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 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.