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New BAEC benefits: free seating on Hand Baggage tickets and status extension for new parents

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There you go, you see.  You bang on about something for long enough and people eventually listen.

For a couple of years, Head for Points has been banging the drum for British Airways Executive  Club to introduce a ‘status extension’ for new parents.  See here, here, here etc.

This was driven by my own experience of watching my wife lose her British Airways status, twice, after we had our children and then having to restart as a Blue member after her maternity leave.

At last, it has happened.

See this page of for details of the BAEC changes.

Avios wing 7

Status extensions introduced for new parents

You will be eligible to have your Bronze, Silver or Gold status extended following the birth or adoption of a baby.  This offer is valid for both parents.  Relevant documentation is required.

You can request an extension twice in any five year period.

The rather vague terms imply that that the extension will be granted purely for the period of any parental leave taken.

Internal BA communications state clearly, however, that it will be a full year extension.  Whether they really intend to give this to a father who takes limited paternity leave remains to be seen.

You will also receive 1,000 bonus Avios if you add your baby to a Household Account within 6 months of requesting the extension.

Max Burgess

Free seat selection on Hand Baggage Only tickets

To give British Airways credit, they are not claiming that this is a great new benefit.  They admit that this was something that they took away from you and are now bringing back.

From 14th June, Executive Club Bronze, Silver and Gold members will be able to select a seat for free – in the standard time frame for their tier – on a Hand Baggage Only ticket.

BA’s problem here is that they failed (or refused) to understand how the world actually works.  Most corporate travel policies insist on buying the cheapest possible fare.  HBO was not ‘optional’ for most business travellers – which made elite members angry at the inability to select a seat.

(It also wasn’t smart to take away free food and drink from these people because – in the real world – most business travellers cannot get alcohol expenses reimbursed.  Replacing the ‘lost’ free Friday night G&T now means a direct hit to the pocket of the traveller and to their goodwill towards BA.)

If you have booked a Hand Baggage Only ticket for travel after 14th June and have already paid for seat selection, this will be refunded automatically.

A side effect ….. Avios redemptions become slightly less attractive

If you have British Airways status, Avios redemptions on short haul are now marginally less attractive.

At present, Avios redemptions allow free seat selection.  Hand Baggage Only cash tickets do not, which gives added value to the Avios ticket.  That difference is now disappearing and, assuming that you were not checking in baggage and are not bothered about ticket flexibility, you can now directly compare a HBO cash ticket with the Avios cost and see which is preferable.

That makes two good news stories from British Airways in the same week ……

Full details of both of these changes, including the all-important small print, can be found here on

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

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Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

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10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

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30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

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

Comments (95)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • John says:

    I don’t understand why there should be a relaxation of rules specifically for new parents. There are many reasons why some of us might be unable to travel; what about those with terminally ill family members, or those caring for elderly parents? Introducing arbitrary rules for some types of carers is a slap in the face to others and is bound to cause offence. It seems the ‘I’ve got a baby so I’m more special’ lobbyists have won out here, while other careworn carers have been ignored.

    • the real harry1 says:

      doesn’t really bother me, tbh (well past the maternity/ paternity leave stage!)

      just a helping hand to new parents and as others have said, it probably benefits BA just as much by retaining goodwill & repeat custom later

      if I were in that position you mention, I would just ask BAEC if they could help with an extension

    • Alan says:

      Hilton have certainly taken a more inclusive approach with their option re maintaining Diamond status.

    • Fenny says:

      Some companies accept that “family” is more inclusive than “children”. Others don’t. Pick the companies you deal with/work for accordingly.

      However, my reasons for not travelling much this year are more to do with my hobby than my family commitments, but I can’t imagine an airline is likely to give anyone a status holiday because they’re training for an event.

    • Callum says:

      I’m getting sick of everyone describing anything that benefits others but not them a “slap in the face”, or ranting about how they’re being punished or the company must therefore despise them!

      Yes it would have been nicer to include anyone. This was no doubt just simpler to implement – you’re either pregnant or you’re not, caring for someone requires unpleasant judgement calls. I can imagine the headlines “BA says heroic carer doesn’t do enough to warrant status recognition”.

  • Andrew says:

    After having a daughter in March 2016, I lost my BAEC status at the end of March this year.

    Is there any information as to whether this new benefit would be retrospectively applied?

  • Leo says:

    I don’t really care about parents being able to freeze status and I’m not for arguing against people getting a benefit so I’m not against this. However what I don’t get is that airlines who do this really just assume that they should compensate people who have their flying paid for by someone else – those who temporarily aren’t flying for work because they have had a baby – parental leave is explicit. There are lots of people who actually pay for their own flights and obtain status that way. They aren’t on leave if they don’t fly because they have some other obligation or illness. Are new parents undertaking not to fly (with or without infants) even if they would pay for themselves?

    • Nick says:

      ROI and all that… babies are cute and fluffy and make everyone go ‘awww’. Cancer and marathon training and such are not. There is a cost to BA to implement this, presumably coming from a marketing budget. They have to show a benefit in return. It’s harsh, but reality, and they’re far from the only company that thinks in ‘hard cash’ terms about stuff like this!

  • David says:

    This comes at an interesting time for me. My weekly commute is EDI-LGW Tue, returning on Thu. I currently use EasyJet, but the last northbound flight this winter will be 17:00, rather than the 19:something it’s been for the last few winters.
    This leaves me the choice of:
    1 – Fly Easyjet from Stanstead or Luton on the return leg (office is near Victoria station, so Gatwick is by a long stretch the most convenient)
    2 – Take the train northbound (means I have to taxi to the airport rather than driving, adding >£15 to weekly cost)
    3 – Take the train both ways (don’t get to work until after 10am on the Tuesday, but can do some work on the train)
    4 – Fly BA on the return leg
    5 – Fly BA all the time, all year round, so I get silver, stop paying for EasyJet Plus and Priority Pass

    The fact that status didn’t get free seat selection (i.e. wasn’t as good as the paid-for loyalty scheme from EasyJet) annoyed me. Adding this benefit makes it a lot more likely I’ll chose option 5.

    So, when exactly do you get BAEC status? If I purchase purchase 25(/50) flights between now and the date of the first flight, do I get the benefits of Bronze(/Silver) on that first flight? Or if I purchase 25(/50) flights between now and the end of my Tier Point collection year (early Oct) but for travel after that date do I then get the benefits on the flights? Or do I actually have to have make 25/50 flights without the benefits I get on Easyjet before I get them back? Or make the 25/50 flights AND wait for the end of my TP year?

    Also, anyone fancy my chances of talking Easyjet into a pro-rata refund of Plus membership?

    • the real harry1 says:

      you won’t get tier points until you actually fly the BA legs

      in the meantime if you’re flying x2 weekly you might as well just buy the unlimited Priority Pass – which was £194 on Black Friday and is not much more on Groupon

      • David says:

        Yeah, I already have Priority Pass, due for renewal in July (I used a deal but not as good as the Black Fri one), but there’s still the other benefits, fast-track security, seat selection, speedy boarding – I’d have to lose these for a year then get them back?

        Also I’d be qualifying for status by taking a certain number of flights per year, rather than on number of tier points, I take it the same restriction about not getting this until I actually take the flights applies as with tier points? It seems a bit backwards, after all the tickets are non-flexible, so why don’t BA give me the benefits as soon as they’ve taken my money? I’m the kind of person who’ll probably not now go with the BA option because this annoys me!

        • Nick says:

          There’s no such thing as a ‘completely non flexible’ ticket as if you cancel you’ll still get taxes back. There’s no airline that gives you free rewards without making you actually fly with them first (barring the odd status match). And you’ll get some of the benefits with bronze much sooner than silver.

          • Nick says:

            P.S. the punishment for failing to spell Stansted properly is to spend eternity there in penance 🙂

          • David Prior says:

            Oh no! At least it wasn’t Lutton 🙂

        • Leo says:

          That’s twice you’ve suggested that you get annoyed – I’d stick with your current option. You’re likely to be annoyed a lot with BA….

        • zsalya says:

          NB Cancelling EasyjetPlus card is non-trivial.
          They automatically charge for next year even if you have sent them an email saying so.
          Fixing that involved a long call to Indian call-centre.

          As you must be in Flight Club, a call to them in advance (a month before expiry) might be easier.

        • Alan says:

          Used to be an option with bmi in the good ol’ days – pre-purchase a carnet of return tickets and they’d give you instant Gold! Not heard of anyone offering that more recently. If doing it on number of flights rather than TPs then not much you can do to bring it forward. If keen for status (& makes sense perhaps as a holiday) the look at the TP run thread on Flyertalk – you could get Silver in one trip (e.g. EDI-LHR-JFK-SFO return).

    • Jonty says:

      Can I throw in option 6? Try the sleeper train. Some swear by it, some swear at it.

      • David Prior says:

        I’ve used the sleeper a handful of times and it’s worked well for me southbound, but I don’t fancy having to kill many hours after work until departure time every week. Also, it’s not cheap (it’s my own money I’m spending unfortunately)

  • Carl says:

    ”At present, Avios redemptions allow free seat selection.” ‘- Would be nice if someone can clarify this as I was asked pay for seat selection when I redeemed my avios BA ticket in April. I believe this is still an elite member benefit and blue members do have to pay for seat selections in any means expect first class?

    • Alan says:

      They only offer free seat selection to those with status or in First – I think this statement was trying to draw a contrast on short-haul flights, where as a passenger with status you could select seats on an RFS redemption but not on an HBO ticket.

      • the real harry1 says:

        unless it changed VERY recently, you can still get free seat selection with Avios redemptions but only @ T-24hrs

        exit seat choice is always paid (unless you do the self check-in machines trick @ airport or get lucky by asking the check-in agent in person)

        • Alan says:

          Ah OK, good point re T-24 w/out status – I’m just glad they’re not downgrading RFS redemptions to HBO!

  • Katherine says:

    Has anyone successfully gotten a response from BA re: BAEC status extension? I sent in my baby’s birth certificate on the 9th of may but have yet to hear back

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