British Airways First Class Awards Wide Open San Diego – London

British Airways is putting a Boeing 777-300ER on their San Diego – London flight effective March 27. That means they’ll have a first class cabin, which they didn’t before. And first class award availability is really good on the route once that happens.

Here’s the British Airways 777 first class product.

There’s fantastic availability for two first class seats on the British Airways non-stop San Diego – London Heathrow.

Oddly, no first class availability Wednesdays or Thursdays. Wednesday I would expect to be a day they’d least likely sell the seats. In fact it made me wonder if the flight were going non-daily (no, it will be operated 7 days a week) or if the aircraft change was only 5 days a week (no, it’s every day). Strange.

There’s good availability in the other direction, London – San Diego, as well — although after the first month availability early in the week dries up, and availability gets less good as the calendar progresses

Award costs:

  • American AAdvantage: 62,500 miles each way
  • Alaska Airlines: 70,000 miles each way
  • British Airways: 85,000 or 100,000 points each way depending on date of travel
  • LAN: 250,000 km roundtrip

American Express, Chase, and Starwood points transfer to British Airways. Starwood points also transfer to American and Alaska. Starwood to American is your best bet because you can put the award on a 5 day hold and then make the transfer, which should put the miles in your account before the hold expires.

Of course unless you’re using LAN kilometers (which transfer from Starwood at 1:1.5, but their award chart is still expensive and call center frustrating) you will pay fuel surcharges in addition to taxes on the award.

For the outbound expect to pay $479.80 per person.

For the return expect to pay $569.90 per person (since you’re paying the UK premium cabin departure tax as well):

And be sure to book two one ways instead of roundtrip (unless you’re using LAN kilometers) otherwise you’ll pay even higher fuel surcharges. For a roundtrip taxes and fees come to:

Fuel surcharges are high but especially for those on the West Coast where non-stop awards to Europe are tough to come by in premium cabins, they can be worth it (sometimes).

If booking with American miles, you can include flights on either American or Alaska Airlines to get down to San Diego provided the routing is consistent with British Airways fare rules and doesn’t exceed 25% over the published maximum permitted mileage for flights between your city of origin and destination.

If booking with Alaska miles, you can include Alaska Airlines flights to get down to San Diego.

If booking with British Airways points then each flight segment is priced separately.

And of course in any case you can connect beyond London on British Airways or other partners if award space to do so is available.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @johnny33, I hadn’t actually seen this elsewhere yet. And, I was quickly able to book 4 F seats that the owner of our company needed for his summer travel. Thanks, Gary!

  2. Gary, while the SAN flights are now getting F, it appears that BA has opened the flood gates on F awards, I can find them out of PHX (with a connection to a city that has F) all month in april.

    When it comes to blogging, either you or Lucky post the same thing when it comes to awards bookings. I really have to wonder what the difference is between you two and should I read both blog’s? So far the only blog I haven’t seen it on yes, is the points guy but that will change tomorrow morning… I like your blog Gary but as others have pointed out you and Lucky really do post almost the identical information..

  3. @Tony tomorrow morning more than one newspaper is going to cover the Republican Presidential debate. Lucky and I both cover miles and points, so when there’s news it is not surprising that we would each write about it. I like getting my political news from more than one source. Lucky and I have different perspectives, different emphasis, but YMMV of course!

    And it’s not BA first class that’s rare, it’s West Coast non-stops. If you had PHX-London non-stop every day that would be noteworthy.

  4. I see one of these flights available close to my travel times. I want to use AA miles and I can put it on a 5 day Hold to reserve the international leg. But I don’t quite have my connecting legs identified. How do I go about adding additional legs either before or after the international segment? Can I modify the Hold Reservation on the website or does it require a phone call to AA? Will that cost phone booking charges for someone with no AA status?

    How long would it take for the seat to get back into inventory if I cancelled the Hold and tried to rebuild the itinerary with the International leg and connecting legs? But then AA my not price it correctly either, I guess.


  5. @Mike you will have to call if you want to modify a held reservation, and you will wind up paying a telephone booking fee. If you cancel the hold it is not guaranteed to go back into inventory.

  6. How is the first class product on this bird? How much of an upgrade over business class. Trying to decide if it’s worth the fuel fees, though it is non-stop.

  7. Such whiners, parasites feeding for free. Boo Hoo, so you get some of the same completely free info on two blogs. Rule should be this, if you find the content worthwhile thank the blogger or don’t make any comment, one of the two. If you don’t find the content worthwhile or have read it elsewhere don’t say a word, have some class and move on. Last I checked you aren’t paying a subscription to Gary for this info. Don’t act entitled.

    By the way, thank you for the SD BA info. I live in SD, have a bunch of Avios and AA miles but with a family of 4 it’s difficult to swing 1st class without using all the points up. Still I enjoy reading the info even if it doesn’t work for me. Thanks for the blog.

  8. @Winston I’d say British Airways is not one of the better first class products, but first is still better than business (all aisle access, less crowded). You get pajamas and a nice amenity kit. Food is better than in business, champagne is good.

  9. 125,000 miles + $1,200 is, to me, simply not worth it for what you get – at best a business+ product. It may look ok compared to the business- product that is Club World but there are a lot of better uses for AAdvantage miles (and cash!). Now if only AA would open up some award availability……

  10. Only a fool would pay $1000+ in YQ to experienc C+. I mean there are paid C fare tickets around that price.

  11. @Joe please tell me where I can find a quality business class paid ticket to Europe from the West Coast for $1000? Yes, we’ve seen $1500 off season 24 hour fare war deals, and glitches. But tell me where you can find a summer product at this price? I’d love to know!

  12. $1200 plus 125K AA miles is ridiculous. I need to fly to London but for the privilege of using the 125K miles I’ve been saving for a couple years, I have to pay $1200. Why doesn’t AA ever open up first class awards on there own flights so we don’t have to fly BA?

  13. @Gary I’m not trying to be clever or awkward here…just asking a question:

    You’re asking Joe where you can find “a quality business class paid ticket to Europe from the West Coast for $1000?” but isn’t that the wrong question?

    In the miles & points world AAdvantage miles have a value – I value them around 1.8c/mile – so shouldn’t we be equating these awards to a cash fare of $1,000 + (125,000 x $0.018) = $3,250?

  14. @Ziggy – my question was about the extreme claim he was making. And British Airways first class, while not at the level of the better Asian carriers, is a first class product and very much not business class.

    You’re going to pay taxes on an award even if it doesn’t have fuel surcharges.

    I value American miles at 1.7 cents. So let’s say $2125. And $1043.70 in taxes and fees. So $3168.70. Which is a heck of a deal on a first class ticket.

    It is absolutely not for everyone, I think I make that clear in the post. It’s not as good a deal as $2125 in miles + $352.70 in taxes (what you’d pay without fuel surcharges).

    The $691 in fuel surcharges for one-ways in each direction are absolutely a big deal, the reason for highlighting them here.

  15. Gary, I’m using to book these flights. How come on a multi-city award when I add a segment like LAS-SAN, then SAN-LHR, with a ‘stop-over’ in SAN of less then 24 hours, it charges me miles for both legs individually. Shouldn’t that really only cost a single 62.5k award for both legs? Do I call to get that repriced correctly? Or am I wrong about award pricing? Thanks.

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