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What happens to your airline status when you (or your partner) have a baby?

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I have a couple of young children.  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.

It is especially frustrating with BA because of the fixed tier point years.  If you take a year off to have a baby which straddles part of one tier point year and part of another, it is even worse.

Imagine your tier point year is the calendar year and you go on maternity leave in June.  You didn’t earn enough tier points before you went to retain status.  However, when you return the following June, you don’t have enough time before December to earn it back!  It could take you almost 18 months after you go back to work to get back to your old status level.

Luckily, some airlines are more in touch with the modern world.

Virgin 787

Virgin Atlantic has an impressive policy for new mothers AND fathers.

The Virgin website only alludes to this briefly.  I asked Virgin for clarification 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 ([email protected]) and provide documentary proof of the maternity/paternity absence. Customer Services can give the member a list of accepted documents.

This is certainly an improvement on the British Airways approach.

If you have Virgin Gold status, there is an additional reason for requesting a status extension if you take maternity leave.  Virgin offers Lifetime Gold status to its most loyal flyers – the details are here.  Lifetime Gold with Virgin Atlantic requires 10 consecutive years of Gold status, so missing a year due to having a child could have long-term consequences.

I thought that Lufthansa also had a similar policy, although I have been unable to track down any details – perhaps I am mistaken or perhaps they stopped it.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see recent articles on Virgin Atlantic, Little Red and Flying Club, and click here for the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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  1. A friend of mine just posted on Facebook that her toddler vomited in the aisle in F on BA yesterday. I make no other comment..

  2. The solution to this (if it is a problem) is not grace years, or anything like that, it is a ‘kick start’ setup.

    However firstly, I’m not sure this article does reflect well on Virgin and badly on BA.

    In fact, you could argue the reverse – as VS lifetime gold assumes everyone is in the position to fly for 10 consecutive years. Could be main reasons (illness, injury) why people can’t, not just pregnancy. But BA has an utterly flexible TP system.

    Anyway, if this is a problem – and I’m not convinced it is, other than an imagined one – just allow each status member who drops due to inactivity a ‘kick start’ – which would take the form of giving them 3 months of Gold membership, which would renew for another 3 months, if they fly X within it, then keep that running until the end of their membership year or the point they re-earn gold.

    However I will agree with you on the madness of ‘fixed year ends’, all BA Blue members should have rolling ‘last 12 months’ membership years.

    • Agree re VS – the consecutive bit is a real difficulty for many, with changing jobs/work patterns, etc. I also thing BA should offer the option of a one-time reset to allow folk to resynchronise their BAEC years with family if they wish.

      • Brian says:

        Yes, but isn’t the point of achieving lifetime status that it should be difficult to achieve and therefore only for the most loyal customers? If it is too ‘easy’, then too many people will get it, which will then lead to a devaluing of the benefits and thus not be good for the REAL frequent travellers. As others have said, this whole discussion is pointless, because the writer of the post is expressing an opinion that it is very difficult to sympathise with.

        • Agreed re need for loyalty, but almost all others offering lifetime status look at years of status and miles/nights/spend total, not whether they’re consecutive or not. Up to VS though!

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