Calling BA for additional First inventory: TPG reader success story

Apr 11, 2021

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We’ve been asking to hear your travel success and mistake stories to both celebrate and help our TPG U.K. community — even if you’re not travelling right now.

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This week, TPG reader Marc S. shared a great story about an upcoming British Airways trip:

“We had a flight booked from London Heathrow (LHR) to Tel Aviv (TLV) in July 2021 for a family event. Hoping that we would be vaccinated by then and looking forward to seeing our family for the first time since 2019, we were very excited for the upcoming trip.

I had booked the flight using my BA Companion Voucher — 62,500 Avios and £640 for a round-trip in World Traveller Plus outbound and Club World inbound.

We were originally scheduled to fly the A350-900 inbound, so I was very excited to fly the new Club Suite seats. BA changed the plane to a 777 with the 4-2-4 configuration, but it was still Club World and it would still be an experience.

My cousin messaged to say the event date had been pushed a week out, so I looked on my Executive Club page to change our flights, and nothing was available. I remembered reading that it can be useful to call BA, where there may be seats available on the agent’s side that aren’t visible online. So, I did this and actually managed to score first-class seats inbound for no additional Avios and a £176 refund, due to the lower taxes flying from Tel Aviv.

Had I not called, I would have had to cancel the flights, pay a penalty of £70 and book new flights — economy only. So, following the advice of The Points Guy, we get to fly first class — something I never thought would ever happen. Thank you very much!”

Sometimes, equipment swaps can be a drag. If you’ve booked to fly on a specific product and it’s swapped out for an older, more outdated version — as in Marc’s case — it can mean old Club World versus new Club Suite.

Related: Are you entitled to compensation for an aircraft equipment swap?

While Marc was fine with that swap, his patience — and some luck with the event being moved — paid off. By calling British Airways, the agent was able to see something that wasn’t displaying online. Airline websites are generally good, but sometimes they don’t show everything that’s available. If you’re ever in doubt, give the call centre a ring. While you may not be able to book a higher cabin for the same amount of Avios, you might get some luck with the right agent.

Alternatively, you can use a site like ExpertFlyer to see a more detailed image about how full or empty a flight is. It’s a great tool for flying smarter, and you can set seat alerts for when award seats become available. (ExpertFlyer is owned by TPG’s parent company Red Ventures.)

Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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