How to upgrade your British Airways flights using American Airlines miles
Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.
This article looks at how to upgrade British Airways flights using American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer miles.
Being able to upgrade British Airways tickets using Avios is a well known feature of the programme as I wrote in this article. There is also a full page on ba.com explaining how it works.
Whilst upgrades from World Traveller / Economy are restricted (the cheapest ticket class – Q, O and G – cannot be upgraded), virtually any ticket in World Traveller Plus or Club World can be upgraded using Avios.
The only condition is that an Avios reward seat must be available in the class to which you want to upgrade. The upgrade comes out of the same ‘bucket’. The only other rule is that you cannot upgrade at the airport or on board with Avios – it must be done in advance.
As an example of pricing, it currently costs 40,000 Avios to upgrade a return World Traveller Plus ticket to New York to Club World on peak days or 48,000 Avios on off-peak days.
What fewer people know is that you can also upgrade British Airways flights using American Airlines miles.
Our full guide to earning American Airlines miles from UK credit cards is here.
Upgrading British Airways tickets using American Airlines miles is not as lucrative, because you are restricted to upgrading full fare tickets except in Club World. It CAN be done, however, which makes it an option for using up any AA miles you have accrued.
All the details can be found here on the American Airlines website.
Only full fare World Traveller (Y, B class) and World Traveller Plus tickets (W class) can be upgraded using AA miles. Whilst it says ‘full fare Club World’, it also says it includes C, J, D and R booking classes – and R is one of the non-refundable Club World booking classes.
Here is another snag:
You must book your BA ticket via American Airlines in order to be able to upgrade it using AA miles. Alternatively, there must be one AA flight (which can be a codeshare, but must have an AA flight number) in your booking.
The pricing is reasonable and on a par with using Avios. A World Traveller Plus to Club World New York upgrade would be 25,000 American Airlines miles return as the chart shows.
One other benefit (admittedly of less use if you live in the UK) is that AA lets you upgrade up to three flights per upgrade ‘fee’. If you are flying from the US via London to, say, Athens you could upgrade both for the cost of just one. British Airways would charge you for each leg separately if you upgraded with Avios.
Iberia flights can also be upgraded using the same method.
This is clearly not something that would interest everyone, but if you travel for work on flexible fares, have a few American Airlines miles sitting around unused and have the ability to ticket your British Airways flights via aa.com then it may be of use.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 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.
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 Mastercard
25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review
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
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.
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
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
60,000 points sign-up bonus (to 30th March) 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.