Today: How to book British Airways Club Suite using points & miles?
In 2019, British Airways introduced a new Business Class product, called Club Suite, which represents a massive improvement compared the carrier’s old Business Class product, called Club World. There are some major differences between new Cub Suite and the old Club World Business Class products:
- All Club Suite seats face forward in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout, with direct aisle access for all passengers. This is in contrast to Club World’s forward/backward-facing yin-yang seat arrangement in a 2-4-2 layout (where not all seats have direct aisle access).
- The new Business Class seats come with a sliding door for enhanced privacy, allowing British Airways to call the new Club World seat a ‘Club Suite’. The door is fixed in the open position during take-off and landing, but during cruise, the flight attendants release the locking mechanism and you can leave the door open or closed.
- Compared to the old Club World seats, the new Club Suite seats feature 40% extra storage space which includes a unique, bespoke table designed to be adapted for working, eating and sleeping.
- The new Club Suite seat is equipped with an 18.5-inch TV screen which uses the latest Panasonic X3 in-flight entertainment system. The screen is fixed into the shell of the seat in front (or the bulkhead for the front seats), allowing gate-to-gate entertainment. The latter is not the case with British Airways’ older Club World Business Class seats where the screen needs to be popped back into place prior to takeoff or landing).
Club Suite is an excellent hard product, ranking among the best Business Class seats in the skies, while the old (but once revolutionary) Club World seats feel dated and very tight, so when you fly with British Airways, I recommend to make sure that you book a flight on Club suite (and not Club World). To give you an idea of the difference in experience, I have previously publishes several trip reports and YouTube movies about British Airways’ Club Suite and Club World Business Class products:
- Review Club Suite: British Airways Business Class Boeing 777 (London to the Maldives)
- Review Club World: British Airways Business Class Airbus A380 (London to Vancouver)
- Review Club World: British Airways Business Class Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Seychelles to London)
- Review Club World: British Airways Business Class Boeing 777 (Tokyo to London)
While the cost of a Business Class ticket with British Airways has dramatically increased over the past years, you can also use miles and points to book an award seat (almost for free) in the airline’s sought-after Club Suite premium cabin. The good news is that British Airways makes a lot of award space available in its Business Class cabin (at least four per flight). In this article, I’ll explain the best strategies to book an British Airways Business Class award ticket with miles & points and how to make sure that you book a flight in Club Suite and not Club World (share you own strategies & tips in the comments below):
- Which British Airways planes feature Club Suite cabins?
- Use miles via British Airways’ frequent flyer program Executive Club
- Upgrade from Economy Plus to Business Class via Executive Club
- Use miles via the frequent flyer programs of Oneworld airlines
- Convert Marriott Bonvoy points into frequent flyer miles
- Convert credit card points into frequent flyer miles
WHICH BRITISH AIRWAYS PLANES FEATURE CLUB SUITE CABINS?
British Airways originally planned to have 100% of its longhaul fleet fitted with Club Suites by 2025, but the pandemic caused some major delays. Currently, Club Suite is available on more than 50% of the carrier’s wide-body fleet including:
- All A350-1000s
- All Boeing 787-10s
- Most Boeing 777s
Unfortunately, all of the carrier’s Airbus A380s, Boeing 787-8s, and Boeing 787-9s still feature the old Club World product (although they are scheduled to be retrofitted with Club Suite in the near future). In addition, British Airways’ Gatwick-based Boeing 777 fleet (which mainly flies to holiday destinations) will not be refurbished any time soon with Club Suite.
So, currently you’re only guaranteed Club Suite on the Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-10, and you’ll most likely get Club Suite on the Boeing 777. You can also always tell if your flight is scheduled to feature Club Suite based on the seatmap:
- If the seatmap shows four seats per row in Business Class (1-2-1 layout), then your plane features Club Suite.
- If the seat map shows more than four seats per row, then the plane still features the old style yin-yang Business Class layout (2-4-2).
Of course, always keep in mind that last minute aircraft swaps can and do happen.
USE MILES VIA BRITISH AIRWAYS’ FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM EXECUTIVE CLUB
Launched in 1995, the frequent flyer program of British Airways is called the Executive Club. In 2011, following its merger with Iberia, the flag carrier of the United Kingdom and the founding member of the Oneworld global airline alliance introduced dramatic changes to its Executive Club program, creating a distinct reward currency, called Avios. Today, Avios is a coalition program, offering members of the frequent flyer programs of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Qatar Airways thousands of ways to earn and redeem Avios for flights, hotels, and even travel experiences.
One of the easiest ways to book British Airways Club Suite award tickets is via Executive Club using Avios. British Airways flight redemptions are individually priced based on the distance between origin and destination and what class of service you want to fly. This means that each leg of your reward itinerary is calculated separately (award prices will be added together), with no layovers, stopovers, or open jaws included. For example, if your trip from Cape Town to New York includes a layover in London, the cost of your journey will be the sum total of the two individual legs (Cape Town to London + London to New York). Executive Club doesn’t publish a detailed rewards chart but you can work out the cost for a reward flights using the Executive Club online calculator. You can search for availability and proceed with booking an award ticket using the Executive Club online search engine.
British Airways redemptions using Avios can still be very expensive though: not only do the mileage prices add up for each flight segment, but heavy taxes and fees (including fuel surcharges) add up as well. For example, these surcharges are now around $1,000 USD one-way for British Airways Business Class flights from the US. Multi-segment flights booked with Avios are even more expensive, so British Airways Avios are best used for direct flights or single connections. There are a few ways to reduce the amount of Avios you need for a Business Class reward flight:
- For reward flights with British Airways, you will pay either a peak or off-peak Avios amount, depending on the date of your flight. Two thirds of the year is off-peak. When booking reward flights, you can choose all peak dates, all off-peak dates, or a mixture of the two. The taxes, fees and carrier charges you pay are the same for both peak and off-peak dates, but you’ll need a lower amount of Avios for off-peak dates.
- If you don’t have enough Avios for your chosen reward flight, or would like to save some for your next reward, you can reduce the Avios cost by paying an additional cash amount. The fewer Avios used, the more you make up in money. You’ll be presented with a range of these Avios & Money payment options at the checkout process when booking a reward flight.
British Airways awards can be booked online following the steps outlined below:
- Go to the British Airways website
- Log in to your account (in the upper right corner)
- Select Book a flight with Avios from the top menu
- Choose Book with Avios
- Enter your origin and destination airports, dates, and select Business Flass
- Click on Get Flights
- Select the available Business Class flight you want
UPGRADE FROM ECONOMY PLUS TO BUSINESS CLASS VIA EXECUTIVE CLUB
Another great way (and IMHO, the best way) to use your Avios is to spend them on upgrades. Only cash bookings on flights operated by British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines can be upgraded with Avios, either at the time of booking or later on depending on availability. Always keep in mind that upgrades can only be applied to the next higher cabin of service: Economy to Premium Economy, Premium Economy to Business, and Business to First Class (but not Economy to Business when the plane features a Premium Economy cabin). In general, the lowest priced Economy Class fares cannot be upgraded.
The Avios amount required for an upgrade is based on the Avios costs for reward flights in the cabins you are upgrading from, and will depend on whether your flight is scheduled on a peak or off-peak date. The formula is: Avios for the cabin you wish to upgrade to – Avios for the cabin you make your booking in = Avios required to upgrade one way. For example, if you want to fly with British Airways in Business Class from London to New York, you can book an Economy Plus Class ticket, and then login to “Manage My Booking” on BA.com, select your flight and choose to ”Upgrade this flight with Avios”. If there is reward availability, British Airways will tell you how much it will cost. In this example, an off-peak reward flight in Business Class costs 50,000 Avios; an off-peak reward flight in Club World costs 25,000 Avios. Therefore the cost to upgrade this flight using Avios is 75,000-50,000 = 25,000 Avios.
There are several ways to check upgrade availability:
- If you have an existing booking: log in to Manage My Booking, select your flight and choose “Upgrade this flight with Avios” to see if your flight can be upgraded
- If you’re just making plans: use the ‘book and upgrade’ form to search for specific flights and dates to see if you can upgrade as you book or use the reward availability tools to search for inspiration and availability
If you booked your ticket through a travel agent, you will need to check with them to see if your booking can be upgraded with Avios.
USE MILES VIA THE FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM OF ONEWORLD AIRLINES
British Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, my favorite airline alliance of the three major alliances (the other two being SkyTeam and Star Alliance). Oneworld is a collection of some of the world’s most prestigious flagship airlines which offer overall the best service and Business/First Class products in the skies:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Fiji Airways (Oneworld Connect)
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
Since British Airways is a member of Oneworld, you can use frequent flyer miles from any of the Oneworld carriers listed above to book Club Suite reward flights. The number of miles you need will vary from airline to airline and from the route you want to fly, so make sure to park your miles with the right frequent flyer program.
CONVERT MARRIOTT BONVOY POINTS INTO FREQUENT FLYER MILES
Marriott’s loyalty program – called Marriott Bonvoy – offers its members the possibility to earn points and exchange them for valuable rewards when they stay at one of Marriott’s 30 different hotel brands across 6800+ locations in more than 150 countries
CONVERT CREDIT CARD POINTS INTO FREQUENT FLYER MILES
You can boost your frequent account with one of the Onweorld Airlines with your credit card spendings as most frequent flyer programs are 1:1 transfer partner with the top travel credit card rewards programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou. So even if you do not fly British Airways or accrue miles with its frequent-flier program, you can simply set up an Executive Club mileage account (or a frequent flyer account with any other Oneworld airline) and transfer points from any of those three programs to your Executive Club account to book Club Suite awards.