British Airways Boarding Groups Explained [2023]

Are you preparing for a British Airways flight but not exactly sure how the boarding process works and what all of the boarding groups are?

In this article, we will break down the British Airways boarding process and give you some insight into what to expect as things at the airport don’t always go as smoothly as you might like.

British Airways boarding groups overview

British Airways currently has nine boarding groups but just who goes into each group will depend on which boarding process British Airways is using.

The first British Airways boarding process is designed for long-haul flights. So for example, if you were flying from London to New York you would utilize that boarding process.

The other one is for short-haul flights which would be, for example, flights around the UK and Europe.

We will break down both of these boarding group orders below but first let’s take a quick look at all of the boarding groups for long-haul flights and short-haul flights.

British Airways boarding groups for long-hauls

Priority Group 1

  • First
  • Executive Club Gold Members
  • oneworld Emerald members

Priority Group 2

  • Business (Club World)
  • Executive Club Silver Members
  • oneworld Sapphire members

Priority Group 2

  • Premium economy (World Traveller Plus)
  • Executive Club Bronze Members
  • oneworld Ruby members

Groups 4 to 9

  • Economy (World Traveller)

British Airways boarding groups for short-hauls

Priority Group 1

  • Business (Club World)
  • Executive Club Gold Members
  • oneworld Emerald members

Priority Group 2

  • Executive Club Silver Members
  • oneworld Sapphire members

Priority Group 3

  • Executive Club Bronze Members
  • oneworld Ruby members

Groups 4 to 9

  • Economy (Euro Traveller)
British Airways Boarding Group Sign


For both long-haul and short haul flights, British Airways offers pre-boarding for a variety of different groups.

If you’re traveling as a family with a small child under two years old and/or have a young child in a pushchairs, you can be among the first to board. It’s recommended that you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to departure so that you are ready for pre-boarding and the agents have enough time to load your push chair.

Some passengers do not care for family boarding getting lumped in with preboarding as they feel that it dilutes the value of priority boarding. This is especially true whenever huge “families” utilize preboarding. So if you are using family boarding, try not to be too liberal with your definition of family.

If you have a disability or require some type of mobility assistance, you can also utilize pre-boarding. It’s advised to contact British Airways 48 hours before your flight so that they can make special arrangements for you.

Anytime you are using pre-boarding, it’s a good idea to check in with the gate agent as soon as you arrive just so that you can verify that everything is in order. Airlines don’t always do a good job at announcing pre-boarding and so it always helps to double check everything at the gate.

Also, if you are wondering about unaccompanied minors and boarding, know that they don’t have a traditional UM policy and you can read more about that here.

Something interesting that British Airways sometimes does is that they bring up people who have to check their luggage at the gate during this time. This could happen because they have one of the last boarding groups and the flight is full or because they somehow got through with an oversized bag.

On some occasions, British Airways will allow these passengers to board during pre-boarding or shortly after. Sometimes the checking of bags and boarding of these passengers can be a little time consuming which can be frustrating for those with priority boarding.

British Airways plane

Long-haul flights

Priority Group 1

  • First
  • Executive Club Gold Members
  • oneworld Emerald members

If you’re flying first class, you’ll be among the first to board.

Some people heavily criticized the British Airways first class product for only being a slight step up from business class. While I agree it’s got some real room for improvement, I’ve enjoyed my experience on British Airways first class and you can read about it here.

Along with first class, the highest elite level members will be able to board: Executive Club Gold Members along with oneworld Emerald members. You should be able to see a sign with the emerald, sapphire, and ruby icons for one world elites.

One issue with the British Airways boarding process is that sometimes agents don’t give priority group one enough time to board before calling up the other priority groups.

There are instances where an agent might call up for group two only seconds after making the announcement for group one!

In fact, sometimes an agent might even lump all of the groups together. You could hear an announcement like boarding groups “one through three.”

It may not sound like a big deal but for people who really value their elite status, it can feel like you are losing out on real value. For example, if you are pushed to the back of boarding you may struggle to find overhead storage bin space which should not happen for someone with top elite status.

Also, calling so many people at the same time can result in a pretty disorderly boarding process. Sometimes it works but other times it doesn’t.

Generally, you may find the boarding process to be more orderly at London’s hub, LHR. But when boarding at countries outside of the UK, you may experience a lot of inconsistencies.

British Airways also have somewhat of a reputation for not policing boarding passes.

This is needed so that people from lower boarding groups don’t try to board early. Lots of airlines don’t properly police these things because they can slow down boarding and cause conflict/confusion between passengers and crew but British Airways seems to be a common offender.

At times, specific airports might enforce boarding groups harder than others so just because one airport is laid back about it, that does not mean that your next attempt to skip a couple of boarding groups is going to go so smooth.

With staff shortages, it’s very possible that some boarding issues have recently gone from bad to worse and it may take some major efforts by the higher ups to correct for the deficiencies. In the meantime, you can do your best to arrive to the boarding area early in order to try to secure a spot for your boarding group.

But other times, you may just have to deal with crowded areas full of gate lice, clueless passengers, and ground crew agents who are just trying to get the job done as quickly as possible.

Priority Group 2

  • Business (Club World)
  • Executive Club Silver Members
  • oneworld Sapphire members

The second group to board is business class along with the second level elites. British Airways recently revamped it’s business class product so that it’s now a much higher quality experience. As mentioned above, don’t be surprised if group two is lumped in with group one.

Priority Group 3

  • Premium economy (World Traveller Plus)
  • Executive Club Bronze Members
  • oneworld Ruby members

Groups 4 to 9

  • Economy (World Traveller)

If you purchase a Basic fare, you will be boarding in the last group. Otherwise, you would be in general boarding which consists of all but the final boarding group.

The boarding process for economy passengers can play out differently just like it can for premium customers. It’s possible that an agent could lump several groups together for an expedited process. Don’t be surprised to hear several groups called at a time.

But sometimes you might even see some of the groups lumped together by signage. For example, you could see a sign for groups four and nine but then a separate sign specifically for groups four through five. There may even be indicators for boarding positions based on your row.

British Airways Boarding Group Sign

Short-haul flights

You’ll notice that the boarding groups for short haul flights are very similar.

Missing is first class because British Airways only puts three cabin products on long-haul flights. Therefore, the highest class is business class and those will board with the Executive Club Gold Members and oneworld Emerald members as shown below.

On these shorter routes with smaller aircraft, getting the boarding order correct is probably even more important than the long-haul flights because overhead storage in space is more precious.

Priority Group 1

  • Business (Club World)
  • Executive Club Gold Members
  • oneworld Emerald members

Priority Group 2

  • Executive Club Silver Members
  • oneworld Sapphire members

Priority Group 3

  • Executive Club Bronze Members
  • oneworld Ruby members

Groups 4 to 9

  • Economy (Euro Traveller)

Arriving late to the boarding area

If you arrive late to the boarding area, British Airways will allow you to utilize the priority line to get ahead of other passengers as they state, “If you arrive after your priority group has been called, you can use the priority boarding lane to go through at your leisure.”

The biggest thing when doing this is to remember that you want to be respectful of other passengers. It can be off-putting when you cut others in line (even if you are justified in doing so). So just try to do this with some grace.

Boarding together

If you are traveling with others and receive different boarding groups, it’s still possible for you to board together. It’s recommended that you check with the gate and get them to sort it out.

Check-in requirements

If you’re curious about the cut off times for checking in, British Airways has several different cut offs.

It’s usually a good idea to check in as soon as you can so that you can decrease the odds of you getting bumped from a flight, so I always try to check in 24 hours prior to a flight. But here are the minimum times for those brave souls who are willing to cut things scary close.

AirportCheck-in close times
London Heathrow60 minutes before long haul flights depart
45 minutes before short haul flights depart
London Gatwick60 minutes before long haul flights depart
60 minutes before short haul flights depart
London City20 minutes before all flights depart
Other UK airports45 minutes before all flights depart
Short haul European airports45 minutes before all flights depart, except at:
Amsterdam, Amman, Antalya, Berlin (Brandenburg), Dalaman, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Lisbon, Madrid, Milan (Malpensa) and Palma de Mallorca – 1 hour
Long haul international airportsAt least 60 minutes before all flights depart
Chart via British Airways.

British Airways boarding FAQ

When do families with small children board?

Families with small children can board during pre-boarding.

When do passengers with a basic fare board?

Passengers with a basic fare will board after general boarding.

When do elite passengers board?

Priority Group 1:
Executive Club Gold Members
oneworld Emerald members
Priority Group 2:
Executive Club Silver Members
oneworld Sapphire members
Priority Group 3:
Executive Club Bronze Members
oneworld Ruby members

If you have priority boarding, can you skip the general boarding line?

Yes, you can use the priority lane even if you show up when general boarding is taking place.

How many boarding groups does British Airways have?

In addition to preboarding, British Airways has nine boarding groups.

Final word

British Airways adopted the numbered boarding group structure for boarding like many other airlines.

Their system is a little bit more complicated because the groups differ based on short haul and long-haul flights, though. Also, they have a reputation for not enforcing boarding groups very much and lumping several groups together which means that your boarding experience may not be as smooth as it could be.

British Airways Unaccompanied Minor Policy Explained [2023]

If you want to send your child or a minor on a flight alone on British Airways, your booking experience might be quite different from many other airlines, especially those located in the US.

To help with some of the confusion, we’ve created a guide that will help you understand how British Airways treats unaccompanied minors and what you can expect.

So keep reading below for everything you need to know!

What is the British Airways unaccompanied minor policy?

British Airways does not have an unaccompanied minor service although they do allow children 14 years or older to fly alone.

If the child is 14 or 15 years old and traveling alone a parental/guardian consent form must be completed before travel.

Despite being one of the most popular airlines in the world, British Airways ended its unaccompanied minor service in 2016.

The program was called “Skyflyer Solo” and ended as a result of budget cuts and also reduced popularity of the program.

Reportedly, there was a big drop in the unaccompanied minors that used to fly between ex-pat hotspots like Hong Kong, Kenya, and the Caribbean.

The drop of the unaccompanied minor service appears to be unrelated to the legal issues British Airways dealt with related to sex discrimination.

Basically, British Airways would not allow men to sit next to unaccompanied minors which resulted in some legal issues until they ended the practice in 2010.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

What are the British Airways unaccompanied minor fees?

Since British Airways does not provide an unaccompanied minor service they do not require any fees.

If you would like you can look into the Meet and Assist program available at London Heathrow.

Whether you are arriving, connecting, or departing, you can have a staff member help assist your minor at the airport from the beginning to the end of their airport journey. Prices may depend on the route but you can expect to pay around £125.00.

Related: British Airways Boarding Groups Explained

British Airways unaccompanied minor rules

Minimum age

If a child is under 14 years old, they cannot fly alone under any circumstances. British Airways is very clear about this and as far as I can tell there are no exceptions.

However, if a child under 14 is traveling with someone 16 years or older on the same itinerary they will be allowed to fly. In that situation, I don’t believe any paperwork is needed.


If a child is 14 years old or 15 years old and traveling alone they must have a completed parent/guardian consent form filled out in order for them to travel.

The consent form is pretty basic.

It requires you to fill out contact information and also requires you to provide a copy of a signed identification form such as a passport.

The form does speak to the issue of handling a delayed or canceled flight where your child will need overnight accommodation.

The key is to make sure that you or someone else is available to pick up the kids from the departing airport in that situation.

If not, then British Airways will contact the authorities and/or child protection authorities to provide advice or care which just does not sound like a great situation.

The form also grants permission for the minor to travel by taxi or stay in a hotel room unaccompanied if there is a travel disruption away from the point of departure/destination.

How to book a British Airways unaccompanied minor reservation

Unlike many airlines that allow you to book special bookings for children, you cannot do this with British Airways online.

If you need to make a booking for someone under the age of 16 who is traveling solo, you will need to contact British Airways to make the booking. 

International flights

Unlike in the US were many unaccompanied minors are simply flying around the country domestically, in the UK a lot of flights will be headed to international destinations.

Since there is no unaccompanied minor service, your child of 14 years or older will be flying as an adult. This means that he or she will have to learn how to navigate the airport and get through customs and immigration on their own.

For that reason, you want to make sure that your child is responsible and mature enough to get through those areas without major complications.

Encourage the child to ask questions from officials in the airport that have uniforms on or that are working information desks.

Some airports are extremely easy to get around in while others can be more confusing, even for adults.

In some cases, you may be able to print out a map and show your kid where to go but sometimes that is much easier to do on paper than it is in real life.

Try to book nonstop flights

One thing that you can do to make life easier for the minor is to book nonstop flights.

Nonstop flights are usually recommended for younger kids under the age of 18.

This is for two reasons.

First, dealing with connections can be stressful and difficult especially if there is a limited time window and the airport is particularly large or confusing to navigate.

Also, if there happens to be a delay and the kid is forced to stay overnight they would have to check into a hotel and many hotels have age limits on checking in.

This is especially true in the US.

They may not allow a kid under the age of 18 to check in and that could be a very difficult situation to put your child in.

Make sure to get signed permission forms

If the minor is traveling internationally including Europe, the minor may need an official document signed by their parents or legal guardian(s) providing them with permission to travel.

There are no universal EU rules on permission forms for minors. Instead, each EU country decides if it requires the child to have an official authorization. You can search for the country your minor is traveling to here to see the requirements.

Also, the UK has special rules for taking children abroad. You are required to obtain permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad.

I would suggest that you read up on this resource so that you don’t get charged with child abduction by failing to get permission!

In addition, you can search country specific requirements for various travel documentation here.

British Airways recommendations

British Airways has some specific recommendations to help your young traveler. Many of these are pretty much common sense but I’ve added some additional insight.

If you really want to get deep into all of the tips for traveling with unaccompanied minors, then you should check out our guide.

Verify the travel documents

You’ll want to make sure that the child has any necessary travel documents such as a valid passport, any visas, and proof of return travel (as required).

If you think the minor might lose the passport or travel documents, consider attaching them to a minor’s neck lanyard or something similar.

You might also think about using something like Apple ID tags for the minor’s luggage so that things can be easily tracked if lost.

Bring the signed consent form

Make sure that the child has the signed British Airways consent form and a copy of the parent/guardian’s passport or other form of photographic identification showing a signature attached to the form.

Ideally, the parent/guardian would take the child through the check-in process and verify that the travel documents and consent forms are sufficient.

It’s also always recommended that the parent or guardian remain at the airport until the plane has taken off.

If you want to take your child to the gate but are not able to do that, one trick is to book a fully refundable flight.

As long as you cancel that in time you won’t be out any money but the ticket should give you access through airport security and allow you to drop the minor off at the gate for a proper goodbye.

Any required medication and/or health certificates

Even with airlines that have unaccompanied minor policies, they usually state that they do not administer medication to minors.

And since British Airways does not have an unaccompanied minor service, you need to ensure that your child is well aware of how to administer his or her own medication.

Also, if there are any health certificates needed related to any conditions, make sure the child has them in their possession so that they can show them to someone in the event of an emergency.

Charged devices

You want your child to have the ability to communicate with their parent or guardian and also the individual who will be picking them up at their destination.

Make sure that the child has a fully charged mobile device with sufficient credit and roaming activated if needed. If you’re worried about the device going dead, you have a couple of options.

You can try to book an aircraft that has power outlets although that may not always be feasible. And even if the aircraft does have outlets the outlet being used by the minor could be out of service.

Second, you can buy a battery juice pack that will allow the minor to charge his or her device while traveling.

Something else to consider is that it should not be hard to find a plane with Wi-Fi.

You can go through the steps to help your child know how to connect and if they have issues they can even ask a flight attendant who should be able to assist.

This could help you to remain in communication throughout the flight if you would like more peace of mind.

Credit card or cash

You never know what type of expenses a child might have unexpectedly. They may need to buy a phone charger, a taxi to a hotel, a hotel night, a prepaid phone that works, etc.

It’s a really good idea to send some cash or a credit card with your child and just explain to them the parameters of using it.

Related airlines

Flights operated by SUN-AIR or Comair have different age requirements for unaccompanied minors.

They allow young children between the ages of 5 to 11 years to travel without a parent or legal guardian provided you contact the airline in advance. So be sure to look into those airlines if you would like to book an unaccompanied minor service.

Also, American Airlines is a partner of British Airways and they do have an unaccompanied minor policy that you can read about here.

Final word

Unfortunately, British Airways does not provide a traditional unaccompanied minor service to help young kids through the airport.

Instead, they simply don’t allow any kids to fly alone unless they are at least 14 years old.

This means that you need to take extra care to make sure your child is mature enough to handle navigating through an airport and that you take all the precautions necessary to ensure that you will be able to communicate with them throughout the process.

100K Avios offers: How to Use Them & What to Know

Advertiser Disclosure: UponArriving has partnered with affiliate partners and may receive a commission from card issuers. UponArriving does not display all credit card offers and affiliate relationships may impact how offers are presented. 

Avios have always been one of the most useful currencies to have when putting together award travel.

I’ve always been able to find a use for them pretty much wherever I go and there usually is pretty good value to be had with them, too. Plus, they are usually easy to search and book with, which can sometimes be half the battle.

With some 100K Avios offers floating around you might be wondering what type of use these points could have for you so let’s take a look!

Summary: There are several 100K bonuses for Avios which are airline miles that can be used on domestic airlines like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines as well as many great international partners. Many redemptions come with great value and low fees.

Current 100K Avios offers

You can currently earn up to 100,000 Avios with these different bonuses:

  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card – Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 within the first three months; earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening.
  • Aer Lingus Visa Signature® card – Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of account opening; earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening.
  • Iberia Visa Signature® Card – Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of account opening; earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening.

My take:

These are technically the highest public welcome bonuses for these cards but the high spending requirement knocks down the attractiveness.

75,000 Avios for $5K in spend is great but the the additional 25K points for $20,000 spend is a tall order for most.

This might be a tiered bonus where you just settle for the 75K, especially if you can supplement your Avios with points from other programs.

But it also might be a “no left overs” bonus if you can spend a lot since each card will offer you a special perk for spending $30,000.

These perks include:

You might want to wait around for an offer to come back that doesn’t require as much spend.

But since these Avios cards are subject to 5/24 you some may want to pick them up and then move on to bigger and better things.

By the way, it is possible to get all three of these cards but you would want to stagger out your applications over several months.

But what could you do with these Avios if you were to go for them?

Below, I’m gonna give you some info on how to use Avios without overwhelming you with a bunch of awards charts.

British Airways First Class Guide & Review

6 quick things to know British Airways Avios

There is a ton of minutia that we could cover for Avios but if you’re just looking to get the fundamentals down, here’s what you need to know:

1. Avios can be transferred between airlines

You can transfer Avios between British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. (You can also pool points together with household members.)

To make transfers, your accounts need to be active for 90 days which is why I recommend people to immediately create accounts with all four programs. Might as well be prepared.

2. Avios bank transfer partners

British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, Capital One, and Marriott. (Citi transfers to Qatar so it’s essentially a British Airways partner, too.) This makes it very easy to supplement your Avios with bank bonuses.

Consider adding to your Avios balance with these offers:

3. Avios award charts

Things can get a little bit confusing because each Avios program has its own award chart with off-peak and on-peak awards.

The award charts have zones and things get a little funny with the zones due to all of the tinkering they have done.

Then there are also separate partner award charts.

To simplify things below, I’m just gonna show you what would be possible if you were using British Airways Avios. I’ll also leave out the award charts for now.

4. Watch out for fees

When flying on British Airways, fees can sometimes get high, especially with business and first. Try to avoid ending up in London if possible.

5. Look for non-stop flights

You want to try to book nonstop flights as much as possible.

That is because you have to pay for each segment individually. One connection could easily add thousands of miles to your redemption cost. Two connections could nearly triple your cost.

6. Transfer bonuses

You can often find transfer bonuses from the banks to the different Avios programs.

Because you can transfer points between programs, a bonus to one program is essentially a bonus to all. Right now, WalletFlo promos shows Chase has a 30% transfer bonus that ends at the end of July 2022.

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London Review

The best way to use British Airways Avios

My personal preference for using British Airways Avios is to use them on short to medium non-stop flights.

Long-haul flights can be doable especially because British Airways is a transfer partner of major programs so it’s pretty easy to build up a balance with them. Plus, there are some long-haul Avios sweet spots out there.

But generally, the short to medium haul flights is where it’s at for me.

I’ll walk you through some redemptions below so that you can get a sense of the value potential. I’ll show you flights within the US and also some international redemptions as well.

Qatar Airways A380 First Class Review (CDG to DOH)

Getting around the US

You can use your Avios to book flights in the US on partners like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. In fact, these can be some of the best ways to use Avios.

Here’s a look at the single partner mileage requirements for North America flights:

Flights between 1-650 miles:

  • Economy: 7,500 Avios
  • Business: 15,000 Avios

Flights between 651-1,151 miles

  • Economy: 9,000 Avios
  • Business: 16,500 Avios

Flights between 1,152-2,000 miles

  • Economy: 11,000 Avios
  • Business: 22,000 Avios

Let me show you some examples of these prices in action.

Domestic flights

For only 16,500 Avios you could fly business class one way from New York to Miami. For 22,000 Avios you could get between Chicago and Los Angeles in business class. The latter is a $600+ flight so in terms of value that’s about 2.7 to 3 cents per mile.


Both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines fly to Hawaii. On my very first search from Phoenix to Maui, I found an economy flight with seven seats available for only 13,000 Avios each! Those flights can go for $490 one way so depending on your flight preference that redemption can get you about 3.7 cents per mile.

Head to Hawaii on Avios.


Maybe you want to break away from the heat and hop around Alaska?

Taking advantage of the zone one pricing, you can get from Anchorage to Juneau, Alaska, for 7,500 Avios.

You can often find those flights for around $250 in peak season which means that you’d be getting about 3.3 cents per mile, which is a great redemption value for economy. Even the lower prices offer over 2 cents per mile.

International examples

Avios can also be a great way to get around other parts of the globe. Let’s take a look.


For 15,000 Avios you could fly from London to Milan, Italy, in business class. That’s a flight going for $331 so your cents per mile comes out to 2.2.

That value is not quite as high as other redemptions but paying $1 in fees to get to Rome? I’m always down for that.

Trenitalia First Class/Executive Frecciarossa 1000 Review (Rome to Milan)


If you wanted to fly Qantas from Sydney, Australia to Melbourne, Australia, you could use 12,500 Avios + $27.20. Those business class flights go for about $530 so that is about 4 cents per mile. Not bad at all.

Also, 11,000 Avios + $118.40 can easily get you from Sydney to New Zealand.

Hilton Auckland New Zealand Review


If you find yourself on the continent of Asia, Avios can be a pretty great way to get around between different countries.

Take a look at this premium economy redemption between Hong Kong and Bangkok on partner Cathay Pacific. It’s going for 18,000 Avios and that flight could cost you $750. That’s about 3.7 cents per mile.

Park Hyatt Bangkok Review

Middle East

You could fly from Paris to Doha en route to places like the Maldives for 43,000 Avios in business class. Factoring in the $190 in fees, that still comes out to about 8.3 cents per mile which is definitely outsized value.

Hilton Conrad Maldives Review

Final word

So as you can see there are lots of uses for Avios.

I generally always have some Avios in the reserve that I tap into whenever I need to complete a trip especially if it involves connecting legs that I can’t cover with other miles.

  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card – Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 within the first three months; earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening.
  • Aer Lingus Visa Signature® card – Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of account opening; earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening.
  • Iberia Visa Signature® Card – Earn 75,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 within the first three months of account opening; earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months of account opening.

Advertiser Disclosure: UponArriving has partnered with affiliate partners and may receive a commission from card issuers. UponArriving does not display all credit card offers and affiliate relationships may impact how offers are presented. 

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analysis & recommendations are UponArriving’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. 

British Airways Baggage Fees Guide (Carry-on, Checked, Basic) [2022]

British Airways is an iconic airline based out of London that connects the city to the world with the most nonstop routes out of London. Many people are curious about the baggage fees that British Airways charges.

British Airways baggage fees structure might be a little hard to follow, but in this article, I will be explaining ways to avoid baggage fees, an also explain the details for traveling with: personal items, carry-ons, checked, sports equipment, musical equipment, and British Airways TAG.

What are British Airways baggage fees?

British Airways has five different fare classes. All fares do allow you to bring on a carry-on and personal item for free. Out of those five different fares, four offer a free baggage allowance. Basic is the only fare that has no free checked bags included in the fare. Economy, Premium Economy, Business, and First all include checked bags.

I will go into more detail about the baggage fees below.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

How can I avoid British Airways baggage fees?

Here are a few tips to avoid British Airways baggage fees.

Fare options

There is one fare that doesn’t offer any free baggage allowance, and it’s called Economy Hand Baggage Only, aka “Basic.” If you want a free baggage allowance Economy, Premium Economy, Business, and First all include free checked bag(s):

  • Economy: 1 bag (23kg/51lbs)
    • Exceptions for economy:
      • Between London and Doha: 1 bag (32kg/70lbs)
      • Flights to/from Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Flights between Europe and Japan: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Connecting between Islamabad and USA/Bermuda/Canada: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Connecting between India and USA/Bermuda/Canada: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Journeys originating in Saudi Arabia to USA/Bermuda/Canada and the return journey to Saudi Arabia: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Journeys originating in Kuwait to the British Airways network and the return journey to Kuwait: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
  • Premium Economy: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
  • Business: 2 bags (32kg/70lbs each)
  • First: 3 bags (32kg/70lbs each)

Basic can cost you $130 roundtrip to check a bag from the USA to London. I suggest keeping in mind the price of checking baggage when buying the Basic economy fare.

Remember, oneworld elites cannot have additional baggage when flying Basic fare.

Elite status

If you’re a British Airways or oneworld elite equivalent or above Sapphire status, you will have an additional baggage allowance. It all depends on your status tier:

  • Silver/oneworld Sapphire: 2 checked bags only in economy (32kg/70lbs each)
    • Note: Silver/oneworld Sapphire 2 checked bags is only for economy and won’t apply to any other class.
  • Gold/oneworld Emerald: 1 additional checked bag for any class (32kg/70lbs)

Unfortunately, any elite status tier flying a Basic fare cannot get any additional bags. No extra bags for elite flyers flying Basic can be a big drawback for elites and devalues status.

On the plus side, elites also have benefits like seat selection, fast track security, premium class check-in, and priority baggage.

Credit Cards

You can utilize individual credit cards to reduce or eliminate your baggage fees on British Airways.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the hottest travel rewards credit cards. You should get it because of the 3X points on dining and travel. It has many valuable benefits, one of which is an annual $300 travel credit that can be used on anything that codes as travel, including your baggage fees.

So all you have to do is use the card to pay for baggage, and any remaining travel credit will be used erasing the charges you made with British Airways.

Plus, you also have travel insurance built into the card, which includes baggage insurance.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

One of my favorite cards to use to cover miscellaneous travel purchases is the Capital One Venture card. It’s a popular credit card that comes with an early spending bonus of $500 after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

It earns 2% cashback on everything travel. The cashback you earn can erase anything that codes for travel like airfare, baggage, lodging, car rental, etc. For example, if I purchased a British Airways ticket or paid by baggage fees with this card, I can erase the charges from my statement with the cashback.

British Airways personal item and carry-on restrictions

When flying British Airways, you are allowed to bring up to one personal item and up to one carry-on in all classes and for every fare.

Personal item

Each passenger on any fare in any class can bring up to one personal item. The dimensions shouldn’t exceed 40 x 30 x 15cm / 16 x 12 x 6in. Max weight is 23kg/51lbs. In fact, British Airways has probably the most generous weight limit out of all the airlines regarding a personal item.

So, if you bring a personal item, you must make sure it can fit under the seat in front of you. If not, you can put your personal item in the overhead bin, but do note that space can be limited. Some examples of personal items would be a briefcase, purse, laptop, travel blanket, and a small backpack.


Each passenger on any fare in any class can bring up to one carry-on. The dimensions shouldn’t exceed 56 x 45 x 25cm / 22 x 18 x 10in. You definitely don’t have to worry about the weight of your carry-on as the max weight limit is 23kg/51lbs.

Most of the time, British Airways is flexible with weight, but you must be able to put your own baggage in the overhead bins without any help.

For your carry-on item, you can bring a suitcase, bag, garment bag, carrycot, pushchair, or child seat for infants, and any required mobility aids, such as a wheelchair. Some items will be gate checked for free. As long as it doesn’t exceed the dimensions above, you will be fine.


The same TSA standards apply to British Airways flights arriving or departing from the US. You can review a list provided by the TSA of permitted and prohibited items, which may be included in carry-on baggage, including the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule.

British Airways checked baggage fees

If you want to check bags outside of the British Airways baggage allowance, you can do so for a fee. Baggage fees depend on the route you are flying. I highly recommend you using British Airway’s baggage fees calculator tool. The tool is actually useful and gives you the most accurate price for your routing.

We were able to give you general prices for British Airways baggage fees that give you an idea of how much bags will cost.

  • London Heathrow (LHR) between New York (JFK)
    • 1st bag: £50/$62 or £60/$75 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £65/$81 or £75/$94 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £130/$162 or £155/$193 at the airport
  • London City Airport (LCY) between Amsterdam (AMS)
    • 1st bag: £35/$44 or £75/$94 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £65/$81 or £75/$94 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £80/$100 or £95/$119 at the airport
  • London Heathrow (LHR) between Italy (FCO)
    • 1st bag: £35/$44 or £75/$94 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £65/$81 or £75/$94 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £80/$100 or £95/$119 at the airport
  • London Heathrow (LHR) between Los Angeles (LAX)
    • 1st bag: £50/$62 or £60/$75 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £65/$81 or £75/$94 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £130/$162 or £155/$194 at the airport
  • London Heathrow (LHR) between Mumbai (BOM)
    • 1st bag: £70/$87 or £85/$106 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £70/$87 or £85/$106 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £130/$162 or £155/$194 at the airport
  • London Heathrow (LHR) between Johannesburg (JNB)
    • 1st bag: £70/$87 or £85/$106 at the airport
    • 2nd bag: £70/$87 or £85/$106 at the airport
    • Each additional bag: £130/$176 or £155/$210 at the airport

These fees are for one direction of your trip. So, if you are flying roundtrip, you will have to pay these fees on your return section as well.

Again, I strongly suggest using the British Airways baggage calculator tool to figure out the price on your specific route.

As a reminder, here are the fares that have a free checked baggage allowance:

  • Economy: 1 bag (23kg/51lbs)
    • Exceptions for economy:
      • Between London and Doha: 1 bag (32kg/70lbs)
      • Flights to/from Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Flights between Europe and Japan: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Connecting between Islamabad and USA/Bermuda/Canada: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Connecting between India and USA/Bermuda/Canada: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Journeys originating in Saudi Arabia to USA/Bermuda/Canada and the return journey to Saudi Arabia: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
      • Journeys originating in Kuwait to the British Airways network and the return journey to Kuwait: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
  • Premium Economy: 2 bags (23kg/51lbs each)
  • Business: 2 bags (32kg/70lbs each)
  • First: 3 bags (32kg/70lbs each)

To explain how the fees work, if you were seated in Premium Economy and wanted to check a 3rd bag, you would be paying the “each additional bag” fee.

When comparing other international airlines, United charges the following rates for checked baggage:

  • $35 for the first checked bag
  • $45 for the second checked bag
  • $150 to $200 for the third checked bag

British Airways checked baggage allowance

Each bag can be up to 90 x 75 x 43cm / 35.5 x 29.5 x 16in or less.

For passengers seated in economy, your bag can weigh up to 23kg/51lbs (except for flights between Doha and London, which get an allowance of 32kg/70lbs.) Premium economy has a baggage allowance of 23kg/51lbs. For business and first class passengers, you can check your bag weighing up to 32kg/70lbs.

Emeralds have a 32kg/70lbs allowance in every cabin, but Sapphires only have a 32kg/70lbs baggage allowance in economy.

British Airways excess baggage fees

British Airways allows overweight and oversized bags. Sometimes you just might pack a little too much or need a bigger checked bag.

Overweight bag fee for British Airways

If your checked baggage allowance is up to 23kg/51lbs and your bag weighs between 23 to 32kg / 51 to 70 lbs, you will have to pay an overweight baggage fee.

  • 23 to 32kg / 51 to 70lbs: $100 each way
  • 32kg/70lbs: aren’t accepted

There are no overweight charges for personal wheelchairs, mobility aids or medical equipment

Oversized bag fee for British Airways

British Airways is very vague when it comes to oversized baggage fees. In fact, they claim you can check oversized bags up to 190 x 75 x 65cm / 75 x 29.5 x 25.5in, but they quote no prices:

You can take larger items of up to 190 x 75 x 65cm (75 x 29.5 x 25.5in) as long as they weigh no more than your permitted baggage weight allowance. If the bag weighs more than your allowance, you will be charged extra at the airport. No bag can weigh more than 32kg. Any items larger than the above dimensions will require shipping as cargo.

From further investigation, it seems the allotment of oversized baggage would be for sports equipment and musical instruments.

Keep in mind, if you pay for any excess baggage fees, these fees will be on top of those fees and only for one direction.

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Sports equipment on British Airways

British Airways doesn’t charge for sports equipment if it’s within the allowance that is in your fare.

When you want to bring your sports equipment, the max size for sports equipment is 190 x 75 x 65cm / 75 x 29.5 x 25.5in and max weight is 32kg/70lbs. Anything over either one will be considered cargo.

British Airways requires you to call in 72 hours or more in advance if items are over the size of 90 x 75 x 43cm / 35.5 x 29.5 x 16in. You can contact British Airways contact center via +1-800-247-9297.

Sports equipment fees aren’t too bad as it uses the standard checked baggage fees. (You can read more above.) Let’s say you are flying economy from the USA to Europe, and you want to check in your 32kg/70lbs sports equipment. If you check-in without any elite status, you will have to pay the overweight baggage fee for standard checked baggage.

Here are some sports equipment you can check:

  • Bikes
  • Diving equipment
  • Gold clubs and umbrellas
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Ski and snowboarding equipment
  • Surfboards and kayaks
  • Sporting rackets and sticks

You can read more here about packing methods and what is required about checking this specific sporting equipment.

Musical instruments traveling British Airways

You have three choices for your musical instrument to fly with you on British Airways: carry-on, purchasing an extra seat, or checked.

As a carry-on, musical instruments will be free and count towards your free carry-on allowance. It must fit in the overhead bin by not exceeding 80 x 45 x 25cm / 31 x 18 x 10in.

If your musical instrument cannot fit in the overhead bin, you can purchase it a seat. It must not exceed 140 x 50 x 40cm / 55 x 20 x 16in. A British Airways flight attendant will help you fasten the instrument into the seat. You must contact British Airways reservations to purchase your instrument a seat.

If you want to check your musical instrument as checked baggage, it can count towards your free baggage allowance, but not exceed 190 x 75 x 65cm / 75 x 29.5 x 25.5in. If your musical instrument exceeds 23kg/51lbs, you might be subject to overweight fees. Max weight is 45kg/99lbs. You must contact British Airways 24 hours prior to departure to ensure checking your musical instrument.

I highly recommend traveling with your musical instrument in a hard-shell protective case. The stronger it is, the less likely your musical instrument will be damaged during your travels.

You can call British Airways at +44 0344 493 0787 (use option 3).

British Airways military baggage policy

Since British Airways is an international airline, they don’t give US military personnel or veterans any benefits for flying their metal. Therefore, British Airways won’t allow US military personnel to check bags for free or other benefits. Only US airlines will give benefits to US military personnel and veterans.

If you want to learn more about military benefits for other airlines, I suggest reading our master article about military benefits when flying.

British Airways pet policy

British Airways doesn’t allow any pets into the cabin unless it’s a service animal. Service animals are the only animal allowed in the cabin.

If you wish to transport your pet via the cargo hold, you can do so via British Airways World Cargo, PetAir UK or IAG Cargo.

Prices vary by season, load, weight, and route. You must contact the respective cargo carriers prior with documentation that is required by the country destination you are flying to.

British Airways has rules like:

  • Pet must travel in a ventilated container
  • The carrier must be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, and lie down
  • Hard carrier that withstands the pet and turbulence
  • Water and food in the container

To learn more about traveling your pets on British Airways, read more here.

What if my bags are lost or damaged by British Airways?

If your bag(s) are lost or damaged, make sure you report it to British Airways immediately. It is imperative to make a claim in person or online after the flight.

Making a claim online is as easy as filling out a form. You can find the form link here. Keep in mind, the sooner you fill out the form, the better it is.

British Airways lost and found

Losing or forgetting something on the aircraft happens to the best of us. British Airways suggests speaking to someone at the airport before you leave the airport. A staff member might be able to grab it for you from the aircraft if you speak up soon enough.

However, if you need to contact British Airways lost and found, you can read more here, directing you to the airport that will handle lost and found for British Airways.

When can I check-in bags for British Airways?

Check-in and bag drops close 60 minutes prior to your long-haul flight. For short-haul flights, counters will close 45 minutes prior to departure.

You can check-in as early as three hours for outpost stations or all day at a British Airways hub.

Remember to arrive at your gate 20 minutes prior to departure, or you will not be allowed onto the aircraft.

TAG by British Airways

TAG is simply a checked luggage label that is reusable over 3,000 times.

It can connect to your British Airways app on your phone, skipping the process of obtaining a luggage label.

It goes for £63/$85 as the introductory price. However, in January 2020, the price will go up to £80/$105. Both are just one time fees to save time at check-in bag dropoff counters.

Final word

British Airways might not have a traditional checked baggage fees chart, but the fees are easy to swallow compared to other carriers like Lufthansa.

I do hope this article was useful and have a wonderful flight.

This article was originally published by Steve Smith.

British Airways expands award seats

British Airways has always been one of my favorite airlines. A random upgrade to business class in 2015 literally changed the course of my career and honestly I probably owe my current occupation to that random event.

Anyway, the rewards program for British Airways, known as Avios, just got more valuable for a lot of people because they have expanded availability for rewards.

British Airways will now open up at least 14 Avios seats for long-haul flights and 12 Avios seats for short-haul lights.

The number of business class seats for long-haul flights is being doubled from 2 to 4 and there will now be at least two premium economy seats available.

Long-haul economy seats are being increased from 4 to 8 seats per flight.

In addition, short haul business class will also get two additional seats increased from two and short haul economy will get bumped from 4 to 8.

The expanded availability will be for flights departing July 28 and after. This change is also permanent.

This should make finding award seats much easier for a lot of people, especially those who travel in packs as families.

The drawback with British Airways is that on many routes, such as those through London, you will get hit with a lot of fees on your award tickets.

For that reason, some people view Avios tickets as essentially discounted cash tickets because they may still have to pay hundreds of dollars in fees.

But the good thing about British Airways is that you can transfer from so many different major programs like Chase and American Express. So it’s really easy to rack up a lot of points.

If you are okay with paying potentially hefty fees for your award travel I would definitely look more into British Airways as travel picks up because you might find it much easier to redeem your points with the expanded inventory.


British Airways First Class Guide & Review [2021]

Are you thinking about flying British Airways first class? If you would like to know what to expect and other important details like what aircraft and route you might be flying, be sure to check out this comprehensive guide below.

I’ll also give you a detailed review of my experience flying British Airways first class, complete with tons of photos and detailed descriptions!

New BA first class product

Before jumping too far into the details, you should know that British Airways has a new first class product coming out.

In October 2020, the new 777-300s arrived in London showcasing the new first class product.

It’s not a complete overhaul of their current cabin, though.

In fact, some would argue that it’s basically the same seat just with a door. And that is a slight bummer because the seat is comparable to some business class seats so we’re not really talking a significant upgrade.

Still, it was very important to put doors on the suites since the British Airways business class product already had enclosed suites.

Also, some of the new cabins have reduced from 14 seats to eight which make them a lot more intimate and allow for more privacy, so that’s a pretty good upgrade.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

BA First Class aircraft

If you are going to fly British Airways first class, you will likely be flying in one of the aircraft below.

787 Dreamliner

The British Airways 787–9 has two rows of four seats. This has always been the smallest and most intimate British Airways first class cabin and it is also probably the most coveted (although now there are small first class cabins in the newer aircraft.)

Compared to some of the other aircraft, there also have been interior upgrades which makes for a slightly enhanced experience. For example, you will be able to enjoy a larger personal screen and your suite. If I had to choose one way to fly British Airways First Class, it would probably be the 787.

A seat map of the 787 first class cabin.
Image via British Airways.


The first class cabin on the British Airways A380 is located on the bottom level of the massive A380 aircraft. While some people prefer the A380 top level, the windows are smaller and the ceiling clearance is also lower on top so you get more room on the bottom.

The A380 has four rows with a total of 14 seats, so you’ll be seated among almost double the amount of seats found on the Dreamliner. You’ll find the lavatories upfront which is also where the staircase is located. Therefore, I would prefer to sit in the back of the cabin for optimal privacy.

Image via British Airways.


The British Airways 777-200 has four rows with a total of 14 seats. So like the A380 it is going to be one of the more crowded first class cabin experiences. Some 200s are only three class aircraft and do not come with a first class cabin.


The British Airways 777-300 is going to be very similar to the 777-200.

But one major difference is that the lavatories are located in the rear of the cabin on the 300 while the 777-200 lavatories are located in the front of the cabin, including one in the middle aisle.

This means that sitting in the back row could give you a lot more privacy on the 200 since people will be moving toward the front of the cabin to head to the lavatories.

However, if you were sitting at the front of the cabin on the 300 you may have the best privacy since generally people would be moving toward the back of the cabin for restroom visits.

It’s worth noting that there may be fewer seats on the newer 777-300 aircraft.

Image via British Airways.


Unfortunately, flying the British Airways 747 is no longer in operation.

However, it had five rows of seats but only two of those rows had four seats across.

The lavatories were located in the back of the nose so the two front seats had fantastic privacy which is why elite members were able to get them. The 747 will be greatly missed!

BA First Class routes

Below are some destinations that you will be able to find a British Airways first class cabin on.

Most of these destinations are flights from London but keep in mind that the destinations and aircraft are subject to change for various reasons including aircraft swaps.

787–9 Dreamliner

British Airways has 19 787-9s. If you want to experience the awesome first class product in the Dreamliner, look into the following destinations:

You can find the latest routes here.


British Airways only has 12 A380s.

You can find the latest routes here.


British Airways has a total of 45 777-200s but I’m not sure how many of them are outfitted for first class so remember to verify that the 777-200 has a first class cabin.

Boeing 777-300

British Airways has a total of 12 777-300s. Some of these newer aircraft will have the smaller first class cabins (fewer suites) so be on the lookout for that on the seat map.

You can find the latest routes here.

BA First Class Lounges

British Airways has first class lounges and they also have the special Concorde Room at London Heathrow Terminal 5 and JFK Terminal 7.

To get access to the Concorde Room at London Heathrow Terminal 5 and JFK Terminal 7 you need to be flying on a British Airways flight in First Class and over the age of 18 years, or if under 18 years you are accompanied by a responsible adult.

The rules are more lax for the first class lounge is and you can get into these if you meet the following requirements:

  • Flying on a British Airways flight in First Class
  • You are a Gold Member of the British Airways Executive Club on a scheduled flight operated by British Airways or a oneworld partner
  • You are an Emerald member of any of the oneworld airline frequent flyer programs on a scheduled flight operated by British Airways or a oneworld partner
  • You are over the age of 18 years, or if under 18 years you are accompanied by a responsible adult.

Note: Access to the BAR at Dubai and Singapore is restricted to guests traveling in First Class.

Find out more about these rules here.

The review

We capped off an extraordinary trip to Norway during the holiday season with a flight back from Oslo to Houston via London in British Airways first class.

Although I had come across a few reviews that dampened my enthusiasm for BA’s first class product on the 747, I still thoroughly enjoyed the flight experience. While BA’s first class on the 747 isn’t quite on the same level of some other global carriers, it’s still nothing to scoff at.

Also note that while the 747 has been discontinued the hard product will be very similar to other aircraft such as the A380, 777, etc.

Related: Top 10 First Class Cabins (& How I Booked)


We used 85,000 American Airline miles to get from OSL to IAH via LHR in first class one way for each person.

Google flights listed this flight at $6,576 although if you fly it out of London it’s listed at over $11,000! For our award flight, total fees came out to $270 (which isn’t that bad for a premium flight out of LHR), and so our redemption value came out to 7.4 cents per point, which I’ll take just about any day. We may have looked into Finnair or American if we were focused on cutting costs, but we really wanted to try out BA’s first class product, so we went with BA and just ate the cost. 

(The first class on board the A319 from Oslo to London was nothing impressive and merely consisted of economy seating with a placeholder in the middle seat, so our enthusiasm was focused on the 10.5 hour segment of our route.) 

Related: 12 Best Chase Ultimate Rewards First Class Redemptions

The first class cabin

While not as stunning as what’s found on the 787, the British Airways first class cabin on the 747 is still well polished and sleek. I’d read a number of reviews about the first class cabin on the 747 being crowded, and so I was a little bit worried about feeling cramped the whole time while in first class and that detracting from the experience. However, I honestly didn’t feel cramped at all.

British Airways First Class
British Airways First Class newspaper selection.

It’s true that the cabin isn’t as spacious as I would like and could use more space or fewer seats, but it didn’t feel like too close of quarters where I sat in seat 2K. I got a bit lucky in that I had no passenger directly across from me, so that helped create more privacy. The story may have been a little different if I were in row 3, 4, or 5, although the staggered design of the seats helps to provide some screening even when you have neighbors. 

British Airways First Class
British Airways First Class cabin.

2K was a great seat but one issue was that passengers often came around the magazine rack either to pick up literature or to swing back around from the lavatory if their way was blocked. That was slightly bothersome. The best seats are 1A and 1K but those are reserved for BA/oneworld elites and as far as I know you can only select them at check-in if they are still not available. (They weren’t available when we checked in.)

British Airways First Class

British Airways First Class cabin.

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The seats

I found the seats to be comfortable and designed and positioned to afford you with a decent amount of privacy. The desk or counter space adjacent to the seat is a bit limited and there’s no big storage drawer or compartment for your larger items, so that’s a slight drawback (although you can use the netting in the closet space to store small items like your passport, phone, etc.).

British Airways First Class

The seat comes with a small pillow that honestly felt worn and thin and detracted a bit from the overall polished feel of the cabin. With everything else having such a nice aura, it just felt out of place.

British Airways First Class
British Airways First Class seat with pillow.

Across from your seat, there’s a footrest that also functions as a small stool/seat that even comes equipped with a seat belt. I sat in it for a minute and it was surprisingly more practical than I had imagined but I would not consider eating a meal from that “seat” or spending any considerable time in it like the alternate seats found other airlines like Etihad.

British Airways First Class
Footrest or additional seat.

The overall design of the seats are very pleasing to the eye. This is especially true when you drop down the mood-lit blue shades via an electronic control.

British Airways First Class
Shades halfway drawn.
British Airways First Class
British Airways First Class.

In addition to the mood-lit shades, the miniature “lamp” that hangs just over your seat control panel on the right adds an additional touch of ambiance to the experience.

British Airways First Class
Ambient lamp in first class.

With both of those lighting features, the first class cabin transforms into something a bit more lustrous.

British Airways First Class
British Airways First.

It really is one of the prettier first class seats. 

British Airways First Class
First class lighting.

Seat functions

One of my favorite aspects of the first class seat is the seat functions because they are some of the simplest controls I’ve ever come across. You simply turn the dial in one direction and you’ll begin to recline until you’re all the way flat. Once you begin to bring the seat back up, the lighting surrounding the circular dial will turn green to let you know you’ve reached the take-off/landing position.

At one point, the controls did appear to malfunction and a red light lit up that said “fault.” This would not let me bring my seat out of the lie-flat position. A flight attendant came to assist and she fixed it by turning the dial toward the lie-flat position and then instantly turning it back the other way. She seemed like she knew exactly what to do, so perhaps that issue comes up fairly frequently. 

You could also adjust the position of individual segments of the seat with buttons found below the dial. The buttons on top of the dial control the two reading lights above your seat. And the buttons on top of the panel control the brightness of the lamp and (when activated) also control the intensity of the blue mood lighting in the window shades.

British Airways First Class
Seat function dial.

Just to the left of the seat dial is the USB port and also the headphone jack. In between those, you’ll find the controls for the window shade.

British Airways First Class
USB, headphone hack, and shade controls.

There’s also a silver panel you have to pull out to access the controller to the in-flight entertainment system. It’s an easy to use controller that also controls the reading lights and call button for service.

British Airways First Class
Overhead reading lights.

One slightly annoying thing about the in-flight entertainment/controller is that the volume bar/meter does not show up on the screen so it’s not easy to gauge your volume level and return to that “perfect” level once you change it. 

British Airways First Class
Controller to IFE and lighting.

Finally, there’s a universal power outlet found near the bottom of your seat.

British Airways First Class
Power outlet.

There’s a nice closet storage compartment that I was able to hang up a pretty thick peacoat in without wrinkling it all up. If you have a heavier jacket you can always request to have your coat stored elsewhere in the cabin.

British Airways First Class
Closet rack.

There’s also an additional hanger next to the television screen.

British Airways First Class
Lots of hanging options.

And finally, there’s an opening at the bottom of the closet for your shoes, which is a nice touch. (Right above it is the netting that you can put small belongings in.) 

British Airways First Class
Shoe rack.

The 747 comes with 15-inch TV screens. You have to pull these screens out of the back of the seat by sliding the notch over near the top of the screen. It’s kind of an annoying thing to have to do since you have to lean all the way forward to bring it out but not a major problem. 

The monitors have touch screen capabilities and responded very well to touch. One thing I enjoyed about the monitors is that they didn’t seem to lose visibility when lying down. It’s a real pain when you can’t tilt a screen but when you lie down, you can hardly make out what’s on the screen. This didn’t seem to be an issue and the monitor was also bright enough to be clearly seen even when the cabin lights were not dimmed. The movie, tv, games, etc., selection appeared to be pretty standard, as well. 

British Airways First Class
15-inch tv screen.


I thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience on board this flight. First, I really like the fact that you can push your (large) tray table forward and with your seat in the proper position, you can still exit and enter your seat. This makes the dining process a lot more enjoyable so you don’t feel like you’re chained to your tray with tons of cutlery, dishes, and condiments on it until you finish your entire meal.

British Airways First Class
Nice leg room even with a tray pulled out.

As for the dining itself, it exceeded expectations. It’s not on the same level as Etihad, Singapore, etc. when it comes to presentation and overall food and drink selections, but it still held its own. For an appetizer, I had the duck rillette with smoked duck breast and kumquat confit and found it tasty (although it wasn’t my favorite thing in the world to eat).

British Airways First Class
Duck rillette with smoked duck breast and kumquat confit.

For the main course, I went with the seared fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef with pearl barley arancini and vegetables. I had a similar beef dish on Etihad’s Apartment but enjoyed this one a lot better as it had more flavor and was cooked more to my liking.

British Airways First Class
Seared fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef.

For dessert, I went with the plain Madagascan vanilla ice cream which apparently was nothing special compared to the caramel brownie that Brad had. I think that’s why the flight attendant asked me if I wanted to pair the ice cream with another dessert, but to avoid giving in to a bit of gluttony, I refused.

British Airways First Class
Madagascan vanilla ice cream
Brad’s salted caramel brownie and profiterole slice delicacy.

A couple of hours later, I requested a cheese plate and some red wine to go along with the assortment. Aside from the beef, this was the highlight of my dining experience, as I loved the different cheeses and crackers. Brad went with the sandwich sampler and had good things to say about them as well.

British Airways First Class

I’d heard a lot of negative things about the dining experience on British Airways, too, but I found it to be a solid experience. It wasn’t quite as extravagant as some of the other premier cabins like Singapore or Etihad but it was still an overwhelmingly positive dining experience and although it lacked a little bit of flair and personal touch found elsewhere, I still felt very satisfied.

Amenity kit

When we boarded our seat, our slippers and a very thin blanket (almost like a shaw) already awaited us. Our flight attendant asked us if we wanted pajamas for the 10.5 hour flight and I obliged since I can’t turn down a comfy pair of PJs.

British Airways First Class

We were some of the last passengers to receive the old amenity kit, since British Airways is offering newly designed kits in 2017. According to one of our flight attendants, the kits for women are getting the major overhaul, while those for men won’t see as many changes.

Inside the kit we had:

  • Razor
  • Lip balm
  • Comb
  • Lotion
  • Ear plugs
  • Socks
  • Eye mask
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste 
  • British Airways “First” writing pen
  • Amenities from The Refinery including:
    • Deodorant
    • Eye gel
    • Shave gel
    • Moisturizer 
British Airways First Class
First class amenity kit.

The headphones given to us were noise canceling headphones, although I’m not sure which brand they were. They were decent quality though and did the trick. I also didn’t have any issues with the volume cutting out due to a poorly connected headphone jack as often happens on flights with even the slightest nudge with the headphone jack.

British Airways First Class
First class Headphones.

The cotton PJs were nice and comfy and much thinner than some other ones like the Givenchy pajamas given on Singapore Suites. I personally prefer the thinner pajamas since it’s much easier to stay cooler. The “First” insignia was a nice added touch, too.  

British Airways First Class
No PJ selfie since my sleep-deprived self looked like sheet!

Turn-down service

When you put the seat down flat, the armrests also lower to the level of your seat creating a wider space for your upper body. Although this only added a couple of inches, I found the little bit of extra room allowed for a much more comfortable experience.

British Airways First Class
Lie-flat seat.

The staff happily made my bed when I requested turndown service. Although the duvet/blanket, and additional pillow they brought out didn’t come out in the most snazzy fashion, I got extremely comfortable in them. One reason I got so comfortable is that British Airways actually kept the cabin cool — a tad bit chilly even. With the cotton PJs and soft pillows and blanket, I was able to get cozy without warming up too much which has been an issue on several long-haul flights with other airlines I’ve flown on. 

British Airways First Class
Turn down service.

Although I actually didn’t sleep on this flight, I was able to stay perfectly comfortable throughout the entire flight due to the coolness, bedding, and room I had. 

British Airways First Class

Just like with the armrests, you also have more room down by your feet created by the additional padding. Again, we’re only talking about inches here but you know how big of a difference a matter of inches can make when it comes to room on a plane.

British Airways First Class
Extra leg room.

I will say that the only real negative is that when you have the TV monitor extended out, you don’t have much room above your legs so you have to remain conscious about that so you don’t end up kneeing your monitor. But despite that, I’d have to rate the turndown service among the best I’ve experienced purely as a matter of all-around comfort when all things are considered. 


Here’s where BA really surprised me. The service from out first class cabin crew was tremendous. While I didn’t feel quite the same level of over-the-top dedication as I felt from my Singapore Suites experience (which nothing has been able to top), the service on this flight was right up there with some of the best. They were super-attentive, willing to assist with whatever was needed, and were extremely pleasant to deal with. I had zero complaints about them. 

British Airways First Class FAQ

What aircraft can you fly British Airways first class on?

787 Dreamliner

Which aircraft has the fewest amount of seats in first class?

787 Dreamliner
Some 777-300s

Where are the Concorde Rooms located?

London Heathrow Terminal 5 and JFK Terminal 7.

What destinations are served by the British Airways A380?

Hong Kong
Los Angeles
San Francisco

Is the first class cabin on the top level or bottom level of the A380?

The first class cabin is on the bottom level.

Final word

Overall, my first class experience on the British Airways 747 exceeded my expectations that admittedly had been set a little bit low based on some reviews. The hard product itself was beautiful, practically designed, and comfortable; the dining and drinks were terrific; and the service was exceptional. While some airlines clearly have British Airways outdone in terms of bars, showers, and other areas, I don’t think “British Airways First” is quite far behind as some make them out to be. 

New Way to Get to Europe for Cheap with British Airways!

There is an amazingly new efficient way to use miles and points to get to Europe. It might not be the best way to get there with maximum style and comfort but if you are trying to preserve points and/or you just want to enjoy Europe for a little while, this could still be a great use of your points. 

British Airways fuel surcharges

British Airways fuel surcharges have always been some of the worst. For example, when using points to fly them on a premium cabin such as first class for business class, these fees could be well over $1,000 for a round-trip ticket.

There are some ways to lower these fees like routing through a city outside of London but for the most part you can anticipate to pay high surcharges when using points to book flights on British Airways. 

However, that is now changing when it comes to many economy redemptions. It looks like that one way flights from the United States to the UK in economy (BA calls it “World Traveller”) on some routes are not being subject to those high surcharges anymore. Flights from JFK to LHR, for example, have fees under $100. 

If you are not aware, British Airways uses a distance-based award chart that makes it very cheap to get to Europe from certain regions of the country, such as the East Coast. For example, during off-peak times you can get from New York (JFK) to London (LHR) for only 13,000 Avios (as shown above). 

So now you have the opportunity to use a very small number of miles AND pay a moderate amount in fees to get over to the UK! Finally, this is more of a true sweet spot. 

Get to London with low fees with BA now.

The deal is even sweeter right now (Amex bonus)

Right now there is the special offer where you get 40% more Avios when you transfer Amex Membership Rewards points through 10/1/19. This means that you’d only need 10,000 Membership Rewards to cover a one-way trip to Europe from the East Coast. That makes economy much more tempting. 

If you were flying from the middle of the country like Houston , you’d need 16,250 Avios which would amount to only 12,000 Membership Rewards for the one-way journey. (Note: Not all routes from the US currently have the lower fees.)

If you’re like me and don’t care for economy, perhaps you could fly just one way in economy and then plan to shell out for some fees on the way back in business or first class? Or maybe look into booking premium cabins with Iberia or Aer Lingus which are known for lower fees. Either way, with this Amex bonus, this could be a real bargain for getting over to Europe. 

Final word 

If you’re okay with flying economy then there’s now a new great way to get to Europe with very reasonable fees. And if you have Amex Membership Rewards, you could get there with as little as 10,000 points and less than $100 in fees which is pretty fantastic. 


The British Airways Visa Signature Card 100K Offer is Back!

The British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card 100,000 Avios offer is back. This is a popular offer for many people but this one of those sign-up bonuses that have different tiers of spending needed to obtain the different bonuses. Also, Avios can sometimes be a tricky currency to utilize so it helps to have a good understanding of this card before applying. Here’s a review of the British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card.

3:40pm CST Update: bonus is switching back and forth from 75K to 100K (as seen from the screen shot below), the 100K change is likely in the works.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

The British Airways Visa 100K Offer

  • Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within the first year from account opening.
  • Earn a further 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within the first year from account opening.
  • Earn a “Travel Together Ticket” after spending $30,000 within the first year of account opening.
  • Earn 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways, Iberia and OpenSkies purchases.
  • Earn 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $95 Annual fee (not waived)
  • Not subject to 5/24

British Airways Visa 100K sign-up bonus

Each spending tier is cumulative, so all you have to do is spend $20,000 total to earn the 100,000 Avios or spend $10,000 total to earn the 75,000 Avios. But earning up to 100,000 Avios will take some work, so it’s best to break this sign-up bonus down to what’s realistic.

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000

This is pretty much the standard for a sign-up bonus, and I think 50,000 Avios is a decent bonus by itself even considering the annual fee. Thus, even if you don’t see yourself making it to $10,000 or $20,000 just earning this bonus could still be an option. Just keep in mind that historically there have been offers with the annual fee waived the first year, but I’m not sure if and when they’ll be coming back.

  • 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000

For an additional $7,000 of spend you get 25,000 more Avios. You’ve got to factor in opportunity costs here as you could hit a few sign-up bonuses with that $7,000 spend that might net you something much better than 25,000 Avios.

  • 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000

The same logic applies here. Consider what you could earn by applying that additional $10,000 elsewhere.

What can you do with Avios?

The Avios award system utilizes a distance-based chart so that your total Avios requirement depends on how far you actually fly.

To get an idea on how to use Avios, read my post about British Airways sweet spots here. As you’ll see in that article, Avios are excellent for short-haul flights around the US/Mexico/and Caribbean, flights from the west coast to Hawaii, economy flights from the East Coast to Europe, and other intra-continent flights around the world in places like South America and Australia.

For example, you could get around the US by using Avios points to book on partner American Airlines with the following rates:

  • 15,000 Avios for routes up to 1,150 miles (e.g., MIA – JFK)
  • 20,000 Avios 1,151 miles to 2,000 miles (e.g., SFO – IAH)
  • 25,000 Avios 2,001 miles to 3,000 miles (e.g., LAX – JFK)

Keep in mind that you usually need to be located near an American Airlines hub to take advantage of short-haul rates. For example, I live in Houston, a United and Southwest hub. If I want to use Avios to get somewhere on American Airlines, it’s going to route me through DFW, MIA, PHX, or some other American hub, which will mean that I have to pay more Avios often making the redemption much less ideal.

Another big complaint with the booking American flights is the lack of SAAver availability. You might struggle to find open awards on American flights and thus not be able to use your Avios.

Aside from that, Avios can still present a lot of value for certain business class routes. I suggest reading my article on using Iberia Avios to get to Europe in business class and you’ll see that you could get roundtrip in business class to Madrid from Boston, New York, and even Chicago for as little as 68,000 Avios and with reasonable fees.

Other popular redemptions might be a round trip on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to the Maldives for 75,000 Avios. For some longer business class routes, the cost of Avios will be higher, but there’s still a lot of value to be had. For example,  you could transfer your Avios to Iberia and for 62,000 Iberia Avios book a flight from from Hong Kong to Sydney one way on Cathay Pacific, which Google Flights has posted as nearly $5,000

So  I definitely think Avios can be a worthwhile currency. 100,000 of them could get you roundtrip in business class to Europe or get your several domestic roundtrips in economy. I suggest playing around with the British Airways award chart to see how much value you think you could get from it.

Cathay Pacific can be a great use of Avios.

Travel Together Ticket

This card offers you an annual companion pass ticket after you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. Keep in mind that this is just a single ticket and doesn’t function like the Southwest Companion Pass you might be familiar with.

There are a number of restrictions for this benefit including:

  1. You can earn one Travel Together Ticket each year.
  2. The voucher can only be used for travel on reward flights operated by British Airways,
  3. Flights can be in any cabin class
  4. All travel must originate in and return to the US (must be round trips)
  5. Your voucher must be exchanged for an outbound ticket departing before the expiry date on your voucher, which is 24 months from date of issue.

The above limitations aren’t that bad but the killer here is British Airways fuel surcharges. The fees for British Airways aren’t always that bad for one way tickets especially if you route through London from another European city. However, the Travel Together tickets have to be roundtrip and have to route from the US and return to it which pretty much guarantees you’re going to be paying for a lot in fees.

Economy fees from Houston to London roundtrip were around $457 per person plus 32,500 Avios for off-peak awards. Flights are getting so cheap to Europe now and with Norwegian and even IAG/British Airways subsidiary Level coming into the market, I’d struggle to pay that much in fees and points knowing I could potentially find a fare just as cheap or cheaper by paying straight cash.

Thus, many people turn to premium cabins to get the best value for the Travel Together Ticket.

British Airways First Class
British Airways First Class.

To get a roundtrip first class ticket you’d need 170,000 Avios from Houston to London. That ticket would also cost you about $1,256.79. So that X2 and you’re looking at a total cost of about $2,513 in fees. That’s just too much in fees for me to find attractive and while I really enjoyed first class on British Airways, I just wouldn’t ever want to pay that much in fees.

For that reason, I personally wouldn’t go chasing this companion ticket since I could put $27,000 of spend on other sign-up bonuses and rack up a ton.

Final word

This is a decent sign-up bonus and it really helps that it’s not subject to 5/24. Avios can be valuable you just have to know the sweet spots and know how to minimize the fees to get more value. Although I’m not big on the Travel Together perk of this card, I’d probably still consider applying for this card if I had any potential use for Avios.

The British Airways Avios Award Chart Guide (Redemption Calculator) [2020]

British Airways is a well-known airline that offers some great redemption opportunities.

British Airways Avios is a partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. They also have a co-branded credit card with Chase, making it pretty easy for people to earn Avios. But because the British Airways Avios chart is distance-based, some people are still not clear on how the redemptions work.

This article will explain how the British Airways Avios Award Chart works and how to best take advantage of it with sweet spots and help from the reward redemption calculator. 

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 

British Airways distance-based awards

The BA award chart utilizes a distance-based redemption scheme.

This means that your mileage requirements are determined based on the length of miles flown for a single journey (i.e., a one-way journey). Compare this to traditional award charts that determine your mileage requirements based on the different regions you are traveling to.

This is simple enough to figure out but this chart also goes by both a peak and an off-peak calendarTwo thirds of the year is off-peak, so the majority of the prices will be cheaper throughout the year. When booking reward flights, you can choose all peak dates, all off-peak dates, or a mixture of the two.

If you book a partner award with Avios, you’ll be going by the off-peak rates (unless you’re booking Aer Lingus or Iberia flights).

However, if you’re booking partner awards with connections between two or more oneworld airlines, this partner chart will apply. This chart can result in significantly more expensive award prices at times, so I would generally try to avoid using Avios to book flights with two or more oneworld partners.

You can see this oneworld Avios partner chart below.

Avios Award Chart with two or more oneworld partners.

The British Airways Avios award chart

Below is the British Airways distance-based award chart.

British Airways Avios Award Chart -- BA Award Chart
The British Airways Avios Award Chart.

Reward flight calculator

British Airways also has a Reward Flight Calculator you can use to help figure out your mileage requirements.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Calculating mileage requirements with the Avios chart

To find your mileage requirement, you’ll calculate the length of each each segment of a given flight and then find the corresponding zone for that distance. If a connecting segment puts you above a certain zone, then you will have to pay that price even though the straight-line distance between your origin and destination falls in a lower zone.

Here’s an example of how to determine the Avios needed by the Avios chart:

  • Determine if you have you are flying with two or more oneworld partners — if so use the partner BA award chart.
  • Determine if you are choosing off-peak or peak dates (remember, these can be mixed)
    • I’ll go with off-peak for this example.
  • Determine the distance of each segment of your journey. So if you were flying JFK-LHR-OSL, you would determine the mileage between JFK and LHR (3,452 miles) and then again for LHR and OSL (751 miles).
  • Determine the BA award chart zones of your segments and their corresponding Avios requirements
    • (3,452 miles = Zone 5 = 13,000 Avios) and
    • (751 miles = Zone 2 = 7,500 miles).
  • By adding up the Avios required for each zone, you would determine your total Avios needed (13,000 + 7,500 = 20,500) Avios.

This award structure allows you to string together multiple stop-overs for cheap, which is always something to think about doing with BA Avios.

To figure out the distance of each of your one-way journeys, use the Great Circle Mapper.

*You should note that British Airways explicitly removed the Boston to Dublin route from Zone 4 to Zone 5 even though that route is under 3,000 miles. Also, short-haul flight within North America under 651 miles will be counted in Zone 2 and will require 7,500 miles.

Best uses for the British Airways Avios award chart

Now that you know how to find the prices for different awards, let’s take a look at some good uses of BA Avios that really show the different ways to maximize the BA award chart.

1. East Coast to Europe

  • Economy
    • Off-peak: 26,000 Avios
    • Peak: 40,000 Avios
  • Business:
    • Off-peak: 100,000 Avios
    • Peak: 120,000 Avios

Even after the 2016 devaluation, the British Airways reward chart offer some decent rates to Europe. The above rate could get you a roundtrip to Dublin from the following cities:

  • New York City
  • Chicago
  • Hartford
  • Washington DC
  • Toronto 

The fees on thee flights can be a bit high even when you use your Avios to book AA flights to Europe. Below is a roundtrip flight in economy using 55,000 Avios. Notice the Avios requirement is higher than 40,000 — that’s because these flights route from BOS-JFK-DUB. That small, quick connection through JFK tacks on 15,000 Avios. That’s something you definitely want to avoid.

The total fees for a roundtrip to Dublin with Avios on American Airlines comes out to $403. That’s pretty high considering the route below doesn’t even touch London (LHR) where fees usually spike.

It’s important to be aware that Iberia actually has better business class redemptions to Europe for many cities. These redemptions often require fewer points and less fees.

For example, look at the BA booking for a roundtrip from MIA to MAD flying in Iberia. The first image shows that BA would require 105,000 miles and over $1,000 in fees. Meanwhile, if you booked the same exact flight with Iberia, you would save $800!

Fees booking with British Airways Avios.
Fees booking with Iberia Avios.

So it could make sense to transfer your Avios over to Iberia if you were flying from Miami to Madrid for example. You can read more about those Iberia business class sweet spots here.

2. North America to Hawaii

  • Economy: 25,000
  • Business: 75,000

When flying from the West Coast to Hawaii, Avios offers one of the best redemptions. 12,000 Avios for a one way is fantastic and only Singapore Airlines beats out Avios. As a point of comparison, programs like United, Delta, and American would require over 20,000 miles for a one way for the same route! 

For this particular redemption, you’ll be flying with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, which gives you access to a number of departing locations all along the West Coast and Alaska.

Availability for these routes can be very limited though so you’ll need to be very flexible. (Being able to book on short notice helps to take advantage of this route.) Fees are also negligible as shown by the below $5.60 fee for a one-way trip in economy.

Note: if you used Iberia Avios for this redemption you could get it as low as 62,500 Avios roundtrip (but you can’t book one ways on American with Iberia.

3) North America to South America

  • Economy: 40,000+

The British Airways Avios chart can offer you some of the best redemption rates for getting to South America. You’ll usually be flying on Latam or American Airlines.

Take a look at economy rates for getting to two popular South American destinations, Lima and Santiago Chile from Texas and New York.

  • 40,000  Avios -DFW/JFK to LIM
  • 50,000  Avios – DFW/JFK to SCL

The distances between these destinations stays in Zones 5 and 6 of the Avios award chart so the rates are pretty reasonable. But the real sweet spot is getting to destinations in the southern part of South America, such as Santiago.

25,000 miles from DFW/JFK to SCL for a one-way in economy is among the best redemptions available for this route and a great sweet spot. And as shown by the MIA to LIM flight below, the fees can be very low when heading to South America with Avios.

Fees are very reasonable — only $20 for a one way business class flight from MIA to LIM using Avios on Latam.

4) North America to Mexico or the Caribbean

  • Economy: 15,000+
  • Business: 30,000+

Using British Airways Avios to get to Mexico and some Caribbean destinations can be a great way to use them. As you can tell from a couple of the examples I’ve posted, the deals can be great even if you are flying from the Northeast or Midwest. The fees are pretty reasonable too (remember, many Caribbean destinations impose mandatory fees on flights). 

Here are some roundtrip prices:

Getting to Mexico

  • 15,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
  • 20,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN

The DFW to CUN for 7,500 Avios one-way is extremely cheap. United would require 10,000 more miles for a one-way and American would require 2X the miles.

Getting to the Caribbean (Jamaica)

  • 20,000 Avios – ORD to MBJ (Jamaica)
  • 25,000 Avios – LAX to MBJ
$80 in fees + 15,000 Avios for a roundtrip to Mexico.

When flying from hubs in the southern part of the country, the redemptions for business class are an absolute steal to Mexico and the Caribbean, assuming you can find direct shots. Even when you’re departing from northern states, the redemption rates are still very competitive.

Here are some roundtrip prices:

  • 30,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
  • 60,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN

To show you how good this sweet spot is for the BA award chart, United would require 60,000 miles for a roundtrip business class redemption from DFW to CUN which is 30,000 more than Avios (and twice the price)! 

5) Short-haul economy flights in North America

  • Economy: 15,000+

The recent devaluation to short-haul flight redemptions with Avios was a pretty big hit to the program but there’s still some pretty good redemptions to be had. The devaluation basically did away with the first zone and made it so that the cheapest short-haul flight in economy would require 7,500 Avios, and business and first class were changed to Zone 2’s requirements as well.

Even with that devaluation, it’s still a good deal to use Avios for flights 2,000 miles and under in the U.S. because you can save 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Here are some roundtrip prices:

  • 15,000 Avios for routes up to 1,150 miles (e.g., MIA – JFK)
  • 20,000 Avios 1,151 miles to 2,000 miles (e.g., SFO – IAH)
  • 25,000 Avios 2,001 miles to 3,000 miles (e.g., LAX – JFK)

Other domestic carriers like Delta, United, and American would require several thousand more miles to book these short-haul flights.

The key with these is that you usually need to live by an American Airlines hub in order to take advantage of these redemptions. Otherwise, you’ll have to add connecting flights and those connections will cost you more Avios.

Booking American Airlines flights with BA miles is still a good deal with fees only at $5.60.

6) Intra-continental flights in South America

Avios can also be used efficiently to book intra-continental flights in South America. I’ve recently used Avios to book some pretty otherwise expensive flights between Lima and Santiago. The particular flight I booked costed $2,000 for a one-way business class ticket. I used 20,000 Avios for a 10 cent per point redemption, a great value that you usually find on higher-end first class suites.

But even the economy redemptions can be great because they are so much cheaper than other options. The below redemption is cheaper than what any other program would offer for this route. And it’s also a great redemption since a one-way economy could cost you $500+.

Economy one-way from LIM to SCL with Avios. Only $30 in fees.

These kind of redemptions can be had in other continents, too. I’d always do some research on One World partners in Africa, Australia, and Asia in order to seek out valuable Avios redemptions.

7) Creative Routings 

Sometimes it’s cheaper to book multiple segments with BA Avios than it is do book a straight shot.

One common example is that it requires 50,000 Avios to get from LAX to Sydney, Australia. However, if you broke this up so that you fly from LAX -> Hawaii -> Sydney, the total Avios required would be 37,500 Avios due to quirks in the award chart.

Always be on the lookout for sweet spots like this. 

Final word

Avios are actually a very valuable currency, especially if you’re located near an AA hub. The British Airways Avios Award Chart has several sweet spots that you can utilize to save a ton in miles and points and also allows you to get away with low fees. Generally, long-haul premium awards are not going to offer much value but as shown above short-haul and medium-haul flights can be some of the most valuable award redemptions.

Cheap British Airways First Class Fares Available

If you were planning on dropping some cash on a roundtrip ticket from Europe right now might be a good time to think about flying first class on British Airways. There are several fantastic cash prices for roundtrips from Europe to North America on British Airways first class that you can take advantage of right now. Google Flights is showing the prices going on throughout the beginning of 2018 for many of these destinations. These do not appear to be mistake fares as far as I can tell but you might want to proceed with a little bit of caution just to be on the safe side.

The routes are flying out of various European cities, so you can search around on Google Flights to find a route that works for you but here are some examples:

  • Oslo (OSL) to Los Angeles (LAX) $2,949
  • Oslo (OSL) to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) $2,829
  • Oslo (OSL) to Miami (MIA) $2,801
  • Oslo (OSL) to Houston (IAH) $3,175
  • Copenhagen (CPH) to Miami (MIA) $2,561
  • Some flights directly from London under $4,000

The prices are at least $2,000-$4,000 more when departing from the US, so this deal will work best for those who are flying from Europe, especially Scandinavia. Unfortunately, one way awards from Europe are also very high, so again, you’ll only find these ultra-low prices when departing roundtrip from Europe. For many routes, business class fares are a couple of hundred dollars cheaper.

As a point of reference, a roundtrip first class award on British Airways to the US directly from London (LHR) could easily cost $12,000+ at peak pricing so some of these are exceptional bargains.

I really enjoyed flying British Airways first class on board the 747 (which services some of the above routes). While some don’t care too much for the cabin, I was surprised how comfortable the seats/bedding were and how pleasant the service was.

British Airways first class.

These flights could potentially earn you many miles with other programs. OMAAT writes about the implications of crediting miles from these flights:

“Do keep in mind that these flights are marketed by American and include travel on British Airways. This has a few implications:

  • If you’re crediting to American AAdvantage, you’ll still earn EQDs based on the actual spend, since the ticket will be on American ticket stock
  • If you want to credit to Alaska Mileage Plan, technically you can’t credit an American Airlines codeshare on British Airways to Mileage Plan, though in practice the miles will still typically post based on the airline operating the flight; this is extremely tempting, given that Mileage Plan offers 450% redeemable miles for such tickets, without factoring in elite bonuses”



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