Last week Paul wrote an article about his views on the BA Premium Plus Amercian Express card 2-4-1 voucher and whether they are worth having. This caused some fairly lively debate amongst our readers! The TLFL team all have different travel styles, I thought I would put across my point of view aimed at those who do not have gold upgrade vouchers.
How do I personally use my 2-4-1 vouchers?
Unlike Paul, I do actually have a BAPP Amex and I generally earn a voucher every year. I also hold an Amex Platinum due to the versatility of the points and the extra benefits. Finally, I also hold a Virgin card for times when you can’t use Amex. I do not generally care what an Avios is worth. It is worth whatever you want it to be and depends on your circumstances.
What should you use your 2-4-1 vouchers for?
I generally either use mine as Paul suggested for a RFS club flight to Europe, or for First class redemptions. Given that many of the taxes and charges for business class are now around £600, it makes less sense to me to redeem for Club World. I would rather pay a bit more and do an ex EU or sale fare and get some Avios and tier points. In terms of taxes, there is little you can do to reduce the cost other than starting your journey from an airport in the UK where there is no APD – Jersey or Inverness.
First class to the Far East can often start at well over £3000, so this is my other most frequent redemption with the voucher. Last year Roving Reporter and I used it for an open jaw to Shanghai, returning from Kuala Lumpur.
Long haul economy and WTP redemptions
As Paul said, long haul economy redemptions are often extremely poor value for a 2-4-1. If you book a reasonable time in advance there can often be less than £50 difference between the taxes and charges and buying a cash ticket. However, there are two situations where they can be useful. If you want the flexibility to cancel or change then it can make sense to book on Avios with a 2-4-1 as you can change or cancel with a £35 fee up to 24 hours before. The other situation would be if you wanted to fly at the last minute and the economy prices were crazy expensive, using a 2-4-1 can actually be reasonable value in this case. The same applies to World Traveller Plus.
How to snag the most popular seats
There are certain routes that are very tricky to get First class seats on. Cape Town, Sydney, Singapore and Los Angeles to name but a few. If you want to go for one of these you need to be organised. BA do not guarantee to release any First seats unlike Club where they guarantee two Avios Club seats on every flight.
The easiest time to get the availability is to book the day the flight is released for redemptions. This is 355 days before the flight at 12am GMT (so 1am UK time in summer). The flights are not always loaded up online immediately, so if it is a very popular route you may want to call a BA office that is open at midnight to secure it (Japan, Hong Kong and or USA). There have been reports of some offices refusing to do this in the past but it is worth a try.
However, there is a catch to booking at D-355. If you are booking a return flight that means only the outbound flight would be available on that day. Don’t be tempted to wait, as by your return date -355, the outbound flights will have probably gone. If you are using a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, you should buy the outbound flights at D-355 and then as soon as the inbound flight is available, telephone British Airways for them to add the flight to the booking. They should not charge you for the change. You may need to explain that you could not have booked the flights before, as I have known BA to try to charge sometimes. You could just book the return online and then call BA to combine them but there is one drawback with this. On routes such as the US-UK where taxes and charges are very high, you will end up paying a much higher cash price as BA do not recalculate the charges when combining the flights into one booking.
Another option with very popular routes is to look at nearby airports. For example, Johannesburg is not quite as hard to get as Cape Town so you could buy a connecting flight onto Cape Town from there. You could also do an open jaw where you fly into one airport but return from another. This is allowed as long as the distance between the two airports is shorter than distance from the starting point to the airports.
Another thing to consider is a mixed class booking. You can fly a different class on the outbound to the return. However, both passengers must travel together in the same class. This could be an option if you can’t get both ways in First. You could then set up a free alert on rewards flight finder in case 2 first seats become available at a later date.
What do you use your BA 2-4-1 voucher for? What has been your best redemption? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.