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This is probably the best way to use Avios.

In the very best of sales, you’d be really lucky to pay £1000 return for business class from Europe to New York City. Unfortunately, those deals hardly ever come around, and they don’t last all that long. Even when they do, it’s £1000 – which is a lot of money. While no one is saying £600 isn’t a lot either, it’s a lot less, and at prices not much more than economy, the idea of trading that cabin for business class is amazing. To do this: all you need is Avios. Love doesn’t hurt either.

a city with a body of water and cloudsWhat We’re Doing Here

British Airways has one of the most flexible upgrade policies when it comes to turning a reasonably priced ticket into a nicer one. BA is super focused on pushing out its premium economy product this year and to do so, they’ve been offering amazing sales from a few European cities. Why do you care?

When you book one of these great premium economy deals, it puts you in a perfect position to finally get some good use out of your Avios points, by using them to upgrade your ticket. When you use points upgrade a ticket you initially bought with cash (like this one), you still earn miles and tier points when you actually fly. In this instance, you could fly round trip to New York for about £600 in cash and 40,000 Avios Points per person.

What makes this extra cool, crazy or absurd – is that you’d need to use 100,000 points and more than £600 to book a redemption flight using Avios. When you do that, you don’t earn any miles either. In case it hasn’t dawned on you, by going this way, you’re saving 60,000 Avios per person and spending the same amount in cash – AND earning miles back too.

a bed in a planeLet’s Get On The Same Page Here

There’s a few steps involved here to make this all run peachy and lovely, so lets get on the same page to make sure we see exactly what the plan is now. It’ll make things easier in the future. Basically…

  • We need to find a cheap premium economy fare to New York, or anywhere you want to go, that’s operated by British Airways.
  • We then need to find flights where seats in the next cabin (Club World) are available using Avios. Fortunately, this is easy, and we wrote the best ever guide to BA upgrades.
  • We then need to call (don’t try online) to upgrade our actual premium economy tickets to business class, using our Avios points. Think around 20K one way, or 40K round trip.
  • Finally, sit back, relax and board without having to ask for an upgrade. You already have one, which is so much more fun.

Where The Deals Are

The key to all of this is finding cheap premium economy deals on British Airways. Fortunately for you, we’ve kinda done that for you already. The best current premium economy deals from Europe to New York are from: Dublin, Zurich, Milan Inverness and Amsterdam. Dublin, Ireland offers the very lowest prices at the moment, but everything is within around £50 of each other.

If you live in the UK and don’t want to trek to Europe, Inverness is your best bet. Here’s Google Flights links to each, for you to play around later.

The best deals tend to offer the lowest prices from Mid September of 2019 through to April 2020. Simply play around to find dates that work for you, but don’t book anything until you’ve read along just a bit further….

a street with cars and buildingsHow To Put It All Together

Now that you know where to find the best deals, and what the big play is, the key is finding dates where the long haul flights from London to New York, and vice versa are available for upgrade. To do that, RewardFlightFinder.com is your best resource.

It’s free, and allows you to see an entire calendar year of when seats in business class are available using points. If the seat is available for Avios points redemption, it’s also available for upgrade. They are one in the same. Next, login to BA and figure out which specific flight has the seats available for upgrade in business class.

Once you’ve got all this info, you can book your premium economy flights from whatever Euro city you chose, and then ring up BA to upgrade the long haul for 20k points or less each  way. You could also upgrade the European leg to connect you into Heathrow, but that seems like kind of a waste. Just saying.

If you’re incredibly lazy, you could just phone up British Airways and pray you get a patient agent who’s willing to tell you if business class Avios seats are available on the dates you want, but it’s just a lot better if you find the available space, book your cheap premium economy ticket and then call.

If at any moment you get lost, refer back to this upgrade guide.

When you do call, you’ll pay between 18,000-20,000 points each way for the upgrade, and each ticket will likely require a small cash copayment, somewhere around £100 or less. If someone on the phone quotes something more substantial, they’re wrong. Read up here for more on that. Even with the fee added, you’ll still be somewhere under £600 total for the trip, or darn close.

As for getting to Dublin, Amsterdam or one of the other cities to kick off your fab deal, I’d personally spend a few extra Avios to get a “free” there, since it would only cost around 4,500 points and £20. Of course, if you actually live in one of these cities – even better Woohoo!

Now go enjoy New York City, with these brilliant tips on what to avoid, what to do, and how to spend a perfect 48 hours there.


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 Comment

  1. Not even an attempt to mask the unfettered trolling with humour, manners or accuracy…
    There are many travel blogs based in the UK and whilst no fan of GSTP’s ongoing enthusiasm for the lying, exploitative, customer hostile, shareholder friendly policies that make up BA in 2019 I have found GSTP coverage swift, accurate (with a possible bias in the case of BA), entertaining to read and easily digested… If you must troll, at least do it equally!

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