Back in 2015, British Airways effectively ripped the guts out of their Executive Club frequent flyer scheme. Gone were the days of a guaranteed 1000 Avios per return trip even for the lowest blue tier member. Gone were the minimum of 10 Tier Points even on the cheapest short haul economy tickets. Also gone was the free domestic connection when flying from outside London to an international destination on an award ticket.
In came increased redemption and lower earning rates. So essentially it is now harder to earn Avios and you need more to redeem them. This was on top of a new peak and off peak system. Meaning that if you booked a flight for the middle of January, the same flight would require more Avios if you wanted to travel in the middle of July.
The positive spin that British Airways put on it was that it would make a number of more reward seats available. I can’t remember the exact numbers off the top of my head now, but from personal experience, award ticket availability doesn’t appear to have improved quite as much as the airline made out it would.
At the time, many people were pretty frustrated at the massive devaluation of the Executive Club. Myself included. But in time, like most things, people have gotten used to it.
There are still a few areas where I feel the Executive Club could be improved however. I know that I will likely get a bit of criticism as they will likely be entirely for my own benefit! But I’ll try my best to make it for the greater good.
So what would I change?
No more Qatar Airways status fast tracks!
One I tend to feel quite strongly about when I struggle to find a seat in the Galleries First lounge at Heathrow.
Currently, in order to gain any Executive Club status with British Airways, you need to have taken a certain number of flights with the airline. Currently, it’s 2 for Bronze and 4 for Silver/Gold.
OneWorld partner Qatar Airways frequently have cheap Business Class tickets. This means that with one return trip via Doha, you’re just a Club Europe flight away from having enough Tier Points to gain Executive Club Silver status. Book a couple of cheap day trips with British Airways and you’re there. A British Airways frequent flyer with just 4 flights on the airline! A couple more Qatar Airways sale fares later and you’ve hit Executive Club Gold. Yet you’ve only set foot on a British Airways aircraft four times.
There’s also a few tricks you can use with American Airlines to get bonus tier points too.
See what I’m getting at here? This is supposed to be the British Airways frequent flyer scheme.
Make Bronze status require 5 BA flights. Silver 10. Gold 20. That way, even if someone has the 1500 tier points to make Executive Club Gold status, they will still have to give British Airways a decent amount of custom.
To be fair to British Airways, they’re one of the few airlines that do require any sort of requirement to fly on their own metal to gain status.
I gained my Turkish Airlines Elite status (Star Alliance Gold) almost entirely through Singapore Airlines. I know, I’m a hypocrite. But at least I did go out of my way to fly Turkish Airlines afterwards.
Ditch the peak/off peak awards
What a load of nonsense! Especially seeing as most of the time there isn’t that much price difference between a peak and off peak ticket, at least on shorthaul. British Airways argument is that it creates more award seats. Really? I’ve not noticed.
When looking earlier in the summer for award flights, availability was virtually zero. Therefore, most people, including myself clearly don’t have an issue with paying the few extra Avios.
So ditch the peak and off peak. Even if its a case of being peak throughout the year. At least that way you have some idea of how much a flight will cost six months in advance without having to look t up.
Free drinks on board for Gold card holders and OneWorld Emeralds
Not an issue before the airline introduced their buy on board concept for flights within Europe. However these days, even if you spend many thousands on longhaul flights in First, gain Gold Guest List status and happen to take the one flight in Euro Traveller… you get nothing.
Both Finnair and American Airlines (and possibly more) offer a free drink to both their top tier frequent flyers and OneWorld Emerald card holders. So it would be a good gesture for British Airways to follow suit and offer their top tier Executive Club members a similar benefit.
I suppose in the grand scheme of things, British Airways are still reasonably new to the world of buy on board, so who knows, it may come at a later date. It has been rumoured.
Failing that, whenever I’ve been given a personal welcome on board and asked if there’s anything the crew could do, I’ve asked for a cup of tea. I’m yet to be refused.
Give Silver/Gold card holders get priority baggage.
Despite being listed as a OneWorld benefit, there’s a fairly obvious asterix on the OneWorld website where it mentions priority baggage. You guessed it: Not applicable to British Airways flights.
Admittedly, this doesn’t affect me all that much as I rarely check a bag. And when I do, it generally gets priority through class of travel. And I’ve found that either the orange or yellow tag makes the grand total of ZERO difference as to when your bag finally appears. My last trip to Los Angeles sticks in my mind. Despite being in First and having the yellow tag, I was still waiting for over an hour.
So maybe a little pointless, but at least they could show some willing by extending this benefit to status holders. Surely it can’t cost the airline anything?
Let Bronze card holders access the fast track security at Heathrow T5.
What? Give the lowest status holders another benefit?! Yes. Here’s my reasoning.
In days gone by, fast track security at Heathrow Terminal 5 was used by the following: First Class, Gold Card holders (plus the variations of that), Club Europe, Club World and Silver card holders.
Since the opening of the First Wing in early 2017, First Class and the different levels of Gold Card holders have used that security area instead.
Having not used the regular fast track security since the opening of the First Wing, I can’t comment on how busy it is these days. But surely logic would say that its now not as busy as it once was, as now you have a decent proportion of people using the First Wing instead. So why not give Bronze Card holders an extra little perk now that they’ve been bumped down to group 3 boarding?
Oh yeah, cost…
I’ve tried to be realistic with my wish list. I could have been completely selfish and suggested banning Silver card holders from domestic lounges. Since 2017 the airline has introduced their Club Europe cabin on UK domestic flights. Therefore, there is an increased number of people using them.
I could have also suggested that Gold Guest List card holders be given a private transfer between the terminal and the aircraft if it’s parked on a remote stand. Which is a perk that Finnair extend to their Platinum Lumo cardholders. But there are a lot less of them – and Helsinki is a far smaller airport than Heathrow.
Find out more and sign up for the British Airways Executive Club here: