I learn something new regarding British Airways’ Executive Club

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t learn something about miles/points, and today is no exception.

One frustrating aspect of British Airways’ Executive Club program is that they don’t allow any changes to award tickets within 24 hours of departure, so if you have to make a change you forfeit the value of your ticket. It’s a stupid policy, but I’ve known it.

That being said, I’ve on many occasions made bookings within 24 hours of departure and had no issues. This is especially practical for domestic American flights when you need a last minute ticket. For example, through British Airways’ website I can book a ticket for tonight from Los Angeles to Dallas using Avios.

I was supposed to fly from Vancouver to New York tonight on Cathay Pacific, and had been planning on using 4,500 Avios for a one-way ticket on Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Vancouver. They had plenty of award space and I had held off on booking the short leg up the coast since I wasn’t sure how much time I wanted to spend in Vancouver before continuing onwards.

So I rang up Executive Club to make a booking this morning, given that Alaska Airlines awards can’t be booked online. However, I was informed award bookings can’t be made within 24 hours of departure.

This is one of those tough lessons I learned the hard way. No Cathay Pacific for me tonight, I guess!

It’s a bit ironic because one of the huge benefits of Avios is that they don’t charge close-in ticketing fees, so they’re great for last minute ticketing… just not within 24 hours.


  1. @ msp2anywhere — Guess I’m not up to date on my acronyms. HUACB means what?

    Delta charges 25K miles for a one-way, and I don’t have any Alaska miles at the moment.

  2. @ Gary — My luck with car rentals hasn’t been great lately. Fortunately I could redeposit miles for free and book a <$300 fare for tomorrow on American. Not ideal, but still seems the better of the options.

  3. HUACB = HUACA = Hang Up And Call Back/Again

    So you’re just going to throwaway your CX ticket? SEA to YVR can still be done on a bus for pretty cheap ….

  4. @ AK — Thanks for clarifying. 😀

    Not “throwing it away” as I booked through American and can redeposit for free, so it’s not like I’m out of pocket. All the buses this afternoon were sold out, unfortunately.

  5. @Lucky – gotcha, thought you booked YVR-JFK through BA and were going to lose that too. Forgot you were doing the gateway stopover.

  6. This is a bit forward of me, but was it truly necessary to wait until T-24 to book your positioning flight? But I guess it’s good to know what can and cannot be done with Avios and phone booking, even if someone had to experience the limits. I assume your arrival time in NY is not time sensitive, but now you’re out of pocket around $300.

  7. While I don’t like to drive either, it’s only 2 1/2 hours from Seattle to Vancouver airport, and that’s if you don’t drive that fast.

  8. Couldn’t you have used 12.5k AA miles on AS if you really wanted to go? (I believe you can’t add the SEA-YVR to your existing AA booking because of cabotage or what have you.)

  9. Giving up your Cathay flight because you don’t want to drive 2.5 hours/take the bus/train….seems kind of like a waste to me.

    But I guess for someone who flies in first class for a living, it isn’t really a big deal.

  10. I cannot possibly believe that all the buses from Seattle to Vancouver are booked – there are so many companies and so many buses that run between the two cities.

  11. I have taken that Amtrak trip and it is quite scenic and pretty cheap as well. Give it a try fir this short hop.

  12. I have booked on Alaska < 24 hours using BA Avios miles many times. As many suggested here, just hang up and call back. Some agents are not stickler to rules and I have been lucky in the past in getting the booking fee waived.

    Alternatively, you could take the train from SEATAC to a station that connects with Grey Hound that will take you to Vancouver.

  13. On a slightly different note, is it possible to make a reservation on Alaska using BA avios and then later cancel this reservation with redeposit of avios back to BA?

  14. @ Mark — So I really believed an agent when I shouldn’t have? Wow, shame on me…

    @ Truthiness — Well, I’m out of pocket $300, but “in pocket” the 25,000 AAdvantage miles that were redeposited.

    Truth be told the reason I waited is because I was planning on signing on a new apartment, and wasn’t sure whether I could get it done by Sunday or Monday. Since I couldn’t cancel within 24 hours of departure, I figured it made the most sense to wait till as close to departure as possible.

  15. @ Shane — Best I can tell Amtrak runs at 7:40AM (which was too early since I only found this out mid-morning) and 6:50PM, which wouldn’t have gotten me to Vancouver in time. Interesting thing to consider for future trips, though.

    @ AdamH — The agent seemed to suggest it applied for any booking made by phone.

    @ barelyelite — I could, but at that point I’m paying 37,500 miles for a one-way, and I’d much rather just pay $280 for a one-way ticket and accrue miles.

    @ BR — But I wasn’t “giving” anything up. Instead I was able to save those miles for a future trip, when I can go the Cathay Pacific route rather than paying for a ticket.

  16. @ Adrian — Maybe I missed some, though I searched a handful and none had seats available. Is there a single website that lists availability on all buses?

    @ BothofUs2 — Definitely will in the future!

    @ Chrissy — I’m sure I could’ve convinced someone, but at that point it seemed like more trouble than its worth.

    @ caveman — As long as it’s at least 24 hours before departure, yes.

  17. Sorry, if I understand correctly – are you signing an apartment lease in Seattle to move to Seattle? May be I am missing something… hence just asking!

  18. Am I the only one who thinks the rental car solution is being too easily dismissed? I’ve met folks that cant/won’t drive, but they live in urban metropolises and don’t ever need a car. But even they can’t expect to be chauffered in Porsches every time 🙂

  19. I haven’t tried yet but normally are you able to book Avios awards on ba.com within 24 hours without issue? i.e. AA flights

  20. So if I have a BA award ticket that is >24 hours until departure, but want to change it to a flight within 24 hours of the change (when Cathay releases last minute availability), would this be allowed?

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