In December 2018, my husband and I booked two premium economy tickets to fly directly in Premium Economy from London Gatwick (LGW) to Male, Maldives (MLE). We paid 82,500 British Airways Avios plus Companion Voucher and £943 in taxes and fees to fly in November 2019. We used our Companion Voucher earned with our British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Card. Soon we found ourselves flying Club World for free, having received an upgrade.
Upgrade tip: do not buy or allocate seats
Since May 2018, I have only held Blue (starter) status with British Airways. I decided to experiment: for a year, I would not pay for seats for my family, including for this flight. I only paid for seat allocation on low-frills airlines where they could likely split me from my children. We didn’t imagine it could land us an upgrade on an overnight 11-hour flight to the Maldives.
Over the year, I checked our Maldives flights occasionally, and I noticed that few seats were remaining. Two weeks before the trip, I checked on my executive club and could even not buy a seat. There were none left.
Without any British Airways status and without paying for seats, we did not have one allocated or a way to get one. That’s when the idea crossed my mind that I may be able to obtain an upgrade. However, I assumed that BA would upgrade someone with status over us and give us their seats.
Related: About Triplepassport
Watch the seats and then hope for the best
When it was time to check-in 24 hours before, I logged in to British Airways and saw the magic words – Club World. Yes, an upgrade.
Hard to say whether this was dumb luck or a good example that not booking seats and having low status can work in your favour on British Airways for an upgrade. One of the top benefits of Premium Economy for me is that it gets you one step closer to business and the ability to upgrade with either points or cash. The jump from economy to business is a much bigger one to make.
It made for a relaxed start to our adults-only trip to the Maldives.
Featured photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen
Note: I paid for this flight myself. British Airways doesn’t upgrade travel writers, as they’d have to upgrade nearly everyone these days!