucket called ‘X’ class. For Gold members, the cheapest cash Economy seats are also shown as available for Avios redemption.

So far, so good.

The problem emerges if you don’t search for the actual number of seats you want.

There is a logical reason to just search for one seat even if you want 2, 3 or 4

I don’t know about you, but I usually run my Avios reward searches looking for just one seat. I do this even if I need 2, 3 or 4 seats.

This is because – as shows you how many seats are available on each flight in each class – you get a better feel for what is available.

For example, if I need four seats and search for four seats, I wouldn’t see flights with 2 x Business Class and 2 x First Class, or perhaps 3 x Business Class and 1 x Premium Economy.

I want to see results like this, however, because they may be acceptable to me. I may also be prepared to pay for some seats if I can’t get all the seats I need on Avios. This is why I search for one seat and not four seats.

Extra Avios reward seats Gold member

There is a bug with the ‘extra’ Avios Economy seats for Gold members

However, there is a bug in when it comes to showing the extra seats for Gold members in Economy.

If the number of seats you search for can be fulfilled from the standard Avios availability, this is the total of seats you are shown are bookable. does not tell you about the extra seats.

Yes, this is confusing. Let’s me explain it a different way.

Imagine there is 1 seat in standard Avios Economy availability but 8 additional Economy seats are available for Gold members.

  • If you search for 1 seat, you are told that only 1 seat is available, not 9 seats
  • If you search for 2 seats, you are told that 9 seats are available.

This is because only shows you the extra seats for Gold members if you request enough seats to trigger them.

Still confused? Here is an example.

Here is what a Gold card holder searching for 1 reward seat to Seattle on 18th July sees:

This is NOT correct. There is NOT just one seat available to a Gold member. If this person was actually looking for four seats but had just searched for one, he would get a false result.

If I change the number of seats wanted to 4 seats, suddenly at least 9 seats are shown as bookable (no cap shown = 9+ available):

Luckily, this is a bug which is easy to work around now that you know it exists.

If you are a BA Gold and searching for Economy class Avios redemptions, make sure you search for the exact number of seats you need. Don’t do a dummy search for just one seat as you will get a false result.


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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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Successfully apply for either of the Barclaycard Avios credit cards by 2nd April 2023 and you will be entered into a free draw to win ONE MILLION AVIOS! Full details are on the application forms here (free) and here (paid). This competition is exclusive to Head for Points readers. T&C apply.

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 famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

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You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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The Platinum Card from American Express

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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.

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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.

Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.

American Express Business Platinum

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American Express Business Gold

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (18)

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

  • CarpalTravel says:

    A few years ago there was a cracking “feature” where if you were looking for reward flights and there weren’t any, you would then be taken to the availability calendar screen. From here you could scroll back/forward a couple of months and when you clicked back to your original months more dates and availability would often appear. Have just tried it now though (LGW-MCO) and no joy on this occasion. Shared that tip with a few friends at the time and they found it worked for them too, so definitely wasn’t just me.

  • Thegasman says:

    “ For Gold members, the cheapest cash Economy seats are also shown as available for Avios redemption.”

    This isn’t quite true, it’s V class seats that a Gold can book with Avios. V is above Q, O & G in the fare hierarchy but there can be more of those on sale than V if BA choose (& it’s not that uncommon in my experience).

    Doing a reward seat search via. the App also fails to show the extra “Gold” seats on the availability calendar so I find you have to pick the closest day showing normal seats then scroll forwards/backwards one day at a time.

  • Phillip says:

    Looking at the example for Seattle above, there is still one seat in the X fare bucket on BA53 on the 18th July, which is why the system shows just that one initially. I imagine if that wasn’t there, it will show all 9 other seats from the first search.

  • MarkSX says:

    Are there any status match for hotels / airlines from Star Alliance Gold?

  • riku says:

    Wow, this article took a lot of understanding, because you’re explaining a “bug” in ticket booking which isn’t actually related to booking a ticket but using the ticket search results to show general availability. If you want to book 4 seats you will always see if 4 seats are available. The problem comes with people who want to book 4 seats but search for 1 seat and look at the availability results to see if they COULD book 4 seats. As a gold card holder I try not to split our booking onto multiple tickets. You get extra work to allocate seats and miss out on the additional baggage you’d get if everyone was on one booking.

  • Dickie H says:

    It’d be good to get an idea of just how much additional inventory is typically made available to Gold Card Holders, as a way of working out whether a push for Gold is worth it (e.g. what are the odds of snagging half-term short-haul redemptions, when the cash price is high and ‘standard’ reward inventory has already been snapped up?) As a non-GCH, is there any way this can be checked (other than befriending a GCH and asking them to check for you!…)?

    • Rob says:

      My gut feeling is that those seats never come up in the lower fare buckets for those dates. If you look for Salzburg or Innsbruck or Geneva seats for Feb half term next year when they are released next week, they won’t be starting at £39 – BA will jump straight in at a very high level.

      • SamG says:

        No, in my experience BA goes straight in at “M” for peak dates. They may possibly then drop it down if the flight isn’t selling nearer the time

    • Thegasman says:

      Simple, do a search for destinations & dates you would be interested in & see if there are seats available in V fare bucket using a free trial of Expert Flyer.

      You won’t get Feb 1/2 term to Geneva, Turin, Innsbruck etc. You could use Gold Priority Rewards but the value of these has been substantially reduced recently.

      It is a good way of getting last minute weekend breaks though as V is widely available outside of the obvious school holiday dates/destinations.

    • Dickie H says:

      Thanks both. It would be the school holidays that I’m interested in, but no harm in taking the free trial to see what sort of availability is typically out there – even if, as Rob suspects, it’s likely to be a non-starter for the most popular destinations…

  • Vit says:

    Rob, et al.

    A bit OT as this is about Gold — but just wondering if Bronze worth anything? After return QR flight from Thailand, we only need “2 flights” to qualify for Bronze. Mrs would not be bothering but as I will soon be (almost fully) WFH and only come to the office once a month. Not sure if it is worth chasing the bronze.

    I also see that my tier points collection year ends 08 Oct 2022. Does this mean I have to complete “2 flights” before this date to get Bronze? and how long will that last?

    Sorry a bit newbie on status matter with BA.

    • Andrew J says:

      25% Avios bonus on miles flown on BA and free seat assignment 7 days before departure are probably the most valuable benefits – other than that it’s business class checkin desk, priority boarding which you can probably take or leave.

      • Vit says:

        Thanks Andrew J. Not bad I guess. I was also curious based on my tier point collection year end date above, I have to complete the 2 flights before that to achieve Bronze but how long will the Bronze last after 8 oct 2022?

    • marcw says:

      Is it worth it?
      My experience is yes if you value certain benefits:
      -Free seat selections 7 days before departure (you and all passengers on the same booking).
      -Business class check in. If you travel Economy, then this is extremely valuable. Perhaps not so imp at LHR or JFK, but at overseas stations it’s nice to queue at the Business check-in counter (the same applies with all other oneworld airlines) (cardholder and all passengers on the same booking benefit from it).
      -Priority boarding – maybe you value it, maybe not (I don’t, I prefer to board last).
      -Extra Avios
      -When travelling on American Airlines, upgrade to MCE during check-in (everyone in your booking). Also, you get your first checked luggage free of charge.

  • jack says:

    I’ve run searches before and its said “you’re being shown extra availability because you’re a gold member” logged out, and logged in as my friends blue account and been shown exactly the same availability. I’m sure they just show that most of the time to make gold members feel special

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