Qantas follows Virgin in allowing ‘status hold’ for new parents …. but not BA

Last year I wrote an article about ‘status holds’ for new parents.  I have a couple of young children and, on both occasions, my wife lost her British Airways status when she went on maternity leave.  I have never been very happy with this state of affairs.

It is especially frustrating with BA because of the fixed tier point years.  If you take a year off to have a baby which straddles part of one tier point year and part of another, it is even worse.

Imagine your tier point year is the calendar year and you go on maternity leave in June.  You didn’t earn enough tier points before you went to retain status.  However, when you return the following June, you don’t have enough time before December to earn it back!  It could take you almost 18 months after you go back to work to get back to your old status level.

I thought that British Airways should launch something similar.  Oddly, most HFP readers who commented felt that they shouldn’t.

Virgin 787

Qantas has just announced that they are taking this route.   Starting this week, any Silver, Gold or Platinum status member can put their Qantas status ‘on hold’ for up to 18 months.

Full details are on their website here.

You have until your child reaches six months old to request a ‘status hold’ (there are different rules for foster and adoptive parents) and both parents can apply.  You are allowed up to two ‘status hold’ periods within any five year period.

Whilst your ‘status hold’ is in effect, you can continue to fly and receive status benefits.  Your flights during this period will also accrue miles and points as usual.  However, at the end of the 18 months, your status will immediately drop unless you have earned the required number of status credits so you will need to restart your flying before the 18 months is up if you want unbroken status.

Here in the UK, Virgin Atlantic is leading the field.

Virgin Atlantic has an impressive policy for new mothers and fathers.

The Virgin website only alludes to this briefly.  I asked Virgin for clarification when I wrote about this last year and this is what they told me:

Due to maternity and paternity leave, Gold and Silver Flying Club members can apply for an extension to retain their Gold or Silver status … The member needs to put the request in writing to Customer Services team (customer.services@fly.virgin.com) and provide documentary proof of the maternity/paternity absence. Customer Services can give the member a list of accepted documents.

This is certainly an improvement on the British Airways approach.

If you have Virgin Gold status, there is an additional reason for requesting a status extension if you take maternity leave.  Virgin offers Lifetime Gold status to its most loyal flyers – the details are here.  Lifetime Gold with Virgin Atlantic requires 10 consecutive years of Gold status, so missing a year due to having a child could have long-term consequences.

It is good to see Qantas taking action on this score.  It would be good if BA followed suit.  There is, after all, a risk in having someone lose their status whilst on maternity leave, because when they come back to work status-less they may take the opportunity to shift their flying allegiance.

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Comments

  1. plastikman says:

    took a new job where i don’t travel as much. Lost status. Sure it was a choice, but it’s frankly a disgrace that BA have done nothing to help me.

    • Ali Bentley says:

      Welcome to the real world. Was the loyalty you want to be acknowledged yours or your previous employer’s? One thing to consider is that business travellers who gain lounge access through their job are rewarded with Avios, which they can actually use. People who gain gold/silver tier levels often cannot use Avios only flights as achieving next year’s tier level has to be considered and we have to buy that flight instead.

    • I think BA should have offered you ‘in work benefits’, such as 6 months free Gold just for turning up. Capitalist bar stews.

    • Mikeact says:

      Help you ? To do what ? You must be joking.

  2. Genghis says:

    How middle class are some people. If you lose status for whatever reason, just get over it!

  3. Maybe the compromise is that once a status is earned it can be put on hold for a certain period e.g. 6 months – but during that hold period the person doesn’t get any status benefits.
    1) Ist January Traveller qualifies for gold
    2) 1st June Traveller requests 6 months status hold – this could be because of sprogging, caring, being hiatus between jobs or any other reason
    3) Mid September Traveller takes a OW flight – no status benefits although mileage accrual still given
    4) 1st December Status reactivated for 5 months – previous accrued miles & tier points brought forward and status from May based on those plus December-April travel.

    Obviously there would need to be refinements around frequency of status-hold request in a rolling period but should be fairly easy to manage.

    No-one gets more than the earned 12 months at the earned status. Everyone treated equally.

  4. Lebron James says:

    3 words for this discussion

    first world problem

  5. I think BA do do this, just not published.

    A friend contacted BA and had her status renewed for a year when on maternity leave, then the next year her husband got his renewed for a year after a major operation that prevented him from flying. I guess if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

  6. Nobody needs to get grumpy about this at all, it is a loyalty programme, if it works for you then great, go be a loyal customer. If you don’t get it then ah well doesn’t affect you anyway. If we all get snotty seeing the bonuses and extras other people get then surely we wouldn’t all be in awe of how Rob has earned his points and then goes on to tell us about them 😉

  7. Lady London says:

    I’m quite happy for anyone to have this benefit provided I can ask for the same too.

    Otherwise it’s just unfair. Why can’t we all ask for it, for any reason we like?

    • It would be lovely to see this benefit introduced by BA and kudos to Virgin for pioneering it. I am shocked that so many posters are so negative or ‘why not me’ about it.

  8. Special treatment for us poor parents please.