British Airways Brings Back Its “Upgrade To First” Promotion (UK)

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British Airways has brought back its “Upgrade to First” promotion which it last ran back in February this year.  The promotion is simple in that it offers passengers a free one-way upgrade to First Class when they make an eligible roundtrip reservation in British Airways Club World (Business Class).

Note: It’s possible that other countries are included in this promotion and that BA have just sent me the UK info – check your local websites to be sure.

British Airways Upgrade To First

a close-up of a seat
British Airways Dreamliner First Class

Headline Terms & Conditions

  • This promotion is only open to persons resident in the United Kingdom, aged 18 years or over, who books and travels on a Qualifying Flight.
  •  A Qualifying Flight:
    • is a published fully or semi-flexible return fare in Club World on a selected BA mainline service or a selected BA marketed codeshare service, departing from the UK;
    • must compromise of one sector that is booked in either J, C, D or R class on fare basis codes which include ‘UP’ within the naming convention and another sector that is booked in A class (subject to availability);
    • is not valid on flights purchased using other offers or promotions, including redemption bookings using Avios.
  • Qualifying Flights must be booked between 27 June and 7 October 2018 inclusive.
  • Outbound flights must commence from 27 June – 23 October 2018 inclusive and all travel must be completed by 31 October 2018.
  • Eligible Participants who adhere to all the promotion rules will be permitted to an upgrade either on the outbound or return part of the Qualifying Flight from Club World to First (booking class A).
  • All upgrades are subject to availability at the time of booking.
  • Bookings must be made with a travel agent or by contacting the local BA Call Centre. This promotion does not apply to bookings made on
  • No pre-registration is required for the upgrade.
  • Eligible Participants must request the upgrade at the time of booking.
  • All Qualifying Flights must start and finish in the UK.
  • The upgrade to First cannot be requested on existing bookings.
  • Flights on BA’s franchisees, codeshare partners or oneworld alliance members are excluded with the exception of American Airlines, Finnair, Iberia and OpenSkies operated flights to the US.
  • Routes that do not operate with a First cabin cannot be used as one sector of the Qualifying Flight to receive the upgrade except on the LCY-JFK service.
  • The upgrade to First offer is valid on flights to the following destinations:
    • United States, Mexico and Canada on flights operated by American Airlines or British Airways – Albuquerque (ABQ), Anchorage (ANC), Atlanta (ATL), Austin (AUS), Bradley International (BDL), Birmingham (BHM), Nashville (BNA), Boston (BOS), Baltimore (BWI), Chicago (CHI), Cleveland (CLE), Charlotte (CLT), Cincinnati (CVG), Denver (DEN), Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), Detroit (DTT), Fort Wayne (FWA), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (HOU), Indianapolis (IND), Memphis (MEM), Mexico City (MEX), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis St Pauls (MSP), New Orleans (MSY), New York (NYC), Omaha (OMA), Philadelphia (PHL)), Pittsburgh (PIT), Raleigh Durham (RDU), Richmond (RIC), San Diego (SAN), San Juan (SJU), Salt Lake City (SLC), St Louis (STL), Washington (WAS), Montreal (YMQ), Toronto (YTO), Vancouver (YVR), Calgary (YYC).
    • Rest of World on flights operated by British Airways only – Abu Dhabi (AUH), Abuja (ABV), Accra (ACC), Bahrain (BAH), Beijing (BJS), Cape Town (CPT), Dubai (DXB), Durban (DUR), Hong Kong (HKG), Jeddah (JED), Johannesburg (JNB), Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Kuwait (KWI), Lagos (LOS), Moscow (MOW), Nairobi (NBO), Riyadh (RUH), Seychelles (SEZ), Shanghai (SHA), Singapore (SIN).
  • There is no limit to the number of times an Eligible Participant can take advantage of the upgrade offer during the Promotional Period.
  • BA Executive Club members will be awarded Avios and Tier Points in accordance with points allot table for the cabin that they actually fly in.

The promotion page is here although, at the time of writing, British Airways hasn’t updated it to show that this promotion is live – if you see a “this offer has now ended” it’s because BA’s IT team is sleeping on the job (nothing new there).

a seat and a monitor in the back of a planeChecking Availability

Upgrades are booked into fare code A inventory so, if that’s not available on your flight, you can’t upgrade (I use ExpertFlyer to check availability based on fare codes)

For example, in the ExpertFlyer screenshot below you can see that the later flight has “A” inventory while the earlier flight does not.

a screenshot of a cell phone

If you book an eligible Club World fare you can choose the leg on which you get the upgrade (personally I would choose the daytime leg as that would give more time to enjoy the added benefits of First Class).


There are three major issues with this promotion:

  1. The promotion appears to be limited to residents of the UK (although other regions may be announced in due course).
  2. The booking codes which are eligible to be upgraded don’t include the cheaper Business Class fares.
  3. Not all British Airways routes are eligible to be upgraded – notably flights to/from Los Angeles and San Francisco aren’t included in this promotion.

Also, don’t forget that this cannot be booked online – calling up BA is probably the best way forward.

Still, as I’ve said before, if you’re fortunate enough to be in a position where your job pays for you to fly on flexible or semi-flexible Club World fares and you’re flying on an eligible route then this is definitely a promotion for you….for the rest us I suspect the cost of the Club World fares required to qualify for the promotion will be prohibitive.

Link to promotion (when BA IT has caught up)