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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.

  • T says:

    Other airlines are available!
    I guess the question is, how much are you willing to pay for loyalty to a product that in my eyes is no better or worse then their direct competitors. I for one used all my points to order 128 bottles of red wine.2x 2 4-1 lapsing soon, just no interest anymore flying BA regardless of more or less miles or money needed.
    With NCL connected to FRA, CDG,AMS, and soon ATH with aegean, sweet spots at great rates are more accessible then ever!! Just booked AF to DXB for £2550 for 2 in J. As I only take 2 holidays a year, I just look for a good deal once we know when we want to holiday! It’s almost liberating to just look for a nice product at good rates, to a destination you want to explore!

    • QwertyKnowsBest says:

      Well put T.

    • Russell G says:

      Care to share how you found £2550 2xJ DXB seats on AF? I see those rates on LH but haven’t found anything similar in AF. Is this ex NCL, CDG or LHR? Appreciate learning more alternatives to BAs fun and games! 😉

      • T says:

        Hi Russell,

        These fares appeared for 3 days last month. I use the map function on Google flights twice daily with NCL as starting airport, with all J fares worldwide nicely displayed. OTA had them for sale cheaper, but booked direct with AF.

      • T says:

        Keep an eye on ATH on Aegean. From Athens J with Saudia to the far east is at€850 return for plenty destinations. With competitors following suit at times.

    • Harry T says:

      What were the dates for those AF flights? I’m a fellow NCL resident.

      • T says:

        Found them last month, available at that rate for 3 days only, Flying Jan 2023.

        • Lady London says:

          @T how many weeks ahead of your flight did you book? Lots of us are desserting BA since they dropped so many flightts from NCL

          • T says:

            4 or 5 weeks ago. It does require twice daily google flight map check to quickly see fares popping up. I got the same fare in June this year. That was a KLM/AF combo. LHR with SWISS or LH was cheaper for my dates, but not keen travelling down South in winter time.

    • flyforfun says:

      You don’t have to be outside London to take advantage of EU hubs. Flying LCY to Australia tomorrow via FRA. The connection time is less than what it would take me to get to LHR and the associated wait beforehand. My Y fare for xmas flights, was £1k for a fully flex ticket. Would have been £800 if I made it non-ref/non-can but wanted flexibiltiy just in case.

      Of course there is the risk of a misconnect which, with the current snow, is giving me a few sweaty moments!

      • T says:

        You are correct in saying living down South, you have a choice too. Up North however for a long time that choice was not there. you were pretty much driven towards Flying BA to LHR to then connect to EU, or cut out the hassle and go BA all the way. Its great to see other airlines going competitive on the long haul feeder flights from the regions! It gives us all ( South and North) a better choice. Have a great trip tomorrow!!! Bet the weather will be a tad warmer!!

        • jjoohhnn says:

          There’s been choice to other hubs for a long time. KLM fly to 17 UK airports and took over Air UK originally back in 1997 which a lot of became KLM Cityhopper for feeder to their long haul network.

  • AndyC says:

    Ive just redeemed a “new” 2-4-1 voucher to Dallas Fortworth for nxt Nov booking CW return. 4 First seats appeared a few days later so i thought id extend the trip and upgrade for return leg. The system only allows me to change to CW even though F is available – anyone know why or is this yet another misanonamlie?

    • Mike says:

      I had the same issue a couple of weeks ago, no option to change the class online. I had to call.

    • A pedantic reader says:

      AndyC, i love your new word, ‘misanonamlie’. I think you mean anomaly… but your new word must mean a double BA f***-up, anonymous in its origin

  • Russell G says:

    First is now better value than it was, unless you are using 241 vouchers, in which case it is now considerably worse value than it was. For example, prior to the changes, NYC F/F on 241 was 160k avios + £1700 taxes for two. J/J on the same flight was 120k avios + £1700 taxes. So only 40k avios difference for two return. Now, F/F is still 160k avios + £1700 taxes, but J/J is 180k avios + £700 taxes. At 1p per avios rate, previously F/F cost £400 more than J/J, now F/F costs £800 more than J/J. So many interesting quirks to these changes!

    • babyg says:

      “First is now better value than it was” only compared with BA’s crappy and now more expensive options… avios can be spent on much better value (well just simply better) options…

      • Mark says:

        To be fair, in this case it isn’t more expensive. If you have the Avios it is cheaper to fly CW to JFK return with a 2for1 than it was immediately prior to the changes. As to whether BA CW is crappy, that”s a subjective view based on personal experience. Personally, having flown with ~10 airlines now in long haul business class, I’d put BA somewhere around the middle of the pack.

  • Will says:

    Note it is only the headline price that is inverted. The other options are usually cheaper (more cash less avios if you use 1p as your avios value)

  • David says:

    I wonder how long it will take for this cheaper redemption in First will remain open before, until the gap is effectively closed 🙂

  • Rolf says:

    Hi Rob, does this recent devaluation have an impact on your valuation of Avios (1 p rule of thumb)?

    • Rob says:

      Not if you live in the US or UK. Big fall outside those countries.

      Exceptions in the UK include those who use Gold Priority Rewards, GUF2s or tax avoiding loopholes.

  • Wotsit says:

    FOR ROB – Do you have a list of flight destinations where Reward First Class seats are even an option please? I actually thought that they’d disappeared altogether, but your Heathrow to Newark example shows otherwise. Thanks.

    • NorthernLass says:

      There’s nothing official, you just have to keep checking! Most likely is east coast USA, plus a few Central/South America, and, oddly, Bermuda!

    • The real Swiss Tony says:

      The reward flight finder in the app is good for this. You can search by region, travel class and number of seats, so over the next year I can see that WAS has 130 outbound dates and 156 inbound dates with at least 2 F seats.

      Singapore has one day with 2 F seats inbound only, and that’s next week….

      (Note the app doesn’t help with finding the new 2-4-1 J class availability)

    • Rich says:

      YVR is another destination where F availability pops up regularly.

    • Russell G says:

      Here’s a snapshot of all destinations that have some outbound availability in F from London: Atlanta, Bahrain, Bermuda, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Riyadh, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle.

      • Russell G says:

        Sorry, missed off the end of the list: Vancouver and Washington

        • Nick says:

          YVR will likely lose F next year. The airport has asked BA to stop sending A380s so it will be replaced by an alternative aircraft. Which one is yet to be decided, but it’s likely to be only 3-class.

          • jjoohhnn says:

            Interesting. Why is that?

          • Mark says:

            Interesting. Use of the A380 was a useful consolidator for BA, allowing them to maintain capacity on a single daily flight during the summer season as opposed to two flights most days previously. A380 capable gates/stands require more space so maybe that”s a factor. Not sure if BA is the only airline flying them there.

  • S says:

    I’m not sure what’s going on today but I’m now seeing pricing like “160000 Avios + £ 1,693.80” to the East Coast US in CW with my old style 241!

    • S says:

      Wasn’t pulling through new RFS pricing. Logging out and using a new tab fixed it.

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