Along with one of the devaluations of British Airways Executive Club in the last decade, BA made a commitment to award seat availability on every flight. In practice that meant they’d load award space when flights first become bookable.
Many flights offer more than the minimum promised award space, but this was a way of knowing that with enough planning it would be possible to use British Airways Avios – and since these are saver award seats, it’s equally possible to use miles on partner airline currencies like American AAdvantage, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, etc.
BA announced that they are doubling their committed minimum award seat availability for coach and business class, and introducing minimum availability for premium economy. This is effective immediately for travel July 28, 2021 onward.
|Cabin||Change||Current guaranteed reward seat availability per flight (flights pre 28 July)||New guaranteed reward seat availability per flight (flights 28 July onwards)|
|Euro Traveller (short-haul economy)||Doubling||4||8|
|Club Europe (short-haul business class)||Doubling||2||4|
|World Traveller (long-haul economy)||Doubling||4||8|
|World Traveller Plus (long-haul premium economy)||New guaranteed availability||0||2|
|Club World (long-haul business class)||Doubling||2||4|
You don’t actually want to redeem for long haul economy travel, aside from its relative discomfort. That’s because British Airways adds fuel surcharges to award redemption, meaning that you’re paying the bulk of the cost of a coach ticket in cash still even when you’re using your miles.
Overall this move is great PR and helpful for planning purposes. It costs BA relatively little. International travel remains significantly depressed, and UK travel more so than US travel. There’s likely to be plenty of unsold seat inventory on BA for some time. Declaring that those seats will be available to customers spending miles simply describes the business reality.
As with most things in the airline industry, things are guaranteed until they aren’t. When United Airlines rolled out its award chart devaluation coming out of bankruptcy in the spring of 2006 they announced guaranteed award availability on every flight also. That quietly disappeared. You should read this as BA’s current practice rather than any warranty of future behavior.