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I posted a few days ago about one of the excellent BA Business Class fares currently available, but today I’m upping the ante and looking at BA First Class.
The first thing I need to say is that flying First Class is never ‘cheap’ – regardless of whether you use Miles or cash, it’s always going to require a sizeable chunk. What is can be though is ‘good value’, as opposed to astronomically insane.
First Class fares are regularly £1,000s more than Business Class on the same route and I would personally struggle to justify ever paying that sort of premium (irrespective of how much money I had), when Business Class is often so good these days. For a special occasion though, paying for heavily discounted First Class tickets could definitely make sense – particularly if you can earn a stack of valuable Miles in the process.
The BA website has a handy Low Fare Finder section, which you can use to search through all the sale fares. I’ve just picked out a few of the highlights below (all prices are for Return flights from London Heathrow):
With the Beijing example, for just a little more (~£50) you can actually fly via Hong Kong and stopover there on your way. The flights between Hong Kong and Beijing will be in Business Class on Cathay Dragon.
It probably goes without saying that you can earn a healthy amount of Avios if you credit BA First Class flights to British Airways Executive Club. You can use the BA Avios calculator to find out what you would get for each specific flight.
More interesting (in my view anyway!) is crediting BA flights to Alaska Mileage Plan. As you can see below, the earning rates for BA flights credited to Alaska are great, and First Class is no exception:
Yep – that means you earn 450% of flown Miles for the cheapest First Class tickets!
Let’s look at some comparisons against how many Avios you would earn – and note that I value Alaska Miles as being worth 1.6-1.8p each, which is considerably more than the 1p I value Avios at.
- Toronto: 17,766 Avios (worth ~£177) or 32,013 Alaska Miles (worth £500+).
- Beijing: 25,266 Avios (worth ~£250) or 45,729 Alaska Miles (worth £700+)
- San Diego: 27,346 Avios (worth ~£270) or 49,365 Alaska Miles (worth £740+)
In each of those cases, if you opt for Alaska Miles you would get nearly a third of the cost of the ticket back in Miles – if you value them at a similar rate to me. In case you’ve forgotten how good Alaska Miles are, 42,500 gets you a one-way on Cathay Pacific Business between anywhere in Europe and Hong Kong.
To work out how many flown miles a flight is, just head to Great Circle Mapper.
Some people (perhaps unkindly, but not necessarily incorrectly!) might say that BA First Class is ‘only’ equivalent to a really good Business Class cabin on other airlines anyway, so should be priced accordingly. I’m broadly sympathetic to the point to be honest, but the fact remains that BA usually does still charge a significant premium for First, so the opportunity to try it out at a more ‘reasonable’ price is worth knowing about.
Also, the champagne served in BA First Class (Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle) really is delicious!