- Virgin Atlantic vs Air France: Which is Better? - August 21, 2023
- Virgin Red vs Virgin Atlantic: What’s Changed? - August 20, 2023
- Does Southwest Have First Class? Business Select Explained - August 18, 2023
This is the start of a truly amazing journey. Flying in First Class is a dream for many travelers. Flying First Class is never truly free of course, but there are ways, hacks, and tricks to really drive down the cost of a First Class ticket and make it as cheap and as affordable as possible.
The cheapest way to fly first class is to build up Avios Points and use those points to buy a First Class ticket. Although you will always have to pay the taxes and fees, First Class flights to New York are as cheap as £676.62 off-peak and £984.62 at peak time.
This option would see you in Business Class for your flight from London to Heathrow to JFK New York, and in First Class for your return flight from JFK New York to London Heathrow.
Although it isn’t clearly shown here, the outbound flight is in Business Class and the inbound flight in First Class. As a cost comparison if you booked and paid for the same flights in cash it would cost you £3,214.62 – saving you £2,538! There are different airlines flying out of London of course that have First Class cabins. Lufthansa, British Airways, United Airlines, and Quantas just to name a few.
The focus for this article is on British Airways due to the number of destinations BA fly to plus also the Avios Points program is one of the fastest and easiest ways we can earn enough points or miles for our trip.
How many Avios Points Do I Need for a First Class Flight?
This depends on whether you want to fly First Class return or if you’re happy to fly just part of your return trip in First Class. A full First Class return flight to New York will cost an average of 160,000 Avios Points (and around £750-£800 in taxes and fees).
If you fly one leg of your return journey in Business Class, and the other leg in First Class, as you will have seen in the example above, you will need to collect 133,000 Avios Points (and pay the £676.62 taxes and fees). Although this is a large number of points to earn, it is possible to collect this amount within 18-24 months if you’re a really smart point collector.
Here though in summary are ways to achieve this:
- 25,000 Avios: Sign up for the BA Amex Premium Credit Card
- 43,000 Avios: Upgrade your Barclays Premium Account to the Barclays Avios Rewards account
- 4,000 Avios: Collect Points with Sainsbury’s with your grocery shopping and when you fill up your petrol tank each year
- 10,000 Avios: Switching and taking out insurance policies through the BA Shopping Portal
- 15,000 Avios: For staying ten nights in a hotel per year through the BA Hotels Portal
- 4,000 Avios: Christmas shopping and gift purchases each year
These six methods alone are worth 101,000 Avios Points in a single year!
Not all bonuses are available in the second year of course but you may have noticed none of the above examples actually included any flights, so if you are a regular flyer with BA there are more opportunities to earn Avios there.
With over 100,000 Avios Points in a single year, it’s possible to collect the remaining 32,000 Avios Points needed for your First Class flight in year two.
How Much Does it Cost For Two People to Fly First Class?
If you wanted to take with you a friend, family member, or partner ordinarily you would need double the amount of Avios Points. Collecting 266,000 Avios though would take even the most arduous Avios collectors a while to amass. You would be looking at between 36-48 months for a smart saver. Fortunately, there is a way around this. If you took out the BA American Express Premium Credit Card, and spend £10,000 in a single year, you will be rewarded with a free companion flight voucher.
The beauty of this trick is this works for First Class too!
This means for the same number of Avios Points (133,000) two people can fly to New York Business Class outbound and First Class inbound. You will need to pay the taxes and fees for both passengers. This would mean the cost rises from £676.62 for one person to £1,353.24 for two people – but the number of Avios required stays the same.
The BA First Class Experience
The BA First Class experience is rivaled by none. There is something so uniquely enticing about holding on to a First Class ticket. The long corridor walk at Heathrow Airport to the ‘secret’ and private entrance to security cutting off much of the queues through to the exquisite First Class or ultra-exclusive Concord lounge if you’re at Heathrow – and this is all before you even take to your 6ft 7 inch lay flat bed seat in your sumptuous First Class cabin.
This video promo from British Airways will give you a sneak peak behind the curtain
Can I fly First Class to anywhere in the world?
Many airlines offer First Class on long-haul flights only. For shorter flights, for example to Europe, airlines fly smaller aircraft with different cabin arrangements. All British Airways flights have a Business Class in the short haul. These are not quite the lay-flat bed experience, but equally a more enjoyable experience than Standard Economy.
If you are flying long haul (typically over 5 hours long) almost all British Airways flights will offer a First Class cabin and experience. New York is used in this example as it’s such a popular destination for British travelers, but with the sheer number of destinations BA flies to, you are really spoilt for choice.
What If I Can’t Earn Enough Avios Points, What is the Cheapest I Can Fly First Class For?
If collecting enough Avios Points is just not possible, there are other options to try out the First Class experience on a budget. We found British Airways flights to Tel Aviv, Israel, in First Class during September for £1,881.32. Understandably although this is still very expensive, it is cheap in comparison to New York where we were quoted £3,133.62 in First Class for the same dates as the Tel Aviv flight.
For comparison, Lufthansa only offers Business Class cabins for the Tel Aviv flight but they quoted £5,329.07 for New York in First Class for the same dates as BA. The best time to look out for First Class flights are during airline sales. Although sales seem to happen almost weekly, the airlines usually hold two major sales a year.
During these sales, we have seen First Class seats to New York sell for as cheap as £1,350! There aren’t many seats at this type of price, so you have to act fast.
Cheapest Way to Fly First Class – In Conclusion
Avios Point building, or air miles building in general, will always be the cheapest ways of flying First Class. Collecting Avios Points isn’t free of course. You have to spend or take advantage of signup bonuses to earn these, but often you will collect Avios Points for spending the same amount as you do now and on the same purchases.
It costs nothing to join the BA Executive Club and start collecting Avios Points. Start today and soon you could be relaxing in style and comfort 36,000 feet in the air!