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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:
- Given how easily available their awards are, it can make sense to pay the fees.
- When booking a first class award I view it like buying a deeply discounted coach ticket that doesn’t earn miles, and redeeming for a triple upgrade with my points.
- I do pretty well since my daughter is a lap infant and they only charge 10% of the miles, taxes and fees for an infant ticket instead of 10% of a paid fare like U.S. airlines do.
- The newly refreshed British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card offers a new statement credit benefit that helps offset taxes and surcharges, in addition to a new cardmember offer to earn up to 100,000 Avios.
What Head for Points found, on U.S. routes for business class, is as follows:
|City||Days Available||% Availability|
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|
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.
Good info! I live in SFO so zero availability in F! No need to collect Avios!
@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%).
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.
…and at ZERO days of availability and ZERO percent….
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
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
Gary, can you explain the triple upgrade, please, and why that might be advantageous?
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.
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?”
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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!
BA Business Class awards for TATL travel are a mediocre product with a high cash cost.
Of course there’s availability.
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.
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.
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
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.
@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.
Being in NorCal it’s no wonder that all of those Avios I collected sit unused…