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British Airways brings back First Class to five routes

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According to a post on LinkedIn by a British Airways employee, a bit of jiggery pokery with the long haul fleet means that First Class will return to the following routes this Autumn:

  • Atlanta
  • Cape Town
  • Tokyo Haneda
  • Shanghai
  • Beijing
BA British Airways 2015 first class seat

The exact start dates are unknown.

There is no guaranteed First Class Avios award availability although it is likely that some seats will pop up. A SeatSpy subscription is your friend, letting you set an alert to be notified of anything that comes available. A guide to redeeming Avios in First is here.

Following digging at Flyertalk it is believed that the aircraft are coming from two sources:

  • removing First from some services to Philadelphia, New York Newark, San Francisco, Washington, Chicago
  • selling First Class on aircraft that have it but where the cabin is currently sold as an extension of Club World, with seating priority given to BA elite members if Club World is full enough to justify opening it


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 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:

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 £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 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

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.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

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 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 (83)

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

  • Harry T says:

    Does everyone have their popcorn/copy and paste prepared for the inevitable “BA downgraded me from First to Club and is offering me 5000 Avios/nothing as compensation” threads? 🙂

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      BA doesn’t give you Avios for a downgrade from F to J – it charges you for the privilege!

      Well, it does on a mixed J and F ticket.

      • Rob says:

        I do remember a case where BA tried to refuse downgrade compensation on the basis that the cheap Business Class fare the person had bought cost less than an Economy ticket would have cost bought on the day of departure, which was the day of the downgrade ….

        • flyforfun says:

          So by the same logic, if there was a seat available in J on that flight, would the Y passenger who bought a ticket that day would be entitled to an upgrade?

    • dougzz99 says:

      Agree this will result in some crazy angry outcomes. BA trying to squeeze every penny out of each flight, but the airframe struggles will ensure swaps and downgrades. Going to be fun.
      They really are have their cake and eat when it comes to what you get versus what you were led to believe you bought.
      The A350 is a perfect example of BA, should be the nicest experience with cabin pressure and humidity, but the crew taking the forward toilet out of service so they can work means its almost guaranteed you’ll queue for the available toilets.

      • JDB says:

        Wait until you see all the issues people will encounter with Iberia now vouchers can be used with them. Their customer service is infinitely worse than BA, most claims routinely refused and no recourse CEDR or any form of arbitration. They use big solicitors and counsel and play seriously dirty.

  • Mike says:

    Any word on whether BA will be extending the double points holiday promo?

    • Clayton says:

      We can but pray! Tbh I think we were all surprised that they extended it for the whole of this year and removed the stupid requirement of having to stay in a BAH hotel for the entire stay. My anniversary date is December so I’m taking advantage and getting in a 160/320 trip to start my year off nicely.

      Would I love to see it extended for at least part of 24, yes. Do I think they will, no.

  • Tom says:

    Removing First on some San Francisco flights?

    There are only 2 flights daily (777-300 and A380) so that is an odd move. LHR-SFO is a premium business route and F is often full, although now many of those are non-rev pax I do not know.

    • Kevin says:

      As the CS rollout continues, 772s currently with 14 seats in F cabin will see this reduced to 8 seats. I reckon BA aren’t too bothered about filling F seats on this route when it gains Club Suite availability. CW customers are more likely to choose this over old CW on the A380.

      I’ve been keeping an eye on SFO fares myself as I may fly there in the winter. From Expert Flyer, it seems that the current daily 777 will switch to a refurbished 777 with Club Suite. I have also noticed some dates with refurbished 772 in 3 class configuration, ie. with no F.

    • Soflad says:

      That is why removing it I guess, I would, transfer to were they can make profit… good move. Not for noon rev but that is the way the cookie does crumble

  • S says:

    Impossible to find first class redemptions to Nyc unless it’s the last flight out of LHR. Wanted to do first for special occasion but just can’t find 1st availability

  • AJ says:

    I have read these comments with interest.

    Have a paid F trip in November to SEA taking advantage of the double TP offer. If our flight/s were to be downgraded from F to J, what would the TP situation look like?

    • Nick says:

      People catastrophise about this, nearly always unnecessarily. Chances of downgrade are tiny, the most likely scenario is that you’ll fly as booked. If you don’t, you’ll have a choice of either being rebooked in F (either on a different day or via another gateway) or accepting Club with a Mennens calculation for downgrade compensation.

      • Tom says:

        Nick, yes I was downgraded from F to J on a San Jose (CA) to LHR award flight. I was offered the points back of course. But instead I asked to be switched to SFO-LHR in F, which was granted.

        The two airports are only 40 or so miles apart!

        • Ronster says:

          Hello Nick

          That was a good move.

          I wonder if BA were to do that to me on the LHR-HND leg, if they were to down grade me from F to J, they would rebook me on the evening JAL flight in F?!

          Always better to have a counter offer.


  • dannyhk says:

    Is there any downside to buying your Railcard through Trainline and having it stuck in the Trainline app? Can you still use it just as easily for tickets bought elsewhere?

    • John says:

      Yes, you just have to switch to another app to show the ticket (if you choose a ticket that can be displayed on a phone).

  • MrMcBurger says:

    Interesting.. my HND flight was pulled for Jan 24 & rebooked onto the earlier flight. Not much of a bother to me – just wanted the later flight due to ‘check in’ times at a hotel I have yet to find or book!

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

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