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Compared to a lot of major airlines, British Airways makes it relatively easy for passengers to upgrade their bookings to the next cabin of service so as upgrades can be one of the better ways to get the most out of an Avios balance, I thought I’d post a simple step by step guide to show how you can upgrade an existing British Airways booking with Avios.
A Few Key Points To Note
- Upgrading flights with Avios is only available for cash fares and can be done at the time of booking or after a booking has been made (this post focuses on the latter).
- A passenger can only upgrade their booking to the next cabin up (e.g.World Traveller bookings can only be upgraded to World Traveller Plus and World Traveller Plus can only be upgraded to Club World).
- A passenger can only upgrade to the next cabin up if that cabin can be booked using Avios only (i.e if there’s award availability in that cabin).
- Not all British Airways fares can be upgraded. Deeply discounted Economy Class fares (which book into fare classes G, O, & Q) cannot be upgraded, but just about all other fares are upgradeable.
- On a muli-flight itinerary, segments can be upgraded separately and not all segments of a booking have to be upgraded (i.e you can upgrade just one leg of a roundtrip booking).
- The Avios cost of an upgrade (there will be surcharge and possibly even added taxes to pay also) can be calculated using the following formula:
- Avios required to upgrade one way = Avios for the cabin you wish to upgrade to – Avios for the cabin you’re booked
- British Airways flights can only be upgraded using Avios from a British Airways Executive Club account. Avios sitting in an Aer Lingus or Iberia account would have to be moved to a BAEC account before they could be used to upgrade a British Airways booking.
More details on the British Airways site.
Upgrading An Existing British Airways Booking
First and foremost you should confirm that an upgrade is possible by checking to see if there is award availability in the cabin you’re hoping to upgrade into on the flight(s) that you have booked. The easiest way to do so is via BA’s “Book Flights With Avios Page”
Once you have confirmed that an upgrade is possible, move on to step 1.
Step 1 – Access your booking
Open up your British Airways booking from your British Airways Executive Club page or via the manage my booking option which can be accessed from the menu bar on BA.com.
Once you’re in your booking, you should be faced with a page that looks something like this:
Step 2 – Scroll down the booking confirmation page
If you scroll down the booking confirmation page, the option to “Upgrade with Avios” will appear towards the bottom – Click the link to Upgrade with Avios.
Step 3 – Confirm you have consent
The page that opens up after you click the “Upgrade with Avios” link is a standard page that you’ll often see on the BA website which asks you to confirm that you have the consent of all passengers in the booking to make the changes that you plan to make. Click “Continue”.
Step 4 – Select which flights to upgrade
In the example you’ll see below, the itinerary is for a roundtrip World Traveler Plus booking between London and Los Angeles. Underneath each of the flights, British Airways is offering me the option to upgrade “to the next available higher class”.
This is where you choose which flights you’d like to upgrade and which you’re happy to leave as they are. In this case, as I’m happy for my teenager to travel in World Traveler Plus on the outbound (daytime) flight I have left that flight alone and just requested an upgrade for the return (nighttime) flight:
When you have made your selection(s), click “Continue”
Step 5 – Confirm your flight selection
The next page you see will simply show you which flights you’ve selected to upgrade…
….so, assuming all the details are correct (go back and correct them if they’re not), click “Continue”.
Step 6 – Confirm all the other details
The page that you should now be faced with will have all the remaining information about the booking. Here you should check that the passenger details are correct and confirm who will be paying for the upgrade.
Once you’ve checked that all the details are correct (or have corrected any errors) continue to the next page.
Step 7 – The price summary
It’s at this point that BA will show you the total cost of the upgrade split between the Avios needed to upgrade and the surcharge and the added taxes (if any) that the upgrade has triggered.
Confirm that all the details appear reasonable and move on to the next page.
Step 8 – It’s time to pay
The Avios needed for the upgrade will be deducted from your account automatically but there’s still the small matter of the surcharges and taxes that need to be paid as a result of the upgrade. This is the point at which those are settled.
Once you’ve filled in all your details (or retrieved the card details you have stored on BA.con), proceed with payment (make sure that you use a card that will earn you maximum rewards for purchases made directly with an airline – like the Platinum Card® from American Express).
Step 9 – Upgrade confirmed!
Once your payment has been processed, British Airways will display a screen confirming your upgrade…
…and you should receive an email confirming the changes that you have made (note: your booking reference shouldn’t change).
That’s it. There’s no more to it than that. Upgrading a flight using Avios is remarkably straightforward (assuming awards are available on the flights that you’d like to upgrade) and as upgrading an overnight flight to a more spacious cabin can be an excellent and economical use of Avios, it’s an option that a lot of people should be considering before they splash out on a more expensive fare.