Where to Find Transatlantic Business Class Award Space 88% of the Time

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British blog Head for Points looked at data on how often British Airways was making two business and first class award seats available on each of its routes.

British Airways offers excellent award availability in premium cabins. They add fuel surcharges to awards, sure, however:

What Head for Points found, on U.S. routes for business class, is as follows:

City Days Available % Availability
New York 309 88%
Boston 305 87%
Washington Dulles 278 79%
Philadelphia 217 62%
Chicago O’Hare 211 60%
Houston 201 57%
Baltimore 198 57%
Atlanta 188 54%
Austin 182 52%
Los Angeles 163 47%
Dallas Fort-Worth 149 43%
Denver 148 42%
Nashville 142 41%
Miami 125 36%
Las Vegas 123 35%
Pittsburgh 121 35%
New Orleans 106 30%
San Jose 101 29%
Seattle 77 22%
San Francisco 69 20%
Orlando 64 18%
Tampa 56 16%
San Diego 51 15%
Charleston 31 9%
Phoenix 23 7%


british airways new business class bed
New Business Class, Credit: British Airways

This is some amazing availability. In general it confirms my impressions that West Coast routes are hard (though look at Los Angeles!), and that non-daily routes to secondary cities are tough, but otherwise you’ll find better award space on BA than on most other airlines.

Not all routes offer first class, however here are those that do, ranked:

City Days Available % Availability
Boston 252 72%
Austin 130 37%
Philadelphia 114 33%
Denver 95 27%
New York 65 19%
Dallas Fort-Worth 58 17%
Chicago O’Hare 47 13%
Houston 37 11%
Atlanta 34 10%
Miami 33 9%
Nashville 26 7%
Seattle 17 5%
Washington Dulles 15 4%
San Diego 7 2%
Phoenix 4 1%
Los Angeles 2 1%
Las Vegas 1 0%
San Francisco 0 0%

British Airways First Class

The amount of availability out of Boston is unbelievable. I’m lucky to live in Austin, since British Airways is the only carrier offering non-stop transatlantic flights with a first class cabin (Lufthansa and Norwegian currently serve Austin – Europe and KLM will be joining as well). That’s really appealing to me, since traveling with my daughter and getting off an international flight without another segment to fly is super helpful.

British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. @Gary —> any *rational* reason why SFO and every other West Coast city gets the short end of the stick for both F and J? Even LAX, which admittedly is the best city for J on the West Coast still is at 47%, not very good when compared to JFK (88%), BOS (87%), and IAD (79%).

  2. The % availability seems to use days of the year (365) as the denominator. Since some cities don’t have daily service, if you instead use the days-route-is-flown, the numbers get even better. For example, New Orleans is listed at 30%, but with 5x flights weekly, over 40% of the flights have availability.

  3. This is a great solution to when you need to get rid off a pile of cash and miles in a pinch, and also want to be taken advantage off, it satisfies all three of your needs…:p

  4. I can’t believe PHX award availability is only at single digit even when they fly the 747 daily! Wonder why LH/AF/KL doesn’t start offering nonstop service from PHX to their respective hubs if BA can sell that many premium seats

  5. Gary, can you explain the triple upgrade, please, and why that might be advantageous?

  6. I’ve seen as many as 5 seats in F available on a single flight. We grabbed 3 for next year flying BCN->LHR->BOS the taxes & fees were $288 pp. Higher than I would like but manageable.

  7. Nice. Vegas has 1 day. I looked into the future availability and it’s better than that. Of course, since first is really business, should we refer to business as “premium something something?”

  8. Why BA and not others? Really not interested in paying lots of cash. An article on showing how to get awards on other airlines that don’t have a huge fuel charge and other chargers

  9. Those 8 across seats aren’t such a great deal for 57K-60K points plus $500-$600 for J one way. Not sure where they’re at with installing the new seats, but I’ll pass until that happens. Plus they want another $100 to reserve a seat if you don’t have status.

  10. We are in north Norway now, got here from. BOS via LHR (bit of Wideroe) for some discount avios and some AA miles. The $300 each in total fees (all flights in J) is a bargain. Heading home from HEL in a couple weeks also in J for a short bit of cash and avios. Keep it coming. All BA and AA. Love it

  11. This is slightly misinterpreting the data that was provided by Head for Points. It’s not “how often British Airways was making two business and first class award seats available on each of its routes”.

    BA offers two business class seats on every flight when the booking window opens (355 days?). I think there’s also 4 WT+ seats guaranteed and, if memory serves, 1 first where the cabin is offered.

    What this exercise did was look how many days still had two business or first class seats available over the year from the date of the research. Therefore, routes with high availability are either not having the original 2 seats taken up (on all flights, where there are multiple daily frequencies) OR are having additional inventory released.

    It seems to chime with experience, particualrly in regard to how scarce US West Coast and Florida availabilty is.

    Boston is news to me though (I guess I’d never looked). Makes BA F/J then a Jet Blue cash fare an attractive option for Florida.

  12. Really not sure why you keep referring to these tickets as “deeply discounted” coach prices. Those can be had for $350 round trip fairly often these days. BA surcharges in J/F are significantly more than that.

  13. It’s unbelievable because its so expensive. Can’t get to London in biz for under two grand in fees. and Often coach is more expensive in fees than just buying a ticket. Of course there’s availability. Is anyone surprised?

  14. I feel like you and I will be fighting over those first class out of Austin seats 🙂 I love BA first. Even with the new seats in business, the other perks of first are just amazing!

  15. BA Business Class awards for TATL travel are a mediocre product with a high cash cost.

    Of course there’s availability.

  16. The headline really deserves a HUGE asterisk because:

    (1) Using miles requires a co-pay of $500-600 or more per person roundtrip for business or first class seats. This is MASSIVE compared to most airlines which are <$100 RT

    (2) The seats are significantly inferior compared to the current standard on AA, DL, UA (admittedly not 100% rolled out for all)

    That being said BA certainly does better from most and also has something like 20 gateways which means there is almost always space on some TATL flight to London.

  17. @Jason

    I just think it’s a bigger proportion of people pay for J between West Coast and London. Especially for the somewhat dated BA Club World seats.

    I would never pay for J, much less mediocre Club World between JFK and LHR. A lot of companies that decide whether to pay for J based on flight time will only pay for Y on that route as well. It’s such a short flight. You barely have any time to sleep, even if you don’t do meal service.

    I do pay for Club World between SFO and LHR. The flight is long enough that I can eat dinner, get a full nights rest, wake up, eat breakfast and touch down in London ready to go. A lot of people criticize Club World, but at least the seat is comfortable to sleep in, and that makes it worth it on West Coast routes.

    BA can easily fill a cabin with paying J customers between SFO and LHR. They aren’t going to be offering those seats up for points.

  18. Going to ams and return from paris sept 2020. Other than BA who else has business seat for points to Europe? Enjoy your articles. Thanks

  19. Been at the Lounge at BOS , was not really impressed with the lunch there. Everything is also self serve. A BOS-LHR coach can cost the same $$ amount as Business paid with miles and Fuel Surcharge. The flight over is usually a 6pm to 6am into LHR 6.5 hr flight.

  20. @Walter Petersen: I just booked 2 J seats for August on DL DTW-LHR for 80K each plus $5.60 tax. You never know when DL is a bargain or not.

  21. Being in NorCal it’s no wonder that all of those Avios I collected sit unused…

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