One of the key benefits of achieving Gold status with British Airways Executive Club is that you don’t need to achieve status the following year.
British Airways has a ‘soft landing’ process for elite members. If you don’t requalify for Gold, you drop down to Silver the next year – you are not suddenly cast into the wilderness! Since Silver members still receive lounge access, albeit in the Galleries Terraces lounge at Heathrow and not Galleries First, it is a good deal.
(In fact, the ‘soft landing’ is one of the best reasons to push for Gold status if you are getting close to it. You may find it cheaper to do some extra BA flying every second year to reach Gold – knowing you don’t need to take a single cash flight next year to get Silver status – than chasing Silver requalification every year.)
American Airlines has a similar system, albeit unofficial and not always offered. However, elite members recently received this email from the airline:
Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2013? Hopefully you’re on track to achieve your goal of elite status qualification for 2014. To check how many elite qualifying points, miles and segments you’ve earned thus far, simply log in to your account.
Previously, based on your prior year status, you benefited from an exception to receive a higher level of elite status than you actually earned. Next year, regardless of your current status, your elite status for the next membership year will be based on your elite qualifying activity in 2013.
We invite you to achieve the highest level you can to earn the greatest benefits. You can also find details about qualifying for elite status here.
Basically – although of course American is too cowardly to state it outright – the airline has abandoned ‘soft landings’. If you do not requalify for Platinum or Gold status, you will drop straight down to nothing.
This is fundamentally unfair, I think. It is especially unfair in the current environment, where you may spend a few months out of work and suddenly find you have to start from scratch to get your status back. It is also unfair on women who take maternity leave, since they will return to work status-free.
Hopefully this is not a plan that British Airways will follow. It would reduce the number of people in the BA lounges, but it would also be sending out the wrong message about how BA values your loyalty.