“It’ll be fine”.

That’s what just about everyone preparing for a flight in the back of the plane says to themselves, until they actually get to the airport. It’s at that precise moment that you begin to wonder if there’s any possible way to get out, get upfront and get an upgrade. Some people ask outright, others buy suits and try charm, others – bribes, but British Airways is now trialling a far more efficient way with Avios points.

This summer, British Airways travellers will have the opportunity to turn last minute woes into happy glow, using Avios to upgrade at the last minute, for the first time ever.

british airways business class seatWhat’s Happening

From June 3-30th, British Airways will trial upgrades using Avios at the airport. Presently, there’s no way to use Avios to upgrade at the last minute, whereas some other airlines allow you to upgrade using points even after you’ve boarded. The trial will only take place at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, for select flights on each day and can only be done in person.

According to information obtained by GSTP, the trial may continue beyond that date indefinitely, if it proves to be popular and non-disruptive to the check in flow. The upgrades will be offered from 8AM to 9PM daily, from Monday thru Friday only. Sadly, no weekend upgrades – for now.

How It Will Work

British Airways Executive Club members who want to use points to upgrade at the last minute will be able to do so, if “AUP” airport upgrades are offered on their flight. If they wish to upgrade, passengers will be directed two two dedicated Club World check in desks in Terminal 5 where agents will process the upgrades.

a glass of wine and food on a tableInterestingly, pricing will not be in line with standard Avios upgrade pricing. In other words, if a one way upgrade from London to New York is typically 20,000 points from economy to premium, or premium to business – it won’t be when you attempt this style of upgrade.

Side note: here’s how to upgrade any British Airways flight.

It’s unclear how many points would be required, but it’s likely that the cost in Avios would be dynamic, and based on demand. In other words, it could be 40,000 points for one flight, 18,000 for another and 100,000 for another – at least in theory.

Good News For Avios Fans

This is pretty much great news. Avios are an extremely easy and lucrative currency to collect, but great redemption options have become more limited in recent years. Adding flexibility for people to use points when they want to most, for the things they want the most – like upgrades – is a solid move. Let’s just hope that these trials turn into mainstay redemption options.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I suspect this is however bad news in terms of getting free upgrades. If people can pay with their Avios, BA are less likely to be forced to give involuntary upgrades to overcome overbooking.

  2. I just wasted 25000 avios and $200 to upgrade from BA J to F. Definitely a waste but I figure I wanted to try the so called “best business class product” which is BA First Class.
    Although I think Qatar J is probably still better than BA F. Wonder if they would’ve given me the option to upgrade to F at the airport.

  3. Do you happen to know if it will be just Avios, or it would be Avios and taxes/fees/charges?

    If no money involved then any possible higher Avios difference might not be so bad.

    I know existing AUP amounts are inclusive of any additional TFCs, so I imagine AUPUA might be similar?

  4. Did work today. Asked if any upgrades available and was told no. Probably because I was on BT

  5. Tried to upgrade from Premium Economy to business this morning from Heathrow to Bahrain.
    I was quoted … wait for it …. 130,000 Avios.
    This was at the service desk in the First lounge. She quoted from a chart, and I asked her to confirm as I believed the cost to be the difference in Avios of the two classes.
    She called a support desk and she was asked by the person she was calling what the cash upgrade would be, and said £625. It was confirmed that the Avios upgrade would cost me 130,000 one way for a six hour flight.
    This isn’t such a great option after all.
    Seems that the rules have changed.

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