Best Ways to Book British Airways First Class With Points [Step-by-Step]

British Airways First Class 787-9 Seat View

British Airways (BA) is known for providing consistently excellent service in their premium classes, with first class obviously being the most luxurious way to fly with them. Before we dive into the best ways to fly British Airways using points, let’s take a quick look at some of the greatest parts of this experience.

A Look Inside British Airways First Class

British Airways First Class 787-9 Middle Seat
The spacious first class suite on the British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner is all about comfort and style. With only 8 first class seats on the Dreamliner (compared to the usual 14), passengers will find themselves pampered even more.

 

British_Airways_First_Class_787-9_Amenity_Kit
With distinct options for men and women, the new Liberty London amenity kits contain selected Aromatherapy Associates essentials. These kits were designed exclusively for first class and are only available on British Airways.

 

British_Airways_First_Class_787-9_Afternoon_Tea
When flying British Airways first class, you’d expect to find a few English customs here and there. In addition to the regular meal services, first class passengers can also experience a traditional afternoon tea service.

How to Fly British Airways First Class Using Points

British Airways is a member of the OneWorld Alliance, which means you can use miles from any of the OneWorld carriers along with their own Executive Club Avios to book flights. In addition to OneWorld partners, BA also partners with Alaska Airlines, Aer Lingus, and Meridiana.

When booking an award ticket on BA operated flights, you may notice the taxes and fees are higher than you would expect. This is because British Airways adds significant fuel surcharges to their flight prices.

BA considers these charges to be separate from the ticket price, so they’ll be added on to award tickets as well. This often makes economy award tickets too expensive to make sense, but the fees are much more reasonable when you’re redeeming for first class.

Hot Tip: Travel originating from the UK is subject to the British Air Passenger Duty. For flights over 2,000 miles in premium classes, this is an additional £150 (approximately $198). This tax can be avoided if your return journey begins somewhere other than the UK. If you want to visit London, add a couple of days in Amsterdam or Paris at the end of your trip. When you return from those cities (or anywhere else in Europe), you’ll avoid that extra $198. If you are traveling with more than 1 passenger, those savings can really add up! This is especially helpful when using BA’s Travel Together Ticket.

British Airways Executive Club

ZoneDistance (Miles)Off-PeakPeak
11 to 65015,50018,000
2651 to 1,15025,50030,000
31,151 to 200034,00040,000
42,001 to 3,00042,50050,000
53,000 to 4,00068,00080,000
64,001 to 5,50085,000100,000
75,501 to 6,500102,000120,000
86,501 to 7,000119,000140,000
97,001 and greater170,000200,000

One of the easiest ways to book British Airways first class is through their own frequent flyer program. Their mileage currency is called Avios.

Unlike major U.S. airlines, British Airways Executive Club uses a distance-based award chart (shown above) for first class redemptions. The award pricing can get quite complex depending on how many different partners you are flying with, but for our purposes we’ll just look at flights operated by British Airways. After all, we are trying to experience British Airways first class!

British Airways flights are individually priced based on the distance between origin and destination and what class of service you want to fly. This means that if you want to book a flight that has a connection, each flight segment will be priced separately, and the 2 award prices will be added together.

In addition to the above guidelines, British Airways has peak and off-peak pricing depending on when the flights will take place. To check your dates and see if they qualify for off-peak pricing, find a link here under the section titled “Working Out the Cost.” It appears that off-peak dates include most of September, all of November, and about half of October and December.

British Airways awards can be booked online following the steps outlined below.

  1. Go to the British Airways website
  2. Log in to your account (in the upper right corner)
  3. Scroll down and select Spend Avios in the center column
  4. Choose Book a Reward Flight
  5. Enter your origin and destination airports, dates, and select first class
  6. Click on Get Flights
  7. Select the button for the available first class flight you want and click Next
  8. Agree to the terms and conditions and click Continue
  9. Enter your passenger information and click Continue
  10. Confirm your flight details and make your payment

Not only do the mileage prices add up for each flight segment, but taxes and fees (including fuel surcharges) add up as well. Multi-segment flights booked with Avios quickly become outlandishly expensive, so British Airways Avios are best used for direct flights or single connections.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Chart
The Japan Airlines partner award chart is distance-based, and there are some sweet spots at the top end of certain mileage ranges.

Like British Airways Executive Club, the Japan Airlines Mileage Bank program uses a distance-based award chart. This award chart is broken into tiers based on how many miles you’re flying.

Note that if you fly multiple segments, you’ll also need to account for the distance between each airport.

Japan Airlines requires you to call to book award flights with partner airlines, but this is easy if you follow the steps below.

  1. Go to the Japan Airlines website
  2. Log into your JAL Mileage Bank account
  3. Select JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket Reservation
  4. Select British Airways under Partner Airlines
  5. Select first class, your travel dates, and the departure and destination airports
  6. Select your flights and hit Next
  7. Confirm the Mileage Bank miles and taxes/fees required
  8. Call Japan Airlines to make the booking

Japan Airlines allows stopovers, so you can see multiple destinations on your trip for the same price as if you only had short layovers.

If you need more Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles, you can transfer SPG Starpoints, but be warned: it takes around 7 days to complete the transfer from SPG to JAL, and Japan Airlines does not hold award tickets.

For other ways to earn Japan Airlines miles, read our best ways to earn JAL miles. If you need some other ways to use your Mileage Bank miles, check out our best ways to redeem Japan Airlines miles.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Another great way to book British Airways first class is through the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. British Airways flights between North America and either Europe, Africa, or the Middle East are bookable on the Alaska Airlines website.

Flying between North America and Europe will cost 70,000 Alaska Miles each way. North America to or from either Africa or the Middle East will cost 80,000 miles each way. Fuel surcharges from British Airways are collected when booking with Alaska miles as well.

To book, go to Alaska’s website and follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the Alaska Airlines website
  2. Sign in to your account
  3. Search for your desired route (make sure you select Use Miles)
  4. Select your desired flight and click Add To Cart
  5. Pay the necessary taxes/fees and complete your booking

Not only are Alaska’s award prices often better than BA’s own, but you can also book a stopover on your award redemption.

If you need some other ideas for using your Alaska miles, check out our best ways to redeem Alaska miles.

Other Options for Booking British Airways Flights

Since British Airways is a member of the OneWorld Alliance, you can use miles from any of the member programs to book awards.

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles, for example, also uses a distance-based award chart that has some great sweet spot redemptions. Asia Miles is a complex program with many different award charts depending on which partners you are flying with, but if you’re only looking for British Airways flights, then they are bookable online. They do impose fuel surcharges on awards.

Other OneWorld partners tend to be less competitive in their award charts, but are worth checking out if you find yourself with a large stockpile of miles in a specific program.

Great British Airways First Class Redemptions

Now that you know how to book your British Airways first class flights, let’s take a look at a few of the best routing options.

North America to Europe

This ticket will cost 65,000 Japan Airlines miles or 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles. Compared to 80,000 United miles or 85,000 American Airlines miles, this is one of the best options from the U.S. to Europe.

North America to Dubai

You can book this route for just 80,000 Alaska Airlines miles. Compared to 115,000 American Airlines miles or 140,000 United miles for a partner award, this is a great deal for long-haul first class travel.

London to Hawaii

For 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles, combine a British Airways first class flight from London to the U.S. West Coast with an Alaska Airlines first class flight from there to Honolulu. Out of the cheapest options for redemption on this route, you probably have the best chance of finding first class availability with British Airways and Alaska Airlines.

How to Earn Enough Miles for British Airways First Class

If you are ready to book a flight in British Airways first class, but you don’t have enough miles for the itinerary you want, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of ways to earn more.

British Airways Avios can be earned directly with the Chase British Airways Visa Signature® Card. Further, BA Avios can be transferred from either Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.

To earn points that transfer to British Airways, Japan Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, you can use a Starwood Preferred Guest card to earn SPG Starpoints. For every 20,000 SPG Starpoints that you transfer to an airline, you will receive a bonus of 5,000 miles!

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When Should You Search for Award Space?

Between the U.S. and Europe, British Airways is fairly generous about releasing award seats. If you are flexible with your departure city and timing, you can fly from New York JFK, Philadelphia, or Washington IAD multiple days per month throughout the whole schedule. If you want more than 2 seats or need to fly on a specific day, it may make sense to search closer to when the schedule is released.

What Makes This a Great Redemption?

With 2 seats in first class from the U.S. to London available several days each month, British Airways is one of the easier first class awards to find. You’ll have to pay the high taxes and fees, but once you do you’ll experience solid first class service.

No More Lines

First class passengers have dedicated check-in desks at most airports; Fast Track security at London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and New York JFK; and Fast Track arrivals at London Heathrow for non-EU passport holders.

Priority boarding is available for all flights, and The First Wing at London Heathrow streamlines the check-in process with a private check-in area, dedicated security lines, and a walkway that leads directly to the Galleries First Lounge and Concorde Room.

All the Bags You Need

When traveling in first class, British Airways allows you to bring 1 full sized carry-on, 1 laptop or handbag, and up to 3 additional checked bags. That means plenty of room for an extended family vacation or maybe even a few extra souvenirs to bring home.

787 Dreamliner

British airways first class 787-9 middle seats and beds
First class on the BA 787 Dreamliner is a step above even their other first class products. Larger personal TV screens, touchscreen handsets, and only 8 seats in the cabin make this a more exclusive experience.

Travel Together Ticket

One of the more interesting options with British Airways Executive Club is their Travel Together Ticket. Each year that you spend $30,000 on your British Airways Visa Signature® Credit Card, you will receive a Travel Together Ticket. The ticket is good for 2 years and gives you the ability to book a complimentary second ticket for a companion when you book an award flight on British Airways.

The companion must be booked into the same class of service and on the same flight as your ticket. Also, the award flights must originate and return to the U.S. You do still have to pay the taxes and fees on the second ticket, which can easily top $1,000 for premium cabin travel, especially if your return is from London. However, without having to use any additional miles, $1,000 is still a pretty good price to pay for a round-trip first class flight on British Airways!

First Class Service

Impeccable service, elegant surroundings, fine dining…when you fly first class, British Airways wants to give you the absolute best experience possible.

First Class Suite

Each suite can be transformed into a 6’6″ fully flat bed. Quilted mattresses, cotton duvets, and soft pajamas mean even taller passengers will be able to rest comfortably while they fly.

Onboard Entertainment

A 15-inch personal screen, noise canceling headphones, and more entertainment options than you could ever need (including films, documentaries, television, music, audio books, and games) means you’ll never be bored during your flight. Added USB connections, RCA jacks, and power ports allow passengers to enjoy their own devices ranging from iPods to laptops.

In-Flight Dining

British Airways has worked with top chefs to design breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and of course an afternoon English tea service. Passengers can also dine on their own schedule with an a la carte menu and a selection of lighter options. Fine champagnes, wines, spirits, beers, and a variety of non-alcoholic drinks round out the dining experience.

Galleries First Lounge

British Airways wants to provide their first class passengers with an exceptional experience at the airport before their flights too. The Galleries First Lounge is designed to do just that.

Luxurious furniture in rich velvets and classically tailored herringbone, top notch service, and the best foods, wines, and champagnes ensure that you relax in comfort.

For those who need to use their time to work, complimentary internet, printers, copiers, and fax machines will make it seem like you are still at the office.

Finally, if you are departing from London Heathrow after 8 p.m. or from New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, Toronto, Chicago, or Boston after 6 p.m., you can take advantage of pre-flight waiter dining service in the lounge.

The Concorde Room

At New York JFK and London Heathrow Terminal 5, first class passengers can experience the epitome of excellence in the exclusive Concorde Room.

Inspired by 5-star boutique hotels, the Concorde Room is designed to be your home away from home. Fine art, luxury furniture, and exquisite chandeliers create an area of calm and comfort. Private cabanas with a day bed and en suite bath are available at London Heathrow.

Before your flight, you can enjoy intimate booths for private dining with full waiter service. If you need to do some work before you fly, take advantage of the state-of-the-art business suite. Either way, relax in comfort until it is time to board your flight.

Arrival Lounges

In both Terminals 3 and 5 at London Heathrow, passengers can visit the arrivals lounge when they disembark from their flights. This is an excellent option when arriving early morning on a red-eye from the U.S.

Showers are available to refresh yourself after a long flight. For those who need to head straight to a meeting, the clothes-pressing services are a must have. There are, of course, a variety of dining options as well.

Final Thoughts

British Airways makes it their goal to provide a luxurious service to first class passengers from the moment they arrive at the airport to the moment they depart at their final destination.

It is a great option to fly, but when booking awards in BA first class you really need to watch out for high taxes and fees. By paying attention to the airports you are flying between and weighing the value of what you’re getting for the miles and fees you’re paying, it is quite possible to fly British Airways first class with miles for pennies on the dollar.

So next time you are booking award flights, make sure you take a look at British Airways first class. If you have a chance to experience what they offer, let us know what you think!

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