Monday, 25 August 2008

First Class Reward Flight with British Airways

British Airways First Class Cabin from seat 1A

On Saturday we flew First Class British Airways from London's new Terminal 5 to San Francisco. The return flight cost the same as an economy round trip, but this wasn't some fluke upgrade.

I wrote about how I was collecting BA Miles and a Companion Voucher on their Amex card.
Spend £20,000 in a single year on BA's Amex card and they give you another flight for you companion when you redeem your miles. You just pay the taxes and charges on both flights.

I have to point out at this stage that you do really need to have accumulated some BA miles by flying with BA to travel First Class. However you could in theory collect miles on the Amex card forever and then only use the voucher when you had collected sufficient miles (spending £20,000 a year this would take 7.5 years. You could alternatively under the rules buy a maximum of 19,000 BA miles each year at just over £300, which would reduce this to 4 years).

We didn't actually have sufficient miles for a First Class ticket to the US - 150,000 BA Miles. But we did have 112,000. This would pay for a seat in business - but there were none available. BA allows Executive Club members to buy 19,000 miles each year. This costs just over £300. By each buying our full allocation and pooling them in our household account we made the 150,000 mile target. The taxes and charges were £242 each so each seat cost a little under £550. The day I booked an economy fare was £545.

So was it worth it? OK so we had to spend £20,000 on an Amex card. But we divided this in 2 as well, by getting a second card on my account and using the card instead of cash every time we could (even a couple of quid spent in Tesco went onto the card).

But was the hassle worth it? The flight was wonderful. We got to eat breakfast in the brand new Concorde lounge dining booths, the cabin was only half full, the food was delicious, the flat bed and duvet sumptuous, and the flight well... (excuse me) flew by.

But come on, was it worth it? Well each First Class fare was on sale for £2449 the day I booked them. An economy fare was £545 - virtually the same as we paid. So less the charges the reward was worth £2000 each (£4,000 reward for spending every penny possible on Amex). A couple of weeks before we travelled the fare had risen to just under £10,000 each. Today, checking the BA website for the return leg of the fare a single First Class ticket is available for £5243 (the fare must be sold in dollars - it's $9771).

Of course there are more rewarding things in life than First Class air travel. But this has got to be one of the most satisfying loyalty rewards around - if you have the patience to learn all the rules.

The rules you need to qualify for this reward.
To benefit you'll need to:
1. Become a BA executive club member (do this for free by applying for the Amex card).
2. Preferably work with your partner - by creating a BA Household account to pool your miles (all family members at the same address can do this).
3. Spending every penny you can on Amex (ensure you set up a direct debit to repay the full balance every month, or this 'free' reward will cost you a fortune in interest).
4. When you have enough miles for your destination make sure you qualify for the companion voucher by spending £20,000 in 12 months on the card (there is also a premium card available with an annual fee which has a lower threshold).
5. Plan your reward flight a long way advance and pick routes with regular flights (I couldn't find any available reward flights in First to glamorous destinations like Mauritius).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the reason you could not find any first seats to mauritius is that that is a 3 class service:

only Club World
World Traveller Plus
World Traveller