Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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British Airways (BA) usually provides a great service in its premium classes, with first class being the most luxurious. And today, we’re going to run through the best ways to book yourself a ticket in BA’s top product using your points and miles so you don’t have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to experience it.
Before we dive into the best ways to book, we’ll give you an overview of what you can expect in British Airways first class — let’s get to it!
The spacious first class suites on British Airways’ aircraft are all about comfort and style.
Found on Boeing 777-300ERs and 787-9 Dreamliners, Airbus A380 superjumbos, and more, first class cabins typically have 8 to 14 reverse-herringbone seats, making for a private experience.
First class amenity kits come in 2 distinct flavors and contain essentials from Elemis. These kits were designed exclusively for first class and are only available on British Airways.
You can expect a few quintessentially English touches in first class — this is British Airways, after all. In addition to the regular meal services, first class passengers can also experience a traditional afternoon tea service.
British Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, which means you can use miles from any of the Oneworld carriers along with its Executive Club program to book flights. In addition to its Oneworld partners, BA also has a relationship with China Southern.
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 on top of its fares. These surcharges are now $700 to $1,000 one-way for BA business and first class flights from the U.S.
BA considers these charges to be separate from the ticket price, so they’ll be added on to award tickets as well. This often means economy award tickets are too expensive to make sense, but the fees become easier to stomach when redeeming for first class.
While some airlines don’t pass on the carrier-imposed surcharges on award tickets, British Airways certainly does. Additionally, you’ll have to pay the British Air Passenger Duty when departing the U.K. on any flight over 2,000 miles if you’re flying business or first class. This fee is £156 (roughly $200). Keep in mind that if you use a British Airways Travel Together Ticket, you’re required to pay the fee for both passengers.
Hot Tip: To avoid these expensive added fees, you can begin your journey from another European city such as Paris or Amsterdam.
One of the easiest ways to book BA first class is through its frequent flyer program, known as British Airways Executive Club. The currency is called Avios.
Unlike major U.S. airlines, British Airways Executive Club uses a distance-based award chart (shown below) 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.
|1||1 to 650||N/A||N/A|
|2||651 to 1,150||N/A||N/A|
|3||1,151 to 2,000||N/A||N/A|
|4||2,001 to 3,000||42,500||50,000|
|5||3,000 to 4,000||68,000||80,000|
|6||4,001 to 5,500||85,000||100,000|
|7||5,501 to 6,500||102,000||120,000|
|8||6,501 to 7,000||119,000||140,000|
|9||7,001 and greater||170,000||200,000|
British Airways flights are individually priced based on the distance between origin and destination and which class of service you want to fly. This means 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.
British Airways awards can be booked online following the steps below:
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 nonstop flights or those with a single connection.
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.
|Distance (Miles)||Cost in JAL Miles|
|1 to 1,000||36,000|
|1,001 to 2,000||45,000|
|2,001 to 4,000||65,000|
|4,001 to 6,000||90,000|
|6,001 to 8,000||120,000|
|8,001, to 10,000||135,000|
|10,001 to 12,000||145,000|
|12,001 to 14,000||165,000|
|14,001 to 20,000||190,000|
|20,001 to 25,000||220,000|
|25,001 to 29,000||250,000|
|29,001 to 34,000||290,000|
|34,001 to 50,000||330,000|
Japan Airlines allows partner airline-operated flights to be booked online, but because of the clunkiness of the website, we generally recommend calling to book award flights with partner airlines at 800-525-3663. However, this is easy to do if you follow the steps below:
Japan Airlines allows stopovers, so you can see multiple destinations on your trip for the same price as if you only had short layovers.
Hot Tip: For other ways to earn Japan Airlines miles, read our guide on the 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.
Another great way to book British Airways first class is through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. 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, while flying between North America and 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:
Not only are Alaska’s award prices often better than BA’s, but you can also book a stopover on your award redemption.
We like American Airlines’ AAdvantage program in this scenario primarily because of its reasonable award rates to Europe in first class. You will be able to fly for 85,000 miles each way. Unfortunately, you will be on the hook for all fuel surcharges, as AA passes them on for BA flights.
Your best bet for finding award availability is through BA.com rather than AA.com. American is known for hiding partner availability, especially for routes that it operates its own flights on.
Here’s the best way to search for award availability:
AA does not allow complimentary stopovers, so you will need to pay for each segment if you want to plan a stop in London before heading to another destination.
Hot Tip: For other ways to earn American Airlines miles, read our guide on the best ways to earn AA miles. If you need other ways to use your AA miles, check out the best ways to redeem American Airlines miles.
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. The program does 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.
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.
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 for a partner award, this is one of the best options from the U.S. to Europe.
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.
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.
If you need more Avios to complete a first class booking with British Airways, you have plenty of options to earn more.
British Airways Avios can be earned directly with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. BA Avios can also be transferred from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, or Chase Ultimate Rewards at a rate of 1:1 or Marriott Bonvoy at a transfer rate of 3:1. When you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you’ll receive a 5,000-point bonus, meaning you’ll receive 25,000 Avios for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred.
You can also earn American Airlines miles directly with Citi and Barclays co-branded credit cards.
Hot Tip: Another great way to earn British Airways Avios is to convert them from Iberia Plus Avios, Aer Lingus AerClub Avios, or Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios. Just keep in mind that for Iberia, both accounts need to have been open for at least 90 days for this to work.
British Airways is an Amex transfer partner.
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This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
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There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.
Business Owner? Check out our article on the best Amex business cards that earn Membership Rewards.
British Airways is a Capital One transfer partner.
The Capital One Venture X card is an excellent option for travelers looking for an all-in-one premium credit card.
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the premium Capital One travel rewards card on the block.
Points and miles fans will be surprised to see that the Capital One Venture X card packs quite the punch when it comes to bookings made through Capital One, all while offering the lowest annual fee among premium credit cards.
Depending on your travel goals and preferences, the Capital One Venture X card could very well end up being your go-to card in your wallet.
Get 2x miles plus some of the most flexible redemptions offered by a travel credit card!
As a frequent traveler with excellent credit, you’re always on the lookout for a credit card that comes with all the bells and whistles. And the easier it is to understand, the better!
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the most popular rewards cards on the market. It’s perfect for anyone in search of a great sign-up bonus, high rewards rates, and flexible redemption options.
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Interested in a travel rewards credit card without one of those pesky annual fees? Then say hello to the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, the no-annual-fee version of the more popular Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
In addition to no annual fee, the Capital One VentureOne card offers no foreign transaction fees.
But is this card worth its salt, or is it merely a shell of the more popular Capital One Venture card?
British Airways is a Chase transfer partner.
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This all-purpose cash-back card offers great bonus categories, including bonus points for every purchase you make!
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When paired with other Chase cards in the Ultimate Rewards family, you can transfer that cash back into points if you wish – making it one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet.
The Freedom Flex card is an excellent no-annual-fee card that still earns big with 5% cash-back on travel and other bonus categories.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ sure does pack quite a punch — especially for a no-annual-fee card.
The Freedom Flex card is an incredible option for those looking for a well-rounded cash-back card, or a powerful point-earner when paired with a premium card in the Ultimate Rewards family.
Business Owner? Read our article on the best Chase business cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.
British Airways is a Marriott transfer partner.
Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Cards
A great option for Marriott hotel fans who want a no annual fee card and automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
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The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, the latest mid-tier offering in the Marriott Bonvoy lineup of cards, offers cardholders automatic elite status and ways to earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on each of their stays and daily purchases.
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The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is a premium card designed with road warriors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalists in mind.
So is the card a worthwhile addition to your wallet?
Between the U.S. and Europe, British Airways is generally only bookable for more than 1 person if you plan very far in advance.
In the past, if you were flexible with your departure city and timing, you could fly from New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL), or Washington, D.C. (IAD) multiple days per month throughout the whole schedule. Since the pandemic, first class award space has dried up significantly.
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 or try to plan as far out in advance as possible.
If you’re able to find award space, you’ll have a very solid first class experience with British Airways, despite the high taxes and fees.
First class passengers have dedicated check-in desks at most airports. In addition, passengers can access Fast Track security at London-Heathrow (LHR), London-Gatwick (LGW), and New York (JFK), as well as Fast Track arrivals at Heathrow for non-EU passport holders.
Priority boarding is available for all flights. The First Wing at LHR 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.
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 per person. That is plenty for an extended family vacation (or maybe a few extra souvenirs to bring home).
One of the more interesting offerings from British Airways Executive Club is the Travel Together Ticket. You’ll receive this perk each year after spending at least $30,000 on your British Airways Visa card.
The ticket is good for 2 years, and it 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 $1,500 to $2,000 for premium cabin travel (especially if your return is from London). However, without having to use any additional Avios, this is still a pretty good price to pay for a round-trip first-class flight on British Airways!
First class on BA’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners is a step above the airline’s other first class products. Larger inflight entertainment screens, touchscreen handsets, and just 8 seats in the cabin make this a more exclusive experience.
Impeccable service, elegant surroundings, and fine dining — when you fly first class, British Airways wants to give you the absolute best experience possible.
Each suite can be transformed into a lie-flat bed that measures 78 inches long. Quilted mattresses, cotton duvets, and soft pajamas mean even taller passengers will be able to rest comfortably while they fly.
A 15-inch personal screen, noise-canceling headphones, and more entertainment options than you could ever need (including films, documentaries, television, music, audiobooks, and games) mean you’ll never be bored during your flight. And each suite features numerous power outlets, ensuring you can keep your various devices charged up.
British Airways has worked with top chefs to design breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, as well as the quintessential afternoon tea. Passengers can also dine on their own schedule with an à 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.
Flying British Airways first class means you can expect a top-notch ground experience, too. The Galleries First Lounge features luxurious furniture, excellent service, delicious food options, and great wines and Champagnes.
For those who need to use their time to work, complimentary internet, printers, copiers, and fax machines will make it seem like you’re still at the office.
Finally, if you’re departing from Heathrow after 8 p.m. or from Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), Toronto (YYZ), or Washington, D.C. (IAD) after 6 p.m., you can enjoy a sit-down dinner with waiter service in the lounge.
At New York (JFK) and Heathrow’s 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 (LHR).
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, you’ll be able to relax in comfort until it’s time to board your flight.
In both Terminals 3 and 5 at London-Heathrow (LHR), 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 after a long flight. For those who need to head straight to a meeting, the pressing services are a must. There are, of course, a variety of dining options as well.
British Airways makes it a goal to provide luxurious service to first class passengers from they arrive at their departure airport.
It is a great option to fly, but when booking awards in BA first class you 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.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
Japan Airlines has a distance-based award chart that has some sweet spot redemptions, while Alaska Airlines has a region-based award chart that also provides some great options.
Additionally, using American Airlines AAdvantage miles may be a good option, depending on your route.
You can earn British Airways Avios directly through the British Airways Visa card. Additionally, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, or Marriott Bonvoy points to British Airways.
Bank of America also provides co-branded cards that earn Alaska miles if you need to top off your Mileage Plan account.
Prior to your first class flight, you can relax in one of British Airways’ Galleries First Lounges. If you’re in Terminal 5 at London Heathrow or you’re flying out of New York (JFK), you will have access to the Concorde Room, which is the flagship lounge.
Additionally, you will have access to Oneworld first class lounges provided by BA’s partner airlines.
Inflight, you can expect a lie-flat seat, direct aisle access, a great meal, and friendly service.
If you arrive at London Heathrow (LHR) in Terminal 3 or Terminal 5, you can visit the fantastic Arrivals Lounge.
To book a one-way British Airways first class flight between the U.K. and the U.S. using Avios, you’ll redeem at least 80,000 Avios. It can cost as much as 100,000 Avios if you’re flying to/from the U.S. West Coast.
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Since discovering miles and points in 2010, Jeff has traveled to over 35 countries, flying in first class, business class, and sometimes even in coach. Whether he’s staying in a hostel dorm, or in a luxury suite at a 5 star hotel, Jeff is constantly looking for the best deal to make travel as close to free as possible.
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.