New BAEC benefits: free seating on Hand Baggage tickets and status extension for new parents

There you go, you see.  You bang on about something for long enough and people eventually listen.

For a couple of years, Head for Points has been banging the drum for British Airways Executive  Club to introduce a ‘status extension’ for new parents.  See here, here, here etc.

This was driven by my own experience of watching my wife lose her British Airways status, twice, after we had our children and then having to restart as a Blue member after her maternity leave.

At last, it has happened.

See this page of ba.com for details of the BAEC changes.

Status extensions introduced for new parents

You will be eligible to have your Bronze, Silver or Gold status extended following the birth or adoption of a baby.  This offer is valid for both parents.  Relevant documentation is required.

You can request an extension twice in any five year period.

The rather vague terms imply that that the extension will be granted purely for the period of any parental leave taken.

Internal BA communications state clearly, however, that it will be a full year extension.  Whether they really intend to give this to a father who takes limited paternity leave remains to be seen.

You will also receive 1,000 bonus Avios if you add your baby to a Household Account within 6 months of requesting the extension.

British Airways Executive Club birth extension policy

Free seat selection on Hand Baggage Only tickets

To give British Airways credit, they are not claiming that this is a great new benefit.  They admit that this was something that they took away from you and are now bringing back.

From 14th June, Executive Club Bronze, Silver and Gold members will be able to select a seat for free – in the standard time frame for their tier – on a Hand Baggage Only ticket.

BA’s problem here is that they failed (or refused) to understand how the world actually works.  Most corporate travel policies insist on buying the cheapest possible fare.  HBO was not ‘optional’ for most business travellers – which made elite members angry at the inability to select a seat.

(It also wasn’t smart to take away free food and drink from these people because – in the real world – most business travellers cannot get alcohol expenses reimbursed.  Replacing the ‘lost’ free Friday night G&T now means a direct hit to the pocket of the traveller and to their goodwill towards BA.)

If you have booked a Hand Baggage Only ticket for travel after 14th June and have already paid for seat selection, this will be refunded automatically.

A side effect ….. Avios redemptions become slightly less attractive

If you have British Airways status, Avios redemptions on short haul are now marginally less attractive.

At present, Avios redemptions allow free seat selection.  Hand Baggage Only cash tickets do not, which gives added value to the Avios ticket.  That difference is now disappearing and, assuming that you were not checking in baggage and are not bothered about ticket flexibility, you can now directly compare a HBO cash ticket with the Avios cost and see which is preferable.

That makes two good news stories from British Airways in the same week ……

Full details of both of these changes, including the all-important small print, can be found here on ba.com.

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Comments

  1. Chelseafi says:

    O/T Just used my Amex on ParentPay, went through OK, thought they stopped amex last month?

    • the real harry1 says:

      I think there is the capacity to pay certain things even after a card has been cancelled

      eg if you use your associated Lounge Pass (after the 2 freebies have been used up) then you will be billed the £15 on your cancelled card

      • I think Chelseafi was meaning they thought ParentPay no long accepted Amex – something that I understand from comments here was only a temporary situation for a month or two

    • Andrew* says:

      No, they said they were going to stop it. Then the day before there was an announcement to say it was staying.

  2. I don’t understand why there should be a relaxation of rules specifically for new parents. There are many reasons why some of us might be unable to travel; what about those with terminally ill family members, or those caring for elderly parents? Introducing arbitrary rules for some types of carers is a slap in the face to others and is bound to cause offence. It seems the ‘I’ve got a baby so I’m more special’ lobbyists have won out here, while other careworn carers have been ignored.

    • the real harry1 says:

      doesn’t really bother me, tbh (well past the maternity/ paternity leave stage!)

      just a helping hand to new parents and as others have said, it probably benefits BA just as much by retaining goodwill & repeat custom later

      if I were in that position you mention, I would just ask BAEC if they could help with an extension

    • Hilton have certainly taken a more inclusive approach with their option re maintaining Diamond status.

    • Fenny says:

      Some companies accept that “family” is more inclusive than “children”. Others don’t. Pick the companies you deal with/work for accordingly.

      However, my reasons for not travelling much this year are more to do with my hobby than my family commitments, but I can’t imagine an airline is likely to give anyone a status holiday because they’re training for an event.

    • Callum says:

      I’m getting sick of everyone describing anything that benefits others but not them a “slap in the face”, or ranting about how they’re being punished or the company must therefore despise them!

      Yes it would have been nicer to include anyone. This was no doubt just simpler to implement – you’re either pregnant or you’re not, caring for someone requires unpleasant judgement calls. I can imagine the headlines “BA says heroic carer doesn’t do enough to warrant status recognition”.

  3. Andrew says:

    After having a daughter in March 2016, I lost my BAEC status at the end of March this year.

    Is there any information as to whether this new benefit would be retrospectively applied?

  4. I don’t really care about parents being able to freeze status and I’m not for arguing against people getting a benefit so I’m not against this. However what I don’t get is that airlines who do this really just assume that they should compensate people who have their flying paid for by someone else – those who temporarily aren’t flying for work because they have had a baby – parental leave is explicit. There are lots of people who actually pay for their own flights and obtain status that way. They aren’t on leave if they don’t fly because they have some other obligation or illness. Are new parents undertaking not to fly (with or without infants) even if they would pay for themselves?

    • ROI and all that… babies are cute and fluffy and make everyone go ‘awww’. Cancer and marathon training and such are not. There is a cost to BA to implement this, presumably coming from a marketing budget. They have to show a benefit in return. It’s harsh, but reality, and they’re far from the only company that thinks in ‘hard cash’ terms about stuff like this!

  5. David says:

    This comes at an interesting time for me. My weekly commute is EDI-LGW Tue, returning on Thu. I currently use EasyJet, but the last northbound flight this winter will be 17:00, rather than the 19:something it’s been for the last few winters.
    This leaves me the choice of:
    1 – Fly Easyjet from Stanstead or Luton on the return leg (office is near Victoria station, so Gatwick is by a long stretch the most convenient)
    2 – Take the train northbound (means I have to taxi to the airport rather than driving, adding >£15 to weekly cost)
    3 – Take the train both ways (don’t get to work until after 10am on the Tuesday, but can do some work on the train)
    4 – Fly BA on the return leg
    5 – Fly BA all the time, all year round, so I get silver, stop paying for EasyJet Plus and Priority Pass

    The fact that status didn’t get free seat selection (i.e. wasn’t as good as the paid-for loyalty scheme from EasyJet) annoyed me. Adding this benefit makes it a lot more likely I’ll chose option 5.

    So, when exactly do you get BAEC status? If I purchase purchase 25(/50) flights between now and the date of the first flight, do I get the benefits of Bronze(/Silver) on that first flight? Or if I purchase 25(/50) flights between now and the end of my Tier Point collection year (early Oct) but for travel after that date do I then get the benefits on the flights? Or do I actually have to have make 25/50 flights without the benefits I get on Easyjet before I get them back? Or make the 25/50 flights AND wait for the end of my TP year?

    Also, anyone fancy my chances of talking Easyjet into a pro-rata refund of Plus membership?

    • the real harry1 says:

      you won’t get tier points until you actually fly the BA legs

      in the meantime if you’re flying x2 weekly you might as well just buy the unlimited Priority Pass – which was £194 on Black Friday and is not much more on Groupon

      • the real harry1 says:

        OK Groupon stopped doing the unlimited deal, they stop at 10 visits now (works out about £12 per lounge pass) https://www.groupon.co.uk/deals/priority-pass-105

        last time I looked you could get the unlimited PP for 25% off in Europe

      • David says:

        Yeah, I already have Priority Pass, due for renewal in July (I used a deal but not as good as the Black Fri one), but there’s still the other benefits, fast-track security, seat selection, speedy boarding – I’d have to lose these for a year then get them back?

        Also I’d be qualifying for status by taking a certain number of flights per year, rather than on number of tier points, I take it the same restriction about not getting this until I actually take the flights applies as with tier points? It seems a bit backwards, after all the tickets are non-flexible, so why don’t BA give me the benefits as soon as they’ve taken my money? I’m the kind of person who’ll probably not now go with the BA option because this annoys me!

        • There’s no such thing as a ‘completely non flexible’ ticket as if you cancel you’ll still get taxes back. There’s no airline that gives you free rewards without making you actually fly with them first (barring the odd status match). And you’ll get some of the benefits with bronze much sooner than silver.

        • P.S. the punishment for failing to spell Stansted properly is to spend eternity there in penance 🙂

        • David Prior says:

          Oh no! At least it wasn’t Lutton 🙂

        • That’s twice you’ve suggested that you get annoyed – I’d stick with your current option. You’re likely to be annoyed a lot with BA….

        • zsalya says:

          NB Cancelling EasyjetPlus card is non-trivial.
          They automatically charge for next year even if you have sent them an email saying so.
          Fixing that involved a long call to Indian call-centre.

          As you must be in Flight Club, a call to them in advance (a month before expiry) might be easier.

        • zsalya says:

          Sorry, “so” should be “not to do so”

        • Used to be an option with bmi in the good ol’ days – pre-purchase a carnet of return tickets and they’d give you instant Gold! Not heard of anyone offering that more recently. If doing it on number of flights rather than TPs then not much you can do to bring it forward. If keen for status (& makes sense perhaps as a holiday) the look at the TP run thread on Flyertalk – you could get Silver in one trip (e.g. EDI-LHR-JFK-SFO return).

    • Jonty says:

      Can I throw in option 6? Try the sleeper train. Some swear by it, some swear at it.

      • David Prior says:

        I’ve used the sleeper a handful of times and it’s worked well for me southbound, but I don’t fancy having to kill many hours after work until departure time every week. Also, it’s not cheap (it’s my own money I’m spending unfortunately)

  6. ”At present, Avios redemptions allow free seat selection.” ‘- Would be nice if someone can clarify this as I was asked pay for seat selection when I redeemed my avios BA ticket in April. I believe this is still an elite member benefit and blue members do have to pay for seat selections in any means expect first class?

    • They only offer free seat selection to those with status or in First – I think this statement was trying to draw a contrast on short-haul flights, where as a passenger with status you could select seats on an RFS redemption but not on an HBO ticket.

      • the real harry1 says:

        unless it changed VERY recently, you can still get free seat selection with Avios redemptions but only @ T-24hrs

        exit seat choice is always paid (unless you do the self check-in machines trick @ airport or get lucky by asking the check-in agent in person)

        • Ah OK, good point re T-24 w/out status – I’m just glad they’re not downgrading RFS redemptions to HBO!

  7. Katherine says:

    Hi,
    Has anyone successfully gotten a response from BA re: BAEC status extension? I sent in my baby’s birth certificate on the 9th of may but have yet to hear back