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Get business class while it’s hot…

Some things in travel don’t make much sense, but when they work in your favor, you just gotta roll with it. In the latest case of “this makes no sense, but it’s awesome” it’s actually cheaper to buy flights, upgrade using points and earn miles back than it is to use miles for the same seats and earn nothing back. If you’ve got £550 and some British Airways Avios, you’re going to love this article…

palm trees aviosPremium Economy And Upgrade Deals

British Airways has amazing premium economy deals from European cities to both the East and West Coast of the USA. These deals cost about £530-£585 return, and will earn 90 tier points each way, which helps you earn British Airways Bronze, Silver or Gold status benefits and also a minimum of 6,500 Avios Points (the ones you can spend) back. Upgrades from Premium Economy to Business are one of the big sweet spots of the British Airways Executive Club program, and in this instance it makes a lot more sense than using Avios outright, or even a 2 for 1 voucher! Here’s why…

Using Avios Outright For Club World

If you didn’t buy a cash ticket, and simply used Avios to book your flight, you’d still get hit with major surcharges. For a return Club World Business Class flight to Los Angeles, you’d part ways with a (borderline insane) 125,000 Avios Points and £649 per person in surcharges. That’s just bonkers! Booking a cash ticket from one of the great paid flight deals requires half the Avios (or less) and even less cash – and you earn stuff back! Here’s how to actually do it…

a seat in an airplaneFind A Great Premium Economy Deal

The first step is finding a great premium economy deal. The best round trip deals are typically from Geneva, Dublin or Zurich at the moment, but London has some goodies too. Here are a few examples, like £535 to New York from Dublin, £619 Geneva to San Francisco, £650 Dublin to Los Angeles, £599 Dublin to Miami and £722 Inverness to Los Angeles. The beauty of this maneuver is that there aren’t any crazy steep additional taxes added when you upgrade a European flight from premium to business, so the difference in fare is hardly anything. You just basically pay the difference in points and a very small cash sum, if any.

Points Needed To Upgrade

The Avios points needed to upgrade one way will range from about 20,000-30,000 depending on the destination and peak or off peak. You can upgrade just one way, or round trip from between 40,000-60,000. To figure out the Avios points needed, figure out the difference in points between premium economy and club world for your destination and dates. Whatever the difference is the upgrade price in Avios. Know this: British Airways often incorrectly prices the cash difference for these upgrades. Here’s what to know about that, so you can call and book with ease.

a row of seats in an airplaneThe Key Magic Trick

To pull off the ultimate coup, knowing you’ll be flying in comfort – you’ll want to search as if you’re planning to use points from the start. Yep, before you book your ticket using cash, act as if you’ll be cashing in Avios. Search for a seat not in Premium, but in Club World using Avios. If a seat is available in Club World using your Avios, it will also be available for upgrade from Premium. This means you can immediately make your premium economy cash booking, and ring British Airways up to upgrade using your points. The key is simple: try to book onto flights with seats available in business class and then immediately upgrade. Easier for some than others, but worth it.

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 have just booked a Premium Economy return to Boston from Dublin via London Heathrow for next May. Be aware though that BA charge you additional taxes, in my case £130 return, to upgrade to Business as well as 44,000 Avios. Gib is this correct?

    1. A bit high, but definitely in the ballpark. Difference in fuel surcharges on that route is much less, so sometimes people get the calculations wrong, but it’s all very fluid these days. The 44k Avios return should be correct. Did that include short haul? I usually just upgrade the LH element, which could be the higher number. Still a great deal eh?

  2. It was 52,000 Avios if I included the short haul between Dublin and London and the taxes would have been the same! Not worth upgrading to business on such a short flight and I don’t intend on taking the return leg back to Dublin anyway!

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