Another good deal is the promotion so that if you book a full fare business ticket, you'll automatically get upgraded to first, if theres room available.
British Airways have some noticably cheap Club Europe (Business Class) fares from LGW. Bari is £129 (flights are only twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays). Vilnius is £188, (five times a week), Dublin is £154, Marseille £147, Krokow £148, Bologna £158, Naples £194, Turin £148, and Genoa £129 in Club.
It is sometimes worth booking British Airways tickets at AmericanAirlines.co.uk. The fares can be cheaper - but you won't then automatically be able to use the features of MMB to select a seat, or online checkin. However if you then give the MMB page your PNR from AA, the booking will then appear under MMB.
Q400 at Southampton|
There are other techniques you can use to get Tier Points. Many member of the British Airways Executive Club have discovered that one return in business (C) class on Iberia to Barcellona via Madrid comes in at around £210 in the winter (routed LHR-AGP-BCN-AGP-LHR) - and gets 160 points. It is a good start on the climb to Silver level, although it has been removed from the schedules this winter, as too many people were using it for just this trick. There are similar multi-leg hops on Iberia which also net Tier Points: Ibiza is always worth a shot, although connections are pretty bad, with either very early or very late flights.
Boeing 747-400 at LHR|
YUP runs have a huge following in the UK, because First Class flights more than 2000 miles get long-haul Tier Points, and the fastest way to the heart of a BA Exec Club member is to offer them 600 Tier Points (and Silver) for virtually nothing. Just make sure each sector is over 2000 miles long to qualify for long-haul tier points. Flights less than 2000 miles get 60 TPs in F, whereas flights greather than 2000 miles get 180 TPs in F.
Major pitfalls include the way that you're only guaranteed First Class if your flight runs as scheduled, and there isn't massive overbooking. You can get bumped, and you'll immediately be dumped into Y or economy class on another route to your destination. The AA boarding pass will show "Invol Re route", and BA will then give you economy points. Only the brave will attempt a YUP Tier Point run in winter when snow can play havok with schedules, and runs out of SFO are very risky due to fog. Equally avoid tight connections from international sectors. The fares - and tier points - for a three sector run from SFO to MGA (Nicaragua) look great (560 Tier points for only about 900 dollars if you route via LAX and Miami) but immigration at Miami can be a nightmare, and if you miss the tight connection to JFK, you'll end up firmly in economy on the next route to DFW.
Also beware the way that although AA normally operate two class planes where the cabin up the pointy end is called First. There are some exceptions, such as the three class "Flagship Services" between JFK/LAX/SFO. These YUP fares ticket into business class, and only earn 120 points each way and 125% mileage. For SFO-JFK look for the 763 service, which is two class unlike the 762. On the 763 YUP books into P class and earns 180 TP as opposed to 120 for I. Also, the 767 in F is a much much better plane than the 757.
Never book Alaskan flights, even on the AA codeshare, for a Tier Point run. The amazingly cheap fares from SFO to SEA via LAX (around $700 in F) look tempting, but all the LAX-SEA flights are AS flights with an AA number, and you won't get the points. Curiously, the SFO-LAX-SEA run earns full miles & 300 status credits on Qantas, so you might be better at looking at status on Qantas instead.
Avoid trans-American routings that go via DFW or ORD. These bring the flights down to less than 2000 miles (SFO-ORD is only 1843 miles), and dramatically reduce your Tier Points. For example SFO-ORD-MIA is 60+60=120TPs. However SFO-LAX-MIA will get 60+180=240TPs.
YUP fares from JFK to HNL come in at around £780 and intelligent routing (eg. via SJC) can yield four A-class sectors of over 2000 miles which bring in 720 tier points. Obviously, you still need your 4 BA sectors to qualify for silver, but if you combine this with a cheap off-season WT+ fare to do the Transatlantic hop you're looking at 870 points for about £1400 (and a trip to Hawai).
You can book YUPs on aa.com, where there is usually an option called "Instant Upgrade". Farecompare is a great site showing the cheapest YUPs from various airports in the US. If you book via via Expedia, choose first class and the cheapest fares on AA should be the YUP, but with some restrictions, but you're normally better off on the AA site.
One last warning: beware of BA's wacky rule that when you reach Silver after having been Blue that your Tier Points reset & your new mileage year starts. And points from the flight over the 400 or 600 level are lost forever, and there is no way to get them back. Also beware it can take several days for the level to reset, and if you're on a Tier Point run at the time, you'll loose all the subsequent Tier Points. You should get all the subsequent ones back if you put up a fight, but it can be a major nightmare, and there is no way of claiming back the points from the run that put you over the limit. This is particularly gauling if you're at 590 Tierpoints, and complete a 180 TP flight. You loose 170 TPs, and they are gone forever.
Firstly, it's pretty important to be part of the Executive Club. BA don't seem to take you seriously otherwise, even at blue level. However upgrades only seem to happen if the plane is full in economy, and you have purchased a full fare ticket (although occasionally you can get lucky with a discounted economy ticket). When BA are looking to move passengers from economy, the check in staff will first look at Gold Executive Club members, and then silver level, then at other Oneworld members at the equivalent levels. Note that this is different to the system used on American airlines, where passengers with Frequent Flyer status are upgraded if there is space in a premium class. Be warned that although at checkin other Oneworld member status is recognised, BA systems are quite primative - only QF and BA status shows up on the boarding pass stub that you keep, or on the passenger manifest! The Cabin Service Director gets a long list of those with status - but only BA and Qantas status shows up on this.
Service in Club - well worth it|
However if you can find something to complain about, do, and then ask if you can get on the "on-availability upgrade" list. Then make sure you're on the emptiest possible flight - if theres a spare seat in the front of the plane, you'll get it. Often customer relations (Media Services, or Special Services) will promise to put you on this list, but the check-in staff are so busy they won't notice. Make sure you point it out to them - for this reason it is vital to make you you do not use OLCI or the automatic machines. Instead go up to a manned desk. At LHR staff will often pick up a note about this from your PNR, however at some outstations you need to find the Duty Manager or Supervisor, because they do not add upgrade requests to the system and keep them on file instead.
If all else fails, you now will only get an upgrade by bugging at the Gate. Wait just by the gate, see if you can overhear a Club passenger "no-showing" and then ask if you can have their seat.
As always, my advice on dressing properly in how to get an upgrade applies.
You can also get upgrades at check in to Club Europe at outstations on flights to London if you ask for it (although only 5 people per flight are offered this - normally Gold Executive Club members). At ALC, AGP, MPL, GIB & FAO it costs £60 per upgrade, while at TFS, RAK, PFO it is £75. All other flights are £100. (This is not available on the rare A321 flights to ALC, FAO, AGP, PFO or RAK). This is an absolute bargain, and should always be taken at all costs. It offers full lounge access, the Club Europe seat and meals, but no tier point and mile bonuses. If you are a complete cheapskate and insist on sitting in Euro Traveller, you can buy the right to sit at the doors 2 and 3 exit seats on the A321 for only £20, but it is a waste considering what else in on offer.
At checkin From the UK at LHR often they will direct you to the ticket office, which will result in you having to buy a new full revenue ticket - this is not what you want. Instead ask for the supervisor, who is aware of this procedure, or got to the new landside 'upgrade' desk at LHR T5 at Zone E, or airside at Flight Connections and at Customer Service South. These checkin upgrade tickets are around £150 for World Traveller to WT+ longhaul, or £399 for WT+ to Club World. They earn full miles & tier points (but you have to retrospectively claim them), however there is a gamble that seats may not be available. You can also book these upgrades before travelling, and fare bucket (I, D, C) does not affect flexability, which then locks you in to those flights, and wipes out the previous flex available (i.e £30.00 plus any fare difference) on the old economy ticket.
At checkin From the Americas there is an official airport upgrade program, which most staff know about. Absolutely no tier points nor class of service bonus is given, however Club World can be as little as US$400 from WT+.
Onboard Upgrade The very rare blue slip & letter|
Longhaul upgrades are now on offer from economy. One way upgrades on long haul flights to World Traveller Plus costs £150 each way, and fare bucket (I, D, C) does not affect flexability, which then locks you in to those flights, and wipes out the previous flex. available (i.e £30.00 plus any fare difference) on the old economy ticket. This is available before checkin on some flights, via the MMB screen.
Another route is to actually get on board, and then ask for the CSD (Cabin Service Director), for a paid for onboard upgrade. This is cheaper, but you need to get on in sufficient time, and the CSD will have to check that there is sufficient catering on board. Some crew are unaware of this process, as it is very rarely used. Ask them to check for a brown envelope marked "Voluntary Upgrade Pack". In it is a manual explaining the process, which starts with the memorable line "This process is only to be used as an absolute last resort when a passenger insists on, and pays for, a cabin over the one they have booked". You will be handed a BA form letter, explaining that you should have booked a better cabin to start with, and a blue upgrade slip. As this is processed as a duty free payment, you do not earn any extra tier points via this route, unless you retrospectively apply for them. Send your blue upgrade form into the Executive Club, and eventually you will earn the full miles and Tier points. However if you are using this trick, it is vital that you do not put your cheap economy flights onto a Qantas card - this will be picked up at the retrospective stage, and you will loose the upgraded points. Do not use this system if flying from Gatwick. Instead you should use the cheaper £59 upgrade (see above) which also gives lounge access.
Firstly, it may take 3 days for the points to be transfered. These appear in your account at about 4am two working days after the flight (if you are not on a BA flight). Then, when you magically hit the 400 or 800 points mark, instantly, your 'counter' on the right hand side will say your new status, but the status at the top of the screen will stay with the old status.
24 hours later, again in the middle of the night, your top of screen status will change. At this point you can move country again should you need to move back out of the EU, however you can only move back to the UK, not to another country. However, if you go into order items, you will only be able to order replacement cards and bag tags with your old status, and here your 'upgrade order' status will say pending. Finally, another 24 hours later, you can order a new bag tag.
Strike Season Catering Vouchers|
However, if there is a problem, BA are very good at compensation for passengers. For example, if there is a catering dispute, BA will offer vouchers for food at the airport (£20 in Club Europe, £30 for Club World). Note that getting hold of this vouchers at remote outstations can be quite complicated, and you must hold out for your rights
If there is a baggage problem, passengers who are members of the Executive Club, are being offered 12,000 miles as compensation (or 25,000 for Silver members, 50,000 for Gold. This is raised to 100,000 for those that complain by letter).
BA will often waive restrictions on rebooking non-flexible tickets as well.
Just waive a Club boarding pass, and you get 15 pounds worth of free food and drink at TC5. You can stock up on coffee, juice and food for lunch, as the breakfast served in CE is often very poor quality.
It is a far better experience travel experience, with fast check in and a dedicated security check-point for the area which gets you airside and to the lounges quicker.
MMB Manage My Booking|
Silver and Gold Executive Club members can also use MMB to reserve seats in advance, but other passengers cannot reserve seats until check-in. You do however get a chance to book seats at online checkin - 24 hours in advance of your first flight. For Club Europe there is no pre-seating on flights between London and Jersey or London and Dublin, and there is no pre-seating on CitiExpress services to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Brussels, Jersey and Dublin.
To reserve a seat go to the Manage My Booking (MMB) section of BA's website by entering your reservation code and your surname, then click on reserve a seat. This page will take a long time to load if you are on a dialup modem. Then (counter-intuitively) click on the seat that is already reserved for you, before clicking on the seat you would like. It is well worth while doing this, as often BA will sometimes put ClubEurope passengers in the dreaded middle seat on the right.
If you use MMB to select seats, there are some seats which are actually available, but which are blocked. These are generally bulkhead or exit rows (where the checkin people like to actually make sure that you can really help in an emergency, and are able bodied).
Gold members of the Executive Club have a better choice of seats, with Golds able to pre-select Row 1 in Club Europe, and the front seats in First.
BA 767 at Prague|
You can check in for the subsequent connecting legs of a trip at the same time as OLCI opens for the first. The rule applies to all BA itineraries involving a connection purchased on a single ticket.
Note however you can only OLCI if your ticket number starts with 125 (BA Issued), and not 001 (AA issued).
One has ended up in the hands of Easyjet. Gibraltar Airways was British registered as GB Airways. It was an A320 series operator. It flew of course to Gibraltar from Heathrow, along with Casablanca Tangiers and Marrakech, and to the central & eastern Mediterranean from Gatwick, including Alicante, Ibiza, Gran Canaria, Palma, Tenerife, and Dalaman in Turkey.
British Airways has now sold BA Connect, a year after launching it. It has been bought by Flybe. It was a low cost offshoot flying to airports around the UK - essentially the remnants of the franchise operations run by independent companies City Flyer Express and British Regional Airlines.
Other offshoots of BA included BMED, born as British Mediterranean in 1994 with a single A320, flying five times a week between London and Beirut. It is now the mid-haul section of bmi. It flew out of Gatwick, using eight Airbus A320, to 16 destinations, mainly in the Middle East and Central Asia.
One great feature when booking is you can see the fare in each direction, the lowest fare on that day out of the selection of flights, and fares for up to 7 days in each direction. So all the tedious research typing in a number of dates and times is gone. Alas, at one point you could see the entire month - this feature has now gone.
BA Tailfins LHR Terminal 1|
The website keeps on undergoing continual revamps, and one of the latest is to let you book different class levels on different legs, so you can for example travel to SYD from LHR in World Traveller, and have WT+ on the LHR-SIN section. When you get to the final booking option you can click on the "upgrade each segment" link.
The UK section of the website will charge you for using a credit card - other "country" sites will not.
Information on Terrace's lounges
Information on the new terminal 5 Galleries lounges
Information on Club World
Information on Executive Club.
Information on Inflight entertainment.
Information on www.newclubworld.com, the latest variant of Business Class.