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Old Aug 20, 12, 5:54 pm
Grand Union
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 100
Upgrading using Avios

Upgrading using Avios (UuA) allows BAEC members to use their Avios points to upgrade either a new or existing cash booking to the next cabin above. This is often seen as a good use of Avios, particularly in terms of upgrading WT+ tickets into Club World. Until the advent of Avios, this process was known as MFU (Miles for Upgrade) and you may still see this term used in FlyerTalk.

You can only upgrade one cabin, however if your particular flight does not offer a WT+ cabin it is possible to UuA directly from World Traveller to Club World. UuA can be used on BA, IB and American Airlines, subject to availability. Note that in EuroTraveller and World Traveller bookings, only Y, B and H buckets can be upgraded. Generally speaking all paid for WT+ and CW tickets can upgraded, subject to availability. UuA draws availability from the same pool as straight redemptions, so you may find making dummy bookings for redemptions the fastest way to find out whether you can deploy UuA. You can also pay for, and then immediately upgrade it, in the same booking; or UuA an existing booking at a later date, see below. You can also UuA one or several legs of a return or multi-city booking, which may be a necessary strategy if availability comes online at different times.

The genius of UuA is despite the upgrade being pulled from redemption inventory, the booking retains an underlying commercial fare. This means you earn Avios and Tier Points for your flights in accordance with the original selling fare. If you are a Silver or Gold members it gets better as you'll also earn a 100% Tier Bonus on top of the base Avios.

Using London to Chicago booking one way in WT+ and upgraded with Avios to Club World. The upgrade is an up front cost of 10,000 Avios. The flight earns 3,950 base Avios, plus a cabin bonus of 988 Avios, and for Gold/Silver members an additional 3,950 Avios. This reduces the net cost of the upgrade to a pleasingly slender 1,112 Avios.

01 UuA on BA only flights, booked through a BA sales channel

You can only upgrade from economy to premium economy if your ticket was sold as either a Y, B, or H fare. You CANNOT upgrade from a cheapy World Traveller fare to World Traveller Plus, although you can upgrade from a cheap World Traveller Plus fare to Club World. One-way UuAs are possible at any time for half the miles, and cherry picking individual sectors for upgrade is also permitted.

The good thing about UuA is that you’ll earn Avios and Tier Points 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 UuA (or, in terms of entitlements rather than ‘earning’ anything, a full award ticket too) versus 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 Avios for an UuA is the base (i.e. pure economy reward) mileage multiplied by a certain amount:

x1.0 Euro Traveller to Club Europe
x0.5 World Traveller to World Traveller Plus
x0.5 World Traveller Plus to Club World
x1.0 Club World to First

So for example, let’s say you want to book a return from London to San Francisco, moving from World Traveller Plus to Club World. The basic fare is (say) £900 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 Avios). So for £900 + upward adjustment in fuel surcharges + 25,000 Avios, you get a seat in Club instead of World Traveller Plus.

When it comes to changing UuA it can get complicated. If you UuA from a restricted ticket, then those restrictions still apply. If you UuA from a full fare, unrestricted ticket, the base flexibility remains BUT to retain the UuA you must find award availability on the flight you change to. After departure, you will lose the Avios (like for a standard redemption) if you make changes.

The Shareholders discount cannot be combined with an UuA and the UuA may be revoked/denied if you try it. However, this is something which may change as BA Executive Club is investigating this.

UuA 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! UuA 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 UuA 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 1 to 2 weeks to credit.

02 UuA on BA only flight, booked through a travel agency

The ability to upgrade Travel Agent (TA) issued tickets is possible since 17 July 2012, with corporate net tickets from 24 July 2012. Unfortunately, marine fares are not eligible. There are a number of criteria, and broadly follow the same terms and conditions as Upgrade Using Avios (UUA) on a normal booking:

  • The country in which the TA is in must be the same as the address in your BAEC profile for you to be able to UUA. So if your TA is in the USA and booked the tickets from there, and your BAEC profile is in UK, unfortunately you're out of luck.
  • Tickets can be upgraded into the next as long the fare was in the following classes: Y, B, and H (Economy); W, E, and T (Premium Economy); J, C, D, R, and I (Business)
  • The flights must be BA-coded and on BA metal. For example, a QF-codeshare on BA metal will not be eligible.
  • A booking that has already been part flown will not be upgradeable.
  • You can upgrade using the Manage My Booking (MMB) facility and select the Upgrade this flight using Avios.
  • Upgrades are only possible if there is redemption availability in the cabin you want to upgrade into. Bulk Ticket and Included Tour tickets cannot be upgraded.
  • You will pay for the fees associated with the upgrade using Avios, eg, additional taxes.
  • Once the upgrade takes place, BA re-issues the ticket and is then responsible for servicing the ticket for any changes for the re-issued ticket, not the travel agent.
  • This means BA will be the contact for communications regarding any changes to the upgraded tickets. However, BA will not take ownership of the PNR and any other non-flight arrangements.
  • If the upgraded ticket(s) need to be cancelled, then the passenger must contact their local BA centre.
  • The travel agent cannot make changes on behalf of the passenger unless the TA is a nominee on the passenger's BAEC account.
  • Generally, if any changes are to be made to an upgraded ticket, it is advisable to contact both BA and the travel agent, in case there are elements of the PNR that require action by both parties.
  • If you change your flights, your upgrade will be preserved if there is award availability in that class for the new flight, even within 24hrs.
  • Otherwise, miles will be refunded, subject to "redemption charge" if outside 24hrs, or tough luck; nada within 24hrs.

03 UuA on BA, AA, and IB flights

UuA can also be applied to American Airlines and Iberia flights and/or tickets combining travel on either of these airlines plus BA. The rules that apply to upgrading BA flights generally apply to AA and IB flights, albeit with a few differences.

  • Flights must be booked directly through BA. Flights booked through a travel agent are not eligible.
  • Flights booked as part of a package holiday (even if booked through BA) are not eligible. This includes bulk tickets and Inclusive Tour (IT) tickets.
  • UuA is permitted on eligible published fares only. Those fare classes are: J, C, and D (Business); W (Premium Economy); Y and B (Economy).
  • If you cancel an UuA booking, the whole journey must be cancelled.

04 Calculating the amount of Avios needed to UuA

Sample routing: Stockholm to Washington DC via London

Using ARN-LHR-IAD as an example, we can review a couple of different scenarios to give you an idea of how UuA are calculated. Like standard redemptions, each flight is considered separately and in turn.

  • Underlying fare combination: ARN-LHR (Y fare class) plus LHR-IAD (T fare class)

    Flight 1: ARN-LHR
    To upgrade flight 1 from Euro Traveller to Club Europe. ARN-LHR at 911 miles falls into Zone 2, at 7,500 Avios, so for an upgrade from Euro Traveller to Club Europe the x1.0 multiplier is applied and it will cost 7,500 Avios to upgrade this sector. Note, as progressive fuel surcharges apply to BA flights, you will also need to pay the difference between the fuel surcharge paid and that assessed for the upgraded cabin of travel.

    Flight 2: LHR-IAD
    Upgrading the long haul sector, flight 2, from World Traveller Plus to Club World is calculated on similar lines as ARN-LHR. The flight distance in this case is 3,677 miles (Zone 5 at 20,000 Avios). However since an upgrade from World Traveller Plus and Club World is categorised as only a half cabin jump, the number of Avios needed to upgrade this sector 10,000 Avios Point (plus additional fuel surcharge)

    Therefore 17,500 Avios Points will be needed to upgrade both sectors. It is possible to upgrade just one of the flights. This decision can be involuntarily taken (i.e no award availability on one of the sectors) or voluntarily (i.e. at your choosing)

  • Looking at the same itinerary again, but this time with ARN-LHR booked in Club Europe (J fare class) and LHR-IAD booked in Club World (I fare class)

    Flight 1: ARN-LHR
    Well since ARN-LHR is already booked in the highest class, there is no point upgrading this flight. Moving swiftly on to the transatlantic sector...

    Flight 2: LHR-IAD
    The upgrade on the LHR-IAD from Club World to First is calculated using the x1.0 multiplier, therefore it costs 20,000 Avios Points to upgrade this sector.

Introduction | Standard reward flights | Multi-Partner reward flights | Reward Flight Saver | Avios & Money | Upgrading using Avios | Using your companion vouchers | Additional Gold benefits | Hotel and car rental redemptions

Last edited by Prospero; Sep 9, 12 at 4:42 am
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