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Upgrading at Check-in with BA


Gold-2K - 24/11/2011 18:47 BST

I have on a number of occasions been given an option to upgrade with money and occasionally with miles (sorry Avios) when I check in online irrespective of whether I have booked via an agent (in the case of my company travel) or direct with

I travelled this week LHR / SFO in club. Took my partner with me and purchased a club ticket for them on Mine was booked through the company travel agent.

At online check in my partner was given the chance to upgrade to First for 25,000 Avios points, but I was not.

So I know the rules about not being able to modify a booking direct with BA when it was made with an agent, but I also thought that once online checkin opened it could be modified. On a recent flight to Boston that was oversold in Club, BA had no problem offering me a £400 upgrade to First when I was checking in online so clearly they can allow modifications to agents bookings when it suits them.

But having called Exec Club and had it confirmed that there was availability to upgrade with Avios points, they would not do it ........... very frustrating, citing this rule about bookings made through an agent

It just feels very wrong that my other half with 50K miles in their account gets the perk to upgrade while I dont - despite having just had gold gard renewed for fifteenth successive year and three weeks in to the new year am already at 550 tier points and with 1.1 million miles in my account which I seem unable to use!!!

....... and all because I had the cheek to make a reservation through an agent instead of

Maybe this is one of the "exciting enhancements" to the BA Exec club for Gold card holders.

So much for loyalty!!!! Adios Avios!!!!!

FlightDoctor - 24/11/2011 20:24 BST

I discovered the same this summer when flying in Premium Economy to Chicago and hoping to use miles to upgrade to Club. When I rang BA I was told it was because I had booked through my company travel agent and therefore not possible.

Very frustrating, especially for the red eye return flight where I was hoping to catch a few decent winks before a business meeting the next day (having said that the new PE product was good).

Likewise I have had BA Gold status for several years - if I flew this route again I would be sorely tempted to fly with Virgin as I know they don't have this ridiculous rule!

- 24/11/2011 20:36 BST

"So much for loyalty!!!! Adios Avios!!!!!"

I am a disloyal customer.

It is amazing what deals come my way.

Not much sense in 'loyalty' to airlines, it is not reciprocated.

LeTigre - 24/11/2011 21:28 BST

Does this apply to buying online tickets through other websites like

KeaneJohn - 24/11/2011 22:01 BST

I am led to believe it is ANY ticket not booked directly with British Airways.

I do know that a person called Nicci who I believe works at BAEC is a regular correspondent on Flyer Talk and she has commented that this option is very much on the wishlist for BAEC and passengers but is quite complex and its whilst they want to implement it don't hold your breath in the short term.

VintageKrug - 24/11/2011 22:06 BST

It's all about who "owns" the booking - your TA or BA.

KeaneJohn - 24/11/2011 22:14 BST

Regardless of who owns the booking as the original poster advised BA does it when they want to do it.

Nicci seems so vague on Flyer Talk that it gives the impression it will not be soon.

first_class_please - 25/11/2011 05:47 BST

Our company have brought this up with our account manager at BA (large corporate, multiple millions of spend) and it seems the reasoning is, for corporates a lot of the deals / discounts in place apply to percentages of spend being re-imbursed at the end of the year. X percent for Business class Y percent for First.

Amending a booking to upgrade with miles, then changes the booking class to a non qualifying / tier point / miles earning class. Those of you who have paid and upgraded with miles will find you no longer get any miles automatically credited to your exec accounts for the "paid" part and have to call the exec club for credit.

This is where the problem arises. Corporates need to be sure they get the credit for what they have paid and BA have not yet been able to work out a system that can successfully track this, while allowing passenger to upgrade in advance.

I believe the upgrades at the airport don't actually involve changing your ticket, they just take the cash and swap your boarding pass.

So for now only tickets booked / paid directly with BA, therefore to part of any corporate deal are able to use miles to upgrade.

Gold-2K - 27/11/2011 17:40 BST

I understand the reasoning for not being able to upgrade a booking made with an agency prior to departure, but I dont think BA is being consistent here. on short haul Europe I travel in economy (ticket booked through agent). Almost every time I check in on line I am given the option to pay to upgrade to club Europe - sometimes a few quid and others a stupid amount of money. The point is when it suits the airline they will give me the option to modify the booking even through it is made with an agent. On a flight to Boston again made through the company agent, at online check in I was given the option to pay £400 to upgrade from J to F. Club was oversold so I guess finding someone who was prepared to pay to be upgraded was a better option for BA than having to give one away free of charge.

So if they can do this why cant they also allow upgrades with Avios - subject to availability of course. In the case of my recent LHR / SFO flight there was availability even after checkin opened.

I know its the "rule" but it just doesnt seem very consistent!!!!

Again maybe this is something they could offer to gold card holders. I keep mentioning it, but the change to Avios has resulted in no additional benefits specific to Gold card holders.

CrazyCanuck - 27/11/2011 19:38 BST

In Jan, I am flying from the Middle East to Rio, via LHR. The ticket was purchased on miles. Does anyway know how much BA charges for on the spot upgrade offer at LHR for PE passengers hoping to get into Club. In pounds or points?

Goldfinger - 29/11/2011 15:41 BST

I believe that BA intend to have the Avios upgrade facility available to TMC bookings approx. June 2012.

Danwolf - 29/11/2011 16:34 BST

May be a bit of a side-step to the original question, but I have just upgraded one of my flights with Avios miles from WT+ to Club, which stated that the mile cost was 10k (plus GBP 36.00). However, when I checked my Avios miles balance only c. 9.5k had been deducted. Is this typical, a fluke or any other explaination?

VK: Apols, I caved and upgraded, so won't be able to taste and report back on the WT+ wine selection just yet :-)

- 29/11/2011 18:53 BST

Gold 2K

"Almost every time I check in on line I am given the option to pay to upgrade to club Europe - sometimes a few quid and others a stupid amount of money."

Same for me, it seems to be either GBP59 or GBP459 ;-)

TiredOldHack - 01/12/2011 11:18 BST

I've frequently been given an upgrade on BA, flying into LHR, long-haul (ie: more than eight hours' flying time) for $500-600. That's economy to Club World.

sleak76 - 06/05/2014 11:56 BST


I am happy to report that, 2 and half years on from your post, BA has still managed to not progress.

"But having called Exec Club and had it confirmed that there was availability to upgrade with Avios points, they would not do it ........... very frustrating, citing this rule about bookings made through an agent"

I have a booked and paid CW ticket from the Gulf (Kuwait) to JFK and back. I saw online that LHR-JFK had one reward seat avail on my flight (this is all for next week). So called the BAEC Middle East office (which is where I am registered at).

The agent looked it up and confirmed one F upgrade using Avios seat was avail and asked me to hold while he transfers my call.

The second agent confirmed this availability (mind you we call BAEX ME office by having to call the UK at a +44 number so we are paying IDD rates). The second agent asked me to hold while she worked on getting it.

She comes back after 5 min saying she is facing a problem and a supervisor is looking into it. So a further 5 min on hold with an international call before she comes back accepting defeat and telling me it can't be done.

Why not? I asked. She says because KWI-LHR has no reward seats available to First so the system is refusing to upgrade me on the LHR-JFK sector and grab that one reward seat available. So asked her to "split" my ticket and this way the system can disregard KWI-LHR as a condition to upgrade. She said that was what she was working on but the system refused and that is why she called in her superior and he failed in splitting it as well.

Bottom line: sorry but we can't upgrade you using avios not unless the entire sector opens up.

Many of you know Emirates' system is set up so that agents can easily split tickets when it involves a connection which means when one sector is open, the agent can release that seat to you without the complication of "we can't split, sorry you are out of luck" situation.

Bottom line: BA's IT department lags far behind its peers and many of us end up with Avios gathering dust just because of the airline's incompetence and their antiquated IT system, poor customer relations and their general 'je m'en fous' attitude. Other airlines are being proactive and I think it is high time I move my business elsewhere.


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