British Airways Revives Its “Upgrade To First” Promotion (Possibly UK Only)

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British Airways has brought back a promotion which offers customers a free upgrade to First Class on one sector of their journey as long as they purchase a qualifying roundtrip Business Class fare.

From the information I’ve seen it looks as if this promotion may be limited to residents of the UK and for departures out of the UK but, as with a lot of BA promotions, there may be other versions of this deal available which take in other localities.

British Airways First Class 747

Headline Terms & Conditions

  • This promotion is only open to Eligible Participants. An Eligible Participant is a person resident in the United Kingdom, aged 18 years or over, who books and travels on a Qualifying Flight (see definition below).
  • A Qualifying Flight: (a) 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; (b) 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); (c) must be booked and travelled between the dates specified; (d) and is not valid on flights purchased using other offers or promotions, including redemption bookings using Avios.
  • Bookings must be made between 11 April to 31 May inclusive.
  • Qualifying Flight travel dates (applicable to J, C, D, R and A classes): Outbound flights must commence from 11 Apri – 28 Aug 2019 inclusive and all travel must be completed by 30 Aug 2019 for LHR flights and 14 Sep 2019 for LGW flights. The only exception to this is for Tel Aviv and Delhi where the travel period is 1 June 2019 to 28 Aug 2019.
  • 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 selected countries as mentioned under clause 1 (the UK) and all tickets must be purchased and ticketed in one of those countries.
  • The upgrade to First cannot be requested on existing bookings.
  • Please be advised that not all fare types will be eligible for this promotion.
  • 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.
  • There is no limit to the number of times an Eligible Participant can take advantage of the upgrade offer duringthe Promotional Period.
  • 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. In this instance, the upgrade can only be taken on the Heathrow to New York (JFK or EWR) or New York (JFK or EWR) to Heathrow sector of the Qualifying Flight, subject to availability. Passengers can book the LCY-JFK service in Club World to qualify, but as there is no First cabin on the LCY- JFK service they must use the LHR-JFK/EWR in one direction to take advantage of the upgrade offer.
  • Please check available routes when booking as (i) certain routes may be excluded from this promotion, (ii) routes may be withdrawn fromthis promotion at any time and without notice.

a seat and a monitor in the back of a plane

Valid Departure Cities

  • Aberdeen (ABZ)
  • Belfast (BFS)
  • Edinburgh (EDI)
  • Glasgow (GLA)
  • Inverness (INV)
  • Leeds Bradford (LBA)
  • London City (LCY)
  • London Gatwick (LGW)
  • London Heathrow (LHR)
  • Manchester (MAN)
  • Newcastle (NCL)

Valid Routes & Destinations

  • All services between the UK and USA, Canada and Mexico with British Airways and American Airlines, Finnair, Iberia and OpenSkies.
  • Abu Dhabi (AUH)
  • Abuja (ABV)
  • Accra (ACC)
  • Bahrain (BAH)
  • Barbados (BGI)
  • Beijing (BJS)
  • Cape Town (CPT)
  • Delhi (DEL)
  • Dubai (DXB)
  • Durban (DUR)
  • Grenada (GND)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Jeddah (JED)
  • Johannesburg (JNB)
  • Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
  • Kuwait (KWI)
  • Lagos (LOS)
  • Moscow (MOW)
  • Nairobi (NBO)
  • Port of Spain (POS)
  • Riyadh (RUH)
  • Seychelles (SEZ)
  • Shanghai (SHA)
  • St Lucia (SLU)
  • Tel Aviv (TLV)
  • Tokyo (TYO)

Full Terms & Conditions can be found on the promotion page via this link

a seat and a monitor in the middle of an airplane

Checking For 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 earlier flight has “A” inventory while the later flight does not.

a screenshot of a calculator

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 two obvious issues with this promotion:

  1. The promotion appears to be limited to residents of the UK (although the promotion may be available elsewhere – call up you local BA reservations line to see if they’re offering the promotion)
  2. The booking codes which are eligible to be upgraded don’t include the cheaper Business Class fares.

There are, however, also two positives worth mentioning:

  1. Flights on BA’s transatlantic partners will count for this promotion (as long as they’re booked as a BA code share). This mens that you can make the most of American Airlines’ superior Business Class seat in one direction while benefiting from BA First Class in the other.
  2. British Airways has confirmed that members of the BA Executive Club will be awarded Avios and Tier Points in accordance with the cabin that they actually fly in and not the cabin which they book – the upgrade to First will see customers earn First Class Avios and Tier Points.

a seats and tables in an airplane

Bottom Line

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 of us I suspect the cost of the Club World fares required to qualify for the promotion will be prohibitive.

Link to promotion