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Why I think BA should reform the Gold Priority Reward

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VERY long-term readers of Head for Points may remember that, three years ago, I promoted my great idea for improving British Airways Executive Club for elite members – reforming the Gold Priority Reward.

This was such a great idea that British Airways totally ignored it and it got absolutely zero traction anywhere.  I still think it is a good idea though and I want to flag it again.

BA Gold

What is a Gold Priority Reward?

As describes it here:

“If there is no availability in your chosen cabin or on the flight, with the Gold Priority Reward you have the option of using double the regular Avios to secure a seat of your choice on the flight, providing you book 30 days or more in advance. All you have to do is call us to make the arrangements.”

On the face of it, this is not a bad deal.  As long as there are seats left for sale for cash, you can have them – as long as you pay double Avios.

Where this falls down is that British Airways American Express 2-4-1 vouchers cannot be combined with a Gold Priority Reward.

The numbers therefore look substantially worse.

Let’s assume a family of 4 wants to head to Dubai in Club World, and they have 2 x 2-4-1 vouchers available.

A standard Avios redemption on a peak date would cost 120,000 points x 2 (as two people fly free), for a total of 240,000 Avios + roughly £2,000 tax.

Using a Gold Priority Reward would cost a total of 960,000 Avios + roughly £2,000 tax.

Using the Gold Priority Reward simply makes no sense on this basis.  No sense at all.  However lowly you value an Avios point, it would be hard to justify using points instead of cash.

At present, the Gold Priority Reward is pointlessly expensive for long haul use for a couple or family.  It does admittedly have value on short haul at peak times – I met a number of people in Austria last month who, like us, had used it to get seats on peak ski resort flights over half term.

Here is my suggestion – allow BAEC Gold members to use Amex 2-4-1 vouchers with Gold Priority Rewards.

There are a few reasons why this is a good idea:

It is a change that will only benefit BAEC members.  BA will not be giving anything to members of any other oneworld programme.  The gain is accurately targeted at BA’s best customers.

It will improve customer sentiment amongst Gold members

Silver and Blue members of BAEC do not lose anything and will have an added incentive to push for Gold

It will increase the take-up of the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card, as the voucher will become far easier to use

If this change went through, a Gold member (travelling with a partner and with a 2-4-1) could guarantee themselves a Club World seat to New York or Dubai on any date for 100,000 – 120,000 Avios per person depending on date.  That is quite a powerful incentive.

Imagine, for example, the incentive a flyer would have to reach Gold membership if he was planning to marry in 18 months and wanted to guarantee seats to the Maldives for the honeymoon.  Anyone with children would want to push for Gold in order to guarantee seats during school holidays.

I think this idea works.  It requires only a minor tweak to the BAEC programme but would have a disproportionate impact.

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Comments (126)

  • Sun Guy says:

    Look, heres the problem – this constitutes value for money and a favourable change to the PAX and not BAs favour…

    They dont care about how good the incentives are – they want short term gain…..they make changes for the short rather than the long haul (timings rather than flight distance!).

  • BarbadosBob says:

    Agree that BA is only interested in cost-cutting and increasing its margin, as its short-haul economy flights became ever less distinguishable from Easyjet or Ryanair. However, Rob’s idea is good and it would add a much-needed incentive for people to aim for Gold. My experience of Gold, as it is now, has been entirely underwhelming – a better class of lounge at LHR, & increased miles per flight, but that’s about it. In several years of Gold, I have been upgraded maybe twice – and only one of those was on long-haul. So BA ought to have an interest in encouraging people to travel more with them by creating a status that actually benefits them more tangibly.

    So Rob, why not set up a simple survey asking your readers to vote for your idea. If you get several hundred of us agreeing with your idea, it would have a lot more weight if you re-submit it to BA. Even if they ignore it, at least we’ll have had a shot.

  • Chris says:

    More like ‘overheard in Fortnums’

    • Anna says:

      We go in Fortnum’s at Heathrow to laugh and point at biscuits at £15 per tin. Though maybe we could take a picture for Instamiles next time…

  • Fox99 says:

    O/T Just received an email from BA offering me a birthday bonus on a flight in May, need to book by 31 March. the offer seems quite generous. However, when I select the link to register for it, it tells me i am ineligible for the offer! Has anyone else had problems, or is it that I am simply ineligible. The email was addressed to me by name and my birthday is in May. I would book a flight if it was available. Not sure I can endure the helpline to enquire on this, last few occasions did not go well.

  • Waribai says:

    We go to Japan as a family once a year to see the in laws. We also do a long haul family trip to either the Caribbean or Asia plus a “Spain” type holiday and a ski holiday.
    Judging from the people I met at the Xmas party, this is the HFP norm rather than the exception.

    • Anna says:

      How do you get so much time off in the school holidays – do you work with no other parents?!

      • Talay says:

        Own business, kids in private school, 4 weeks at Xmas, 8 weeks in Summer, 3 weeks at Easter, 2 weeks October half term etc. plus if you need some extra time you just take it. No pesky government letters say naughty this or naughty that. Downside is £xx,xxx a year in fees multiplied by however many kids.

        We do the full 8 in summer or at least they do and I make up where I can. Winter away, Easter away (usually) and 3 or 4 long haul trips of a few weeks each year individually without kids during term time.

    • the real harry1 says:

      it was the norm for me until I got a family! 🙂

    • Callum says:

      I’m 99.9999% certain the type of people showing up at a blog party aren’t representative of the entire readership!

    • Waribai says:

      “Do you work with no other parents?”

      Pretty much, that’s it. in a team of 10 I’m the only one with school aged children.

  • Richard says:

    I thought amex 2-4-1 is only for UK residents. Why would BA need to improve things for them. It’s like asking them to lower the ex-UK prices of flights to match what they offer to those people living in mainland Europe. The UK is a captive market for BA and people pay to fly with them regardless.

  • Jim says:

    I cant help noticing that the demographic that would benefit most immediately and substantially includes you.