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First Class Avios redemptions are now cheaper than mixed First / Club flights!

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One of the oddities about the Avios changes last week, which opened up Reward Flight Saver to Club World and World Traveller Plus, is that First Class redemptions were excluded.

There is no real logic behind this, and it has led to some strange outcomes.

It is now cheaper to book a First / First redemption than a First / Club or Club / First redemption!

To learn more about using Avios points for BA First Class tickets, read our full guide here.

First Class Avios redemptions are now cheaper than mixed First / Club flights!

Here is an example on the New York route.

First Class in both directions:

As there is no RFS, you pay 160,000 Avios + £853 return in taxes and charges. You have options to use fewer Avios and more cash but these are unattractive.

First Class outbound, Club World inbound:

Take a look at what happens if you return in Club World instead of First:

You now require 170,000 Avios + £853. You require an extra 10,000 Avios for swapping your First Class seat for Club Suite!

It is worth noting that it doesn’t matter which leg is in First Class. Whether you do First out and Club back, or Club out and First back, you still see 170,000 Avios + £853.

I won’t try to explain exactly why this happens, but it is based on the pricing option that BA uses for the Club Suite leg.

For comparison, a Club / Club flight would cost 180,000 Avios + £350 under the new Reward Flight Saver structure, or 120,000 Avios + £850 if you choose the nearest alternative option.

First is now better value than it was

Let’s forget about mixing and matching First and Club for now, which we’ve decided you shouldn’t do if First / First is an option because the latter is cheaper.

Looking at New York, if you do First / First then you pay 160,000 Avios + £852 on the dates I chose.

If you do Business / Business, you can pay 120,000 Avios + £850 or 180,000 Avios + £350.

Arguably, First Class redemptions are now better value than they were. Comparing First / First to Business / Business for my example dates to New York:

  • flying First Class both ways only requires 40,000 more Avios in total (20,000 each way) if you choose the £850 taxes and charges option, or
  • flying First Class both ways only requires £498 of additional cash – and 20,000 FEWER Avios – than choosing the new headline Reward Flight Saver price for Club Suite

It’s all very odd and could easily have been avoided if RFS had been extended to First Class. This has also led to issues with GUF (Gold Upgrade Voucher) redemptions as I will cover later in the week.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

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

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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

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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (111)

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

  • BJ says:

    Possibly they missed it but it’s also possible that there is logic if they plan to restrict access to First rewards in the similar way as Lufty and now AF have done.

  • Andrew J says:

    Excellent news, First is a much better experience, so it’s great that it’s now better value.

    • babyg says:

      how is it better value? just because the price of product “B” went up, doesn’t mean product “A” is better value… “BA” are not the only avios game in down (look at products that arent “BA” ….

  • HH says:

    “I won’t try to explain exactly why this happens”—is that an ‘I don’t know why’ or ‘I can’t be bothered’? Either way, we usually get better reporting than that from HfP.

    • Rob says:

      It would require a few paragraphs of maths which would simply complicate the article. If there is any editorial skill behind this site at all it is knowing what to leave out, not what to put in.

      • LittleNick says:

        As a maths graduate, I really would quite like it! Perhaps include a link to a separate page for those of us interested?

        • baVid says:

          My understanding (and it may be wrong) is that when you have a split cabin booking this causes the CW/CS leg to price like it is doing for ex-EU redemptions now where you must pay the ‘old’ T+F element (£850) but the ‘new’ increased maximum Avios. On a pure RFS return those maximum Avios would net you a £500 reduction in T+Fs but here you don’t get any reduction because of the way the system keeps the high T+F on both legs… But you still must pay the extra Avios.

        • Rich says:

          You could always do your own research and then publish the results for the enjoyment of your fellow maths geeks 😉

  • BSI1978 says:

    Rob, or Rhys, have you sought or had any response (informal or otherwise) from BA to your ‘stuffed’ series following the evidential devaluation last week?

    I can’t believe that no one their side isn’t monitoring the points based community/blogs.

    • Andrew J says:

      I’m sure they are but they aren’t interested. And there’s winners and losers in the new approach, so they can’t please everyone.

      • Rob says:

        There aren’t really many winners – only 2-4-1 users in the UK or US who use the full maximum number of Avios (ie 60% more than before). Globally I’d expect 90%+ of redemptions made to be neutral or worse.

        • Andrew J says:

          That would be me then, I’m a winner.

        • BSI1978 says:

          Rob, did you miss the original question or is it a ‘no’?

        • Andrew says:

          “90%+ of (long haul premium) redemptions made to be neutral or worse”

          I’d be willing to bet the vast majority of redemptions are short haul or avios are just used for a few pounds off a cash flight. Those people are no worse off as a result of these changes (that’s not to say BA won’t come for them next).

      • r* says:

        Winners: BA
        Losers: Everyone else.

        Why would BA have any reason to investigate?

  • Dev says:

    This won’t last. Clearly an oversight from the team.

    My gut feeling is that to make the CW changes palatable to the masses, they will close up rewards for those below Gold.

    This way, the masses won’t have anything to compare to, and will be oblivious to what an F reward costs.

    This will naturally lead to them whacking up the Avios required for F rewards in due course as well.

    • Andrew J says:

      That would be great if they did limit F redemptions to Gold and above.

      • LittleNick says:

        Why is it great? If I want to use more Avios for a first ticket or upgrade why shouldn’t I be able too?

        • AL says:

          Hear hear, LittleNick.

        • Andrew J says:

          Adds more value to achieving gold status, and reduces the number of people who can redeem for F which makes it easier for Gold and above members to do so.

          • meta says:

            They’d have to change the Amex 241 voucher terms for this and I’d say we would need to get notice about it. It’s different for number of Avios and surcharges, but Amex 241 voucher T&C clearly state any class.

          • Mike Hunt says:

            Andrew J that is rather an elitist comment. Consider those without gold tier membership

      • G says:

        Another poke in the eye for the well off leisure traveler.

      • NorthernLass says:

        On some dates there are 7 F award seats available to BDA. Surely if BA thought they could sell these for cash, they wouldn’t be available, and it’s better all round if someone is willing to pay the avios and cash required into BA’s coffers?

        • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

          Is that low season and so a less desirable time to go because e.g weather?

          And no doubt someone in BA is counting those 7 rewards and at the end of the year can say ‘look we offered a gazillion F rewards!’.

          Whether people use them or even want to go there is neither here nor there.

    • Harry T says:

      They won’t do this.

    • 2ilent8cho says:

      I wish BA would work with Amex to release an even higher tier BA Amex card which gave more F availability. I’ve noticed in the US there is a Blue, Gold, Platinum and Reserve Delta Skymiles Amex.

      If a BA Amex Platinum was available for around £400/£500 a year which offered more F availability (like BA Plus offers more J availability) and maybe offered 2 Avios per £1 with some travel insurance like you get on the Amex Platinum card I would be interested.

      Luckily my most common route in Heathrow – JFK , which in the 747 days was likely the easiest route to get F reward seats on, I think it still is but it’s a lot harder now and more often available on the Newark route.

      • RussellH says:

        1. The USA market is many times the size of the UK one – are there really that many in the UK who would pay that sort of money up front just to get better access to ‘free’ F seats, without any actual guarantee of anything? I cannot imagine that there would be anything like the number necessary to cover even a fraction of the cost of launching a new card.

        2. The USA allows card issuers to rip off merchants in a manner that was banned here years ago. In Europe I would be expecting Amex to be looking into making it harder to earn points + book seats, not easier.

      • Tom says:

        F award seats are often easier to get for secondary US airports. I got a F redemption to San Jose (SJC) in April. Have to slum it in J coming back however.

        Cash fees are the same in F and J, so again that helps the case for F awards, if you can find one.

    • Jack says:

      they will not stop non gold members from using avios as what is the point. they want people to fly with them

  • H says:

    Thanks for all the info.
    Is there any feel for when and on which routes First Class
    options open up as I’ve only seen them (and been able
    to use them) to the US East Coast?

  • StillintheSun says:

    @Andrew J are you a troll? You are a great caricature of a selfish, entitled person. You would have made a great Harry Enfield character.

    • JDB says:

      I always think the nature of the comments suggest it is a parody account written from a bedsit in Neasden.

      • NorthernLass says:

        I sometimes think that about you, @JDB! Maybe from a suite at a Four Seasons though, rather than a bedsit in Neasden.

        • meta says:

          No, he and his companions are just in the top positions at BA and Creation management (he alluded to it many times). The latest changes have all the hallmarks of @JDB. He only wishes someone from his circle could take over Amex and remove all the SUBs and retention bonuses.

          • NorthernLass says:

            Lol, but also all the help and wisdom, you have to grant that. Hence my wondering if there’s more than one person involved …

          • meta says:

            @NorthernLass You have to give in order to take lol.

          • CarpalTravel says:

            “He only wishes someone from his circle could take over Amex and remove all the SUBs and retention bonuses.”

            What, and lose opportunities to be judgemental and act superior on forums? No chance.

  • Robert says:

    My main disappointment here is the availability, EWR and not JFK, after recently hearing about the new Chelsea Lounge opening. I’m going to call BA and hope I can find seats coming back from JFK as I’m using a regional airport (plus old version 2-4-1 voucher)

    • NorthernLass says:

      Don’t forget not all services have F cabins on that route. But for such a short duration, I’d rather return on the day flight in a lower cabin with whatever lounge access there is. Also apparently the new JFK lounges aren’t all that and ran out of Krug after a week 😱

      • Robert says:

        True, the a availability could be why in the example inbound changes from a day flight to a night flight. For me it would have to be a night flight, so I don’t mind.

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