Use Avios to upgrade your flights

Im a sucker for premium cabins, especially when there’s a deal to be had.

British Airways Reward Flights

If you weren’t aware, British Airways take the piss when it comes redeeming Avios for flights. Take the above, for example, Off-peak LHR-LAX. BA think it’s okay to charge 170,000 Avios and £668.87 in taxes and fees. That goes up to 200,000 Avios for peak pricing. (Side note, the image shows as fewer Avios due to me only having 160,000 Avios in my account. I have 8 long haul flights booked in first using Avios, hence the low balance).

Of that £668.87, £238.87 is taxes that governments charge, the other £430 is “British Airways’ Surcharge”, that can be read as the fee British Airways charge to redeem Avios (Even if BA say they don’t charge to redeem Avios).

If you’re not that wellclued up on the whole Avios game, that’s loads…

Cash and upgrade

Alternatively, you could buy yourself a full fare cash ticket in business class for £975.52. Then, permitting there was Avios availability, you could upgrade both the outbound and inbound flights from business to first class for 22,500 each way for off-peak and 25,000 for peak.

Beer mat maths time

Booking a cash ticket may cost you £975.52 which is an extra £310 over a rewards redemption. You’re saving at least 149,874 Avios. For someone like myself, With a tiny bit of work i could get a good £10,000 worth of value out of that many Avios when coupled with an AmEx 2for1.

The Kicker

The best part, because it’s a full cash fare you earn Tier Points and Avios. As a blue member of the BA Executive Club, you’d earn at least 20,124 Avios and 440 Tier Points. As a gold, it would be at least 33,200 Avios.

If you upgraded both the outbound and inbound to first, the full thing would cost you £975.52 and 24,874 Avios. That’s the worst case scenario being a blue member and on peak dates. This doesn’t just work for Business to First. Premium Economy can be upgraded to business too.

The calculations you’ll need.

Head over to BA Redemption Finder and type in the route you want and the class you want to fly in. So for the above example, it would be London Heathrow to Los Angeles International in First Class.

As you can see it will give you an indicator of how many avios will be required in both peek (100K) and offpeak (75K). That is listed as each way.

Then do the same search again but for 1 cabin lower, i.e. business class.

Peak being 75K Avios and off peak being 62.5k Avios each way.

To upgrade you would simply pay the difference in avios. In this case it would be 25K Avios at peak each way or 22.5k Avios off peak each way.


My best advice would be to look for some cheap BA flights in premium economy (Circa £400) then use Avios points to upgrade to business class. It works out around 30K Each way for LAX and about 24K for the likes of New York and Washington.

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