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British Airways makes it harder to qualify for Gold Guest List

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You may remember how I highlighted the exploits of Will back in May.  He was attempting to reach British Airways Gold Guest List status by achieving 5,000 tier points in two blocks of 20 flights across 20 days.

(To put 5,000 tier points into context, you would need to make an economy return flight between London and Manchester EVERY WORKING DAY FOR A YEAR to earn it.)

BA 747 retirement Concorde tail

I have never been sold on the benefits of making an effort to achieve Gold Guest List over ‘standard’ GoldAs per this British Airways website, the extra benefits for heavy flying are:

2,500 tier points – two one-class upgrade vouchers for one person for revenue tickets

3,500 tier points – another two upgrade vouchers

5,000 tier points – access to the Concorde Room lounges at Heathrow T5 and New York JFK

5,000 tier points – the ability to gift BA Gold status to a friend or family member and BA Silver status to two friends or family members

Gold Guest List British Airways

Oddly, these thresholds do not fit neatly around the Gold Guest List criteria.  Historically these were:

Either 5,000 tier points in one membership year or 3,000 tier points in two consecutive membership years to qualify for the first time

and then

3,000 tier points in a membership year to renew

The benefits of Gold Guest List are outlined here at (log-in required).

Apart from the tier point triggered benefits I listed above, the key tangible benefit of Gold Guest List membership is the ability to force reward space for up to 5 people on any British Airways flight.  This can be done twice a year – three times a year if you earn 6,000 tier points.

This is not a guaranteed benefit either.  There needs to be revenue space in specific classes available (A, D, T, B if you understand these things) and only one of the 5,000 or so GGL members is allowed to use this benefit on any particular flight.

(A standard British Airways Gold member can already book reward tickets on any flight if they use double Avios points via a Gold Priority Award, of course – and there is no limit to the number of Gold Priority Awards you can book.)

There are additional Gold Guest List benefits at 7000, 8000 and 9000 tier points but this is pretty much unattainable.  At each of these thresholds you can choose from either another guaranteed availability redemption, 50000 Avios points (!) or another two-person upgrade voucher.

Gold Guest List members are exempt from the £35 fee for changing or cancelling reward bookings.  They can also take two guests in a departure lounge instead of one.  Slightly oddly, Diamond status in the Hilton HHonors programme is also a Gold Guest List benefit.

So, what is changing?

From January 2015, it will no longer be possible to obtain Gold Guest List membership by achieving 3,000 tier points in two consecutive membership years.

You will to hit a fairly mad 5,000 tier points in one year.

Renewal will still require just 3,000 tier points per year.

The irony of these changes, and indeed the whole GGL set-up, is that it is designed to reward people who do NOT fly on British Airways.  As Will’s travel diary showed, the easiest way to earn 3,000 or 5,000 tier points is to spend a couple of weeks flying around the US on heavily discounted premium class American Airlines and US Airways tickets.

I know a few Gold Guest List members.  I don’t think any of them have achieved it without a substantial number of US flights.  Remember that – whilst his routing was crazy – Will effectively just flew to Hawaii and back, twice, to earn 5,000 tier points.  That is a lot easier than flying from London to Manchester 250 times in a year …..

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (10)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Manu says:

    What happened To Will? He never ended his blog.

    • Frenske says:

      Died from exhaustion … or needed a staycation that does not involve flying. 😀

      • Head for Points says:

        He sent me an email last week and said that he is still working on it and that this bit of news would be an interesting coda.

  • Mark2 says:

    The anomaly described above where BA give people points for travelling on other airlines will benefit few if any of us. There is, however, a not dissimilar anomaly that most of us love to exploit (me especially). I refer to Tesco giving one point per £1 on goods purchased from them but if someone buys a gift card for another shop and buys the same item Tesco gives them three points per £1 or with a cake coupon seven points.

  • Urxella says:

    I reached Gold Guest List a couple of years ago, and this year managed to earn the Concorde Lounge card by scrounging together 5,000 points. All of this was on employers’/clients’ money, but most (if not all) of the routings are also cheaper, so everyone is happy. (Arguably, not BA, but it’s their system and frankly it’s ludicrous.)

    Earning: This was achieved by doubling points by flying Qatar to Asia, or American to West Coast via the East Coast. It helps if you have the extra few hours to spend to pad your itinerary. Also, since I live part-time in Spain, it’s cheaper and earns more points to start and earn from Iberia (both the airline and the peninsula).

    Benefits: The only real benefit for me having GGL is free cancellation. (Though, I suppose the jokers do work for some.) As such, I’ve booked every Friday afternoon/Sunday afternoon for Spain in July/August, knowing many of those will be cancelled. I learned that lesson when I couldn’t even use the joker for the Sunday after the August Bank Holiday. As a result I tried to fly through Amsterdam (Vueling), plane was late, missed the 2+hour connection, and wound up spending 15 hours getting home.

    Concorde Room: Since you need to fly Qatar and American and BA 001 from LCY, I generally use the Concorde Room for economy class European short haul trips (the extra 30 TP to Hamburg doesn’t really move the needle). The most egregious routing was a couple months ago where I was on the back end of a <£100 round-trip to Paris, the return booked so I could fly Qatar to/from Singapore.

    Quite a bit of madness going on here.

  • James67 says:

    Three articles about BA changes on Business Traveller this morning. Shareholder discount ending 31 January but pluses are new elite benefits on OW. Also ability to buy tickets from BA including HE and FGW rail journeys.

  • Lux says:

    You don’t *have* to do mileage runs: I earned GGL status through earning 5,000 points in a year flying only BA (ME, NA) and a few flights on RJ. Frustratingly I now fly even more, but only in economy and not on BA.

    Retaining it wasn’t that difficult on the travel patterns I had back then.

    The joker benefits were really good back then (e.g. getting a 2-4-1 plus Upgrade to Australia over Christmas and New Year, in First) and the service was excellent. I wonder if more jokers has reduced availability. Surely not, I think.

  • David says:

    “5,000 tier points – the ability to gift BA Gold status to a friend or family member and BA Silver status to two friends or family members”

    I think that all GGL members get this benefit and not just those who get 5,000 tier points.

    I have earned my 3,000 GGL membership over the last two years with only one non BA OW revenue flight in this period and probably none the previous year.

    I enjoy the GGL joker, the Hilton Diamond membership and gifting three cards to friends.

  • oyster says:

    GGL only needs 1 Club World return a month and 1 Club Europe return every 3 weeks.
    Many will do that amount of travel.
    What is not so common is finding an employer who will allow it all to be in J.

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