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How to redeem Avios for First Class flights with British Airways

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Yesterday we published our Avios redemption ‘price list’ – basically, a list of British Airways destinations with the maximum number of Avios needed for a flight.

We did not include First Class Avios redemptions in that article because of the different way that Avios redemptions in British Airways First are now priced. In some cases you need fewer Avios than in Business, albeit with far higher taxes.

Instead, we have put together this article which looks exclusively at how to book British Airways First Class flights with Avios.

How to redeem Avios for First Class flights with British Airways

Where does British Airways fly its First Class cabin?

The number of British Airways routes with a First Class cabin has shrunk in recent years.

Most notably, BA retired its entire Boeing 747 fleet in 2020. These aircraft had big 14-seat First Class cabins which meant that it was easy for the airline to offer redemptions. The 747 fleet has been replaced by aircraft with either no First Class seats or just eight, cutting capacity significantly.

Your best chance of getting a First Class redemption is on an A380 route, where you will still find a 14 seat cabin.

At the time of writing, we believe that British Airways flies First to the following destinations on some or all flights:

  • Abuja
  • Bahrain
  • Bermuda
  • Boston
  • Bridgetown
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Dubai
  • Hong Kong
  • Houston
  • Johannesburg
  • Kuwait
  • Lagos
  • Los Angeles
  • Male (Maldives)
  • Mexico City
  • Miami
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Riyadh
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose (California)
  • Santiago
  • Seattle
  • Singapore
  • Sydney
  • Vancouver
  • Washington DC
How to redeem Avios for First Class flights with British Airways

Finding British Airways First redemption availability

Unfortunately, British Airways doesn’t make it easy to redeem Avios for First Class seats.

Unlike in economy, premium economy and Club (business class), British Airways does not guarantee any First Class reward availability on any of its flights.

That means you are at the mercy of BA’s pricing algorithm to determine when, and where, it wants to release seats in First.

One of the easiest ways to see where you can get first class availability is by using a third party tool such as SeatSpy. SeatSpy lets you view Avios availability by route and cabin 355 days in advance, which is when British Airways starts selling tickets. That said, you are more likely to see First Class opening up in the months leading up to departure than 355 days out.

You can also use the ‘Where can I go?’ function on SeatSpy to see all First Class availability across BA’s entire network for particular dates.

A New York example ….

New York has more First Class seats available than any other British Airways route with multiple daily flights. At the time of writing, SeatSpy shows that availability for TWO First Class seats outbound, on any of the daily flights to either New York or Newark, looks like this:

  • February: 7 days of the remaining 16 days
  • March: 3 days
  • April: 3 days
  • May: 2 days
  • June: Nothing
  • July: 1 day
  • August: 1 day
  • September: Nothing
  • October: Nothing
  • November: Nothing
  • December: 3 days
How to redeem Avios for First Class flights with British Airways

British Airways First Class Avios pricing by route

Another oddity in the system is First Class reward pricing.

British Airways has now rolled out Reward Flight Saver pricing across all other cabins on short and long haul routes, but First remains the exception.

That means that taxes and fees can vary and are not fixed, unlike with RFS pricing.

At the time of writing, you should expect to pay £800-£900 per person RETURN in taxes and charges on top of the Avios listed below.

We’ve compiled the table below for all routes currently having First Class. Remember that this is one-way pricing so needs to be doubled for a return flight.

One-way pricesFirst (off-peak)First (peak)
Cape Town85,000100,000
Hong Kong102,000120,000
Las Vegas85,000100,000
Los Angeles85,000100,000
Mexico City85,000100,000
New Orleans85,000100,000
New York68,00080,000
San Diego85,000100,000
San Francisco85,000100,000
San Jose (CA)85,000100,000
Washington DC68,00080,000

Can I use my Amex companion voucher or Barclays Upgrade Voucher?

You CAN use American Express 2-4-1 companion vouchers in First Class.

You CANNOT use your Barclays Upgrade Voucher to book First Class. You can only use a Barclays voucher to fly in Club World / Club Europe or World Traveller Plus.

How to redeem Avios for First Class flights with British Airways

What can you expect flying British Airways First?

Whilst flying BA First isn’t as luxurious as on some other airlines, it does offer a number of benefits over what you’d get flying BA Club World (business class).

For a start, you get to use dedicated First check-in and baggage drop counters. In Heathrow Terminal 5, these form part of the First Wing, an exclusive, fast-track check-in and security lane that whisks you straight into the British Airways lounges.

You’ll also have access to BA’s top-tier lounges, including the Concorde Room at Heathrow. This lounge is reserved for those flying in First or those with BA Gold Guest List status and features a la carte dining, (fairly) premium champagnes and a calm, relaxing environment.

Onboard, you’ll enjoy a much smaller and more intimate cabin of between 8 and 14 seats (versus 97 Club World seats on its A380!) with dedicated cabin crew.

(‘Dedicated’ means that on your particular flight they will only be working in the First cabin. Unfortunately BA does not have dedicated cabin crew who are specifically trained for First and who only work in that cabin.)

The British Airways First Class seat is wider and more spacious than Club Suite, and the latest version, introduced in 2020, features a door (review here) – see the photo above.

You will receive Temperley London pyjamas and amenity kits with skincare products from Elemis.

When it comes to food and drink, you’ll be able to dine on demand at any time. The meal service includes a round of canapés, starters, soup, main course, dessert and cheese and biscuits.

Passengers in First also get free on-board wifi.


Whilst British Airways has down-sized its First Class cabins, snagging a First Class Avios redemption is by no means impossible.

You will, however, need to be flexible on destination and dates. If you read HfP regularly, we often run articles when a large amount of First Class seating suddenly opens up on a particular route.

You can read more about British Airways First in our guide here.

Our ‘price list’ for Avios redemptions in Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class is here.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (119)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Julia Swain says:

    I flew F on Avios to SYD and the experience was extremely disappointing – poor service in the lounge, new seat storage and wardrobe broken, hot tea spilled in my lap (accidentally, but no apology and no offer of help to mop up). Flew back in J and it was a much better experience.

  • Tom C says:

    There’s no F to NBO. When I flew a few weeks ago they had Club Suites, which was not the case last year

  • TheFamousJames says:

    Flew F at the weekend. Cabin crew were chatting with us and said that BA will be rolling out training for dedicated First crew. No more detail than that. The crew members seemed very pleased that this change is coming.

  • Rizz says:

    Why is “Cape Town (via Johannesburg)” on the list? No such flight.

    Could equally add Port Elizabeth, Lusaka and Windhoek and others where you can connect on Airlink or another carrier in JNB…?

    • Chris W says:

      I thought that was odd too. No BA tag flights in South Africa!

    • Rhys says:

      Because BA sell First to Cape Town via JNB – and it seemed more likely for it to field F in the future at soome point!

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        By that logic they also sell First to Newcastle via LHR

      • Rizz says:

        So maybe need to clarify that the list includes speculative future F routes. There’s no F to Cape Town, period. Without Comair, there’s not even BA livery on the domestic sector. CPT via JNB suggest a tag-on in the same class on the same plane like some of BA’s flights in the Caribbean.

    • Harry T says:

      I don’t think Cape Town itself will see First flights very often, due to the aircraft normally employed on that route.

  • Joshua Critchley says:

    Article misses the most obvious way to F.
    Do the miles and give BA the money. Anyone can simply find excuses for your employer to fly you lots of expensive places to jolly up your tier points. Then get Gold Guest status.
    Attaining that means any chap can use a reward redemption into F.
    No need to waste time with all that other stuff. And much better than RFS with the masses in a club world dormitory.

    • Rob says:

      You didn’t get the memo – GUF2 redemptions in F have no value following the December changes.

      • Joshua Critchley says:

        Exactly. Only the little people are fooled by that one! Pure avios for me in F as I use the guest list thing and barely more avios than for club now.
        It’s quite a hoot round Berkeley Square gang that the Mayfair gang really got BA to make F almost ‘cheap’ compared to Club and then pretty much restricted it to anyone who wasn’t super golden.

    • HBommie says:

      Oh the joys of the *hedge fund manager.

      *Replace with whatever shiny suited individual you fancy.

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:


      There aren’t a lot of F redemptions out there!

  • Magarathea says:

    “At the time of writing, you should expect to pay £800-£900 per person RETURN in taxes and charges on top of the Avios listed below.”

    T&Cs for Dubai are £714.34 per person return.

  • Eshaq Choudhury says:

    Which routes have cheaper first than business?

    • Rob says:

      Compare the two charts from today and yesterday. There is a £500-600 taxes difference though.


    Miami has few First seats now and none at all available at any day or time over the next year just like most of the routes you have shown.
    It is a con to pretend that with an Avios you can possibly get a First class seat, when they have not only reduced the First seat availability, but made it virtually disappear from using Avios points in their drive to a simple Business class/Economy based system. AMEX need to take note of this !

    • mark2 says:

      When I have flown First using Avios I have always booked at D-355. The seats go very quickly.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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