While others continually moan about an apparent lack of availability, those that plan ahead (T-350) or book last minute, are modestly flexible on date of travel, cabin class (i.e. are prepared to shell out the extra miles for F where no J availability exists), and are able to use the online ba.com “oneworld partner” tool will find that there is indeed availability on many routes, even popular ones.
It’s fair to say that capacity has been reduced worldwide, the knowledge about miles and redemptions opportunies is greater than it ever has been in the past, and that on routes where BA flies one aircraft with just 14 F seats, it isn’t always possible to snag enough seats for a family of four; you cannot simply magic extra capacity, and it does seem right to prioritise fare paying pax. But there are often routes with up to 8 F seats for redemption; I myself have managed 4 on one flight in the recent past.
With very few flights to Bangkok and Singapore, this is not the best way to use up your BA Miles; Star Alliance is generally better for Asia (excluding HKG), and if that is your mileage redemption goal, then it is best to consider that when purchasing your tickets/deciding on your FF scheme in the first place.
Checking for seats well before sale periods also helps.
More adventurous sorts seeking very high demand routes might consider nearby airports (such as San Diego for Los Angeles, Jo’burg for CapeTown), earning miles (paying!) for routes on which demand is higher (sale fares, exEU fares), and redeeming miles on routes for which availability is plentiful, perhaps experimenting and visiting somewhere they might not have previously considered (Tel Aviv is particularly good value, for instance).
If you need to travel as a couple, and only one seat is available, try redeeming one seat and paying for the other.
There really are plenty of creative – even “weird and wondrous” to coin a phrase – ways in which BA Miles can be redeemed successfully.
As I am focussing on burning my miles this year, I have a total of 750,000 BA Miles seats redeemed for the VintageKrug household in the next 12 months, and EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT was available within one day/one cabin class of my preference mostly on BA, and one on Qantas (though there was BA availability on the day required, we fancied trying F on the A380).