Travel // How to use Airmiles to Fly First Class...

January 29, 2019

*this post contains a referral/affiliate link whereby if you'd like 26,000 free avios points on sign up, I'll receive 9,000 points*

We would never pay to fly business or first class. Because the cost of the tickets alone would pretty much pay for a whole extra holiday some other time, and is it really worth spending that for say, 12 hours in essentially a tin tube? We don’t think so. BUT it doesn’t mean that we don’t like flying business or first. It’s just the biggest luxury and is a whole other level to flying economy. So we came up with a way that means we that means we can indeed do this by just paying the taxes... and so many of you requested a blog post on this that I thought I'd share our top tips below.

  • First you'll need to sign up for a BA American Express card {use this link to start off with for 26,000 bonus points}. 
  • There are two different cards, the one that we have requires a bit higher spending but offers greater bonuses, more points per pounds and the significant added benefit of offering a companion voucher once a year. {which means that you can essentially double up the airmiles you’ve earned. Although you still have to pay two lots of taxes}.
  • You need to spend £10,000 a year to earn the companion voucher. And with this spending, you’ll be earning Avios points {that can pay for the flights and upgrades} into your BA executive account.
  • We chuck everything we can onto Amex, supermarket shops, fuel, other holiday bookings, work expenses when possible, Ben's property business buying, renovation costs etc. And then set up a direct debit to pay it off each month.
  • It’s also great as you get so much protection when paying for things on American Express including travel protection for cancelled flights etc.
  • You can also earn points by flying with either BA or a partner airline, including backdating points from previous flights flown within the past 6 months. And there are ways to earn bonus points through shopping with the Avios store etc.
  • We are lucky to fly fairly often, but this doesn't actually earn as many points as you'd think by doing this. Because we often book the cheapest fairs and pay for economy, you don’t actually earn all that much on flights taken. The majority of our points comes from spending/and extra bonuses.
  • We’ve also used tricks like opening a new Amex Gold card to earn bonus points. And then by referring the other person {Ben referring me etc}, after registering, you then both earn more bonuses. You spend on this card for a few months before cancelling it to avoid incurring the annual fee.
  • Once your points have built up and you’ve earned a companion voucher, the fun can begin.
  • When booking reward flights, the best way to maximise the value of the points is to fly long haul in business class {or First class if you have enough points/there’s availability}. You can use it for short European trips but to us, it feels like a waste as you’ve then used your companion and it’s not the same for a short flight.
  • Long haul economy redemption makes for the worst value way to use your points as such a huge percentage of the fare is taxes which you have to pay anyway.
  • It’s best to get onto the Avios availability calendar, a year before you want to fly as there are only ever a few seats per flight available to use for these bookings. We look at the day we want to travel and then get ready to book. Especially for popular destinations that don’t have many flights. The calendar opens 355 before booking.
  • Places like New York are some of the easiest ways to redeem them as there are multiple flights there per day.
  • We then wait to book the return at the same time as we use the companion voucher. We’ve also found though the team to be super helpful if you call them up.
  • We usually try and secure bookings as in advance for reward flights as we can. But for example, when looking at flights for New York for this October {for our baby’s first trip!}, we were shocked by the price of economy tickets. We then logged onto avios and realised we had enough points and a voucher that meant business class return flights, in taxes only, were just £200 more than the price of the 3 of us flying economy. Plus we’d get extra luggage allowance etc. My point is that this was in January and there were still seats left so the 355 day rule isn't always the case.
  • You can keep checking as people do release their seats up to 2 days in advance with no fee for doing so.
  • You do have to be a bit flexible on dates when booking reward flights. But it’s well worth it.

So what is flying business/first really like?

  • In a word. AMAZING. First up, you get insane luggage allowances, 3 cases at over 30kg each. How would you even carry all of that? Secondly, there’s a lounge to relax in before you fly which has unlimited food/drinks, magazines and an Elemis spa you can book into for mini treatments.
  • People always ask what the main difference is between Business {or Club World as BA call it} and First are. It’s mainly to do with the service. But with BA first, if flying from Heathrow T5, you get to use the special check in area and security walkway that’s especially for first passengers. They call it ‘millionaires door’ as it costs BA around that price for passengers to skip walking through the duty free shops at Heathrow. You get a special door into the famed Concorde lounge and it’s insane, quite frankly. There are special fine dining areas before you fly. {but you can also go next door into the regular one world lounge to access their food/buffet/snack selection}.
  • Then, once on the flight, in both business and first you get to board first into your dreamy flat bed seat and large area to yourself. We didn’t find there to be a huge difference seat wise between the two classes, but when flying First there are a lot fewer seats so you get extra special treatment as well as a silver platter offer of pyjamas for you to change into. I actually still wear these pyjamas when at home from our first First flight a couple of years back haha. So comfy. You get a Liberty london pouch with nice toiletries in for the flight, one for the men with male specifics and then one for us ladies. Plus your choice of food and drink when you feel like it rather than having a set schedule. The staff make up a table with you with posh cutlery/table cloth in the sky. It’s quite incredible. Then if you want a bed making up, they’ll bring a White Company duvet and pillow.
  • I normally hate flying but you can’t help but love flying when you travel like that. I just feel so relaxed and in this kind of dream like state for half the flight. The seats are so comfy that miraculously my back doesn’t ache like it does in economy and your legs have alll the space to stretch out.
  • Your bags get off first and then, if you’re like us, you have to get used to flying economy again until you can save up enough points again 😂.
  • It’s always a big decision whether to use it for a night flight, and get good sleep on the flatbeds, or daytime so you can max out on being awake to enjoy it all more. I remember flying back first class from New York for the first time on a red-eye and just feeling so sad at how fast the flight went and how I felt drugged with tiredness yet wanted to force myself to eat this lobster dinner.
  • We don’t drink so miss out on all the fancy champagne and alcohol choices you get during both the lounge and flight. There are whole flight/airline review blogs that seem to focus a lot on this though if that's important to you. 

I hope this has helped if you were unsure about how it all works. And if you did want to sign up, or learn more, you can use this link. I won’t patronise you but I feel I should responsibly say that obviously it’s a credit card, so just check you’re happy with the terms of it all/interest/payments etc.

- my 'what should I wear when travelling first class' outfit... There is an unwritten rule that you should be semi-smart when travelling in that class then you change into your pyjamas once on board. But I still wanted to be comfy, and as it was a day flight, didn't want to wear pjs for it. 

{also, our flight to San Diego was at 1pm so it was perfect to get to the airport early and have both breakfast and lunch in the lounge to really max out. Before a 12 hour day flight, we felt it was the best way to really enjoy it compared to an early morning, or night flight. But obviously depends on your schedule and where you're flying to}

We ate things like truffle linguine at 39,000 feet. And the most beautiful desserts. There's also a snack kitchen you can go to anytime during the flight. 

I've never been so thankful for that second trimester extreme hunger! 

Comfiest, dreamiest flight ever!

We're flying home business, with points. It will be a night flight back to London so I hope we get some sleep!

Do you collect airmiles? Or have any tips to share that I've forgotten? Feel free to ask any questions over on Instagram too if I've made anything confusing.

R <3 xx 

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  1. Great post! We collect avios too! We've been collecting for a year now and have just purchased flights to go to Australia next Christmas. Although we don't have enough to get all the way to Aus so we are flying First to Hong Kong, and Business back from Bangkok. We've also got a few internal Aus flights on points too which is good, as over Christmas they can be so expensive. I literally cannot wait!
    My husband thinks I'm slightly obsessed with earning avios, but everytime he says that and I suggest he travels in economy and I'll go First he quickly pipes down! Haha!
    I don't travel well on planes (I'm tall and I can't sleep) so I'm hoping first/business class is going to be a revelation for me!
    Hope you have a fab flight back x

  2. My comment from yesterday seems to have disappeared. I'm interested to know if you earn Avios points if people sign up to the BA Amex using the link above? I feel you should disclose this if this is the case.

    1. Sorry I didn’t see your comment yesterday, I don’t always check on the blog to reply to them. For 26,000 points that somebody earns if they sign up, i’ll get 9000 points if they spend £3000 in the first 3 months. It’s stated when you click on the link that we both get a bonus and in the side bar of this blog it states that affiliate links may be used. It’s not that I get a bonus just for people signing up, only if they then spend too. Hope that helps.

    2. Just realised that this doesn’t count as an affiliate link anyway. But i’d hope that people would be pleased to get 26,000 points and found this post useful rather than just commenting with a snark.

  3. Thank you for clarifying. Whilst I appreciate this may not be classed as an ‘affiliate link’, and that those taking out a credit card will gain 26,000 points, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that you should point out that you also stand to gain 90,000 Avios (depending on how many people sign up). To describe my comment as a ‘snark’ is unwarranted.

  4. I'd be more than happy with the points!

    Can I ask what you think about kids in first business? I don't know if there are 'rules'? I know pre-kids I'd be pretty peeved to be sharing that relaxing space with kids, but I now know mine would sleep properly in beds overnight which would be amazing in easing the transition back to UK time.


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