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Now Iberia allows new parents to ‘pause’ their status …. will BA follow?

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Three weeks ago I wrote an article about Qantas introducing ‘status holds’ for new parents.  This is a topic that interests me as I have a couple of young children and, 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.

Under the new Qantas scheme, any Silver, Gold or Platinum status member can put their Qantas status ‘on hold’ for up to 18 months.  Full details are on their website here.

Here in the UK, Virgin Atlantic has an impressive policy for new mothers and fathers.

Max Burgess

The Virgin website only alludes to this briefly.  I asked Virgin for clarification when I wrote about this last year 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 ( and provide documentary proof of the maternity/paternity absence. Customer Services can give the member a list of accepted documents.

Iberia, BA’s sister airline, has now taken up the idea too.

According to the current edition of the Iberia magazine:

To celebrate Mother’s Day (Sunday 1 May in Spain), Iberia Plus has decided to launch a groundbreaking permanent initiative.It will extend the validity of the Iberia Plus card for one year for women who are pregnant or have a baby and who therefore can’t maintain their flying time and lose their card level.
Female frequent travellers who wish to maintain the level of their Iberia Plus card for an extra year can submit a medical certificate of pregnancy or a birth certificate
After the documents are confirmed, the level of the Iberia Plus card possessed by our customer at that time will be extended.

This offer is only for mothers and not for fathers, unlike Qantas, but it is still a major step forward.  With one of the two major IAG airlines now doing this, can BA be far behind?


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Comments (59)

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  • Boris says:

    My considered view is that Iberia have just not thought this through carefully enough. If they wanted to give pregnant mothers a benefit to offset the cost of being pregnant, then it should be 3 or 4 months not 12.

    As it is they have relatively discriminated against a whole plethora of equally deserving customers, including those who have been through the harrowing process of adoption-vetting.

    I’m embarrassed for them.

    Perhaps they have an activist in Senior Management who railroaded the others.

  • Paul says:

    BA already do this, you just need to ask. When my friends wife asked she was told that they have an internal policy about it and that it was no problem.

  • Sussex Bantam says:

    I find the comments here quite amusing today – I presume those protesting are also up in arms about the other protections pregnant women have such as the maternity pay, free prescriptions, time off for antenatal care and the right to take a year off and still have your job when you come back…

    Pregnant women are a protected class precisely because they have to be.

    • Callum says:

      That’s a rather nonsensical post….

      1. No… You now have the opportunity for fairly equal maternity and paternity leave. The extra that only women are allowed to have is more than counteracted by being the party to actually experience pregnancy and it’s associated “illnesses” (for want of a better word).

      2. Given the prescriptions are generally important for the unborn child as well, it doesn’t really seem to go against the existing notion that children get free prescriptions at all. And as mentioned in point 1, the female has medical needs that the male does not.

      3. Fathers have a right for time of for antenatal care.

      4. If both parties exercise their rights, both the male and female have a right for 6 months off work and still have their job when they come back (and normal benefits accrued in their absence).

      You seem to be making the nonsensical assumption that those wanting equal rights specifically want to see mothers be punished, when the reality is nothing of the sort.

      As happens every time Raffles brings this subject up, most people in the comments merely want the rights of the mother and father to be respected equally. Most also make the completely unrelated comment that pregnancy is a choice and shouldn’t receive special treatment from companies – whether you’re the mother or the father. I don’t mention it very often as it’s rather judgemental, but in normal circumstances I would expect a good father to share parental responsibilities (and therefore leave) equally when given the choice (e.g. during shared leave they can do that, once leave runs out if the father has a job and the mother doesn’t, obviously it’s financially impractical to share equally), in which case men would be just as affected by losing status as women.

      • Sussex bantam says:

        I don’t think you actually read my post…my point is that there are lots of protections for pregnant women already and most right minded people think this is quite proper.

        • Sussex bantam says:

          (Hit post too early). If commentators want to protest that having children is s choice then they should protests against these legally established principles first…

      • harry says:

        I don’t actually want the rights of the mother & father to be respected equally! The mother does all the hard work up to the birth and usually in the immediate period afterwards when she recovers so needs time out, she should get more generous treatment than the male.

        Giving birth is nothing like some of the ‘accident & health’ reasons some posters seem to think should lead to a lenient status ‘stay’ policy for other reasons people might not fly.

        Birth (and maternity leave to promote the well-being of the new-born) = future of our species. Which needs more protection (& protection of status!) than all other hindrances to fly.

        They are rather opposite things. Ie pregnancy/ birth/ maternity leave are positives & we need to protect them to protect our future. Whereas accidents/ illnesses/ hip replacement/ losing your job etc are all negative things that don’t need protection by the airline.

        • Fenny says:

          The world is already pretty well populated. So unless “our species” means “middle class white people”, I don’t think the future of the species is in much danger.

          • harry says:

            I wouldn’t express it in those terms – but I would say European culture is the future of the species I would like to see protected & thriving.

  • Genghis says:

    🙂 you should be a writer on HIGNFY, Worzel.

  • Guy says:

    Blimey, some strong feelings out there.
    Let’s face it, it’s probably about frequency. Mat/Pat leave is the most common reason anyone of working age is going to take a big chunk of time out (and, importantly: come back again.)

  • Sam says:

    You either have ‘equality’ in everything … gold statuses , equal pay for equal contribution , pension age … child custody in divorce, parental leave or don’t pretend that you fight for equal rights … you just fight for a better rights for one group of society at expense of another …

    • harry says:

      There’s no equality in child custody in divorce – invariably the court awards custody to the mother unless there are other significant factors.

  • Fenny says:

    Having a baby doesn’t stop parents from flying, as can be witnessed on pretty much any flight. What it may stop is parents, particularly mothers, from flying for work and racking up all those tier points that people, parents or otherwise, who don’t fly for work don’t get.

    If new mothers are able to fly with their kids, why don’t they just spend their maternity leave flying round the world to keep up their status? As long as they aren’t trying to carry a huge amount of frozen breast milk in their hand luggage, it shouldn’t be a problem!

  • Why Airlines Overbook Flights and 250 Free Miles - View from the Wing says:

    […] lose their status while on hiatus from work and caring for new children in the family. Iberia is adding something similar albeit for mothers […]

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