Can you upgrade partner flights with Avios?

Dec 2, 2019

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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:

In addition to these Oneworld partners, you can also use Avios from British Airways Executive Club to redeem for flights on:

Related: What is Sun-Air of Scandinavia, British Airways’ Danish franchisee?

But what about upgrading on flights, rather than redeeming your Avios for a straight redemption seat? You can read our guide to upgrading your British Airways-operated flights with Avios here.

British Airways First Class Image courtesy of British Airways
British Airways First Class. (Photo courtesy of British Airways)

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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.

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.

American Airlines

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.

Related: Worth the Extra Money: American Airlines (777-200) in Premium Economy From London to Miami

Image by JT Genter / TPG.
American Airlines Business Class. (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)


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.

Related: Should You Fly Iberia in Business or Economy to Tel Aviv?

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.

Image by Christian Kramer / The Points Guy
Image by Christian Kramer / The Points Guy

Other Airlines

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 image by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy

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