Can you upgrade partner flights with Avios?
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Smart Avios use can open up a world of new adventures (and great savings) if you’re able to navigate the sometimes confusing world of points redemption. When it comes to using your points, you don’t always need to use them for a straight seat redemption, you can also use them to upgrade your seat to something a little more swish.
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You can read our guide to upgrading your British Airways-operated flights with Avios here. But what about upgrading on British Airways partner flights? Read on.
The Basics of upgrading with avios
The same basic rules apply to upgrades whether you are upgrading a British Airways-operated flight, or an (allowable) partner flight:
- You can only upgrade one class of service — so from economy to premium economy (or business class where premium economy is not offered on that flight), or from business to first (where first class is offered on that particular flight)
- There must be a full redemption seat available in the class to which you wish to upgrade
- If you are upgrading a cash fare using Avios, you will still earn Tier Points and Avios for the lower cash fare you purchased
- The ticket you are upgrading must have been issued by British Airways or British Airways Holidays, meaning the ticket number must start with ‘125’
- The cost to upgrade a cash fare is the Avios required for a full redemption, less the Avios required for the lower fare you are upgrading from, plus any additional fees and taxes payable from the higher fare.
Which airlines can I redeem my Avios on?
There are plenty of airlines with which you can both earn and redeem Avios — and they go beyond British Airways. Included in that are the following Oneworld alliance airlines:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific including Cathay Dragon
- Iberia including Iberia Express and Air Nostrum
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qantas including QantasLink and Jetconnect
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
In addition to these Oneworld partners, you can also use Avios from British Airways Executive Club to redeem for flights on:
- Aer Lingus
- Alaska Airlines
- Comair, a BA franchise partner in South Africa
- Sun-Air, a BA franchise partner in Scandinavia
Which airlines can I upgrade my seat using Avios?
Now that the basics are out of the way, how many partner airlines can you upgrade with Avios on? Unfortunately, it’s only a few.
If you book a flight through British Airways but operated by American Airlines, you can upgrade with Avios. The following additional conditions apply:
- To upgrade an economy ticket you must have a fully flexible (most expensive) B or Y fare code economy ticket
- To an upgrade an international business class ticket to first class (noting American Airlines only has long-haul first class on a handful of routes), you must have a fully flexible C, D or J fare code business class ticket.
You can upgrade with Avios on Iberia flights without the restrictive fare code restrictions imposed for American Airlines flights.
Iberia does not have first class, so business class Iberia flights cannot be upgraded.
If you own a business you may be interested in reading our guide to British Airways On Business points program as it can provide excellent value upgrades on Iberia operated flights.
Unfortunately, you currently cannot use your Avios to upgrade on any other airlines at this time, though you can redeem Avios for an outright redemption seat, where seats are available.
Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy
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