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.)
I have never been sold on the benefits of making an effort to achieve Gold Guest List over ‘standard’ Gold. As 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
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
3,000 tier points in a membership year to renew
The benefits of Gold Guest List are outlined here at ba.com (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 …..