British Airways is a world class international airline and a founding member of the Oneworld alliance. Essentially they fly to all corners of the earth. They make reward travel readily available for both international flights as well as regional connections with Oneworld partners. Based on all these great advantages British Airways should be a favorite of Reward Flying. Sadly they aren't. The reasons are higher taxes in the UK and British Airways imposes a fuel surcharge that is tacked on to each reward ticket. Typically the total is around $500 one way. A good portion of this is the APD, or Air Passenger Duty, a departure tax paid by anyone who originates their departure from the UK on an aircraft. So you'd pay this on any reward ticket departing the UK. To North America the tax is 146GBP or about $200USD. (A tax about half or $100 can be imposed when traveling at the lowest fare, typically reward tickets do not qualify for the lower tax.) Connecting flights do not pay the APD. If BA's reward redemption values were lower reflecting this fuel surcharge that would be acceptable. But they're not, in fact they are on the high side when it comes to redemption of their points which are called Avios. I've also noticed that when connecting through the UK on British Airways, the fuel surcharge is higher. There is no APD and other UK taxes are the same. Apparently the extra is a fuel surcharge on the outgoing flight, meaning you get to pay 2 fuel charges. Fly to London on BA, explore Europe by train and depart from a city outside the UK to reduce the cash out of pocket.
Nonetheless they do offer some great opportunities. Recently they took delivery of the Airbus 380, both Boeing 787 8 and 9 series and have A350s on order. They also fly from virtually every major US airport to London. Some other unique benefits are detailed under their Executive Club summary available when subscribing to the Reward Flying strategies.
British Airways Premium Class
British Airways offers up to 4 classes of service on its international product. Economy is called World Traveller while premium economy is World Traveller Plus. Business Class is Club World and First is well, First.
The new British Airways First Class product has received outstanding reviews. BA's website claims to have 80% of their aircraft converted yet offers no method for determining if a specific aircraft has been upgraded. All Boeing 787-9 aircraft have this interior installed.
First Class inflight services include a variety of champagne and fine wines to choose from, international crafted meals for your enjoyment as well as a spot of English tea. For a good review of the 787-9 First Class product read this article.
Business Class - Club World
Installation of upgraded lie flat bed Club World seating has been completed on all aircraft. It was British Airways who introduced lie flat a number of years ago. Unfortunately they have chosen to use the reverse seating arrangement that many traveller's dislike. Each business class compartment has a dividing screen that can be lowered or raised, allowing for privacy or conversation with the person next to you, in many cases facing toward you. The window seats offer the most privacy in this arrangement and there are some good locations, like the upper deck exit row on a 747 for extra space and privacy. The seat itself gets good reviews.
Here is a link to British Airways' website for more information on Travel classes.
British Airways Aircraft Configurations and Club World Seat Specifications
All international configurations.
A380: First 14 / Club World 97 / Traveller Plus 55 / Traveller 303
747-400: Two versions both with 4 classes of service.
Note: BA places 14 First Class Suites in the nose of a 747. For comparison purposes, Lufthansa has 8, Cathay Pacific 9, United 12, Air India 12 and Thai 10.
V1: First 14 / Club World 52 (upper deck) / Traveller Plus 36 / Traveller 243
V2: First 14 / Club World 70 (lower and upper deck) / Traveller Plus 30 / Traveller 185
767-300: Two versions fly regionally in Europe with standard business class seats. One 767 is deployed internationally without First Class, Version 3.
V3: Club World 24 / Traveller Plus 24 / Traveller 141
777: They have both 200 and 300 series.
200: 3-Class; Club World 48 / Traveller Plus 24 / Traveller 203
200: 4-Class; First 14 / Club World 48 / Traveller Plus 40 / Traveller 122
300: 4-Class; First 14 / Club World 56 / Traveller Plus 44 / Traveller 185
787: They both the 8 and 9 series
8: 3-Class; Club World 35 / Traveller Plus 25 / Traveller 154
9: 4-Class; First 8 / Club World 42 / Traveller Plus 39 / Traveller 127
photos courtesy Michael Moriartis, Airbus, Boeing, British Airways
Have you flown with British Airways? Share your experience with others in the comments section.