Now Iberia allows new parents to ‘pause’ their status …. will BA follow?

Three weeks ago I wrote an article about Qantas introducing ‘status holds’ for new parents.  This is a topic that interests me as 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.

Under the new Qantas scheme, 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.

Here in the UK, 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 ( and provide documentary proof of the maternity/paternity absence. Customer Services can give the member a list of accepted documents.

Iberia, BA’s sister airline, has now taken up the idea too.

Emirates business child

According to the current edition of the Iberia magazine:

To celebrate Mother’s Day (Sunday 1 May in Spain), Iberia Plus has decided to launch a groundbreaking permanent initiative.It will extend the validity of the Iberia Plus card for one year for women who are pregnant or have a baby and who therefore can’t maintain their flying time and lose their card level.
Female frequent travellers who wish to maintain the level of their Iberia Plus card for an extra year can submit a medical certificate of pregnancy or a birth certificate
After the documents are confirmed, the level of the Iberia Plus card possessed by our customer at that time will be extended.

This offer is only for mothers and not for fathers, unlike Qantas, but it is still a major step forward.  With one of the two major IAG airlines now doing this, can BA be far behind?

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  1. Sam Wardill says:

    This is a noble cause. Well done Rob for pursuing it. My wife will find this amusing because I actually regained my BA gold after a 10 year lapse in the year that our twins were born. The exclusion of fathers is a rather poor exclusion. Surely it would be simple enough to include fathers on extended paternity leave (I assume that Spain, like UK, has such a thing as extended paternity leave).

  2. I am all for equal opportunities, although I personally don’t mind if dads are excluded, as only my wife will stop travelling when she is heading towards the end of pregnancy… after the birth we will all be building up the TPs ASAP in the footsteps of my parents, though unfortunately they never knew/bothered to gain any status.

  3. My wife and I both lost our status with Qatar Airways as neither of us flew anywhere for more than six months whilst our second child was born last year.

  4. Julian says:

    Firstly, this seems to be an extremely odd promotion as there are a number of reasons someone might need to stop flying for a while and many of them will not be down to choice, unlike having children. I don’t see why having children is in some way more worthy of having status paused.

    Secondly, well done Iberia on the extreme sexism in this case. Apparently men aren’t allowed time out to look after their children, this is a great step back 50 years.

    Thirdly, they talk about pregnancy, how about adopted babies – a far more worthy cause than overpopulating the planet more, yet they don’t get any recognition, despite the fact it is just as much work.

    • Excellent points, Julian. If you’re going to make an exception for having kids (a debate within itself that we’ve had in the comments previously) then you should do it properly and cover both parents and adoption.

    • Brendan says:

      Wow I’m shocked at the responses here. Are you all equally annoyed at women getting time off work to have children?

      • Lady London says:

        I’m not even sure this is legal due to discrimination.
        Why can’t we all do this?
        Why must we be a current producer of children to benefit from a concession no one else has the opportunity to get?
        What about people who simply lose their job, have an accident, become ill or even just feel like having their status put on hold for a while…?
        I’m all for a bit of flexibility but think it should be handled in such a way that most people of either sex, married, not married, with children, without children, working, not working, etc., have the same opportunity.

      • Julian says:

        I’m not against men or women having time off work for children. I would be against only women having time off work while offering the father nothing, stopping him from being able to look after his child.

        I would also be against birth being the only reason why you’re allowed time off work, still needing to come in if gravely sick etc.

        Your logic fails Brendan.

    • The Qantas scheme does have provisions for adoption and fostering if you look at the small print. IB is being a little Spanish!

  5. Kevin H says:

    +1 Julian
    Why should the choice of parenthood be treated in such a favourable way? There are numerous other reasons to want to put status “on hold” so it should either be offered as a one-time option for everyone, or not at all.

    • MozzaUK says:

      +1 Kevin H,

      Why should parents get exemptions, yet single people and those who don’t want children get penalised if something happens and they need to pause there flying for a year due to health issues or other personal issues.

      No one is against parents having time off for having a baby, but just rules being bent to suit them, the rules should apply to all not a minute minority

      I hope BA don’t follow suit, its just folly for the PC and middle england brigade!!

      • Because it’s good business for the airline to keep pax loyalty.


        Remember what the purpose of these rules are: to keep pax from abusing the system. Why is having a baby special? Because no-one is going to do so just to abuse the system (see Genghis below!).

        The only thing ‘wrong’ with it is the failure to treat new fathers … if not equally then at least moderately better.

        • Flawed IMO Jimmy.

          Plenty of other passenger segments they should want to keep loyal who may also elect to do something that takes them out of circulation for a while. I.e. sail round the world, spend a year on sabbatical with a charity, etc.

          Then you have the people who are ill, etc. And whilst some might fake that, it is hardly a valid response to deny everyone on the basis that some fake. (Heck, I’ve certainly known the odd person to imagine up some extra children for loyalty scheme abuse).

          Either open to all, for any reason. Or, should not be offered.

  6. Genghis says:

    This could be the middle class version of some mothers knocking out babies to keep state benefits…

  7. To me this is another dog’s breakfast, with more than a whiff of cheap politics about it.

    People who take a voluntary decision which prevents them flying get a benefit, while somebody put in hospital for a year by a drunk driver does not.

    Also, in giving consideration to one gender only when both (or all 16, depending how far we have come politically!) are arguably effected, it is potentially an act of sex discrimination.

    Not a noble cause, and not acceptable in 2016 imo.

  8. BrianDT says:

    Favouritism, totally wrong. I missed out one year, due to health problems. I got short shrift from the airline involved, not BA.

  9. I think it’s great that we treat the fairer sex a bit special! I don’t envy them the burden of the 9 month term or (in most cases) the greater responsibility of caring for the new-born child in its first few months. And whilst there will always be plenty of exceptions where Dad takes more time off work than Mum, I’m sure that in most cases it’s Mum who takes the bulk of any parental leave.

    You can make logical cases for all sorts of work absence that’s ‘unavoidable’ and ‘not my fault/ my choice’. We could also argue pleasantly until nightfall about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    By limiting the status concession to mums on maternity leave, there is a simple, understandable rule that is fair to mums plus easy to evidence and allow.

    • Julian says:

      And by doing this, punish the families where the father is the primary caregiver to the children, or where responsibility is shared equally, as is more common in today’s society.

      This rule is a relic of a previous sexist generation.

      • It’s not sexist if women care more for the child than the man – it’s sensible. The mother is more important than the father in early childhood – that’s just logical.

  10. Airlines don’t let pregnant women fly, for good reason. The same does not apply to soon-to-be fathers. I really don’t see the problem with the policy.

    • Actually, Nick, they do allow pregnant women to fly.

      Iberia, for example, do not impose restrictions for the *vast* majority of pregnant women.

      Up to week 28 there are no restrictions.
      Week 28-36 (32 with complications) is take advice from your Doctor, and there is only a blanket restriction imposed by the airline after 36 weeks.

      I am sure you know that a typical pregnancy is 40 weeks.

      • David P says:

        BA is similar; a blanket ban after 36 weeks on pregnant women flying (32 weeks if carrying more than one child) but a doctor’s note is required after 28 weeks. Although my wife wasn’t asked for her doctor’s note when she flew at about 30 weeks.

  11. On a somewhat related point, a few years ago I became quite ill and was not fit to fly. As a longtime BA Gold Card holder, I asked BA if I could pause my Gold membership until such time as I had been passed fit to fly again. They refused!

  12. Yawn. Didn’t we do all of this a few weeks ago?

  13. Daniel says:

    I find myself surprised by some of the comments this morning.

    Even if new mothers are the only beneficiaries of such a policy are any of the rest of us any worse off than before! ??
    Feels a like we are in danger of being a bit too begrudging

    • Julian says:

      It’s not anger at this policy being introduced, we just want a bit of equality. Policies like this is what keeps sexism going in society, it’s why women are still acting as primary caregivers. (Not specifically this, but it’s a small piece in a big jigsaw). I also think nobody can disagree with the unfairness of allowing only pregnant women and not those adopting.

    • Just image from ‘scream’ feminists would make if there would be something similar in other area “for men only” …

  14. Richard says:

    I think the CX “status holiday” is much better. Your status is put on hold (eg for maternity leave, long term sickness) which means your status is taken away but you get it back once the leave is over. it’s open to anybody and you don’t have to prove anything. seems fair for everyone.

    As for the “are any of the rest of us any worse off than before! ??”, the same thing could be said when BAEC required 1500 points for gold status for those living in the UK and 800 points for those living in Mainland Europe. Were UK cardholders “any worse off” when that policy was in force? did they think it was ok?

  15. This needs to either be:
    – open to ALL, for ANY reason,or
    – should NOT be offered.

    • I think you’d have more luck campaigning for, for example, paternity leave to be extended for single people to domestic pets so that you could 9 months of paid leave if you bought a cat and it had kittens.

      • Would this be a virtual clubcard pet?

        Actually, I think the logic is strongest for:
        Open to all, for any reason. Or not offered.
        And it should be a suspension while paused, as per my understanding of the cathay policy.

    • That would introduce the question of proof, which is a very real concern.

      I suspect that one of the reasons Iberia went for the easy route they have was because legal docs are available.

      That’s no excuse for their cockup, mind.

  16. People “choose” to have children in the same sense that they choose whether to breathe or not. It is what we are made for, not a lifestyle choice. The burden of having children falls disproportionately on women, and in order not to disadvantage them in the workplace we have introduced protections for them when they are caring for babies and small children. You have to be remarkably small-minded and embittered to begrudge something as trivial as an extension of an airline gold card to a woman bringing up a small baby.

    • In this day and age, no.
      People choose whether and when they have children.

      Justify why someone who is suffering an injury or illness should not be given the same benefit? Or someone who is caring for someone who has suffered an injury etc?

      Then justify it for someone who chooses to volunteer to care for others for a year. In this day and age, just as much as choice as whether or when to have children.

    • The burgen of shaving everyday in the morning falls disproportionately on men , people “choose” to have shaved face in the same sense that they choose whether to breathe or not. It takes at least 3 minutes of extra time , so I demand to extend boarding time for the plane by extra 3 minutes for men only …

    • By introducing concessions for female parents only, that encourages the woman to be the primary caregiver over the man, making the problem worse. Why should a man be the primary caregiver if there are more advantages for the woman to quit her job?

      • Brendan says:

        It is far more beneficial for a woman to be a primary caregiver to a new born baby. That’s so blatantly obvious I can’t believe I actually have to state it.

        • Julian says:

          In what way can both parents not care for the baby equally? Please do tell me why women are more beneficial. There are some terrible mothers out there, there are some great ones, just like with fathers. The only thing I can think of is the production of milk, which is less of a problem now we have bottles and pumps etc.

          The only reason anyone says women are better is just because they want to try excuse themselves from the work of looking after a baby.

          • It helps to have a womb :)

            I know same sex couples eg Elton John & David Furnish) can make passably good parents with no woman or womb in sight – [or even any oil tubs lol]

    • Also I can assure you I can live without having children, while I can’t live without breathing, not the same thing. I can choose if I have children.

      • Andrew says:

        And when you’re older and other people’s children are paying your pension? Or taking care of you in your old age? Even if you have a huge private pension the value of that and the stock market would tank without a new younger generation to keep consuming. And any private care would be incredibly expensive without enough young people to work in such industries.

        Like it or not someone has to have children to keep the world economy and society going.

  17. My considered view is that Iberia have just not thought this through carefully enough. If they wanted to give pregnant mothers a benefit to offset the cost of being pregnant, then it should be 3 or 4 months not 12.

    As it is they have relatively discriminated against a whole plethora of equally deserving customers, including those who have been through the harrowing process of adoption-vetting.

    I’m embarrassed for them.

    Perhaps they have an activist in Senior Management who railroaded the others.

  18. BA already do this, you just need to ask. When my friends wife asked she was told that they have an internal policy about it and that it was no problem.

  19. Sussex Bantam says:

    I find the comments here quite amusing today – I presume those protesting are also up in arms about the other protections pregnant women have such as the maternity pay, free prescriptions, time off for antenatal care and the right to take a year off and still have your job when you come back…

    Pregnant women are a protected class precisely because they have to be.

    • Callum says:

      That’s a rather nonsensical post….

      1. No… You now have the opportunity for fairly equal maternity and paternity leave. The extra that only women are allowed to have is more than counteracted by being the party to actually experience pregnancy and it’s associated “illnesses” (for want of a better word).

      2. Given the prescriptions are generally important for the unborn child as well, it doesn’t really seem to go against the existing notion that children get free prescriptions at all. And as mentioned in point 1, the female has medical needs that the male does not.

      3. Fathers have a right for time of for antenatal care.

      4. If both parties exercise their rights, both the male and female have a right for 6 months off work and still have their job when they come back (and normal benefits accrued in their absence).

      You seem to be making the nonsensical assumption that those wanting equal rights specifically want to see mothers be punished, when the reality is nothing of the sort.

      As happens every time Raffles brings this subject up, most people in the comments merely want the rights of the mother and father to be respected equally. Most also make the completely unrelated comment that pregnancy is a choice and shouldn’t receive special treatment from companies – whether you’re the mother or the father. I don’t mention it very often as it’s rather judgemental, but in normal circumstances I would expect a good father to share parental responsibilities (and therefore leave) equally when given the choice (e.g. during shared leave they can do that, once leave runs out if the father has a job and the mother doesn’t, obviously it’s financially impractical to share equally), in which case men would be just as affected by losing status as women.

      • Sussex bantam says:

        I don’t think you actually read my post…my point is that there are lots of protections for pregnant women already and most right minded people think this is quite proper.

        • Sussex bantam says:

          (Hit post too early). If commentators want to protest that having children is s choice then they should protests against these legally established principles first…

      • I don’t actually want the rights of the mother & father to be respected equally! The mother does all the hard work up to the birth and usually in the immediate period afterwards when she recovers so needs time out, she should get more generous treatment than the male.

        Giving birth is nothing like some of the ‘accident & health’ reasons some posters seem to think should lead to a lenient status ‘stay’ policy for other reasons people might not fly.

        Birth (and maternity leave to promote the well-being of the new-born) = future of our species. Which needs more protection (& protection of status!) than all other hindrances to fly.

        They are rather opposite things. Ie pregnancy/ birth/ maternity leave are positives & we need to protect them to protect our future. Whereas accidents/ illnesses/ hip replacement/ losing your job etc are all negative things that don’t need protection by the airline.

        • The world is already pretty well populated. So unless “our species” means “middle class white people”, I don’t think the future of the species is in much danger.

          • I wouldn’t express it in those terms – but I would say European culture is the future of the species I would like to see protected & thriving.

  20. Worzel says:

    Robs’ last sentence in the article:

    ‘With one of the two major IAG airlines now doing this, can BA be far behind?’

    Well, just prior to Alex Cruz leaving Vueling for BA it seems that he was asked for his view on the matter, and he doesn’t appear to be too impressed?

    :) .

  21. Blimey, some strong feelings out there.
    Let’s face it, it’s probably about frequency. Mat/Pat leave is the most common reason anyone of working age is going to take a big chunk of time out (and, importantly: come back again.)

  22. You either have ‘equality’ in everything … gold statuses , equal pay for equal contribution , pension age … child custody in divorce, parental leave or don’t pretend that you fight for equal rights … you just fight for a better rights for one group of society at expense of another …

    • There’s no equality in child custody in divorce – invariably the court awards custody to the mother unless there are other significant factors.

  23. Having a baby doesn’t stop parents from flying, as can be witnessed on pretty much any flight. What it may stop is parents, particularly mothers, from flying for work and racking up all those tier points that people, parents or otherwise, who don’t fly for work don’t get.

    If new mothers are able to fly with their kids, why don’t they just spend their maternity leave flying round the world to keep up their status? As long as they aren’t trying to carry a huge amount of frozen breast milk in their hand luggage, it shouldn’t be a problem!


  1. […] lose their status while on hiatus from work and caring for new children in the family. Iberia is adding something similar albeit for mothers […]