Support Skift’s Independent JournalismMake a Contribution Now
Filed under “The Rich Getting Richer:” British Airways announced last week that it’s giving away free first class upgrades to a portion of its business class passengers through December 11th of this year.
There are constraints, of course. Passengers need to be traveling international long haul and be booked in a semi-flexible or fully-flexible fare class, which usually means that the initial ticket is going to cost over $10,000 — but for those that apply, the deal is a steal.
Business Class (branded as Club World) on long haul British Airways flights comes with a lie flat seat, a personal wide-screen television and well-respected in flight service. In 2014, Skift ranked British Airways in the top 10 of best international business class experiences.
First Class, the focus of this promotion, widens those amenities to include more lavish seats, better in-flight service and a spectrum of on-the-ground add-ons — plus a hefty price tag to boot.
British Airways has been marketing its premium cabins aggressively over the past two years as the industry starts to shift towards selling more business and first class seats over letting them fly empty (or upgraded). To that end, the carrier has regularly been competitively pricing its international business class cabins — so well, in fact, that they often compete with economy fares. Earlier this year for example, the airline launched $2,000 business-class fares from the U.S. to Europe for travel through the summer — a ticket that can easily cost $1,500 in economy.
With its new promotion, British now seems to be building out the narrative that its first class is also within reach of everyday travelers.
To take part in the promotion, travelers must specifically call British or a licensed travel agent and then book travel in the R, D, C or J fare classes. After that, an upgrade for only one direction can be requested. A full profile of the promotion is available on britishairways.com.