This summer British Airways doubled its award availability commitment. Each airline opens award space on flights on its own schedule, if they open awards at all. British Airways is unique in promising to make awards available on every flight when the schedule loads.
They even promise 4 seats in business class on all flights. The basic commitment stems from a promise the airline announced a decade ago when devaluing the Executive Club program, to make the changes go down a bit more easily for members.
However while there’s promised availability for coach, premium economy, and business class there’s no such commitment to make award seats available in first class. However first class awards are one of the best use cases for British Airways redemption when traveling long haul. That’s because with to the moon fuel surcharges, you can make the case that a first class award is worthwhile – in effect a discounted premium ticket that doesn’t earn miles, along with a confirmed mileage upgrade. It’s usually a better value than business class.
Right now though there’s pretty much zero availability for first class awards across most routes, even though British Airways has been quite good about making first class redemptions available in the past. I checked the following from today through end of schedule:
- There’s nothing to London from Austin, Miami, New York, Los Angeles
- There’s 1 day in October where there’s a first class award seat San Francisco – London, but that’s it through end of schedule
- There are a handful of days available for Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago O’Hare to London for the entire schedule
American does make awards on its own flights available New York JFK – London Heathrow for 72,000 – 78,000 miles (but not generally as saver awards at 80,000, so not bookable with partner miles). British Airways doesn’t.
They’re not making seats available when schedules open, and they’re not making unsold first class seats available close to departure. Whether this is a new philosophy that sticks, or a temporary phenomenon as travel restarts, I cannot say.