Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to redeem Avios for First Class flights with British Airways

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

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 The 747 fleet has been replaced by aircraft with either no First Class seats or just eight, cutting capacity significantly.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.

  • SammyJ says:

    Orlando & Tampa?! First from Gatwick?

    • SammyJ says:

      Or is there still a Covid LHR flight running? Either way, I’d bet my last dollar they’re not flying with First seats!

  • Kevin Swinbourne says:

    We were going to New Orleans (club world), but changed to Atlanta to get return first class with companion voucher. Less Avios, more cash. MLK Jr., Strange Things… here we come. Old cabin, but still looking forward to free Wi-Fi, etc…

  • Bernard says:

    All this is before the 787-9 club suite update removes F.
    BA mates also say that delay in 777X deliveries is leading to revised assessment on whether the 777Xs will have F as the ‘real’ F market now goes private or on Emirates or Lufthansa. Except Santiago, the 787-10, 77W and A380 can handle more than every possible commercial F route.

    • Rhys says:

      The only reason that “real F” business goes to Lufthansa et Al is because they have a “real F” product….obviously, to stay competitive you actually do need to stay competitive!

  • JK says:

    Fun fact: the BA website recently opened up extra First seats on a LHR-JFK flight when I used my newer companion voucher. Maybe they’ve changed their terms now but I thought it was only meant to work for opening up extra CW seats.

  • TB says:

    First all booked for Boston at the weekend. 777-200 with 8 seats. Not done this revised configuration yet. Did they refresh the F-seats when they did the Club Suites?

  • Steve Goodland says:

    I want to book a Sydney outbound and Singapore inbound in Mar24. I know I have to call a NYC call centre to grab 2 club seats as F will not be available and then similarly call 355 days beforehand to add my Return. I am using an Amex 2-1 voucher.

    I use SeatSpy and should First subsequently open up would it be possible then to upgrade the Club Redemption seat to F and still benefit from the 2-1?

    Or I bite the bullet and go Qatar and simply just use more miles. This is actually cheaper in taxes/service fees as would opt to travel from Europe somewhere?

  • Paul says:

    Are the Avios ex Heathrow (London) or is it the same from Glasgow?

    Also if flying from a European city, say Amsterdam, is it a different Avios calculation

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.