British Airways dropped first class from a handful of routes, but they’ve changed their mind and first is coming back. And that creates an opportunity for award travel.
Here’s what prompted my realizing it: MileCards wrote that British Airways award availability was wide open in first class for next summer between Los Angeles and London and Seattle and London.
That seemed strange to me, it certainly hadn’t been my experience. And I search for a lot of awards.
West Coast – Europe non-stop premium cabin awards are tough to get, even on British Airways which has a ton of premium cabin seats and which adds fuel surcharges onto awards.
Perhaps it just happened and there was a huge short term opportunity to grab a couple of first class awards?
So I went about searching myself for these non-stop West Coast – London flights, looking for two passengers in first class, and I came up empty.
Here’s what I found for July, 2 passengers in first class, flying Los Angeles – London non-stop.
I then searched the non-stops Seattle – London, and came up with nothing for two passengers in first class as well.
Then I went back to the MileCards post and realized that blog was using AA.com as well to show award availability… and their screen shots included the search box details, which indicated that the filter for non-stops wasn’t set.
On the Los Angeles route there’s availability in first class because American has a hub there which can get passengers to other British Airways international gateways, e.g. flying Los Angeles – Atlanta (American domestic first class) – London.
And on the Seattle route there’s availability every day because:
- American and Alaska are partners, and Alaska offers good availability Seattle-Vancouver
- Vancouver – London has first class seats pretty much every day available.
Here’s July for Vancouver – London first class for two awards:
And here’s what it looks like as we scroll into August:
British Airways stopped selling first class on the Vancouver – London route. And indeed there’s only business class for sale… until March 29. That’s when there’s paid first class inventory available again.
The seat map loaded for the flight shows a first class cabin again as well.
It seems that the Boeing 747s that still had old first class and were selling without first — Vancouver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Cape Town — will all get converted and offer BA’s New First. Vancouver converts in March, and the other three convert in October 2015. A smattering of dates have opened up on those routes for November as well.
Routing up to Vancouver lets you get the long haul West Coast – London in first. Or connecting to other British Airways gateways on the East Coast works as well.
Sadly availability on the Los Angeles and San Francisco flights remain non-existent.
But if the Vancouver flight can work for you… it could be well worth it.
- American and Alaska offer connecting flights you can include in your award.
- Fuel surcharges will be a stopper for many, but framed as a discounted non-mileage earning paid coach ticket with a triple upgrade to first using miles it may well make great sense.