Why I think BA should reform the Gold Priority Reward

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 ba.com 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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. Sussex bantam says:

    Well I like the idea very much – but then I do take my kids on two long haul holidays a year during school holidays. I travel a lot – sometimes in business clas – and I am a BA gold card holder and I read an aspirational travel blog. I apologise to those of you offended by this ! 🙂

    At the moment I’m seriously considering giving up the BAPP – we generate 2 vouchers between us each year but finding options for all 4 of us to travel during school holiday time is very difficult. If BA implemented robs idea then that would definitely persuade my to keep the card.

    Whether they actually care enough I doubt.

    Excuse me now – I just need to ask the footman to pop down to Waitrose and get me some of their essential dessert range….

    • I do actually shop in Waitrose and I do buy the Limoncello desert. Doesn’t mean I don’t see the ridiculousness of it being labelled essential.

    • Prince Polo says:

      I have given up the BAPP Amex – I find the 2-4-1 vouchers useless given (1) limited availability, (2) very high “taxes” and (3) QR/ other biz class fares where you can experience superior product for little more than BA’s taxes themselves.

      I do use Priority Gold Reward from time to time (I’d say once per year on average) but only in Europe where it can still be good value at 2xRFS.

      • Who are these airlines which do business class long haul for £500?! (Approximate cash element of CW redemption flight on BA)

        • £500 is pretty rare. You could get Qatar biz flights for around £700 in the past ex-EU to Bangkok. This was before Brexit when exchange rates were better. £1000 is more the norm now.

  2. My own “overheard in Waitrose” contribution – except I never shop there as they don’t contribute to my avios stash (plus this is the North, we don’t pay those prices!). My son gets motion sickness can’t travel backwards – he was sick in the aisle after a CW flight from New York a couple of years ago. Little so and so now declares he can only tolerate a forward-facing flat bed!

    • RussellH says:

      No Waitrose true, but we do have Booths (or are you the other side of the Pennines?)


      • I miss Booths – I may have spent 15 years away from Lancashire now, but I’d still like to find somewhere that will sell me a butter pie down here in Brighton…

        • Ha, my cousin married a southerner and had 300 Gregg’s sausage rolls taken down by his Dad for the buffet!

      • Booths – they were the first place to stock sun dried tomatoes in the area lol.

    • ankomonkey says:

      If I ever ask my 7 year old to try to sleep on a plane and she’s not in a flat-bed seat, her reply is always, “I can only sleep in the seats that become beds.”

      • Lady London says:

        Little monkey then 🙂

      • Just like mine. What monsters we have created.

        I didn’t even know flying existed at their age and a premium class was unheard of luxury.

  3. Charlie says:

    If they “reform” it, then they will take something away somewhere else.

    For the relatively small benefit upside of using an Amex 2-4-1 on long haul I don’t want to risk losing the short haul benefits

  4. RussellH says:

    Do not forget that there is some money in this for BA – the “carrier imposed charge” which apparently goes straight into BA’s pocket. In reality it is just part of the fare, but it lies outwith the Avios offer.

    And a question:- does anyone know how much an avios is valued at for BA’s balance sheet? I imagine that the accountatnts like to see them fall off the balance sheet?

    • Charlie says:

      No longer on BA’s balance sheet as it’s part of the separate Avios company (all under IAG)

    • Surely they only need to provide for the maximum flights that could be redeemed during the year?

      • Genghis says:

        No. Anytime in the future under IAS 37 contingent liabilities in avios’s books

  5. 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!).

  6. 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.

  7. More like ‘overheard in Fortnums’

    • 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…

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

      • 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.

  10. 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.

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