READ THIS FIRST - The Ultimate Guide to all things British Airways
Updated 20 October 2010
Welcome to the BA Forum and the latest version of the ‘Ultimate BA Guide’. This thread is meant to be a collection of information and frequently asked questions which are useful to new visitors and old hands alike. Before asking a new question, please have a read (or search – see this thread for general FT search tips) of this thread first and see if what you want to know is already covered.
So tell me more about British Air...
The airline is called ‘British Airways’ which is often abbreviated to ‘BA’ (the same as the flight prefix). One thing people here tend to get a little touchy about is referring to our favourite carrier incorrectly! So, ‘British Airways’/’BA’ ‘British Air’/’Brit Air’/’British’ or other variations thereof
This thread is a revised and updated version of the previous Ultimate Guides, all of which stemmed from the very original one which Dave_C pioneered. Since the first version, the content has had a bit of a ‘spring clean’ on a semi-regular basis. In addition to Dave_C’s excellent work, thanks are due to G-BOAC, More Champagne Sir?, phreegreens,Raffles, Shuttle-Bored, SLF, Teece and Swanhunter on the big effort to review and update the guide.
If you have comments, questions or suggestions for this guide – great! The constant revision and feedback is what makes the BA Board such a useful resource. However, to ensure this main thread does not become too daunting for new visitors and get bogged down in too many responses, we’ve had our friendly moderators lock this thread and created a new one for comments. Please use this:
Also note that the dreaded U-word (*cough* ‘Upgrade’) can come up regularly as a frequently asked question. So regularly, in fact, that it has its own dedicated sticky! If you have an upgrade question or story to share, please visit that thread. Likewise, if you’re looking for how the sure-fire way to blag a free upgrade, (1) don’t because it doesn’t work like that and (2) have a read/search of that thread for all the ‘advice’ there.
This guide covers three main topics:
1. An ‘ULTIMATE’ guide to ex-EU travel (originally pioneered by dnw)
2. A general guide to BA and the Executive Club with various hints, tips and frequently asked questions (the collective wisdom of many FTers!)
3. Some hints and tips on maximizing the BA First, Club World and World Traveller Plus experiences (more collective wisdom!)
Sometimes it’s nice to know who is flying where – especially with a view to coordinating lounge access or meeting up. There is now an excellent calendar tool to help with this. Although it’s not BA-specific, it was launched by some of our most (in)famous board members and the extremely helpful BA97 hosts and maintains it on his website. It’s free to use and very useful, so check out:
This thread is designed to be a first stop for new people to the forum and a useful ‘dip in’ resource for existing FTers. It hopefully will address the most common questions to do with flying BA, and membership of the Executive Club.
This guide is based on what was written by dnw who pioneered the use of ‘ex-LIS’ fares (i.e. fares which began by flying from Lisbon) on the BA Board a few years ago. The ex-LIS deals themselves have now ceased to be so attractive but the principle remains and does apply to other European cities. Thanks to a tool posted by pauldb and a process honed by Raffles, this guide should still explain everything you need to try and take advantage of this (perfectly legitimate) approach to getting cheaper premium travel.
What's all this about cheap BA premium fares from Europe?
What is the catch?
What are the rules and restrictions?
So how do I find/book these fares?
But I want to book further ahead / I'm worried they won't renew the offer?
But I have a UK/other credit card and ba.com wants a local one?
Can I do the EU part of the trip back2back?
Can I use Miles to upgrade the trip?
Will I ever be able to go back to Economy?
What's all this about cheap BA premium fares from Europe?
The worst kept secret on the BA board…if you want to save thousands (literally!) on J (Club World) and F (First) travel on BA to a number of destinations just by doing a quick roundtrip to somewhere in Europe first, read on…
Although this guide will often use LIS (Lisbon, Portugal) as an example, the principle applies to many other cities. At present, the cheapest starting point for an ex-EU trip is often Milan or Amsterdam – but where you see the word LIS here, substitute wherever is currently cheapest. You’ll learn where to find the cheapest point later.
Whilst the increased strength of the Euro has diminished the general savings to be made from starting on the Continent, BA still offers some very good deals to those starting from European destinations when travelling long haul – primarily to entice them away from more direct options.
What is the catch?
There isn't one! Instead of paying, say, £3000 for a semi-flexible Club World ticket LHR-BKK-LHR, you can buy one for £1700+ if you start your journey in LIS instead of LHR. You simply need to buy a cheap one-way ticket to LIS first. You can also, for a fee, build in a stopover in London – so you could, for example, fly to LIS for a weekend break in August (using the first leg of your BKK ticket for the return) and then do the LHR-BKK leg in September.
The only catch is that you MUST MUST MUST start your journey in LIS! You CANNOT discard the LIS segment and just turn up for the longhaul at LHR – BA will automatically invalidate your entire trip (and don’t go crying for a refund either, this is just one of the rules!)
However, you don't need to take the final segment back to LIS if you don’t want to. If you are on a J ticket (where stopovers are chargeable) and are worried about BA wanting to check your bags all the way through to LIS and you’re coming off a longhaul flight at LHR, then book your return segment back into OPO or FAO which go from LGW instead. In these cases, the LHR/LGW transit means they CAN'T through check your bags (the same principle works particularly well for AMS too, which is served from both airports). Booking the last leg ex-LGW will make the ticket slightly cheaper as the airport service charges are slightly lower than LHR. Conversely, booking the last leg ex-LCY will make the ticket slightly more expensive. If you cannot book your last leg from the ‘other’ airport, you may want to book it for the next day (but less than 24 hours from arrival, so it is not treated as a stopover). This gives you far more leverage with BA if check-in at, say, BKK try to insist – incorrectly - that you must check your bag to your final destination.
That said, BA do appear to audit the use of tickets, and may get in touch if you’re doing this a lot. Once or twice in a while should be fine, but if you plan on doing this frequently then you may wish to use all sectors in your ticket (if nothing else to start your next trip off!).
If you are on an F ticket then a neat trick is to take advantage of the free stopovers and book your final LHR-LIS segment a long time in the future – you can then use this to get down to LIS to start your next trip!
Following the steps below (idiot-proofed by FTers for some years now!) to find the cheapest starting point for your trip.
Do also bear in mind that some of the airports there are quite far way from London (e.g. ATH, CAI, IST, HEL, MLA) and you may not want to have the hassle of such a long flight to begin your journey. If so, you can come up with your own list based on the above with airports (or others) that suit you best personally.
(3) Complete "To" as:
YYY :: BA+
Where YYY is your destination - if you don't know the airport code, use the glossary under 'Search' on FT.
(4) Enter rough dates which suit you and LON as "sales city" to get GBP prices
(5) Click "More Options", change cabin to "Business" or "First" and uncheck "Check seat availability"
This will bring up the cheapest listed fare for the route on that day, although it does not necessarily mean that tickets will still be available at that price. You can use dnw's method below to find days with actual I (Club) or A (First) availability. You can also use a tool such as www.expertflyer.com or KVS, though these are not free.
If you're looking for WT+ pricing (e.g. to MFU), set the cabin as "Cheapest" and add " / F BC=T" to the "From" & "To" lines. The results will say "Coach", but it will be a WT+ T class fare. You will need to delete a couple of cities from the list to fit in the extra bit of text.
When comparing WT+ prices for potential MFU's, don't forget that MFU's from countries further away from the UK ('Europe 2' zone in BA terminology) require more miles than MFU's from 'Europe 1'. You should factor in the worth of the extra miles needed when considering which fare offers best value.
(6) Click "Go". Scroll down the results if you don't fancy the first options (usually TIP/CAI/IST) or just delete them in the first place.
Note that you may need to click on 'Cost' to reorder your results in price order, as the default is to list CAI flights first as they offer Club and First on all legs, not just the longhaul one. If searching for First flights, be careful as it sometimes lists itineraries where only one longhaul leg is in F and the return is in J.
Now that you know what the cheapest fare is, you need to find days on which it is available. In order to get a special fare you need availability in the following booking classes on your required flights. Again, taking LIS as an example:
LIS-LHR segment I-class (sometimes D on First fares but we'll say I to be safe)
LHR-<DEST>I-class for Club, A-class for First
You can use expertflyer.com to check availability by I/A code. Once you have found the right flights you can put them in to the ba.com site with your departure location set as Portugal and it should price it up perfectly. If you have problems, you may like to go directly to the local BA site in question (for example, for ex-LIS bookings the Portugal site at: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/fx/public/en_pt) but this has not been an issue of late. Also note that the ‘feeder’ flights more regularly tend to book in J class now – this is better since J is nearly always available, meaning less ‘hunting’ for availability on your part.
For example, I want to go to Sao Paulo in F and I want to go on the 20th Dec and back on 2nd Jan. So I check the following (hypothetical results) using the link provided:
LIS-LHR on 15th Dec I9 - OK
LHR-GRU on 20th Dec A5 - OK
GRU-LHR on 2nd Jan A3 - OK
LHR-LIS at some random date in the future - I9 - OK
So I go to ba.com and using the stopover section on Fare Explorer plug in these dates:
Departing on 15th Dec, returning on 2nd Jan
I want to make a stopover on my outward Journey
I want to stop in LON and leave there on 20th Dec
I want to make a stopover on my return journey
I want to stop in LON and leave there on <some random date in future>
Hey presto the nice F fare I want comes out. If it doesn’t, and you don’t know what you have done wrong, then please post all the key information and someone will try to help you!
What are the rules and restrictions?
Cancellation penalties and stopover fees change from fare to fare and from country to country, although stopovers are usually Euro 200 each-way if you break your journey in London for > 24 hours. Also remember you need to factor in the cost of getting to your point of departure, and potentially the cost of a hotel if you are travelling too far to return in a day (e.g. Cyprus, Athens). whichbudget.com lists budget airlines flying to all major cities, and www.skyscanner.net may also be useful.
In general, you will see the rules are much more flexible for the equivalent fare bucket ex-UK. Again, taking ex-LIS as the example at the end of 2005, the rules were:
- Unlimited free Changes
- Unlimited free Stopovers*
- No cancellation penalty
- Return within 12 months
- Changes charged at E200 each
- Stopovers* charged at E200 each
- Cancellation penalty E250
- Return within 12 months
*A stopover is a transit of an intermediate point that exceeds 24hrs.
A neat trick for the Club fares – if you time your arrival into London and the departure of your longhaul segment right, you can essentially have a free nightstop in London without having an 'official' stopover. For example, you arrive from LIS on a Monday at 2115 and you can then book your longhaul flight the next day (Tuesday) at any time up to 2114 (<24hrs) and it is NOT charged as a stopover. Book it for 2115 or later and that'll be E200 please!
Note: BA seem to have clamped down on stopover rules, potentially in light of more widespread use of ex-EU fares. Check your fare rules carefully – lots of fares (except seemingly on the JSA routes like SIN/SYD) now limit you to a month’s stopover in the UK at most in either direction.
But I have a UK/other credit card and ba.com wants a local one?
If you are booking on ba.com from your home country and just varying the departure city on the front page, all should be well – BA will quote your fare and advise you of the estimated GBP price but your card will be charged in the local currency (typically EUR). If you are booking on ba.com and using the local site directly (e.g. the BA Portugal site as in dnw’s method), then you have two choices:
1) Just put your number/details in anyway. It has been reported to work but the choice is yours.
2) Call the nice folk at the local BA office in question. For example, at BA in Portugal, they speak perfect English, are very helpful and well used to people phoning up for the cheapo J/F fares. They'll be happy to take your card. Their number is: +351 21 415 4151. Telephone numbers for all other BA overseas offices can be found at ba.com.
Can I do the LIS part of the trip as a turnaround/”out and back” trip?
Yes you can. However, if you plan to return on the same plane you arrived on, then you MUST ensure that you arrive at an airport where departing and arriving passengers are not separated. Because turnarounds are so short these days, it will often not be possible to go through passport control and back through security before the gates are closed, even if you are already holding a boarding pass.
Destinations where a back2back is possible include AMS, DUS, FRA, LIS and BLQ at least
Can I use miles to upgrade the trip?
In short, yes provided (a) there is availability (always a tricky one!) and (b) you booked it correctly. The MFU ‘rule’ is that you can (in theory) only upgrade tickets booked in your registered membership country – if you book directly on ba.com (using the standard MFU engine from the start) this works fine (but you may have to play around with a few dummy bookings and dates to hit the right availability and price you expect). The only stumbling block may be if you use the ‘old’ method above and phone the local BA office to issue the ticket then subsequently try to phone BA and MFU (if, for example, availability opens up later on). In this case, the ticket would have been issued outside your member country and the MFU will probably not be possible.
As with ‘normal’ ex-LON bookings, the best use of MFU is usually WT+ to Club World. Using the ‘new’ method above to isolate the cheapest T class fares, you can then play around trying to find award availability for the trip to match those flights. Doing this, we have seen it possible to MFU a journey like EU-JFK for as little as 650 UKP (ex-BUD at the time of writing). Generally, an ex-AMS MFU routing consistently prices up at around 750UKP.
Will I ever be able to go back to Economy?
Last edited by Prospero; Oct 20, 10 at 5:08 am..
Reason: minor format adjustments
BA has four different classes of travel. They are:
First (First class)
First (Picture) is on all 747 equipment, located in the nose, and on some 777 aircraft. The 747’s have 14 seats, the 777’s have 13, 14 or 17 depending on type. It is a 6’6” bed that goes totally flat. Also there is an ottoman, which, if travelling with a companion, can be used by them to sit on, allowing you to dine facing each other. The seat also features EmPower which is what most airlines use for providing in-seat power. There is a video screen, which gives access to an AVOD entertainment system on the aircraft (or 12 channel looped system on those few remaining 777s that are not AVOD equipped). Additionally, on 777’s that have not had AVOD installed, there’s a Hi-8 video player allowing you to watch movies supplied by the crew (this has now been removed from all 747’s). On some routes (primarily 777s which have the “small” video screens) your crew will also provide a portable DVD player and a selection of DVDs for your use. You also get a nice amenity kit, with an Anya Hindmarch designed BAg (with REN toiletries). The ‘turndown service’ is now available on all bar a few of the short fifth-freedom flights (BA72/73, BA124/125 and BA246/247), with a mattress pad, duvet and pillow, a pair of slippers and the dark blue pyjamas (emblazoned with the First logo). Good crew should offer to make up your bed at the appropriate time!
In February 2010, BA unveiled it's new First class seat, which will be rolled out between 2010 and 2012. The cabin avoids ostentatious gadgets and gimmicks and focuses instead on simplicity and quality. Key features of the new seat include:
A 60 per cent wider bed at the shoulders
Personal electronic blinds, a first for a commercial airline
A 15" in-flight entertainment screen
USB port, RCA jack and noise-cancelling headsets
Fully integrated ambient and mood lighting
Anya Hindmarch washbag and amenities by REN
Leather bound writing table
Club World (Business class)
Club World (Picture) comes in three varieties these days! The first is New Club World – the newest variation introduced in 2006 (sometimes called ‘NGCW’ for ‘Next Generation Club World’ on here) is fitted to all Boeing 747 and 777 aircraft.
The second is what ‘used’ to be called ‘New Club World’. Confusing, eh? This iteration originally launched in 2000 is fitted exclusively to long haul Boeing 767 aircraft and offers a 6-foot, fully flat and horizontal bed. Like First, it also features Empower and AVOD. The seats alternate forward and backwards facing to fit together in an almost yin/yang like shape. The ‘New Club World’ product offers incremental and evolutionary improvements to this ground-breaking seat, and retains the same physical layout.
Club World London City (Business class)
Finally, introduced in Sept 2009 is Club World London City. Club World London City is BA’s Business Class only service, with just 32 seats on an A318, flying between London City and New York JFK (with a quick stop in Shannon to clear US immigration and refuel). The hard product on the Club World London City service differs from both of the above – it’s a flat bed, two by two, but without the ying/yang configuration of the other Club World cabins. Club World London City is all about minimising airport travel time and check-in times whilst maximising productivity on board – the planes feature OnAir capability allowing you to send emails, texts from your mobile phone and connect to the Internet throughout your flight.
World Traveller Plus (Picture) is an improved economy product, and definitely not a downgraded business class. It features eight abreast seating (6 abreast on the 767), instead of nine or ten abreast, and a 38” pitch. The seats, especially designed by Recaro have foot rests and extra recline. They also have Empower. The discounted WT+ fares are typically around £400 more than the cheapest WT fares (£200 each way). WT+ passengers receive the same food as World Traveller passengers, but do benefit from being served first (oh, and getting a real glass not a plastic cup for their wine!). There is no stated benefit of dedicated check-in desks for WT+ but gradually more and more airports are offering them (e.g. LAX, IAD at least). In general, however, WT+ passengers check in with the rest of World Traveller. Note that you get no rights to use the Fast Track security lane at LHR or LGW with a WT+ ticket.
A new version of the World Traveller Plus product was launched in 2010 and will feature in new aircraft deliveries. It is presently fitted to new factory fresh Boeing 777-336ERs. However, BA is reportedly planning to retrofit only 18 of its existing 777-236 aircraft (G-ZZZA-C; G-VIIA-S; G-RAES). As part of this process which is expected to roll out from late 2010, these candidates will also receive the latest Thales (AVOD) in-flight entertainment system. They currently feature the old 12 channel, small screen GMIS system. The existing 747, 767 subfleets and those 777s fitted with the TES AVOD systems will not receive this new product.
World Traveller (Economy class)
World Traveller (Picture) is standard economy. It’s 3-4-3 on the 747, 3-3-3 on the 777 and 2-3-2 on the 767. It’s got a 31” pitch and each seat has a personal TV with either 12 channels depending on the aircraft (or AVOD if present). There is no at seat power.
A new version of the World Traveller product was launched in 2010 and like it sister WT+ product is presently fitted to new Boeing 777-336ERs and will feature in new aircraft deliveries plus 18 existing 777-236s. See the narrative on the new WT+ product above.
This iteration whilst taking up the same footprint as its predecessor provides a slight improvement in seat width (by just over a quarter inch) and increase in personal space by virtue of the slimline construction of the seat. The new seat features a "hammock style" adjustable headrest, bi-fold seat back table, AC power sockets (two shared UK/EU/US sockets per triple seat grouping) and larger seat back pocket. The inflight entertainment system powered by Thales is the latest version of BA on demand entertainment. The new pillow and fleece blanket complete the upgraded package.
Club Europe (Business class)
Club Europe (Picture) is the European business class seat. On the narrow body planes, it’s configured with convertible four-abreast seating. This means on the left hand (ABC) side of the aircraft, the B seat squishes, leaving wider A C seats (an extra two inches or so). On the right hand (DEF) side, they expand giving around an extra couple of inches per seat. If The front two thirds of the aircraft can be converted like this according to how many Club passengers they are expecting. The curtain also gets moved to wherever the divide is that day. Club Europe has around a 34” pitch, so not particularly generous, but adequate. Some newer Airbuses have 120V European style plug sockets, although there aren’t too many of these. The new A321’s should have them. On the 767 aircraft, Club Europe is configured 2-2-2 with the ‘collapsed’ seat being in the middle block (DF).
On BA’s most recently acquired Embraer 170/190 aircraft (operating from London City Airport), the planes are 2-2 throughout – and Club is exactly the same.
The diagram below illustrates this convertible seating:
Here, the first two rows are Club Europe, the third row is the first row of Euro Traveller (with the AC seats still in Club Europe format) and onward rows are standard Euro Traveller.
On longer distance flights (IST, LCA, ATH and DME routes) in-flight entertainment is provided, displayed on the overhead screens.
Priority check-in, a more generous checked baggage allowance, fast track security and (in theory, at least) priority baggage reclaim are published components of the Club Europe product.
Euro Traveller (Economy class)
Euro Traveller (Picture) is the European economy class. On the narrow bodies, it’s in a normal 3-3 configuration, while on the 767, it’s 2-3-2, and on the E170/E190, 2-2. Again it has a 31” pitch. One side effect of the convertible seating on the narrow body aircraft is that the very first row of Euro Traveller, on the left hand side also features this A C configuration, with no B seat. They are the best in Euro Traveller.
On longer distance flights (IST, LCA, ATH and DME routes) in-flight entertainment is provided, displayed on the overhead screens.
UK Domestic (Economy class)
UK Domestic (aka Shuttle) is the single economy class available on all UK routes using Airbus A319, A320 and A321 to/from LHR; Boeing 737 to/from LGW. These types feature 3-3 configuration throughout. London City services operated by subsidiary BA CityFlyer feature Embraer E170 and E190 (configured 2-2). Boeing 767s whilst not normally rostered for domestic duties, occasionally perform as late substitutions in response to heavier than normal demand. All BA flights still retain ‘full service’ in all cabins (i.e. nominally complimentary catering – though outside breakfast time, you’ll find your lot is reduced to either birdseed (a mix of nuts and seeds) or a cookie).
Fleet Overview and Seat Map Links (AKA “What’s the best seat…”)
The BA website shows which plane will be operating your flight if you click on the flight number on ba.com during the booking process. You can also work it out from ‘Manage My Booking’ (if your booking permits seat pre-selection).
A fleet currently consists of the following aircraft, as profiled below:
In 2009 BA’s fleet was augmented by the delivery of two Airbus A318 aircraft, dedicated to operating the BA London City to New York JFK service and are uniquely configured with 24 Club World London City (CWLC) flat bed seats.
The mainstay of the shorthaul fleet at LHR is the A319/320/321 fleet. They are configured with convertible seating as described in ‘Travel Classes’.
The BA CityFlyer fleet (operating to/from LCY), once the preserve of Avro RJs is now in the process of being replaced with new Embraer E170 and E190s – 11 aircraft have joined the fleet and two additional E190s are on order.
The 737-436 fleet is based at LGW and feature the same seating as the Airbus.
The mainstay of the longhaul fleet is the 747-436. These are currently all based at LHR. There are two versions; approximately 55% of the aircraft are fitted with 52 Club World seats (52J or Mid-J) and the remainder has 70 Club World seats (70J or High-J). If you see reference to ‘38J’ or ‘Low-J’, these are the original New Club World configurations which had 38 Club World seats and which were replaced by the 52J variant during the refit phase.
The 767-336ER does both shorthaul and medium to longhaul. The shorthaul version is configured with Club Europe and Euro Traveller. The longhaul variant has Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller. All the 767’s are LHR based, just like the 747s.
The other main longhaul aircraft is the 777-200 series, configured in five different seating plans across three different types. Deliveries of a fourth type, 777-336ER will begin in 2010. The 777s are categorised as follows:
Boeing 777-236A (GE90 powered)
Delivered between 1995 and 1997, they were the first 777s to join the fleet and currently configured 17F/48J/24W/127M. They are chiefly found on the Middle Eastern routes and sometimes East Coast USA/Canada rotations due to having a more limited range than the other 777s in the fleet.
Boeing 777-236B (GE90 powered)
Delivered 1997-99, configured four class 14F/48J/40W/122M and three class 40J/24W/219M
Boeing 777-236ER (RR Trent powered)
Delivered 2000-2002 configured 13F/48J/32W/127M and three class 48J/24W/203M. The 2009-2010 examples have a three class configuration, 48J/24W/203M
All 777-236ER and ten 777-236B aircraft are equipped with large TV screens and AVOD IFE system. The older GE-powered 777-236A/Bs unfortunately have an older (GMIS) IFE system which has 12 channels, much smaller screens (in F/WT+/WT) and a huge, retro-looking 1970s control pad! Sadly, it is pot-luck as to which type of plane you will generally get. Note that on the 777s with smaller screens, First passengers should be able to ask for DVD players and a selection of DVDs in addition to the standard set up.
Deliveries of a fourth type, the 777-336ER began in 2010.
Can I or Can’t I Pre-Assign a Seat?!
A hot topic for a long time on the BA board indeed. The current BA policy restricts who can pre-assign seats for free before OLCI opens. See www.ba.com/seating for the ‘live’ version but in summary, you CANNOT pre-assign a seat UNLESS:
1. You have a BA Premier, Gold or Silver card or oneworld equivalent (i.e. Emerald or Sapphire only)
2. You are in the First cabin (regardless of how – paid, award, MFU…it matters not)
3. You have any other full fare ticket (specifically, booking classes J, C, W, Y)
4. Your company has a corporate special deal with BA to allow this (i.e. large companies with big discounts and BA account managers)
5. You have an infant with you on your booking
Everyone else can assign a seat – but at a price. Seat selection costs:
£10 per person per sector in Euro Traveller and UK Domestic;
£20 per person per sector in Club Europe and WT;
£25 per person per sector in WT+;
£60 per person per sector in Club World (£80 per person per sector for an upper deck assignment)
Travellers in WT/WT+ can pay a further £50 to get an exit row (charge also applies to Silver cardholders)
The “semi” exceptions are:
1. Passengers with children (NOT infants) on their booking
2. Passengers with special needs/some specific disabilities (as notified to BA in the booking)
One of the ‘unpublished’ benefits of BA Gold is the ability to get seat assignments for passengers travelling on the same flight on a different PNR. See Bukhara’s post for the best way to do this.
What's the best seat?
This is a question which comes up time and time again - and quite understandably too, particularly for newbies looking to make the most of their first time in a particular cabin. I think we all remember that initial excitement of our first trip in First or Club World The purpose of the rest of this post is to collate the 'collective wisdom' on the topic to try and prevent the same question coming up over and over again.
The first thing to remember is, like upgrades, there is no definitive answer! A lot of this comes down to personal preference and circumstances. The following are some general tips and advice, by plane and by cabin.
The latter currently has more detail and is widely referenced in this post.
Rule 1 - Know Your Plane!
As described above, BA operates several different types of plane and several different types of configuration within each plane type! Yes, it's confusing. However, you can normally get a good idea of which type of plane you are on from the layout you see in 'Manage My Booking'
Rule 2 - Shorthaul Is Easiest
The rule on shorthaul is pretty simple.
Now Club Europe is 2-2 (except on 767s), the balance of power between the left and right hand side of the aircraft is more even than it once was. The A and C seats benefit from the collapsed B seat, providing greater proximity to your travelling companion, whilst D and F have the E seat at full width between them – handy if you have a fair bit of stuff to access during the flight, or if you’re a solo traveller and wish more space between you and your row chum.
On the 767s, try for the middle seat pairs (D and F) because the 2-2-2 format in Club Europe vs. the 2-3-2 format in Euro Traveller means these are actually the equivalent to the AC seats on the other aircraft already mentioned (i.e. 3 seats which have been collapsed in to 2 for Club Europe). The window pairs on the 767 in CE are especially poor. They do expand – but only by around 0.5 inch. Some like the bulkheads as there is nobody to recline into you but others find the reduced legroom irritating (especially if you are 6ft plus).
Whether or not you want to be in Row 1 (or Row 2 on the 737-400) is personal choice. Some people don’t like having their feet against the bulkhead (although 1C often has only a partial bulkhead in front) whilst others like not having a seat in front of them (and therefore running the risk of having that seat recline).
If eligible, you can pre-assign seats in Euro Traveller but watch out for the ‘buffer zone’ trick! Because the curtain is not fixed, you will see that your Euro Traveller seat map typically only lets you pre-assign from something like row 11 backwards. What BA do is ‘block’ the first few rows of the cabin until they have a better idea where the curtain will be fixed for the flight. At T-3 days, the entire cabin will open for pre-reservation to those who are eligible which is when BA pre-seat infants, special needs passengers, etc. At this point, you can try to move to the prized ‘first two seats on the left behind the curtain.
CAVEAT: BA can and do move the curtain during this period in spite of it being ‘fixed’ in theory. If you are in seats which are no longer part of the ET cabin (i.e. they moved the curtain back) you will likely be dumped in something not only undesirable but also insulting (e.g. 18B). This is a major problem with the system in ET and a big flaw in BA’s policy (quote why the buffer zone can’t be at the rear of the plane and, should the curtain move, people are automatically shifted back retaining their relative positions is beyond everyone on this board…and BA it seems!). The further kicker here is you will likely not be able to move yourself in MMB (well, you can move but it won’t ‘stick’ and you’ll get an error). To remedy this, you must call the EC up and request an agent to delete your seat assignment for that leg totally and then re-add them manually to where you wish to sit. The best advice is to keep a close eye on things in the period of T-3 days and react quickly if you get messed around.
In general, the seats closest to the curtain are best because they have the Club Europe seat pitch, if not width (or service!) due to the way the convertible seating is installed. On flights where Club Europe does not stretch very far back, this means you can get extra legroom in Euro Traveller by sitting towards the front of that cabin. We have the following data so far:
737-400 - Rows 1 to 13 convertible, including over-wing exits at rows 11 & 12. No recline on rows 10 & 11. Row 1 is DEF seats only.
Additionally, on anything but the 767, the very first row of Euro Traveller on the left is still in Club Europe format (for safety reasons, so the crew can emerge with the trolley through the curtain and not hit anyone's legs!). These are the prize seats (as long as you don’t mind having the curtain right in front of you!).
On the 767, the best seats are on either of the left or right side 2-blocks, but again get as far forward as possible - right at the back, the seating which cannot be converted to Club Europe is cloth not leather and has less pitch. You need to be forward of the second emergency exit to benefit from the CE seat pitch - but beware that row 13 and 14 are missing windows!
Exit rows are clearly marked at OLCI (or in MMB if you can pre-assign) if you wish to select one of these seats.
On the 757, beware of 12AF and 14AF. These window seats have ‘blankers’ in place and as such offer less elbow room and can feel more claustrophobic. The 757 also has a variant with a 2ABC row – this may show on ba.com but they won’t be available for allocation.
There are a few ‘older’ A320s (G-BUSx) that have a shorter bulkhead in front of 1C, making this seat especially desirable. However, there is no way of predicting whether you will get one of these planes, unfortunately.
UK Domestic (Shuttle) UK Domestic:
Generally, the best bet is to bag a seat at the front of the cabin, as you’ll invariably be in a position to get off first. “B” seats are to be avoided at the front of the plane, as often your aircraft will have come off of a European trip, and the conversion back to regular domestic seating can often leave the “B” seats a touch on the narrow side.
Rule 3 - Longhaul Will Vary
The good news is the mainline fleet now all have at least some version of the Club World flatbeds, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller, and some aircraft retain First too. The bad news is, the setup varies by aircraft:
1A or 1K are deemed by many as the best seats in the house. They are close enough for 2 people travelling together to chat quietly without disturbing the cabin and offer a great sense of isolation. However, some dislike that isolation and thus swear by 2AK instead (though the gap is too large for a ‘quiet chat’ if there are 2 of you). Also, 1AK have no overhead locker (but there’s no shortage of storage space in F anyway) and are next to the cupboard at the front. Again, some report ‘excessive traffic’ to this during the night and find it disturbing, others report no issue with this at all – it seems to be a risk, but a small one. Note if there’s more than 2 of you, the staggered layout means that 3AK are set much further forward from 4EF (3A can just about see 4E’s feet if they look sideways), so the only row you can really aim for which is ‘aligned’ is row 5, however some report seats in row 5 can experience excessive noise from the galley directly behind these seats. All of F is now available to pre-assign (1AK are held back just for Premiers/Golds – and do remember the caveat that for multi-person bookings, both members seeking these seats must be Premier/Gold to pre-assign, it is not sufficient for just one member to have the status and attempt to assign a non-Premier/Gold to one of the seats). There are bassinets at 1AK. 4EF and 5EF are nice if you are travelling as couple and want to share the experience, though some complain about the exposed position of row 4 which is somewhat more 'open' to the rest of the cabin.
Club World (Upper Deck):
Simply the best place to sit in Club World! It’s smaller, in 2-2 configuration and has a very ‘private cabin’ feel. Seats up here are second only to F in most peoples’ opinion. 62AK and 63BJ are exit seats and held if pre-assigning you must remember to tick the disclaimer box saying you’re capable of sitting there. Only 64A is held back for OLCI normally since it’s the bassinet (and of course may get assigned by BA to a parent and child). Wisdom dictates that 62AK are prize seats (as exit rows, for ease of egress – i.e. you don’t need to step over anyone to get to the aisle due to the extra space) as are 64AK for the same reason, though some complain 64K can be disturbed by the toilet and/or light and noise from the galley. 62AK also offer a bit of extra legroom – they do not have the seat moulding in front of them which featured in the older New Club World product.
Club World (Main Deck): Configured 2-4-2, seats 14AK are widely regarded as excellent seats because of their privacy and the fact you do not have to climb over anyone to get out. Other seats are much of a muchness – though the standard ‘rule’ of avoiding the EF seats (unless you’re a couple together) applies, in which case 14EF are the best seats for ease of egress once more – though beware these are bassinets so may not be available to you if occupied by a baby. In the second cabin, 20AK offer similar advantages to 14AK – though with the caveat that they are closer to the WT+ bassinet. Again, 20EF are a bassinet too.
For info on which Club seats offer extra space on a 747, see Swanhunter’s very useful thread here
World Traveller Plus:
Configured 2-4-2, the prize seats for the lone traveller are 28BJ since they are single seats with nearly unlimited legroom. Second best are 29AK because there is no seat in front, so they also offer excellent room. The other seats are all much of a muchness. The last row has the same recline as the other rows, so this is not a concern.
Configured 3-4-3, exit rows are the prime seats for the extra legroom so sure to be bagged early by those with the ability to pre-assign these days. 51BC, 52BC, 51HJ and 52HJ are the only pair seats in WT. Apart from the advantage of extra privacy if travelling as a couple, these are slightly roomier due to the ‘missing’ 3rd seat and the rear curvature of the plane. However, the downside is these suffer from being close to the toilet queues and since you're right at the back of the plane, you’ll be right at the back of the queue for immigration upon arrival which can be a real pain (especially to the USA).
Club World (Main Deck):
See the 70J plane’s second cabin advice only.
World Traveller Plus:
Service in this cabin is done by one crew member. They pass down the left aisle then ‘double back’ in the galley between W and J and serve the right aisle – so if you want to get served sooner not later, sit on the left. Service issues aside, the bulkhead at 11JK is reported to be potentially slightly more spacious than the equivalent at Row 17 on a 38J plane so (assuming there’s no screaming kids around!) should be the most sought-after seats on the right, with 12AB the prime seats on the left. Other feedback welcome since this is a relatively new setup.
The centre rows (1EF, 2EF, 4EF) are good for couples – none of the other seats (e.g. 1A and 1K) are close enough like on the 747. Beware of the window seats in Row 1 as they only have two windows so can make some people feel slightly claustrophobic. Others, however, still like the privacy they offer.
Row 10 is the first row so 10AK are seen as the best window seats, with excellent privacy (and slightly less engine noise). The best aisle seats onboard are 10B, D, G or J as these seats have nobody climbing over them to get to the aisle. 15AK or 15EF are good for ease of egress, but are right next to the WT+ bassinets so there is a slim chance of disturbance. 15AEFK are also the Club World bassinet positions. The rest of the seats in the 4-class 777 Club cabin are much of a muchness, and the cabin tends to be least popular amongst FTers because of its large, unbroken nature. That aside, the seats are still very good, as should the service be. Row 12 has a missing window because of the way the plane is built, so avoid the window seat here if possible.
World Traveller Plus:
Configured 2-4-2, all seats are much of a muchness, although row 21 has slightly more legroom if you’re not too tall. However, they are also bulkhead seats which means there is a risk of crying babies! If you are rather tall, some people report less legroom here because you can’t put your feat under the seat in front for extra space.
Configured 3-3-3, the six exit row seats 26ABC/HJK offer almost unlimited legroom, but beware 26AK, which is restricted by the emergency slide enclosure protruding from the door. Also, these seats are by the forward toilets, so can suffer from people congregating as they wait to relieve themselves. These seats also have the IFE unit mounted in the armrest as opposed to the seatback in front.
4A is an excellent seat with a high degree of privacy and easy egress (on the LGW 3-class planes, this applies to 4K too – on the LHR planes, this is normally blocked for crew rest). The bassinet positions are 3EF and 11EF.
World Traveller Plus:
Any feedback or wisdom welcome!
World Traveller: As for the 4-class, row 26 offers excellent legroom.
Configured 2-2-2 and uniquely in the fleet, this plane has a forward facing window seat in Club World. As such, 1A is highly sought after and offers a little extra legroom to boot. 4K is also very good, though some find the window seats a little claustrophobic owing to the smaller 767 cabin. All seats facing the bulkhead seem to offer a little more legroom.
World Traveller Plus:
On the 767 WT+ is configured 2-2-2 (like Club World) compared to 2-4-2 on the other widebody longhaul planes so this is often considered the best WT+ cabin on the fleet.
Configured 2-3-2. Any feedback or wisdom welcome!
There are currently four types of lounge on the BA network; the Concorde Rooms, First lounges, Club Lounges/Terraces, and Arrivals Lounges (and you could say a fifth type too – outstation lounges operated by a 3rd Party and not BA). With the launch of T5 in 2008, BA has embarked on rolling out a new lounge concept, known as “Galleries” across the network - over the next three years the Terraces/Executive Club lounges will be refurbished with the new Galleries Lounge concept. BA has an excellent table that shows exactly the entrance criteria for all of their lounges, based on either your status or class of travel. It can be accessed at the following url: http://www.britishairways.com/travel...e/public/en_gb
There are currently two Concorde Rooms on the network, one at LHR T5 and one at JFK. They are only open to people in ticketed First on BA or QF, people who are BA Premiers, Qantas Chairman’s Lounge members or the lucky holders of special ‘Concorde Room’ cards (which were issued after Concorde’s retirement to its best customers and are issued now to the most frequent Club Europe customers/those earning more than 5,000 tier points in a year). Guests are only permitted to BA Premiers, and Qantas Chairman’s Lounge and anyone travelling in BA First can also bring an extra guest (regardless of the status/travel class of either person) who is travelling with them.
The First lounges are open to people travelling First, and oneworld Emerald members. oneworld Emeralds are allowed one guest.
The Club lounges (sometimes referred to as Terraces or Galleries) are open to people travelling First, Club World, or Club Europe and to all oneworld Emerald and Sapphire passengers, and Qantas Club members. AA Admirals Club members are NOT granted access (unless they fulfil one of the other class of travel and/or status criteria). oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members are allowed one guest (subject to capacity). Full fare "Business UK" Domestic travellers are also invited into the Terraces/Gallerieslounges located at UK airports with a BA Mainline service.
Terminal 5 Lounges
There are six lounges within British Airways' new exclusive Terminal 5: The Concorde Room, Galleries First, three Galleries Club Lounges and an Arrivals Lounge. Collectively the lounges, known as ‘Galleries’, can host up to 2,500 people, which is 25 per cent more than the old Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 lounges.
The departures lounges are split into three distinct areas. In T5A (the main/biggest terminal building), there are lounges at the North and South ends of the terminal. There is also a lounge in T5B, and there will be a lounge in T5C when it opens in 2011. BA suggests that passengers travelling on domestic services should use the North lounge (Galleries Club) as the lounge sits directly above the domestic gates.
At the South end of the terminal, you’ll find the Galleries South complex, containing The Concorde Room, Galleries First and Galleries Club. There is an unmarked door into the Concorde Room immediately after South security – there should be a BA staffer sitting outside. Other passengers need to go through the shops, down the escalators, past more shops and then go up the escalators (taking you back to about 50m from where you started!) to reach the First and Club lounges.
In terms of facilities, all of the lounges have showers available, and the Galleries South and T5B lounges have an Elemis Spa facility available to eligible passengers (those travelling in Club or First Longhaul).
Terminal 3 Lounges
In May 2009, BA moved a number of services into LHR T3 (previously only MIA operated from T3). To coincide with the increased number of passengers using the terminal, BA has opened Galleries Club and Galleries First facilities. An Elemis Spa is available for eligible passengers.
Some airports have separate First and Terraces/Galleries lounges, even outside the UK – e.g. Boston. At others, all eligible passengers use the Terraces/Galleries lounge.
BA Golds and Premiers are also allowed to use BA operated Club/Terraces/Galleries lounges regardless of the airline they are flying on - this is known as "Open Doors". Guests are not permitted (except for Premiers – who can also use the First lounge as well if they wish).
Qantas Club is a club run by Qantas (not surprisingly!) which is designed to offer lounge access to Qantas fliers in Australia. However, the scheme also allows members to use any BA-operated Terraces/Galleries lounge in the world when flying on BA. Qantas Club is the ONLY way that you buy your way into BA lounges. Membership is good value if your flying pattern means you’ll never earn enough tier points to reach Silver – it costs about £100 per year (plus a c. £150 joining fee at today’s exchange rate). See the Qantas Club website to apply. Note that it will not get you into lounges at airports where BA shares a third-party lounge, e.g. Paris CDG.
Nearly all BA lounges have WiFi provided by BT OpenZone.and as of March 2008 this is a free service within BA lounges globally (which is a great change as it used to be paid access only). As the list will probably get longer, we won't include it here. However here is a link to the AskBA? article that should have the correct info: AskBA? Answer 2802
Outside the lounges at LHR, there is T-Mobile WiFi access for those of you who subscribe to their service.
BA has a comprehensive list of worldwide lounges on their website.
They also have a list of all the "Terraces" styled lounges. If you follow this link and then click "Locations".
BA also use contract lounges in many locations. These are of variable quality! For some collective hints/tips notes, see the BA Wiki:
Arrivals lounges are open to people travelling in First or Club World, BA Premiers, BA Golds (on longhaul only), Qantas Chairman’s Lounge and Qantas Platinum members (again from longhaul only from BA/QF ‘joint’ flights), but NOT any other oneworld Emeralds. Premiers and Chairman’s Lounge are permitted one guest.
There are BA operated arrivals lounge facilities at LHR T5 and LGW. Passengers arriving into T3 can use the American Airlines Arrivals lounge, or head over to T5 to use the BA facilities there.
At LHR the arrivals lounges are located landside. At T5 follow the signs but you will find the Arrivals lounge on the Arrivals floor (one below Departures), a simple right turn after you exit the Arrivals hall.
At LGW the arrivals lounge is located on the ground floor of the Sofitel hotel and is operated by the hotel for several airlines. It has multiple shower units and a continental breakfast offering – not quite as good as the BA lounges at LHR, but very welcome nonetheless.
Note it is not possible to re-enter the baggage hall after you have cleared customs so you cannot use the Arrivals lounges before collecting your bags.
The lounges should be open at 5am for the first arrivals of the day and close at 2pm.
The arrivals lounge facilities are available to any BA passengers who have travelled in First or Club World, BA Gold cardholders who have arrived at LON on a BA/QF long-haul flight (however, no guests are permitted), and Qantas passengers have travelled in First or Business on Qantas from Australia. The arrivals lounges are not included on the oneworld lounge network and therefore access to the lounges is not available solely by virtue of oneworld status. Detailed access guidance for QF frequent flyers is available here: http://img77.imageshack.us/img77/7010/qfffsyf4.jpg
One exception to the rule, is that passengers who have travelled in Club Europe on the early arrival from DME can use the T5 arrivals lounge.
Facilities include shower suites, valet service, Elemis Travel Spa (at LHR only and availability of appointments is generally better than in Departures), hot breakfast, luggage store, quiet area, and business facilities.
The hot breakfast is usually cleared away at approximately midday. If you are arriving at LHR at 1pm, it is unlikely that you would have sufficient time to clear immigration, collect bags and use the lounges.
If you are connecting to another flight at LHR, if time permits you can clear immigration and use the arrivals lounge. However, if you have a connection of 2-3 hours it is generally recommended that you go to the Flight Connections Centre and take advantage of the facilities in the departure lounges to avoid missing your connection.
Infants do not count as guests. Infants are those under the age of two years according to BA.
At LHR T3 and T5 and JFK T7, there are Elemis Travel Spas. They offer various free treatments such as massages, facials, etc. They are open to people travelling First, Club World and BA Premiers and Golds (on longhaul). Other oneworld Emeralds, and people travelling in other travel classes are not entitled to a treatment. The Spa is first come, first served. Flying F does not enable you to jump the queue! Do note that tipping spa staff (or lounge staff, or any other BA staff!) is NOT expected.
When flying with a oneworld partner that uses a non-oneworld lounge in a particular airport, BA Gold and Silver members may not always gain entry to that lounge.
It is also worth noting that, strictly speaking, the BA rules say 'Guests must be travelling on the same carrier as Executive Club member' in order to access any BA lounge.
BA’s own lounge access policy also contains the following useful scenario (thanks to Fraser):
'7. Lounge access for connecting passengers
Passengers travelling inbound or outbound in First, Club World or Club Europe on a British Airways flight have access to the applicable British Airways departure lounge prior to their onward flight, regardless of class of travel - so long as travel is on a BA or oneworld flight.
British Airways lounge access also applies when travelling inbound in First Class or Business Class on a oneworld carrier.
For example: Travel Chicago to London Heathrow on AA in First Class arriving LHR T3, departing on BA ex LHR T5 to Stuttgart in Euro Traveller. Passenger is entitled to use the BA First lounge upon production of their AA boarding stub and onward BA boarding card'
In BA’s Own Words!
With thanks to Fraser again for scanning these official BA rules:
Geneva (GVA) - Open Doors for Golds on CHARTER flights doesn't apply during the ski season due to lack of space. You're OK if you're on a non-oneworld scheduled flight. Again, this seems to be a bit contradictory to BA's rules.
Hanover (HAJ) - Only oneworld Emeralds and Sapphires are allowed access; NOT Club Europe passengers with no status (although this route has recently been dropped from both LHR and LGW, this information is preserved in case it returns on a seasonal basis).
Lisbon (LIS) - oneworld Emeralds and Sapphires are allowed access; Club Europe passengers with no status will require an invitation (usually given at check-in).
London City Airport (LCY) – for the majority of passengers, LCY has no lounge at all, for any airlines! However, with a generous check-in closing time it is not necessary to arrive too early. Passengers on the BA London City Club World service to JFK can use facilities at the dedicated departure gate (Gate 24) – where you’ll find a mini lounge for 32 passengers, styled on the Heathrow Galleries concept service with free wi-fi and a selection of snacks and drinks.
Miami (MIA) – They are just odd here. AA members seem not to be welcome here, in contravention of the oneworld rules.
Nice (NCE) – It used to be the case that only oneworld Emeralds and Sapphires are allowed access; NOT Club Europe passengers with no status. However, this seems to have been relaxed of late so it’s worth asking…
Tel Aviv (TLV) and Cairo (CAI) - The BA (contract) lounges at TLV and CAI are open to Silvers/Golds/oneworld Emeralds & Sapphire but you must ask for an invitation at check-in if you're not flying in a premium cabin. Showing your card at the lounge reception is likely to prove unsuccessful.
We’re sure there are more to add in – if there are, please let us know!
Fast Track for Premium Passengers and Gold/Silver Passengers
Although not strictly lounge related, Fast Track at Security will help you get to the lounges, err, faster! Many airports operate Fast Track security for passengers in Business or First, and BA's main destinations are no exception - you'll find Fast Track at LHR T3/T5, LGW, JFK T7 amongst others.
For Golds and Silvers, Fast Track is also available at LHR T3, LHR T5, JFK T7, MAN and NCL irrespective of which cabin you're travelling in.
Last edited by Prospero; Oct 25, 10 at 3:25 pm..
Reason: updated regarding infants
ba.com is (unsurprisingly) BA’s website, allowing you to book tickets for any BA flight. There’s also an area for Executive Club Members.
ba.com currently supports IE6 and above (not on Mac), Safari 3.x on the Mac, and Firefox 3 on the PC, limited support on the Mac. Any other browser is NOT supported. Gecko based browsers such as Netscape/Mozilla tend to work mostly (especially since it’s been re-written for Safari support), but some things may not work properly.
If you’re booking a flight that’s a single hop, you’ll be presented with the Fare Explorer to choose your dates and times. It’s an easy colour-coded way of selecting the cheapest fare. It’s recently been enhanced to allow you to upgrade either one, or both legs of the flight (if applicable), and also to allow you to choose the lowest fare which will earn tier points (if logged in to your EC account) Also available if you’re logged in to the Executive Club area is the count of how many miles you’ll earn too for that booking.
If you have a problem or issue on ba.com then we have a very helpful BA staff member on the forum who may be able to help. There are no guarantees for fixes (or response times) but a PM to ba.com helper may be useful (for both you and BA!).
Paying for Flights
It’s a little more of a pain to book flights that don’t depart from your country of residence, but it is possible. On the current website, you can directly select a different starting destination from the front page. However, if that doesn’t work you can force the issue…
In the navy blue bar near the top of the site, the country you selected when you first visited the site will be displayed (for the majority of people it’ll be United Kingdom or USA). Clicking on it brings up a country list, where you can change your starting point. Proceed through the booking process as normal. When you get to the payment page, the country in the field is irrelevant despite what the website says. As long as the credit card number, name on the card, expiry date, and security digits are correct (and it’s not a nicked card), it will process and authorise regardless of the billing address.
BA currently accept:
Switch / Maestro
Visa Debit (Visa Delta)
Note that all credit cards (even BA’s branded AmEx) are now subject to a booking fee PER PERSON on ba.com (currently GBP4.50) If you change your country to something other than UK before booking, you will find that this fee does not appear …..
If you collect Air Miles (as opposed to BA Miles) you may want to consider booking revenue tickets through the airmiles.co.uk website as you will receive a handful of Air Miles as a reward for using the site. Your e-ticket confirmation email will include the BA booking locator which will allow you to pull up your booking in Manage My Booking on ba.com and add your BAEC number. This will not allow you to MFU your ticket, though. Alternatively, websites such as quidco.com offer cashback if you book flights through Opodo, Expedia and similar sites – for expensive tickets, the cashback can outweigh the booking fees charged. No UK cashback website currently offers a rebate for booking flights on ba.com as far as we know.
Functionality to select “lowest price flight earning tier points” presents itself only once you have logged into BA.com
Does BA Have a 24-hr "Cooling Off" Period if I Make a Booking Error?
The word from BA is that there is currently no official, global policy on. So the response you get may differ between 'home' regions. In the UK, the official line at the current time is that refunds/cancellations for non-refundable tickets will not be allowed but changes to the names or flight and/or dates may be (provided it's an all-BA operated itinerary). The best advice is to politely ask the question if you get in to this situation and see if the call centre can help you - but bear in mind the scope of what can be done is likely to be very limited. Actually, the very best advice of course is to be very careful before hitting 'Confirm' and triple-check everything
Can I get a refund if the price goes down?
No! BA do not follow this practice which some North American carriers have. If your ticket is not explicitly flexible or refundable, you will not be able to get any kind of refund just because the current market price is now lower – which is quite fair because you wouldn’t like it if BA came calling asking you for the increase if the fare went up.
However, BA do have a ‘price promise’ in place – if you can find the exact same fare elsewhere cheaper, BA will refund you the difference. The devil, as usual, is in the detail – specifically proving the booking is exactly the same. This will include the same dates, times, flights, cabin and more importantly booking class/fare bucket too.
Manage My Booking (MMB)
Once you’ve booked a flight, you should get a reference number. It’s called a PNR (Passenger Name Record). It’s a 6 character alphanumeric string, which will start with either, X, Y, Z or a number (typically 2 or 3). MMB will allow you to do the following:
• add your Executive Club number (or an On Business number) to your booking
• request a seat (if applicable)
• arrange help at the airport if you have mobility or vision impairments
• advise dietary requirements
• view, print or email your itinerary
• print or email your e-ticket receipt (if applicable)
• provide Advance Passenger Information for travel to relevant countries (e.g. USA)
• check in online
If you’re stuck without the ability to assign seats, wait until 24hrs before the flight, and OLCI.
On-Line Check-In (OLCI)
This brings us nicely to OLCI. OLCI is a great tool, but has some limitations.
All users can now check in online from 24hrs before their first flight. This applies to Executive Club members, registered users of ba.com or anyone else (so long as they have their PNR and can remember their own surname!) We highly recommend that you OLCI at as close to -24hrs from departure as possible in order to guarantee yourself the best seat, especially if you cannot pre-assign one (or didn’t pay to do so).
If you have a multiple segment itinerary, you will be able to OLCI for all segments from 24hrs before the first one. This means that for some segments, you will be able to check-in greater than 24 hours in advance. This also works if you have a return flight on the same day – i.e. you’ll be able to check in for the return segment 24hr before the outbound.
OLCI on its own, will NOT give you a boarding pass. More and more airports are now using ‘Print Your Own Boarding Pass’ (PYOBP) though. If available, you will be offered this option on the final screen of OLCI. Note you can now also OLCI multiple people on the same booking at once.
OLCI was recently enhanced to offer a range of options at check-in. In addition to PYOBP, you can now e-mail or fax your BP to the destination of your choice, save as a PDF or opt to collect your BP at the airport via SSCI (see below). The combination of options appears to depend on your departure airport – some will only offer the Print/Collect option.
You can also now OLCI via BA for a number of carriers if your first sector is with BA and you have an onward sector with any of the following airlines -
Flights need to be on the same booking reference, and the first flight on the booking must be with British Airways. If the BA flight isn't the first flight, then this will not work.
Note: once you have completed OLCI you CANNOT change your seat if you PYOBP. . If you choose to “Collect at Airport”, you will be able to come back into OLCI and change your seat at a later point
Sometimes, you may not be able to pick your seat. This could be because the flight is very full, or the airport have taken control of the seating or because OLCI is having a bad day! It is worth waiting a few hours, and going through the OLCI process again, seats may have opened up. You can at least try OLCI as many times as you want during the 24 hour window.
OLCI can be used if you have baggage to check-in. Most airports have a “Fast Bag Drop” (FBD) desk (tellingly being re-branded ‘Bag Drop’ desks these days…) where you can tag the bags, and obtain your boarding passes (if you haven’t already). At some outstations, the FBD desk doubles as the Club/First counter, meaning it’s worthwhile. You can also drop your bags at a normal counter if the queue is shorter – the Club line (assuming you have a Silver card or are travelling Club) is often quicker than Fast Bag Drop.
You can OLCI through your EC homepage with a direct link (where you’ll then be asked to select your booking) or from within MMB.
Self Service Check-in Machines (SSCI)
Most UK and European airports, and JFK have self-service check-in machines. From these you can select your seat and obtain your boarding passes (with an e-ticket receipt). You don’t need to be an Executive Club member to use them, however it does speed things up. The machine will also normally require you to insert the credit card the booking was purchased with. There are usually a few staff milling around to help customers with them, however they are very straightforward and easy to use.
If you are travelling on a UK Domestic flight, it is now compulsory to use the SSCI machine. If you have baggage, it should be checked in at a ‘Fast Bag Drop’ desk. Unfortunately, this is now likely to have a queue as long as the old-fashioned check-in queues used to be!
Note: if your credit card has expired or been re-issued since you made the booking, this will delay things (and you’ll need to queue at a ticket desk) – it’s always worth holding on to your old credit card if you can for these situations!
Last edited by Prospero; Oct 20, 10 at 5:13 am..
Reason: remove tips on booking via AA.com (no longer advantageous)
If you are based in Australia, you will not be able to join the Executive Club. BA recommends you join the Qantas programme instead. Currently If you are based in Asia, you will be able to join the Executive Club but collect Asia Miles instead of BA Miles. However effective 17 June 2008, the Executive Club will no longer be linked with the Asia Miles programme, and instead members in Asia will automatically become a full member of the Executive Club and will be eligible for all benefits, including earning BA Miles instead of Asia Miles. You don't need to do anything as the change will take effect automatically on 17 June 2008, and your Asia Miles membership will still be valid so you can remain a member of both programmes if you choose.
For more information on this, see the membership countries section, later on.
You also need to be 18 or over to join the EC. The only exception to this is the household account, which has its separate section, later on.
Comping from other FF programmes
BA very rarely comp status from other FF programmes. The exception to this is if you’re an employee of a large corporate that has a deal with BA. Your best bet is to speak to your account manager to see what he/she can arrange. Comps can also come through contact with your local country office – obviously this would be easier in somewhere like Romania rather than the US.
BA's official position on matching status (‘comping’) is:
Originally Posted by BA Executive Club
It is very rare for BA to match the tier status you hold with another airline. There are a few examples that I’m aware of in the US where this has been done for individuals from specific corporate clients, however as a general policy we don’t match tier status.
Executive Club Customer Service
It is worth noting, however, that you can comp from BA. bmi is very keen to recruit BA Silver and Gold card holders – the sticky on the bmi board will explain all. Remember that bmi is in Star Alliance so your bmi Gold will give you lounge access across *A globally. However, a *A Silver card only gives you lounge access on the airline which issues your card – a significantly poorer benefit than the BA Silver card (oneworld Sapphire equivalent).
Last edited by Prospero; Oct 20, 10 at 5:14 am..
Reason: minor format adjustment
Most airline programmes work on the principle that if you fly “n” thousand miles in a twelve-month period, you’ll get elite status. BA’s programme doesn’t work like that – it essentially exists as a reward programme for those flying in premium cabins and on flexible tickets, rather than purely from accruing miles from flying. So instead, each flight, if it’s booked in an eligible fare class, will earn a certain number of points. Get enough points, and you get promoted to the next tier.
There are four tiers in the BA Exec Club;
Blue - entry level Bronze - equivalent to oneworld Ruby Silver - equivalent to oneworld Sapphire Gold - equivalent to oneworld Emerald Premier - invitation only level
Blue is the basic level and is what you start on. Once you reach the required number of points, you will be promoted to Bronze etc.
Premier is an invitation only level. There are only around a handful (low thousands) of Premiers worldwide. You can’t get to it by just flying a lot. They are generally given to people that BA consider are important, and each new Premier has to be approved by the board (BA’s Board of Directors, not the FT Board – would that it were so simple!).
Within Gold there are effectively two levels now; ‘Normal’ and ‘Gold Guest List’. So far, the information we have is that members are invited to join the Guest List based on the criteria of earning at least 3000TP’s in the previous 2 years. To remain part of the list you need to continue to earn 3000TP’s in each year going forward. There are two major benefits; a once per membership year (note this is GGL membership year not your EC membership year, they are not necessarily the same) redemption for up to 5 people (i.e. member + up to 4 others) booked into revenue classes (A, D, T, B) rather than award classes, and a dedicated priority service phone number with dedicated 24-7 support desk.
The promotion process is not as simple as it could be at first glance. First off, you need to have four flights on BA (or BA franchise partners) in your membership year that earn Tier Points. If you don’t have this, as your flights are all on partners, you will remain forever Blue!
The levels are given below.
Bronze 300 or 25 BA flights
Silver 600 or 50 BA flights
In addition to accruing the requisite number of tier points needed for promotion to the next membership tier or to retain your membership at an existing tier, you also need to fly four qualifying flights during your membership year, irrespective of whether they earn tier points or not.
Examples of criteria used to determine qualifying flights from non-qualifying flights
BA metal + BA flight number = qualifying flight
BA metal + oneworld carrier flight number (other than BA) = qualifying flight
oneworld carrier metal (other than BA) + BA flight number = qualifying flight
oneworld metal (other than BA) + other oneworld flight number (other than BA) = non-qualifying flight
Effective 2009, BA also introduced a further means of going from Blue to Bronze or Silver – by taking 25 or 50 flights on British Airways in your membership year, you can now move up. In practice, this helps those trudging up and down the country on cheap tickets each week – for whom lounge access is probably a welcome benefit!
The information below is no longer applicable and will be updated
When you reach or exceed the number of points required for promotion, your Tier Points will be reset to zero. Your membership year will also be rest immediately. This means that from that date you are promoted, you will have one further year to maintain your status.
So (for a UK member) to get to Gold from Blue, you will need at least 600 Tier Points to get to Silver, these will then be reset to zero, and you will need a further 1500 points to get to Gold. Once you hit 1500 points, these will again be reset and your new Gold membership year will commence. From then on, your points continue to build (for the next year) – if you exceed 1500 when you are already Gold, they do not reset (they continue to add up towards other perks such as the GUF2 or Partner Silver Card as mentioned elsewhere).
There are some additional pitfalls that you need to be aware of during the promotion process. For most people, it’s fairly unlikely that they will hit 600 points exactly. When I was promoted, I got to 680 points, which then got reset to zero. So what happens to those extra points over the 600 mark? Well, you lose them. BA will not credit them back to you. So if you’re on 580 points, and you take a First flight, you are effectively losing 160 points. As with most “rules”, there are some exceptions. A few people have managed to get these points credited so if you desperately need the points, it may be worth a try.
Secondly, the promotion process itself can take a few days. This means that you can get several hundred points over the promotion threshold. When you do get promoted, and reset to zero, you will lose these points as well. However, do not fret. You will need to contact BA, and they will put a note on your account saying that you are “owed” how ever many points got reset. When it comes to getting promoted or renewed, you will need to contact them for them to manually process things.
Provided you have the required TPs and have done the required 4 flights, promotion will happen – typically in 3 days, sometimes longer (if weekends are involved) so don’t fret about it. Only if it’s not happened after a week would it be worth contacting BA.
You have probably wondered by now whether – if you live in the UK – you could get promotion to Silver or Gold more quickly by changing your mailing address in your profile to one in Europe? Well, yes, you can! However, there are five things to remember if you are thinking of doing this:
You can only have a BA AmEx if your Executive Club account is UK based. If you already have a card, it WILL be cancelled right away. There is one slight catch to this rule: if you are a UK based member and hold a BA AmEx card and then ‘move’ to Europe, your card should not be cancelled if you ensure that it has a zero balance, and stays that way whilst you are ‘living’ in Europe.
You cannot transfer Tesco Clubcard points to BA if your account is not UK based. One way around this is to keep the paper vouchers (they are valid for 2 years) and move your account back to the UK for six months once every two years.
You will not longer be eligible (or targeted) for UK-based promotions (although you will instead be targeted for promotions in your new region, which may work out better or worse – but either way, you can’t really complain!)
The European address you give BA must exist, because they will send your shiny new card to this address. One subtlety is that if you move back to the UK just after hitting Silver/Gold, the new card will likely be sent to your UK address rather than your European address. This is a lucky loophole rather than a guarantee though, so don’t rely on it 100%.
You can only change your address once every six months (i.e. you can’t just move, get promoted then return).
If your account is moved to Europe when you already exceed the next new, lower Tier Point threshold you require, you will automatically be promoted and your membership date reset to the day you move. If you move your address back you will retain your current status until the end of your membership year (for example a Euro Silver who has 500 Tier Points and a membership year end date of September 8th moves to the UK on March 20th and does not earn any more Tier Points – they stay Silver until September 8th when they get demoted to Blue for not having hit the UK renewal level of 600).
Renewal is fairly simple. Again, you need to achieve the required number of Tier Points and make four Tier Point earning BA flights within the year to maintain your status. The number of Tier Points required for renewal is exactly the same as the number required for promotion.
Gold card holders who do not retain their card benefit from a 'soft landing' in the first year - i.e. they will drop from Gold to Silver for a year and then either go back up to Gold or retain silver (if they reach the required number of points), or drop down to Blue the year after. The soft landing applies regardless of flying – i.e. even with zero flights and/or even if you don’t take 4 qualifying flights.
Earning Tier Points
Tier Points can only be earned on oneworld flights. Below is a table that shows how many points you’ll earn per segment:
Tier Point Earning
Cabin Economy Economy Premium Business First
(Discounted) (Full fare) Economy
Domestic Spain 5 10 -- 20 --
Domestic UK 10 20 (JYCDRI) -- -- --
Domestic South Africa 10 20 -- 40 --
BA short haul 10 20 -- 40 --
BA/AY short haul + 20 40 -- 60 --
Other short haul up to 2000 mi 10 20 -- 40 60
BA long haul up to 6000 mi 35 70 90 140 210
Other long haul over 2000 and under 6000 mi 35 70 90 140 210
BA/other long haul 6000 mi and over 40 80 100 160 240
Club World London City -- -- -- 210 --
OpenSkies -- -- 140 -- 210
BA/QF Europe to Australia 60 120 150 240 360
For the purpose of Tier Point earning BA Domestic UK fare classes J Y C D R I qualify as Economy (full fare)
QF Premium Economy E class do not earn Tier Points
Tier Points are not generally earned on non-oneworld airline partner flights.
BA/AY short haul plus apply to sectors between London and Antalya, Athens, Helsinki, Istanbul, Izmir, Kiev,
Larnaca, Moscow, Paphos, St Petersburg, Thessaloniki, Tripoli, Tirana, Tunis, Varna.
A small point with the Australia flights; if you’re booked to travel to Australia, but with a stop over (i.e. booked as two flight numbers), it will count as two longhaul flights, so you will actually earn slightly more than it booked as a single flight.
What’s the cheapest way to get X Tier Points?
Threads along this line pop up regularly. The cheapest ways to get Tier Points is described are described below – exactly what suits you best will depend on your budget, how many TPs you need and where you are based. In general, for people based in the UK at least, the cheapest way to get any number of TPs under 80 is an R Class Club Europe LGW-AMS-LGW. For anything under 40 TPs, it is likely to be LGW-AMS-LGW priced up in economy with the return leg upgraded to Club Europe in I class at the time of booking (upgrade the return to avoid the extra ‘APD’ thievery the Chancellor hits you for on ex-UK Premium cabin bookings).
Note this also applies if you only need 20 TPs. You may think it’d be cheaper to book a H class one-way Domestic/shorthaul but invariably H class is priced higher than I class in Europe.
Within Europe, a good way to earn Tier Points is to take advantage of Club Europe’s cheapest (discounted, totally inflexible) fares. These book in to the R fare bucket so you will see ‘R Class’ referred to a lot on this board. These can be a great way to ‘just top off’ your account if you’re short of a threshold…and great fun for weekend breaks or even daytrips. Note, short haul R class bookings usually require a Saturday night stay. The list of destinations and the best fares is somewhat seasonal and will also depend on fare sales, offers, etc. However, LGW is usually better than LHR.
Passengers on the BA Club World London City Service will earn the tier points equivalent to travelling in First Class – this was a promotion when the route started which has been indefinitely extended.
Fifth Freedom Flights
Also, BA operates a number of short flights that do not originate, or travel to the UK, these are known as fifth freedom flights. The full list is below:
Abu Dhabi – Muscat
Antigua – St Lucia
Antigua – Tobago
Antigua – Grenada
Bahrain – Doha
Baku – Bishkek (operated by BMED – keep an eye out for developments on the continuation of BA codeshares/earning opportunities since it was acquired by bmi)
Bangkok – Sydney
Nassau – Grand Cayman
Nassau – Providenciales
Sao Paulo – Buenos Aires
Singapore – Sydney
These are available to book by anyone, and for the short flights, can be fairly cheap, sometimes as low as £300 for a return in First for BAH-DOH. The Asia to Australia flights aren't that cheap but BAH-DOH-BAH in First (for example) used to be a potential bargain for 360 Tier Points if you were already out there – however BA corrected this anomaly in Q1 2008.
Earning Tier Points on one-way oneworld Partners
Most oneworld flights (as long as they are in an eligible fare class) can earn you Tier Points. The only exception to this are flights with a oneworld airlines code, that are operated by a non-oneworld airline. For example AA put their codes on to Alaska Airline flights and these would not earn Tier Points but do earn miles since BA has a separate miles relationship with Alaska. A flight operated by VN with a CX code earns you nothing. There are (as there often are) some exceptions – but in general, treat it as a hard and fast rule and a ‘nice surprise’ if you get something unexpected when they post.
Below is a basic table that shows the Tier Points earned on oneworld flights. Later, in the oneworld section of this guide, I will document which exact fare classes for each carrier are eligible for points.
Economy Premium Economy Business First
Flights < 2000 miles 20 -- 40 60
Flights > 2000 miles 35 70 140 210
If you’re travelling on a discounted economy fare, you’ll received a lower number of tier points than shown above.
KUP (pronounced ‘Kay-Up’)
These are fares on American Airlines which carry an Economy (K) booking code but as soon as you book them, they actually book in to a confirmed First Class seat (normally P). The great thing about them from our point of view is, they earn First Class miles and Tier Points as above too. With this in mind, there are some real Tier Point bargains to be had with KUPs (e.g. if you’re in America already on another trip). Our friends over on the AA Board:
Note: Of course, you need your BA number in the booking for the points to post. The AA website will not let you do this, but if you call AA they can do it over the phone. If you put the AA Record Locator in to MMB on ba.com 24 hours or more after making the booking then BA’s systems should be able to actually find the booking and retrieve it. Once retrieved, you can add your BA number as usual. If all of these fail or you forget, the first you’ll notice is at check-in with AA when your status doesn’t show on the BP. They can (if they’re knowledgeable agents) fix this but if they have troubles, simply wait and get the AAngels in the Admiral’s Club to fix it – they know their stuff and can do it without fail, and re-print you a BP with your status and number showing.
Pro-active Online Upgrade Proposition (POUG)
BA typically offer short haul upgrade deals from economy fares on each way basis. These are subject to the availability of short haul I class inventory and this proposition will usually be presented to you via MMB after your booking has been confirmed and ticketed. POUGs are by no means not limited to short haul European flights. This proposition also applies to long haul in the form of a single cabin upgrade jump from WT, WT+ or Club World, irrespective of selling fare, and you earn tier points and BA Miles per the upgraded class of service. However, if you pay for an upgrade when the underlying fare is a redemption, no tier points or BA Miles are accrued. Note, unfortunately, at this time, POUGs are not possible if your ticket includes UK Domestic flights.
POUGs may also be offered at check in (either via OLCI or at the airport on the day of departure.
Important note: POUGs earn miles and Tier Points per the upgraded cabin. With last minute upgrades, it may involve a call to your local BAEC office to request manual credit correction.
Depending on the route, flight time, length of flight, etc. this can be a good deal and a nice way to earn extra TPs – though the ‘value’ of these upgrades is often hotly debated here, and in the end it’s a purely personal choice.
Last edited by Prospero; Mar 26, 12 at 11:44 pm..
Reason: Bits of update
As we briefly touched on in the “joining information” and in the “Tier Points” section, BA has a different set of Tier Points, rules, and regulations depending on what part of the world you’re from.
Residents of these countries, BA recommends join the Qantas Frequent Flier programme:
Surrounding Islands (whatever that means)
Residents of the followingcountries, BA previously recommended join the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and/or Marco Polo Club – however effective June 17 2008 these countries will be eligible for full BAEC membership:
People’s Republic of China
You are allowed to change your country of residence once every six months and as mentioned in the “Tier Points” section, those living in North America, the UK and Ireland and Africa, have to get more Tier Points, than those living in other locations, such as Mainland Europe. Other items of note with regard to countries of residence include credit card programmes. You have to have an address in the USA to have a BA Visa card, and a UK address for the BA AmEx. If you subsequently change address after having one of these accounts, it will be CLOSED. More info on the AmEx is in the AmEx section, later on.
The North American region consists of:
Canada, Mexico, and the USA.
IMPORTANT CAVEAT: If you set up a Household Account then you will NOT be able to redeem Avios for someone outside the HA, unlike standard account holders. This also applies to GUF2 vouchers, including those redeemed for purely paid tickets via a Travel Agent which have nothing to do with Avios and/or HHAs
Household accounts (HHAs), or family accounts as they are sometimes referred to are a way of pooling Avios for redemptions. They are also a way of allowing under 18’s to join and earn Avios.
Each member must have the same address. You previously (and in some regions may still have to) needed to fill in a form, and fax it to BA. They will then lose the form, not do anything, and you’ll probably need to call (and fax) a few times before they manage to set it up However, now the process should be greatly simplified and can all be done online from your account.
Once it is set-up, you will have two mileage balances when you log into the website, a personal one, and a household one. The household one is the mileage balance of all the members, combined.
Avios earned is the only thing that is shared; status is NOT shared i.e. if one member is Silver and the other is Blue, the Blue member travelling alone, will not have lounge access, Club check-in etc.
As you have to be 18 or over to join the EC, the HHA is a good way to let kids join. There is no age restriction when joining a family account (however infant tickets will not earn TP and Avios). You will, however, have to phone BA to get them to add EC membership numbers to bookings of under-18s, as currently, BA.com does not allow you to do this.
The maximum number of members in a HHA is seven (one primary member, and six others).
You can only make one change to a HHA (which means adding and removing members, changes to your address) every six months.
Spending Avios from a household account
There’s a specific formula that calculates how Avios are get removed from each members account.
Where a is the first member, b is the second member, c is the third and so on; and x is the number of Avios being redeemed:
Avios deducted from a = (a/(a+b+c+...)) * x
Avios deducted from b = (b/(a+b+c+...)) * x
What this means in English is:
If I have 20,000 Avios and my partner has 40,000 (for a total of 60K), they would deduct twice as many Avios from his account as mine. e.g. for a 10,000 Avios award, they'd take 6667 from his and 3333 from mine.
Members of the HHA who are under 18 cannot redeem Avios for tickets.
Keeping Avios alive!
All BA accounts are subject to a rule which says they will expire and Avios be lost if there is no ‘activity’ (earn or spend of any kind) for 3 years. This applies to HHAs too unless there is at least one status member in the HHA. Other than that, make sure you keep an eye on this and ensure all accounts have some activity occasionally – of course, the easiest way to do that is a redemption due to the formula above.
Well, we finally get down to the business of actually earning BA Miles!
Calculated the base mileage your flight(s) will generate
First off, you need to actually work out how long a trip you’re travelling on. A great tool for determining the distances between two points in general is this website: http://gc.kls2.com
Calculating the actual mileage your flight(s) will earn
From the 1st October, the BAEC introduced a significant and positive enhancement relating to the number of BA Miles earned when travelling BA and AA network wide and also IB Joint Business Routes. IB Joint Business routes are those routes operated by Iberia between Europe and North America, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
In summary, mileage earning is metal/code and cabin class dependent and is broken down into four broad categories, as the following charts show. Note, the mileage shown is a percentage of the base mileage and includes the relevant cabin bonus (on top of your base mileage, you will accrue a 25% bonus for travel on BA in premium economy, a 50% bonus for business class and a 100% bonus for first class). If you are travelling on a short flight, eg. flight distance is less than 500 miles, the base mileage for earning is 500 miles. Award fares don’t earn any BA Miles or Tier Points at all. These are tickets booked into X, P, U and Z respectively.
British Airways (BA)
Cabin Discounted economy Full fare economy Premium Economy Business First
_______________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________
Fare class N V K M L O Q S Y B H W E T J C D R I F A
Miles earned 100% 100% 125% 150% 200%
[size="3"]American Airlines (AA)
Cabin Discounted economy Full fare economy Business First
_______________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________
Fare class K L M G N S V W Q Y B H J C D R I F P A
Miles earned 100% 100% 125% 150%
Cabin Discounted economy Full fare economy Business
_______________ _________________________________________ ____________________ _________________________________________
Fare class B, G, H, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, V, S Y J C D A R I
Miles earned 100% 100% 125%
All other oneworld and airline partner routes
Cabin Discounted economy Full fare economy Premium Economy Business First
_______________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________
Fare class N V K M L O Q S Y B H W E T J C D R I F A
Miles earned 25% 100% 110% 125% 150%
Notes, variations and exclusions:
S class earns 100% rather than the usual 25%;
H class earns 25% rather than the usual 100%.
Flights on AS do not earn Tier Points
The minimum mileage earned is 300 BA Miles rather than the usual 500 BA Miles.
M and N classes earns 100% rather than the usual 25%. R and W class earns 25%.
Flight on EI do not earn Tier Points
T, K, M and P class earns 100%; A, R and Z class earns 25%.
R class earns 25%.
W and H classes are discounted economy and earn 25%
K and L classes are full fare economy and earn 100%
Flights on IT code do not earn Tier Points although this is expected to change once IT becomes a full oneworld partner
G, K, Q and S classes are not eligible for mileage accrual on flights that operate wholly within Argentina;
G and Q classes are not eligible for mileage accrual on flights that operate wholly within Chile;
G class is not eligible for mileage accrual on flights that operate wholly within Ecuador;
G, Q and S classes are not eligible for mileage accrual on flights that operate wholly within Peru.
On QF coded flights, E class does not earn BA Miles (or Tier Points); R class earns 110%;
Business (classes J, C and D) earns 125%; H class earns 25% rather than the usual 100%.
K class earns 100% rather than the usual 25%.
R, T and W classes earn 25%
Eligible oneworld and airline partner subsidiaries include:
AA: American Eagle (AA), Executive Airlines (AA), Chautauqua (AA), Corporate Airlines (AA), Trans States (AA) and American Connection (AA)
AS: Horizon Air (AS)
BA: BA CityFlyer (BA), Comair (BA), Open Skies (EC) and Sun-Air (BA)
CX: Dragonair (KA)
IB: Air Nostrum (IB), Aviaco (IB) and Gestair (IB). Note, flights on Vueling do not earn BA Miles or Tier Points
JL: JALways (JO), JAL Express (JC), J Air (JL) and Japan Transocean (NU)
LA: LAN Chile (LA), LAN Argentina (4M), LAN Equador (XL) and LAN Peru (LP)
QF: AirLink/Impulse Airlines (QF), Eastern Australia (QF), Sunstate (QF), Southern (QF), Jet Connect (QF). Note, flights on Qantas affiliate Jetstar do not earn BA Miles or Tier Points
You can also buy BA Miles for other members, including other individual members in your HHA, up to 24,000 per year.
Buying BA Miles looks expensive but can be good value if you’re just short of an award. A few hundred pounds worth of miles, when compared the cost of a revenue premium class ticket, compares quite favourably. However, unless you definitely need the miles in the short term, there are cheaper ways of accumulating them – for instance buying products from Tesco which come with bonus points.
BA Miles can also be transferred between accounts. However, BA Miles cannot be transferred into an account with a zero BA Miles balance. You can book a ticket in someone else’s name, and remember that BA allows one-way bookings – so a friend with only, say, 25,000 miles could book you a one-way economy ticket TO the US, and you could use 25,000 of your own miles to book the return ticket.
We’ll talk about earning miles from places partners such as Avis, Tesco, Shell and others in the partners section. However, do note that recent reports say that if you buy miles on your BA Premium Plus AmEx they will post as ‘BA spend’ (i.e. earn triple miles for each pound spent).
A note about SPG transfers
If you need to buy larger quantities of miles than BA allow, you could do so in a round-about way by joining the Starwood hotel programme, purchasing Starpoints and then transferring them to BA (see spg.com). Starpoints cost 3.5 cents each and can be transferred 1:1 to BA Miles. If you transfer 20,000 at once, you also get 5,000 bonus miles. This means that 25,000 BA Miles will cost you (20,000 x 3.5c) $700 US. You can buy up to 20,000 Starpoints per year. If you are not already an SPG member, you cannot buy points until you have been a member for 30 days.
Last edited by Prospero; Mar 26, 12 at 11:42 pm..
Reason: update tier bonus rates for IB/remove MA
So you’ve got a great wodge of miles, how do you spend them?
Well, being an airline, flights would be the logical thing, but you can donate them to Unicef’s Change for Good programme, among other things.
Award tickets and MFU’s (Miles for Upgrade) on BA book into one of four fare buckets, X for Economy, P for WT+, U for Club, and Z for First. To check availability, you can either call them and ask (they’re usually very obliging), or just check yourself on ba.com – this shows the same availability as BA can see themselves. Alternatively award availability is also published on KVS (http://Help.KVSTool.com/#Classes).
Availability varies considerably. To destinations such as the US and Canada, where there a lots of flights, you can generally get awards in all cabins on roughly the dates and flights you want. Unfortunately, especially to popular places, such as the Caribbean, India, South Africa, and South America availability is rubbish, or even non-existent – even more so for premium cabins. Even if you book 11 months in advance, you will often find that certain days of the week are permanently blocked for reward flights.
We strongly recommend redeeming for Club or First seats as this is by far the best way to get the best value for your miles. You should also ensure that you get a BA AmEx if you are UK based to benefit from the ‘2 for 1’ voucher each year.
If you only have a modest number of miles, the best value redemption is probably a 25,000 mile MFU from World Traveller Plus to Club World to North America (or another equivalent ‘zone’ at that redemption rate).
When spending miles for flights, there are several options.
Part Cash, Part Miles (PCPM)
Part Cash Part Miles bookings are essentially standard redemptions and allow BAEC members to book redemption tickets using a combination of BA Miles and cash. This is particularly useful if your current BA Miles balance is insufficient for a reward flight and multiple price options are offered.
You can use Part Cash Part Miles towards one way or return travel on:
All British Airways flights including BA Citiflyer
Franchise carriers British Airways Citiflyer, Comair Pty Ltd (South Africa) and Sun-Air of Scandinavia A/S
Partner airlines Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Finnair, Lan Airlines and Kingfisher
Bookings in all cabins
Miles Only Awards
Secondly, you can spend miles for award flights! BA break up the world into different zones. The cost depends on what zone you’re travelling to and from. To work out how many miles a flight will cost, go here:
This will give you the “base mileage” i.e. the amount of miles needed for an Economy class award. If you want to travel in a premium cabin, simply multiply the “base mileage” by the following amounts:
Traveller Plus 1.5x
You can book award travel up to 24 hours before departure. Once booked, miles-only award tickets are flexible (i.e. to cancel/change) up to 24 hours before departure too. After departure, whether you can change it or not depends on the agent/region. Previously they were totally non-changeable, but there were rumours of change in 2009. The easiest way to avoid this issue is to book two one-way awards, unless you have an AmEx voucher to use.
The ability to change the dates or fully cancel your seat are, in the view of most people here, the ONLY acceptable reasons for using BA Miles to book a short-haul flight in Europe! In 2004 and 2005, BA ran ‘50% off sales’ for redemptions on its European routes which reduced the number of miles for a certain period. At these levels, they are worth considering - though this is the exception rather than then norm. Although it should be noted that if you are relatively 'miles rich' and 'time poor', you may find yourself with an AmEx 2-for-1 voucher which is about to expire...in which case, one of the longer Club Europe redemption for a long weekend somewhere nice may be better than letting it lapse totally!
You may also have heard the folklore surrounding BA’s one-off mileage sale in November 2008, where BA shaved 50% off of all mileage redemptions, worldwide in all cabins for a week. This was the first and indeed only time this has happened. Whether BA will ever repeat it – who knows? It’s thought to be highly unlikely – at the time, BA was suffering from decimated loads in all cabins, and the mileage sale was used to stimulate mileage bookings (and bank all the cash associated with fuel surcharges, taxes etc). There was also an accounting rules change which meant that mileage seats counted for official reporting purposes – thus meaning that by filling the seats by any means, BA’s official figures looked better.
Fees for date/time changes managed via ba.com are free but carry a £30 fee if completed offine. Cancellation/mileage redeposit fees are £30 offline/£15 online. These fees are waived for Gold card holders.
Note that these “free” tickets will still be subject to departure taxes and surcharges (including fuel surcharges which are now hefty), so don’t be surprised to see your “free” First ticket still costs you GBP450 or so along with the miles. Yes, this is disappointing…but compared to the market value of the seat, still a very good deal (hence our advice to look to redeem for Club or First tickets only).
Miles For Upgrades (MFU)
A third way to spend miles for flights is to pay and upgrade (note this is different to PCPM in that you pay the entire base fare, then apply miles and it can be used in any class). This is usually referred to as a MFU (miles for upgrade). This can be an extremely good deal. Generally the best option will be to upgrade from WT+ to Club, but we’ll explain the process for any fare.
MFU’s can be from Economy to WT+; from WT+ to Club; and from Club to First. Multi-class upgrades are possible (e.g. if you book a trip in Premium Economy outbound, and Club inbound, you could upgrade to Club outbound and First inbound - however to do so you have to book and upgrade offline by calling BA).
You can only upgrade from Economy to WT+ if your ticket is a Y B H fare. You CANNOT upgrade from a cheapy economy fare to WT+, although you can upgrade from a cheap WT+ fare to Club World. Note that as confirmed by Lyndsay the ‘special’ fare sale seats – if you booked your WT+ (T class) or Club World (I class) fare under a special offer (normally indicated by a big red ‘D’ for Discount throughout Fare Explorer) – are eligible for MFU.
With complex bookings the eligible fare requirement applies to all sectors used to construct the underlying through ticket - Something to watch out for when purchasing long haul tickets originating from UK regional airports.
Another extremely important caveat is that you can only upgrade a ticket that has been purchased directly from BA. This applies to ba.com or over the ‘phone. If you are in North America, you can upgrade a ticket, but it must have been purchased from a “BA Preferred Travel Agent”.
One-way MFUs are possible at any time for half the miles (For posterity, previously you could only do this if only one segment had availability for the upgrade and the other didn’t – this could often require some lengthy discussion and quoting ‘AskBA 1056’ to the agent!)
The good thing about MFU’s is that you’ll earn Tier Points and miles for the fare you PURCHASED i.e. the paid fare you are upgrading from. This is about the only visible ‘difference’ in treatment between an MFU (or, in terms of entitlements rather than ‘earning’ anything, a full award ticket too) vs. a fully paid ticket for that class – you are entitled to all the benefits of a normal fare-paying passenger in the upgraded cabin (e.g. lounge access, relevant check-in desks, Spa treatments, etc. as applicable).
You can only upgrade one class at a time. The cost in miles for an MFU is the base (i.e. pure economy reward) mileage multiplied by a certain amount:
Euro Traveller to Club Europe x1.0
World Traveller to World Traveller Plus x0.5
World Traveller Plus to Club World x0.5
Club World to First x1.0
So for example, let’s say you want to book a flight from London to San Francisco, moving from World Traveller Plus to Club World. The basic fare is (say) £650 including taxes. Upgrading from World Traveller Plus to Club World will cost you 0.5 x the economy award seat mileage (so 0.5 x 50,000 = 25,000 miles). So for £650 + 25,000 miles, you get a seat in Club instead of World Traveller Plus.
When it comes to changing MFU’s it can get complicated. If you MFU from a restricted ticket, then those restrictions still apply. If you MFU from a full fare, unrestricted ticket, the base flexibility remains BUT to retain the MFU you must find award availability on the flight you change to. After departure, you will lose the miles (like for a normal award) if you make changes.
The Shareholders discount cannot be combined with an MFU and the MFU may be revoked/denied if you try it – though this is something which may change as BA Executive Club is investigating this.
MFU’s can be extremely problematic when it comes to actually getting credit for the fare you paid – many here regard BA’s back-end systems as a disgrace in this respect! MFU’s are an oddity, as the system needs to track two fare classes, the one you paid for, and the one you booked into. The problem is, the fare class you book into, is the same as for award tickets. So the system can incorrectly log it as an award ticket, and it comes up on the statement as earning no points or miles.
For example, a normal MFU from WT+ to Club, should appear on your statement as J/T (i.e. you sat in J but paid for T). Most of the time, it comes up as J/U instead. To correct this, you need to speak to someone at the service centre. This can take anywhere from two weeks to months to credit. Some people have had tens of phone calls, and numerous faxes before it was sorted. What’s crazy is that it actually takes about five minutes for them to do. If you don’t get anywhere, a PM to the ever-helpful BA Executive Club will usually help Luckily, however, in recent months BA has managed to dramatically increase the number of MFU’s which post correctly.
Additionally, seats must be available in the cabin you want to upgrade from (i.e. if WT+ is sold out and Club has award seats, you still won’t be able to make the booking), as well as the cabin you want to upgrade in to.
Priority Reward is an opportunity for Gold Executive Club members to book any available seat in any cabin, provided there are commercial seats available for sale on any flight for double the standard redemption mileage rate. Priority Reward bookings can only be made offline, more than 30 days in advance and are open to BA mainline flights only. A £15 service fee applies. Changes to Priority Rewards booking are possible within 30 days but only if normal redemption classes are available.
Gold (High Value) Upgrades for Two
At 2,500 and again at 3,500 Tier Points a (non-EU) Gold member earns one of these (so-called GUF2) upgrade vouchers (and if they hit 4,500 Tier Points, they receive a ‘Silver Partner Card’ which can be given to anyone they nominate). For EU Gold members the threshold for the first voucher is 2,000 Tier Points. There is no second voucher or Silver Partner Card as far as we know.
These are a nice perk, allowing the upgrade of the member and one person to the next cabin for a return trip on any BA flight number including franchise flights but excluding code-shares. Unlike an MFU, a Gold upgrade can be used on any revenue ticket (even deep discounted Y). If redeeming your GUF2 via BA award-booking classes are used, with a consequent lack of availability. However, if you are booking through a Travel Agent they will be able to use the easier-to-find revenue buckets (they do not have access to the award redemption buckets). You can find BA’s instructions to travel agents by clicking here.
Note: You can also use it for just one person if you really wish to. An ex-EU Club World ticket is typically seen as a very good value GUF2 redemption. A GUF2 applies to all legs on all flights and doesn’t have to start in your home country (e.g. you could in theory do something like JFK-LHR-SIN-SYD-BKK-LHR-JFK from paid CW to First if you wished!).
Expiry of BA Miles
BA Miles will expire if there is no activity on your account for 36 months (three years). If you're getting close to the end of three years, there are a lot of things you can do to extend the life of your account. You can buy miles, donate them to charity, order flowers, stay in a hotel, rent a car, or even take a flight! Anything that appears as an item on your statement will mean the account is active for another 36 months.
As noted in the other section, for Household Accounts, each account needs activity to keep its own miles alive (unless there’s at least one status member in the account). The easiest way to ensure this is a redemption (where miles are taken pro-rata from each account), or buying the minimum miles for EACH account – just buying miles for one account will NOT keep the whole household account active. However, as mentioned above, if one member of the Household Account is EC silver or higher, miles for other members of the Household will never expire, subject to status being maintained.
You can also redeem miles on oneworld partners. You can even now do this online First of all you need to search for the route you require as usual. After the search has been run (even if it turns up no results) you will be offered the option to search partners instead. This sounds cumbersome but works well enough and is designed this way to ensure BA options are exhausted first. To coincide with this genuine enhancement, Partner Awards have now got more flexible (they used to be totally non changeable, non refundable):
1. You can change the date and time on partner bookings free of charge up to 24 hours before outbound departure
2. But you cannot change the route, i.e. you cannot change NYC-LAX with AA to NYC-SFO with AA
3. And you cannot change the airline, i.e. you cannot change from LHR-NRT with JL to LHR-NRT with BA
4. As will all redemptions (BA or partner) you cannot change the point of origin
5, You can can cancel all partner redemption bookings and receive a full refund of your BA Miles, provided you cancel 24 hours in advance.
As with all awards, if you want to travel in business class, you need to multiply the miles you need by 2x, and if you want to travel in first, by 3x.
Spending Miles for Children and Infants
Infants (less than 2 years of age) travelling with a Member on a flight Award will travel for ten percent of the Mileage required for the Member's flight Award if they do not have their own seat. Children (2 years of age or older) and infants who require their own seat will be "charged" the full Mileage for the relevant destination. This also applies for MFU's too i.e. a MFU for an infant will only cost 10% of the miles.
Last edited by Prospero; Jul 5, 11 at 5:02 pm..
Reason: update links to BA.com Spending BA Miles
British Airways is a founding member of the oneworld alliance. At the time of writing, these are the members (with their codes in brackets):
American Airlines (AA)
British Airways (BA)
Cathay Pacific (CX)
Royal Jordanian (RJ)
S7 Airlines (S7)
*Lan is Lan Argentina, Lan Chile, Lan Peru and Lan Ecuador.
Within oneworld, there are three different elite tiers. This is an effort to identify a common elite standard across the different programmes.
There is no level in the BA programme that equates to oneworld Ruby. Ruby allows business class check-in, and that’s pretty much it. It does NOT grant lounge access.
Sapphire is equivalent to BA Silver and gives access to business class lounges, and business class check-in.
Emerald is equivalent to BA Gold and gives access to first class lounges, and first class check-in.
BA Premier members are also given oneworld Emerald status.
BA also has a number of partners that are not a member of oneworld. These partners allow you to earn miles, but not Tier Points when booked under that operating carrier’s code. You can also redeem miles on non-oneworld partners.
The most recent departures from these partnerships are Emirates, SN Brussels, Caribbean Airlines and America West – you can no longer earn or redeem BA Miles on these airlines.
Note that in some cases, BA do sell tickets under a codeshare arrangement and these CAN earn Tier Points and miles at the BA rate – for example, on EI routes in to LHR if you are on a through-ticket (e.g. DUB-LHR-SIN), it’s possible to buy flights under the BA codeshare for the EI-operated flights. In these cases, if the class is eligible on BA flights to earn TPs, you should still receive them.
Flights operated by British Airways wholly owned subsidiary OpenSkies use the same fare classes as British Airways mainline services and are eligible for mileage accrual and redemption under the same rules. Open Skies operate from the Continent to the US, taking advantage of the recent Open Skies treaty between the EU and the US.
- Operates former BA 757 and L’AVION 757 aircraft which have been refitted with Business (called “Biz Bed” in OpenSkies marketing parlance), Premium Economy ("Biz Seat") seats;
- Open Skies currently connect Washington D. and New York - Newark to Paris (Orly) with daily flights.
Sometimes when you fly on BA, you’re not actually flying on BA. In several parts of the world, BA has franchises. You’ll still get a BA flight number, the crew will still be in BA uniform, the planes will still be in BA colours.
The franchise carriers are:
British Airways CityFlyer
Comair Pty Ltd. (South Africa)
Sun-Air of Scandinavia A/S
Earning Miles and Tier Points on oneworld and Partner Airlines
Earning miles and Tier Points on partner and oneworld airlines isn’t as simple as on BA flights. In fact, depending on what fare class you’re booked into, and what cabin you’re in, it can be quite complicated. Rather than explain the “n” number of possibilities, we’ll link to the table on ba.com that does a pretty good job of listing all the possibilities by airline and fare code:
Most of the time, you’ll need to travel in Y B H to earn anything other than 25% of miles however since 01 October 2010 all discounted economy flights on BA earn 100% mileage. Business tends to earn 125% of miles flown. First tends to earn 150%. For Tier Points earning, see the “Tier Points” section of this thread, although the most important point for those hunting Tier Points to note is the '2000 miles rule'. If you can make this work for you, status gets a great deal easier - it can make an RTW trip especially lucrative, for example.
A Note About Checked Baggage
BA has quite a simple policy really:
1. If checking in for a BA flight, BA will check your bags all the way through as far as possible to any airline it has an interline agreement with provided the flights are all on one booking
2. If checking in for a BA flight where you are connecting to any oneworld member flight (including another BA flight) on separate tickets (e.g. CDG-LHR on a BA ticket, LHR-ORD on an AA ticket) then BA will still check the bags through for you.
3. If checking in for a BA flight where you are connecting to a non-oneworld member flight on separate tickets…enjoy collecting your bag and re-checking it, because BA won’t be through-checking it for you!
Last edited by Prospero; Mar 19, 11 at 6:06 am..
Reason: Add S7 to the list of oneworld carriers