BA Upgrades – random acts of kindness?

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Papillion53 8 Aug 2013
at 11:43

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)

  • Anonymous


    As someone who has been BAEC silver for years then attained gold status a couple of years ago, I’m somewhat bemused by the whole upgrade issue.

    I realise that BA does operational upgrades as and when cabins are overbooked, but I’ve never been upgraded to First from CW since being gold, only ever when I was silver status despite the same level of travel.

    So here’s a thought that I’d really be interested to hear opinions on. Pret operates a ‘random acts of kindness’ policy whereby staff can give away free drinks and so on at their discretion (up to a certain level obviously).

    Setting aside the obvious fact that an upgrade from CW to F is worth more than a cup of coffee, why does BA not upgrade people on occasion for the simple matter of ‘experience’ for loyal gold card holders? If there’s spare seats, it’s the matter of a different meal and obviously staff levels need to be adequate, but what difference does it make once the doors are shut?

    I fly CW reasonably frequently, but never fly First and would love to experience NF if possible. I’m not trying to dilute the First experience for those who (or whose businesses) can afford it, it was just an occasional and random idea when the space on the plane allowed it as a thank you to loyal customers. After all, us Gold card holders do the same with our Golden tickets don’t we? Thoughts anyone?


    “Thoughts anyone?”

    No chance.


    From what I have seen, you could pay a Club fare, and yes, Club may be overbooked. But who gets any of the spare First Class seats ?

    ‘Staff’ of course. Even if they’re booked in economy.

    I know this as fact, because a friend of mine is the registered companion of a BA staff member.


    That’s a shame. And just to be clear, I wasn’t asking for something for nothing, it was just a possible business case as a feelgood factor for regular customers that was all.

    We all know that BA has to do some upgrades for operational reasons, but it was about doing them when they didn’t have to that I was interested in.

    As you say, there’s probably no chance whatsoever, but there can’t that many staff on every flight surely or perhaps I’m being naive?


    i have actually got a free upgrade to first from CW once which came out of the blue. a few days before my return flight home from the US to the UK I got an email from the exec club apologizing for cancelling one of my previous flights (european) and for that they want to upgrade my to the next cabin on my next flight. my next flight was CW back from the US overnight, so a nice free upgrade to First for that. So maybe it does happen but I agree I have not seen them just like that for Gold members (like me) unless the cabin is full.


    To be fair to the posters question, lets keep staff travel away from this discussion on the basis the question is about “real fare paying passengers” – presumably…

    I think the question is valid, how do people experience a higher class of travel or at least the environment.

    You can always ask to view the CW or F cabin area pre departure (there could always be the chance of being able to buy an upgrade) or after landing, to try the seat and see the “area”.

    There is a lot of research you can do online, see the cabin, look at You Tube etc etc.

    To give any staff, flight deck or cabin crew, the authority to upgrade is a recipe for abuse.


    Agamemnon – I seem to remember my DH got a random upgrade some time ago, no idea why when he was sIlver.

    He did also benefit from the “free one-way upgrade to F” promotion recently if you booked CW in a certain class within a certain time frame.

    TBH, as he says if its an overnight back from anywhere, he’s very happy with CW, and I feel much the same as you are pretty much going to want to sleep most of the time anyway and have usually eaten before boarding. But there is a world of difference on a day flight when I really, really enjoy all the extra “fussing” etc in the F cabin.

    It always surprises me when I look at the F cabin seats occupied at OLCI and note sometimes now many empty seats there are including 1A and 1K, and then by the time you board, the cabin is full. Last time there were 8 empty seats, but by the time the doors closed the F cabin was full, all but one seat. Where did those pax come from – they can’t all have been last minute high-flying, high revenue business pax!

    I’m sure some seat changing must go on once the doors are closed. I’ve seen it also when people magically appear to drop into CW seats too!

    But you are right, it would be in BA’s interest to upgrade a regular flyer into the next cabin as it may produce future business for that cabin. I used to regularly use that ploy when I worked in hotels, and it worked maybe 50% of the time. And realistically there isn’t that much more cost to the service provider involved in doing so. Obviously with an airline, there is catering to be considered, but I’m sure with a 50% occupied cabin, a planned upgrade could be put in place for the day with a vetoe shoud the cabin suddenly “sell out”.

    It certainly works with me, since we had a nice upgrade when we stayed at a Ritz-Carlton, I always now book that level of room. :-). (Or if available, book smart through Amex Platinum and get a free upgrade! LOL! )


    [BA Silver, mostly fly Econ]

    I had the magical beep at the gate the other week whilst flying with BA to Hamburg, which meant an upgrade to CE.

    Didn’t get to check if the flight was full, but suspect it was for purely operational reasons (I reckon now we’re in leisure travel season, perhaps the number of golds and silver business travellers reduced?). Nevertheless, the huge re-charge of loyalty to BA it gave me will last for quite sometime yet. Only ever happened one other time in the past 3-4 years, so you can get quite a high from it if you’re not used to travelling at the front.

    I wrestle with the inconsistency of BA service all the time, it seems, but this faith shot in the arm from this upgrade has certainly helped me forget the comparatively bad IFE system; lottery in having the best cabin crew in the world, to the worst; strange meal offerings at the completely wrong time of day (e.g. curry for breakfast whilst coming back from DXB) etc etc

    Darn it. I just reminded my self of the stuff I wanted to forget.

    Need another shot in the arm now!


    To be honest I thought that the BA upgrade policy was very clear.

    In order it works as follows:-

    1. Offers on MMB to upgrade for cash.

    2. Avios availability at random times and often last 72 hours.

    3. Paid for upgrades at the airport if they still trying to shift over sales.

    4. If overbooked in club and the above have not fixed the issue, then they start with Golds based on CIV score.

    5. If you have children or a special meal requirement it will NOT happen …ever..

    6. Upgrades of staff take precedence over commercial passengers unless there is over booking….always. Staff pay extra to have the chance of F and J

    The exception to 6 is when some Prem or senior gold card holder knows special services staff who can swing it. But that is rare.

    Random acts of kindness at BA are very rare in deed and not like the 90’s……when, interestingly, they were their most profitable. HMmmmm


    How is item 6) allowed in this day and age? Legacy t&c’s for long standing staff members?

    That needs to stop


    MartynSinclair … Thank you for dictating that staff travel be left out of the discussion.

    If you are now asking ‘how do people experience a higher class of travel ?’, the answer is clear. It is called paying for the cabin in which you wish to travel.


    Pd traveller

    Re point 6: staff does not get “upgraded” before commercial passengers, if they are entitled to Club and Club and First is full then the staff gets traveller plus or traveller if seats are available otherwise they may get a jumpseat. If there are seats inFirst, then a commercial Customer gets upgraded to FIRST to make space in Club for the staff member(s) Who is travwlling on a Club entitlement. If they are on a traveller priority and its full, yet seats are available in Club, once again most likely a commercial Passenger is upgraded to Club in order to make space for the Staff In Traveller.
    However staff might get upgraded once the flight is closed and they step onboard, most likely at the request of the Captain, but this would not been done by the Flight management team who deal with all the operational flight movements

    Bullfrog spot on ,if I want a nicer seat guaranteed then I pay for it.
    Blacktower: This is not going to stop, some staff are entitled to premuim cabins on their staff travel or when they are on duty travel,for a variety of reasons, so they get the cabin they are entitled to before commercial customers get a free upgrade, fair enough I think but you may disagree


    I am a humble Silver member, and I haven’t been flying that regularly with BA in the past 1-2 years.

    However to my very pleasant surprise, I was very recently upgraded from J to F at Check-in when my Tokyo flight was changed to a smaller 777. This means BA had to upgrade some people.

    I could see no reason why I should be upgraded, except for the possibility of me flying on a full fare Club ticket, and that I am a Silver holder.

    In the past I was also upgraded from Y to C in European flights at the boarding gate when my Gold card was renewed. I looked into the Y cabin during the flight, and to my surprise there were loads of empty seats, so the upgrade was not for operational reasons. In that case it might be a ‘reward’ purpose, which was rather nice.

    The final time I was upgraded from Y+ to C due to compassionate reasons. But again the flight was overbooked so they had to upgrade someone for operational reasons.


    “why does BA not upgrade people on occasion for the simple matter of ‘experience’ for loyal gold card holders? If there’s spare seats, it’s the matter of a different meal and obviously staff levels need to be adequate, but what difference does it make once the doors are shut?”

    My guess is that once the doors are shut there’s little opportunity to do an operational upgrade because the catering’s already pretty much set. (Before anyone jumps on me – yes, I know that it does sometimes happen, e.g. if a seat is broken and there’s nowhere else to put the passenger – but it’s the exception rather than the rule).

    As for doing it for golds, well why not silvers or bronzes as well? Gold flyers are more likely to be doing it on their employer’s or client’s money, which means that the opportunity to buy that first class seat in future is limited. I reached silver this year on my own cash and if I want to experience first then I’d use my Avios to do so or I’d save up and pay for it – that’s what they’re for.


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