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Combining reward and cash flights

  • sturgeon

    I’m trying to book a return business flight for 2 from London to Dubai later this year but rewards availability is very low. A return leg has come up but no outbound. If I buy a cash ticket one way for the outbound then all carriers are ridiculously expensive for this single leg (why is this?). Is there a way for BA to recognise this as a return and charge a fairer one way cost for the outbound cash flights? I’d probably go premium economy outbound. Would I have to call?

    I see many people have said they book one leg at a time and hope to get the other so hopefully someone knows if that fails but you’re keen to at least be in business for one of the flights.


    One way fares are notoriously high on long haul routes as airlines obviously want bums on seats in both directions. There’s no way around this. You’ve left it very late to book a popular winter destination on avios, so your only options really are to keep checking for cancellations or extra availability to be released (unlikely at peak times) – you can set up an alert with SeatSpy to help with this. If your outbound leg doesn’t appear, at least you have the option of cancelling the inbound for £35pp.
    Or you could use avios to reduce the price of a cash booking but this doesn’t usually give great value.


    You can book premium economy and upgrade the return leg using Avios. This will likely be much more reasonably priced.

    You should be able to do this online using “book and upgrade” although I haven’t done it for ages. If that fails you can book your flights and then call to upgrade. If done within 24 hours there should be no £35 change fee.


    @Froggee, this won’t necessarily help the OP as there needs to be award availability to do this, which is the problem!


    Is he not saying reward availability is there coming back? So OP wants to booking Dubai-London in business using Avios and then wants to pay cash for WT+ from London-Dubai.

    Booking a return in WT+ and upgrading the Dubai-London leg would achieve this at the lowest expense unless I have misunderstood.

    It’s worth checking that they don’t gouge on the WT+ return though as in the past when booking and upgrading from WT+ they used to stick you in the more expensive WT+ bucket which was plain mean (but I think they have stopped doing this).

    HfP Staff

    This is good thinking by Froggee, especially as the outbound will be a day flight (I assume) and so OK in WTP.


    I just did a dummy booking for a date in January when there was availability and it can be done online which was a surprise.

    – select “Book a flight with Avios”, then there is a tab “Book and Upgrade”. For the random dates I tried it was about £2,700 + 48,000 Avios for two tickets although this will vary based upon WT+ prices and whether you are booking on a peak or off peak day.

    Good luck and please report back if it works!

    All I need now is Rob’s endorsement of my mini trip report and my life will be fulfilled.

    Smiley face.


    Thanks everyone, very helpful. Yes I can see reward availability on a specific date, the 23rd Nov from DXB to LHR. So I wanted to price up options to fly out WT+ and return using those 2 available reward seats in club world and I think the book and upgrade option makes sense.

    The only thing is I cannot get their website to give me a booking option. If I choose outbound the 16th Nov and returning 23rd, and select ‘Book with money, upgrade with Avios’ I assume I select premium economy as the class (as I’ll be upgrading FROM this class for the inbound). It allows me to select which leg I want to upgrade when I input the search parameters so I select inbound. Then, despite knowing there are 2 reward seats on the 23rd it says there’s nothing available on the dates so I can’t continue.

    I also ideally want to book using my Barclays upgrade voucher, using it to upgrade 2 passengers for one leg. I know the voucher is meant to be used only from the UK, so even if booking a cash ticket as a return to then upgrade the return leg, will BA not allow me to do this even over the phone as the return leg has the reward availability? I could use my 241 voucher but that seems a total waste to use for a return leg for 2.


    Hold on..I’ve just found on BA’s own search that club world return seats are showing that don’t appear on seat spy, a message popped up saying that ‘As you are using a BA American Express Premium Plus Voucher, additional seats have been made available to you on 1 or more of the flights you have searched.’

    I read that BA were opening up more reward seats but had no idea this meant more seats were available on their site vs what is on seat spy, since when was this a thing?


    I have a feeling that if you do that online you get charged a really high fare, as per @Froggee’s warning about price gouging, so check all your options before committing.
    Someone posted yesterday that BA refused to let them use the Barclay’s voucher on an inbound leg but YMMV.


    If you have the new-style 241 (after 1 Sep 2021 IIRC) there is more award availability but SeatSpy doesn’t show it.


    Ah ok great, I do have one of those, I just assumed there was next to no availability as I was only using seatspy. Now I can see a full return available for 2 in club world so will pursue that option instead. Good to know!


    Always double check on BA – yes get it booked before someone else snaps it up!


    If you have the new 2-4-1 always check on BA as it might show more availability than seat spy which can’t see the “I” class availability for the new-style 2-4-1

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