Depending on your ticket type, you might be able to upgrade to a nicer cabin by calling up British Airways and asking. They will give you an option of upgrading for cash or with Avios. This will usually be quite expensive, but occasionally there’s a deal to be had.
However, when the flight starts filling up, there’s a chance BA might oversell the cabin you are in. When this happens they will start being forced to upgrade people, which begins with making a good offer for a low-cost upgrade. I.E. they will try and make some money out of it before they give out free upgrades.
Keep an eye on your booking by checking the BA app or logging in to the website regularly. A common occurrence for short-haul is for Economy to be oversold so people need to move up to Business Class. A normal price would be £90 to £180, which could be a good price if you don’t have Silver status or above, as it will give you lounge access and priority treatment, not to mention the better tier points. The offers for long-haul flights can range from over £500 to as low as £250. But the seat difference if you’re upgrading to Club is huge!
Deciding if you are for these offers can be a bit of a lottery as if you don’t there’s a chance you might get a free upgrade or you might be stuck where you are!
This generally doesn’t happen until check-in, but if, for example, Economy is oversold, Premium is full and Business has seats, then they’ll start moving people forwards.
It could be at check-in, after check-in or even at the gate.
You want the magic beep at the gate when your boarding pass gets rejected. When that happens, they rip it up and a brand new one appears with your shiny new seat in Business Class. When that happens, it is a great feeling.
Unfortunately, BA has an algorithm that decides how these upgrades get allocated when the situation arrises. As such, it’s effectively impossible to game this system.
Who gets the free upgrades?
Well BA has a scoring system that gives every passenger a rating. They then simply start at the top of the rating list and work down.
How they score this is a bit of a mystery, but some things that are certain. Your Executive Club status instantly puts you in a good position on the list.
Put it this way, Gold members are getting upgraded first. But there’s more to it than that, how much you spend in general does seem to be a factor. There are other things that count too, if it’s your birthday, also if you’ve just earned a new status. So if you just moved up to Silver, again that increases your chances.
Upgrading without offers can be expensive. Watch for the special offers, and take them if they are a good deal or if you particularly need them (like you need the points or it’s a night flight and you want a bed). Or risk it and wait, you never know when your seat might change at check-in or you get the magic beep at the gate!