Edit: I had written this post a while back but only gotten around to publishing it today and by some co-incidence British Airways also announced that Old First is to be sold as business class instead. The seat maps and inventory haven’t been changed to reflect that though, at least for flights departing in the very near future. So as far as I know this method is still possible assuming you book super-last minute and track the outbound departure from London Heathrow, at least within the next few days or weeks.
I like writing about ways to save miles. I’m probably one of the better people (in my blunted vision) when it comes to using as few miles and spending as little to get that first class seat or luxury hotel.
I’ve actually been thinking about this opportunity quite a bit and it doesn’t seem to be going away, so I might as well post this.
British Airways is giving away 50,000 Avios for flights on the old First Class, even if you’re on an award ticket. Head for Points (a British blog) wrote about this a while ago, and there has been a similar FlyerTalk thread that has sprung up.
It seems that the compensation is standard, and even if you didn’t get the compensation on board, you could write an email to British Airways, where they’d deposit the Avios into your account.
I’m assuming British Airways is giving this compensation out for customers that aren’t happy with the old First (with poorer IFE and a more worn out seat) and expected New First.
So now that I have a little bit more time – I’ve been thinking about this from a travel hacking perspective – what if you were to guarantee yourself with Old First, which would guarantee you with the compensation?
It actually might seem possible, thanks to the kind work of the FlyerTalk British Airways forum, which tracks which Boeing 747-400 aircraft have and which haven’t been retrofitted with New First.
As you may or may not know, all commercial airplanes have an airline registration, which is akin to a license plate. You can actually track nearly any plane that’s flying and you’ll know where it’s going (that’s how you figure out whether your Thai/Lufthansa/Cathay/Singapore has the refurbished or new First Class). FlightAware is the best resource to do this.
The thing is – given that there’s only one plane flying for a daily departure to a destination to say – Vancouver, I’d assume that the plane that’s currently coming in should be the one that’s leaving Vancouver.
That means, if you can track the plane that’s coming in to Vancouver, you can theoretically book a last-minute first class award seat for 75,000 British Airways Avios, and enjoy a 50,000 “Old First” rebate, resulting an essentially a 25,000 Avios one-way award from North America to London-Heathrow.
Of course you can also redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles for British Airways First Class, for 62,500 miles plus a 50,000 Avios rebate. This also covers any positioning flights to/from the North American gateway as well as onwards within Europe.
British Airways Avios points can be obtained by transferring them from American Express Membership Rewards Canada. The American Express Gold Rewards Card offers 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $500 within the first 3 months, with the annual fee waived for the first year. The American Express Platinum Card has an annual fee of $699, but offers 60,000 bonus points after $1000 spend within the first three months, as well as other travel benefits.