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Getting into premium cabins on British Airways got more expensive with the April 28th change to Avios award prices. They raised most premium cabin prices, and introduced a calendar that dictates which flights have ‘peak’ or ‘off peak’ pricing.
British Airways doesn’t publish a formal upgrade price list, though the pricing is pretty straight forward. Upgrade prices are calculated as the price of an award in the cabin you want to sit in less the price of an award for the cabin you’re currently ticketed in.
So for example if you want to sit in Business Class, which costs 50,000 miles on an off-peak date from Zone 5, the cost is 50,000 Avios points less the Premium Economy award price of 26,000 Avios, which equals 24,000 Avios for the upgrade.
We’ve compiled the prices below.
If you’re in the U.S. and want to upgrade to London, keep your eyes on Zones 5 and 6, which are where nonstop British Airways flights from the U.S. to London are priced. And most of the time buying the lowest upgradable ‘T’ Premium Economy fare to get into Club World (Business Class) is the best deal.
You’ll find sticker shock compared to what you used to pay, which was as little as 10,500 points one way from discount Premium Economy fares.
East Coast to the U.S. now costs at least 20,000 points one way, almost double the old price. Though ironically, the new ‘peak’ dates result in cheaper upgrade prices than ‘off peak’ dates.
The usual rules for upgrades remain the same:
- You can only upgrade one cabin
- For upgrades to Club World Business Class you must book a W, E, or T Premium Economy fare
- For upgrades to First from Club World you must book at J, C, D, I, or R class
- For upgrades to World Traveler Plus Premium Economy you must book Y, B, or H class
- Upgrades come out of the same inventory as award tickets, so if an award seat is available in the cabin you want to sit in, you can upgrade
But there is a way to get around the pain if you have some flexible points.
AsiaMiles, the mileage program of Cathay Pacific, lets you upgrade the same British Airways fare types that you can with Avios.
And the prices are much better compared to the new, higher Avios prices for upgrades.
See the chart below to get a sense, or look on the AsiaMiles website, but for flights from the U.S. to London you can upgrade for as little as 20,000 Asia Miles roundtrip.
The Premium Economy to Business upgrade prices are very close to the prices British Airways used to charge Executive Club members, and can be a very good deal.
For example, you could pay $1,967 for a Premium Economy ‘T’ fare from Philadelphia to London and upgrade it for only 22,500 Asia Miles roundtrip since Philadelphia to London is in Zone C for Asia Miles with a distance of about 3,500 miles one way.
If you used Avios you’d have to pay 40,000 points on peak dates or 48,000 points on off peak dates for a Zone 5 upgrade, and paying cash would set you back around $5,400, so the savings can be substantial.
There are some catches though:
- You can only upgrade roundtrip flights – you can’t do one way upgrades on British Airways with AsiaMiles. So upgrade space needs to be open for both directions of your trip.
- The inventory AsiaMiles sees can differ from what British Airways makes available to Executive Club members, or what you see on the American Airlines award search tool. And AsiaMiles views upgrade inventory different than award inventory. There is an online tool you can use if you already have a reservation in your account. Otherwise it’s best to call to check options. Peak dates defined by British Airways are not blocked for AsiaMiles redemptions.
So Asia Miles could be a great point saver if you are thinking of upgrading British Airways flights, especially since American AAdvantage, another alternative, only allows upgrades from the most expensive fares.
It’s easier than it used to be to earn Asia Miles.
Citi ThankYou® points now transfer directly into Asia Miles if you hold a Citi Prestige® Card, Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, or Citi Chairman card, and Amex Membership Rewards® points have long been transferable into Asia Miles.
The information related to the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
And Asia Miles also has great prices for outright award redemptions if you’re willing to pay the fuel surcharges. Most awards from the U.S. to London are still around 80,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class / Club World.
We’re not sure how long the favorable pricing will last, but take advantage of it while you can if you tend to use Avios for upgrades.
That is unless you can take advantage of the current $1,700 roundtrip fares from New York to Paris on British Airways…