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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)

  • harry says:

    I think it’s great that we treat the fairer sex a bit special! I don’t envy them the burden of the 9 month term or (in most cases) the greater responsibility of caring for the new-born child in its first few months. And whilst there will always be plenty of exceptions where Dad takes more time off work than Mum, I’m sure that in most cases it’s Mum who takes the bulk of any parental leave.

    You can make logical cases for all sorts of work absence that’s ‘unavoidable’ and ‘not my fault/ my choice’. We could also argue pleasantly until nightfall about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    By limiting the status concession to mums on maternity leave, there is a simple, understandable rule that is fair to mums plus easy to evidence and allow.

    • Julian says:

      And by doing this, punish the families where the father is the primary caregiver to the children, or where responsibility is shared equally, as is more common in today’s society.

      This rule is a relic of a previous sexist generation.

      • Brian says:

        It’s not sexist if women care more for the child than the man – it’s sensible. The mother is more important than the father in early childhood – that’s just logical.

  • Nick says:

    Airlines don’t let pregnant women fly, for good reason. The same does not apply to soon-to-be fathers. I really don’t see the problem with the policy.

    • Boris says:

      Actually, Nick, they do allow pregnant women to fly.

      Iberia, for example, do not impose restrictions for the *vast* majority of pregnant women.

      Up to week 28 there are no restrictions.
      Week 28-36 (32 with complications) is take advice from your Doctor, and there is only a blanket restriction imposed by the airline after 36 weeks.

      I am sure you know that a typical pregnancy is 40 weeks.

      • David P says:

        BA is similar; a blanket ban after 36 weeks on pregnant women flying (32 weeks if carrying more than one child) but a doctor’s note is required after 28 weeks. Although my wife wasn’t asked for her doctor’s note when she flew at about 30 weeks.

  • Chris says:

    On a somewhat related point, a few years ago I became quite ill and was not fit to fly. As a longtime BA Gold Card holder, I asked BA if I could pause my Gold membership until such time as I had been passed fit to fly again. They refused!

  • Leo says:

    Yawn. Didn’t we do all of this a few weeks ago?

  • Daniel says:

    I find myself surprised by some of the comments this morning.

    Even if new mothers are the only beneficiaries of such a policy are any of the rest of us any worse off than before! ??
    Feels a like we are in danger of being a bit too begrudging

    • Julian says:

      It’s not anger at this policy being introduced, we just want a bit of equality. Policies like this is what keeps sexism going in society, it’s why women are still acting as primary caregivers. (Not specifically this, but it’s a small piece in a big jigsaw). I also think nobody can disagree with the unfairness of allowing only pregnant women and not those adopting.

    • Alexey says:

      Just image from ‘scream’ feminists would make if there would be something similar in other area “for men only” …

  • Richard says:

    I think the CX “status holiday” is much better. Your status is put on hold (eg for maternity leave, long term sickness) which means your status is taken away but you get it back once the leave is over. it’s open to anybody and you don’t have to prove anything. seems fair for everyone.

    As for the “are any of the rest of us any worse off than before! ??”, the same thing could be said when BAEC required 1500 points for gold status for those living in the UK and 800 points for those living in Mainland Europe. Were UK cardholders “any worse off” when that policy was in force? did they think it was ok?

  • David says:

    This needs to either be:
    – open to ALL, for ANY reason,or
    – should NOT be offered.

    • Rob says:

      I think you’d have more luck campaigning for, for example, paternity leave to be extended for single people to domestic pets so that you could 9 months of paid leave if you bought a cat and it had kittens.

      • David says:

        Would this be a virtual clubcard pet?

        Actually, I think the logic is strongest for:
        Open to all, for any reason. Or not offered.
        And it should be a suspension while paused, as per my understanding of the cathay policy.

    • Boris says:

      That would introduce the question of proof, which is a very real concern.

      I suspect that one of the reasons Iberia went for the easy route they have was because legal docs are available.

      That’s no excuse for their cockup, mind.

  • DV says:

    People “choose” to have children in the same sense that they choose whether to breathe or not. It is what we are made for, not a lifestyle choice. The burden of having children falls disproportionately on women, and in order not to disadvantage them in the workplace we have introduced protections for them when they are caring for babies and small children. You have to be remarkably small-minded and embittered to begrudge something as trivial as an extension of an airline gold card to a woman bringing up a small baby.

    • David says:

      In this day and age, no.
      People choose whether and when they have children.

      Justify why someone who is suffering an injury or illness should not be given the same benefit? Or someone who is caring for someone who has suffered an injury etc?

      Then justify it for someone who chooses to volunteer to care for others for a year. In this day and age, just as much as choice as whether or when to have children.

    • SM says:

      The burgen of shaving everyday in the morning falls disproportionately on men , people “choose” to have shaved face in the same sense that they choose whether to breathe or not. It takes at least 3 minutes of extra time , so I demand to extend boarding time for the plane by extra 3 minutes for men only …

    • Julian says:

      By introducing concessions for female parents only, that encourages the woman to be the primary caregiver over the man, making the problem worse. Why should a man be the primary caregiver if there are more advantages for the woman to quit her job?

      • Brendan says:

        It is far more beneficial for a woman to be a primary caregiver to a new born baby. That’s so blatantly obvious I can’t believe I actually have to state it.

        • Julian says:

          In what way can both parents not care for the baby equally? Please do tell me why women are more beneficial. There are some terrible mothers out there, there are some great ones, just like with fathers. The only thing I can think of is the production of milk, which is less of a problem now we have bottles and pumps etc.

          The only reason anyone says women are better is just because they want to try excuse themselves from the work of looking after a baby.

          • harry says:

            It helps to have a womb 🙂

            I know same sex couples eg Elton John & David Furnish) can make passably good parents with no woman or womb in sight – [or even any oil tubs lol]

    • Julian says:

      Also I can assure you I can live without having children, while I can’t live without breathing, not the same thing. I can choose if I have children.

      • Andrew says:

        And when you’re older and other people’s children are paying your pension? Or taking care of you in your old age? Even if you have a huge private pension the value of that and the stock market would tank without a new younger generation to keep consuming. And any private care would be incredibly expensive without enough young people to work in such industries.

        Like it or not someone has to have children to keep the world economy and society going.

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