How To Book BA Business Class for Less – Eg. Return to West Coast USA For 15,000 Avios (net) + £550

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I was looking at some flights earlier and thought I’d share a little tip on how to book BA Business Class for less – I mean less money and fewer Avios.

This afternoon I posted about the excellent BA Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) fares between Sweden (and many other parts of Europe) and the USA. The real bargains are to the West Coast – Los Angeles, for example, would set you back about £545 Return  (exchange rate at time of writing: 11 Swedish Krona = £1)


That’s a very good price for long-haul Premium Economy, but obviously Business Class would be even better if it isn’t too much more!

Use Avios to upgrade Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) to Business Class (Club World)

One of the few remaining sweetspots on BA’s Avios award chart is upgrading from Premium Economy to Business Class, or from Business to First Class.

For example, between London-Los Angeles, BA charges 30,000 Avios to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business on off-peak dates, and just 25,000 Avios for peak dates (yes you read that correctly!).

British Airways Business Class (Club World)

Additional taxes and fees should only be a few quid. Obviously there needs to be Avios availability for you to upgrade into.

Any Premium Economy fare class is eligible to upgrade with Avios, so you don’t need to worry about that.

If you followed the above example for flights during peak dates, you would be out of pocket by ~£550 for the Premium Economy tickets and 50,000 Avios for the upgrades (25,000 each way).

But you said 15,000 Avios – not 50,000!

I did – if you fly before 31st March you can collect triple Avios (register here), which can lead to some pretty hefty earnings on these flights. You only collect the amount of Avios you should get for the cabin you paid for, not the cabin you upgraded too, but that’s still a significant amount.

Sticking with Stockholm-Los Angeles Return, you would normally earn 11,774 Avios, so with triple Avios (Premium Economy earns 100% base Miles) that would be 35,322 Avios!

50,000 Avios spent minus 35,000 earned = 15,000 Avios net + £550 for the Premium Economy tickets

Yes, you have to factor getting to Sweden and back, but flights from London start at £30 Return and the savings here are substantial – let’s look at the alternatives (cheapest for same date):

  • Paying for Premium Economy direct from London and using Avios to upgrade:  £1198 + ~15,000 Avios net (50,000 – 35,000)
  • Business Class from Sweden using cash: £1,605
  • Business Class from London using cash: £6,390.77
  • Business Class from London using Avios: 125,000 – 150,000 Avios + £571.77

In other words, you will be saving at least ~ £550 by starting in Sweden and booking in this way. Compared to a cash ticket from London you would essentially be trading 50,000 Avios and a bit of inconvenience for ~£5,890, or 75,000 -100,000 Avios compared to a standard Avios award ticket from London.

Bottom line

With a bit of flexibility and imagination it’s possible to book BA Business Class for less – sometimes a lot less!

Personally, I would be perfectly happy in Premium Economy for the outbound daytime flight, but would appreciate being able to get some sleep on the night flight back, meaning I’d pay £550 and actually earn 10,000 Avios in net terms (spend 25,000 for the oneway upgrade, earn 35,000 for buying Premium Economy tickets and flying during the triple Avios promotion).

Finding Avios award space to upgrade into might well be a challenge though! – but you would have the same problem booking a standard Avios award ticket from London too.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Miles, Points and Travel "Habiliments" | Weekly Round Up - TravelZork says

    […] Oh, and let’s not forget my friends at InsideFlyer UK (rumor has it they think I have a “cute” American Accent). Joe gives some great advice on business class awards from Europe to the USA West Coast. 15,000 Avios? No way?  Yep, be sure to check out : “HOW TO BOOK BA BUSINESS CLASS FOR LESS – EG. RETURN TO WEST COAST USA FOR 15,000 AVIOS (NET) + £5…” […]


  1. Brendan says

    I think you might be underestimating the increase in ‘taxes’ (carrier surcharge) when upgrading. It’s probably more like £100 rather than £5!

    • Joe Deeney says

      I rang and priced this out this afternoon – I was actually expecting it to be more too, but that’s what I got told.

        • Joe Deeney says

          As far as I understand it, it depends on the route. I’ve seen upgrades from the US before (upgrading one-way) with zero extra taxes/fees.

  2. Trev says

    A little misleading based upon the title! Although the net cost might be 15,000 avios, you still need 50,000 upfront for the booking…

  3. GeorgieC says

    So for an upgrade there needs to be award availability? Arent only 2 award seats released per flight at 355 days in advance?

    • Joe Deeney says

      Yep, when you use Avios to upgrade you can only access exactly the same availability in the cabin you want to upgrade to as when making a standard Avios redemption (which does at least mean you can search in advance easily enough!).

      2 seats are guaranteed to be released as you say (at least I think BA is still promising that?) , but that’s always been a minimum. Avios availability can change regularly (and unfortunately not always very predictably!).

      In retrospect, using LA as an example was a really bad choice, because Avios availability for Club on that route can be an absolute nightmare, It was just meant as an illustration really though and the broad point still stands: Paying cash for Premium Economy (+ starting outside the UK, if you want the best prices) and then upgrading to Club World using Avios can be tremendous value compared to paying straight cash or straight Avios for Club World.

      When there’s an Avios bonus on, or if you’re looking to earn Tier Points to get elite status with BA, it can make even more sense compared to just using Avios.

  4. Ian Macky says

    Your article is spot on about being able to get prem econ for around £550 plus net 15K avios. If someone wants to fly prem AND there are redemption seats available, that’s the way to do it.

    But people should remember that the economy flight is costing net just £270 during the promo (£550 plus 35K avios back, which are worth around £280). Which is were the real value is on this promo.

    Valuing 15K avios at £110, the premimum economy flight is costing £550+£110, or around £390 more than the economy flight.

    You could in fact fly 2 people in economy and still be net £120 better off, than fly 1 person in prem.

  5. Ian Macky says

    ummm, that previous post from me was fine, except for the rather significant point that the article is about upgrading prem econ to club world !

    So during the promo you can effectively get prem econ for net £270. You can fly 2 people in prem econ and be £120 better off, than fly 1 person in Club World.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Haha, yes indeed Ian – you had me worried for a minute there though!

      I ran the PE deal earlier and it really is extremely good value:
      I’m still (just about) content to value Avios at about 1p each so PE net works out ~ £200 using that valuation.

      As I mention, personally I would only be looking to upgrade the inbound flight to Club as I value that a lot more on a red eye than a day flight – so paying £550 and earning 10k Avios net, which is a heck of a deal. Availability from LA though is genuinely terrible.

      I spent a little more time playing around with this, and you can actually shave a bit more off the PE price by open-jawing (either in US, or coming back to a different airport). Getting it down to ~ £500 wasn’t hard, and there may even be cheaper fares out there.

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