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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 ([email protected]) 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 [email protected]
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 (60)

  • Sam Wardill says:

    This is a noble cause. Well done Rob for pursuing it. My wife will find this amusing because I actually regained my BA gold after a 10 year lapse in the year that our twins were born. The exclusion of fathers is a rather poor exclusion. Surely it would be simple enough to include fathers on extended paternity leave (I assume that Spain, like UK, has such a thing as extended paternity leave).

  • John says:

    I am all for equal opportunities, although I personally don’t mind if dads are excluded, as only my wife will stop travelling when she is heading towards the end of pregnancy… after the birth we will all be building up the TPs ASAP in the footsteps of my parents, though unfortunately they never knew/bothered to gain any status.

  • Ben says:

    My wife and I both lost our status with Qatar Airways as neither of us flew anywhere for more than six months whilst our second child was born last year.

  • Julian says:

    Firstly, this seems to be an extremely odd promotion as there are a number of reasons someone might need to stop flying for a while and many of them will not be down to choice, unlike having children. I don’t see why having children is in some way more worthy of having status paused.

    Secondly, well done Iberia on the extreme sexism in this case. Apparently men aren’t allowed time out to look after their children, this is a great step back 50 years.

    Thirdly, they talk about pregnancy, how about adopted babies – a far more worthy cause than overpopulating the planet more, yet they don’t get any recognition, despite the fact it is just as much work.

    • Alan says:

      Excellent points, Julian. If you’re going to make an exception for having kids (a debate within itself that we’ve had in the comments previously) then you should do it properly and cover both parents and adoption.

    • Brendan says:

      Wow I’m shocked at the responses here. Are you all equally annoyed at women getting time off work to have children?

      • Lady London says:

        I’m not even sure this is legal due to discrimination.
        Why can’t we all do this?
        Why must we be a current producer of children to benefit from a concession no one else has the opportunity to get?
        What about people who simply lose their job, have an accident, become ill or even just feel like having their status put on hold for a while…?
        I’m all for a bit of flexibility but think it should be handled in such a way that most people of either sex, married, not married, with children, without children, working, not working, etc., have the same opportunity.

      • Julian says:

        I’m not against men or women having time off work for children. I would be against only women having time off work while offering the father nothing, stopping him from being able to look after his child.

        I would also be against birth being the only reason why you’re allowed time off work, still needing to come in if gravely sick etc.

        Your logic fails Brendan.

    • Rob says:

      The Qantas scheme does have provisions for adoption and fostering if you look at the small print. IB is being a little Spanish!

  • Kevin H says:

    +1 Julian
    Why should the choice of parenthood be treated in such a favourable way? There are numerous other reasons to want to put status “on hold” so it should either be offered as a one-time option for everyone, or not at all.

    • MozzaUK says:

      +1 Kevin H,

      Why should parents get exemptions, yet single people and those who don’t want children get penalised if something happens and they need to pause there flying for a year due to health issues or other personal issues.

      No one is against parents having time off for having a baby, but just rules being bent to suit them, the rules should apply to all not a minute minority

      I hope BA don’t follow suit, its just folly for the PC and middle england brigade!!

      • Jimmy says:

        Because it’s good business for the airline to keep pax loyalty.


        Remember what the purpose of these rules are: to keep pax from abusing the system. Why is having a baby special? Because no-one is going to do so just to abuse the system (see Genghis below!).

        The only thing ‘wrong’ with it is the failure to treat new fathers … if not equally then at least moderately better.

        • David says:

          Flawed IMO Jimmy.

          Plenty of other passenger segments they should want to keep loyal who may also elect to do something that takes them out of circulation for a while. I.e. sail round the world, spend a year on sabbatical with a charity, etc.

          Then you have the people who are ill, etc. And whilst some might fake that, it is hardly a valid response to deny everyone on the basis that some fake. (Heck, I’ve certainly known the odd person to imagine up some extra children for loyalty scheme abuse).

          Either open to all, for any reason. Or, should not be offered.

  • Genghis says:

    This could be the middle class version of some mothers knocking out babies to keep state benefits…

  • Boris says:

    To me this is another dog’s breakfast, with more than a whiff of cheap politics about it.

    People who take a voluntary decision which prevents them flying get a benefit, while somebody put in hospital for a year by a drunk driver does not.

    Also, in giving consideration to one gender only when both (or all 16, depending how far we have come politically!) are arguably effected, it is potentially an act of sex discrimination.

    Not a noble cause, and not acceptable in 2016 imo.

  • BrianDT says:

    Favouritism, totally wrong. I missed out one year, due to health problems. I got short shrift from the airline involved, not BA.

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