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GREAT NEWS: British Airways Doubles The Number Of Guaranteed Award Seats In Most Cabins


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The way British Airways releases award seats on its flights is significantly different from how most other airlines release award seats in one very key way – British Airways guarantees to release a minimum number of seats in its Economy and Business Class cabins for every flight and it makes these seats available as soon as the flights become bookable.

Now, with the UK travel industry still struggling to get a recovery underway thanks to government regulations surrounding COVID testing, self-isolation, and mandatory quarantines, British Airways has announced that it will be offering more guaranteed award seats on every flight than it has ever offered before.

More Guaranteed Award Seats

Historically, British Airways has guaranteed that it will release 4 Economy Class award seats and 2 Business Class award seats on every flight on the day that flights are made available for booking, and this is a key reason why Avios can be a very useful currency to have even though surcharges on award bookings can be horribly expensive – guaranteed award availability is an attractive thing for those of us who enjoy playing the miles & points game.

Today, British Airways has confirmed that not only is it doubling the number of guaranteed award seats that it will release in its Economy and Business Class cabins, but that it will also guarantee to release 2 Premium Economy award seats on all long-haul flights for the very first time.

Here’s what the changes look like:

These changes have been made retroactively starting with flights departing the UK on 28 July 2021 and the additional award seats have already been loaded into the airline’s booking systems. More importantly, this looks to be a permanent change for the better as there’s nothing in BA’s announcement to suggest that this is a short-term boost for the Avios collecting community.

British Airways is still not making any commitment to release award seats in its First Class cabin but it has confirmed that over 250,000 extra award seats are now available to be booked across its network for flights through 17 May 2022 (as far out as it’s possible to book BA flights today).

Quick Thoughts

This is excellent news if you enjoy using Avios to book your trips, although it’s important to keep in mind that this change only relates to British Airways operated flights and doesn’t have anything to do with flights operated by Iberia or Aer Lingus (two other carriers that use Avios as their reward currency).

Personally, I have always loved the fact that British Airways offers guaranteed award availability because given the choice of a useable but often expensive currency (e.g. Avios) or a hard to use but relatively cheap currency (AAdvantage Miles), I prefer the former and more guaranteed award seats just made Avios even easier to use.

Also, not only is this good news for straight-up award availability, but it’s also good news for this of us who like to use Avios to upgrade into Business Class. As BA’s upgrades are dependent on award availability being available in the cabin a passenger wishes to upgrade into, the increased guaranteed availability in Business Class should make it easier for customers to pay for a Premium Economy seat end up flying in Business Class….which is partly what a lot of us play this game in the first place.

Bottom Line

It’s good news from British Airways. The airline has announced that it is raising the number of guaranteed award seats that it releases on its flights (short- and long-haul) and it has confirmed that it will be guaranteeing at least two Premium Economy award seats on all long-haul flights for the first time. The new award seats have now been loaded into the airline’s booking systems for flights from 28 July onwards (250,000+ new seats have been added) so they’re available to be booked right now.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s use a figure of a nice round average of 100 long haul economy seats per plane. If they allow 8 Avios seats per plane, the announcement should have read “British Airways announces they will bar their loyal frequent flyer customers from using Avios on 92 percent of economy seats.”

    • That’s incorrect. British Airways will guarantee at least 8 economy class award seats will be made available in every flight at the time the flight goes on sale. The airline isn’t limiting the number of economy awards it’s just saying that at least 8 will be made available on every flight.

  2. Interesting angle you bring up about buying a Premium Economy ticket and then later using Avios to upgrade into Business Class. In general (besides the Avios used for the upgrade), what are the additional fees/surcharges with this kind of upgrade?

    And how does one find out which city (or country) pairs that do NOT incur the hefty fuel surcharges that BA charges?

    Thanks in advance, Ziggy, for any insights you can offer!

Comments are closed.

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