“How to get elite British Airways status quicker than you think”

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Note:  I was travelling all day yesterday, so I thought I would do myself a favour by giving this article an airing.  I originally wrote a version of it for another publication but it will be interesting for newer HFP readers.  It is written in a ‘simpler’ style to most Head for Points articles because it was produced for a broader readership.

Having elite airline status used to be about the finer things in life – skipping the queues at security, heading straight into a luxurious lounge for some free champagne and food before waltzing onto the plane when you felt like it.  This is still true, of course, to some extent.

Today, however, airline elite status also brings more mundane benefits – free seat selection (British Airways charges up to £200 return for the best seats in long-haul Business Class), a reduced chance of having your hand baggage taken away at the gate and a reduced chance of being thrown off an oversold flight.

What most people don’t understand is that elite status is easier to get than you think. I am focusing mainly on British Airways here, but the same principles apply to other airlines.

British Airways Silver card

British Airways requires 600 tier points in your 12 month membership year for a Silver card in the Executive Club.  This brings lounge access, free seat selection and extra baggage allowance.  When you see that a short haul Economy flight only earns 5 tier points each way, however, you may give up immediately.

Don’t.  Look further.  A one-way long-haul business class flight on BA is 140 tier points.  Just two return flights and a couple of short haul trips will get you that Silver card.

But that’s too many for me.  It is 140 tier points per flight so the benefits double when you fly long-haul Business Class on a partner airline and need to change on the way. Fly to Asia on BA’s partner Qatar Airways and you change planes in Doha.  Fly to Los Angeles with BA’s partner American and you could change in New York.  Suddenly you’re doing two flights each way, so 2 x 140 tier points.  That is 560 tier points in one return business class trip.  Your Silver card is virtually in the post.

You can even earn status via short haul flights if you are smart.  The longest flights on the British Airways short haul network, to places such as Malta, Marrakech or Tenerife, each 160 tier points return in Business Class.  Because these are generally leisure routes, operating out of Gatwick and not Heathrow, they are often inexpensive if booked in advance.  Four weekends away over 12 months and, again, your Silver card is sorted.

British Airways Gold Card

If it is airport lounge access you crave, you can get it via a premium credit card.  American Express Platinum comes with two Priority Pass lounge cards.  American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is free for a year and gives all applicants two lounge passes for free.  HSBC Premier World Elite credit cards come with free airport lounge access.

These are usually for third party lounges, but they are often better than airline-run ones.  The calmest lounge in BA’s Terminal 5 at Heathrow is arguably the independent Plaza Premium one.

Even if you fly low cost, you don’t have to miss out on perks.  easyJet Plus membership scheme (£215 per year) gets you seat, boarding, fast track security and baggage perks.  Combine it with lounge access via your credit card – Luton, Stansted and Gatwick North all have independent lounges – and an easyJet flyer will have a similar experience as a British Airways passenger at Heathrow who has a Silver card.

Here are some other tricks:

If you have status with one airline, other airlines may match it to tempt you to switch. statusmatcher.com is a good website where people post successes and failures.

Airlines have lots of partners.  Greek airline Aegean, for example, is the easiest of the 26 in Star Alliance to get status with, although you need to take four flights with Aegean annually.  An Aegean top tier status card is valid across Star Alliance.

BA lets its top Gold Guest List members give Gold status to one friend per year, and Silver status to two friends.  Got any heavy travelling friends?  Time to buy them a beer.

Finally, don’t get status conscious.  If you always fly Business or First Class, you don’t need elite status.  You get the perks anyway (OK, BA will still charge you for seat selection in Business!).  Feel free to pick the highest quality and most convenient airline for each flight you make.

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  1. The Original David says:

    Can we have a sweepstake on what the “other publication” was? I’m going for the Daily Mail 🙂

    • The headlines for many stories are certainly in the click bait style of the daily mail.
      I would assume for stories submitted to the daily mail there are some global search/replace needed. “tip” should be replaced with “hack” but this story does follow the DM style book in having some simple grammar mistakes such as “making” a flight instead of “taking” one.

    • It can’t have been for the DM… no of the suggestions are “hilarious”!

  2. ASEAN Traveller says:

    Hi Rob. I am a long- standing Aegean gold member, and have regularly requalified for gold status without ever flying their metal. The amount of miles needed does double if you choose this path, but one return flight per annum in business from/to Asia on Thai has done the trick for me (Thai is the sweet spot as it awards 200% of miles flown to the Aegean program). So not necessary to fly their metal.

    • mr_jetlag says:

      Same here. Thai, TAP, and SAS (even with recent changes) are all good routes to making and keeping A3 Gold.

  3. RJ you can get silver in one trip HKG- BKK 40TP BKK -AMM 140TP AMM -LHR 140TP total 640 business class about 1600us approx rtn .You still need 4 BA flights any class but for maybe 400us ut can be done so all up 2k us for a silver card

  4. With the Amex Platinum does the supplementary card holder get status with car rental and hotels too or just the main cardholder?

  5. If there are any top gold list members who would care to donate the silver membership to two retired people who love to travel, my hubby and I would be delighted to receive them. Many thanks Moira

    • Wouldn’t we all Moira, wouldn’t we all.

    • Lol ……good try

    • TravelRabbit says:

      Utterly ridiculous! Earn it like everyone else… just because you are retired too! Very cheeky!

      • I’m not retired and my pension will be much worse than Moira’s generation. Can anyone gift me Silver to help me get over this?

    • Lady London says:

      It’s Sunday so I’ll go for it.

      Why is it you lot don’t jump on Ash /Ashish in the same way ? Thoughts pop into my head with his requests, that have a few times repeated, of a bird in the next with his beak constantly open “feed me” “feed me”. It seems when he does work something out he “blurts” it as well.

      Look at the way the request is written. Yes could be someone clever writing this in a way to fool us. But why are your replied targeting someone who is a woman, old and likely of low income? 3 sorts of discrimination there when you didn’t target the one that posts as Ashish.

      Are elderly poor female people to be targeted? The government would like us to. Don’t fall for their intergenerational warfare ploys.

      I say this as one who will also be royally shafted by the changes in the pension system.

      Perhaps you wouldn’t help a stranger but it’s not a bad idea to look around your family and help someone if it doesn’t cost you anything

      • I try not to dive in, but one thing that’s absolute on the Internet is the loss of context, and ‘how’ something is said. Maybe they were light hearted remarks, who knows. I was mildly amused how this was jumped on, whilst the comment asking if someone could use a cancelled Amex for lounge access got nothing in terms of the legitimacy of that.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          I guess because one is cheeky in the sense of they want to trick there way into a lounge with a card they used to hold.

          The other is someone asking for something from any random stranger just because they are retired. Also even if it was useful for them as a couple on one actually needs the status not both.

          travelling isn’t a necessity so I fail to see why being on low income would make it ok to ask?

          • Or, you could argue one is advice on how to steal a service not being paid for, and the other is a request for generosity from a stranger.

          • Lady London says:

            Thank you for your charitable answer @Doug M

          • Shoestring says:

            I am the first to say I have made a silly ass of myself, on occasion

            not that the other party got the joke

          • Lady London says:

            Yes Shoestring and possible your son(s) might not have got either

      • Good grief! Only in the minds of snowflakes could comments about the request being cheeky etc be construed as 3 kinds of discrimination. Completely bizarre.

      • How do you know she’s old?

        • cos its Moira Stuart surely…

        • Lady London says:

          Look at it. There are all sorts of clues that this is genuine, and from a retired older person likely to be of limited means.

          Interesting that commenters also were able to discern this. One said ‘travel is not a basic necessity’. Shouldn’t older people have dreams too?

  6. Hi, If there are any top gold list members who would care to donate the silver membership to two retired people who love to travel, my hubby and I would be delighted to receive them. Many thanks Moira

  7. Wally1976 says:

    I know you can access the Plaza Premium lounge in T5 with an Amex platinum card but does it have to be an active one? Do they check? Thanks

  8. Two questions on the connecting flights:

    Is there a minimum distance on the connection to mean it earns full tier points? Ie. Would flying LHR-DUB-SFO (BA suggested routing) earn double tier points?

    Is there a maximum stopover time for breaking the flight? Ie. Flying to/from the West coast, is it feasible to stop in NYC for 24 hrs (or 36 even)? Presumably these need to be booked via the call centre if so?

    • No, the segments have to be over 2000 miles to earn 140TP.

    • In general a stopover is less than 24 hours. More than that it becomes a layover and usually increases the price.

      • For international flights a stopover is longer than 24 hours. Under 24 hours is a connection.

        • Yes I got the terms reversed. As you say TP no difference, but more than 24 hours usually impacts price.

          • …. because (if the stopover is UK) it triggers Air Passenger Duty.

          • More than that though. Trying for 2 or 3 days in NYC on a starts Europe ends US West Coast flight will typically bump the price in my experience.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      40 in J less than 2k, 140 in J more than 2k, 210 if it’s F over 2k

      There are some long shorthaul flights that get 80 in J like HEL SOF TIA MTA CTA but this is really a BA only thing.

      There’s no maximum stopover/layover time for tier points collection. Tier points are based upon flight flown only.

      There are some flights out there that go XXX-YYY-ZZZ on a single flight number To refuel or 5th freedoms etc it’s important you don’t get caught with these as they count as a single flight and not two.

      • MTA?
        Do you mean Malta, MLA?

      • I keep reminding people that Lhr to Mow in J is 140tp even though it’s only 1600 miles…

        • Lots of exceptions to absolute. But broadly speaking the 2000 miles holds up. 160TP on the long haul+ routes. I think the pitch of the article suggests its not targeted at many of the people commenting.

    • You can book say DUB-LHR-JFK-SFO on line using the multi city options separating out each leg. I find it easier to use google flights to look at the options before booking via the airline involved.

      In business class that would earn you 40+140+140 tier points (double that for the return for 640 tier points in total) compared with 40+140 for a DUB-LHR-SFO

      And that’s without 40+40 for a business class return LHR/LCY to get you to and from DUB – assuming that’s where you live of course. options from the regions vary.

      BUT route that via Chicago and it becomes 40+140+40. So you need to be a bit careful and have the BA tier point calculator open as well.

      But doing multi hop flights does not suit everyone as it can get tiring.

      And always price up direct flights to see if you are really making any savings cash wise. That’s how I look at it when booking mine as earning Status is incidental to that.

      • Gah just realised you are starting in London not DUB !

        Try LON-JFK-SFO for 140+140 (total 560 return)

  9. The Savage Squirrel says:

    OK, I’ll dump this here as a suitable noob question for the article as I have never in my life flown BA and have no plans to, but will find myself with enough TPs for silver this year and two 2for1s as well :D. So deciding whether making silver is worth the effort.

    BA Silver requires 4 flights with BA as well as the 600TP. Would booking a return flight count as one or two flights for this purpose?

    …and what’s the cheapest/easiest/least time consuming route to accumulating the flights necessary from oop north. Leeds->London and back twice in a day?

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      should clarify … no IMMEDIATE plans to fly BA. With two 2for1s in play and a pile of Avios we plan to start using BA next year.

      • If thinking of flying next year on 241, you should think about booking at earliest opportunity if a popular destination.

    • A return flight counts as 2 flights.

      Remember avios redemption flights do not count as part of the 4

      Look on the BA FlyerTalk page and read the guide to earning status and it is all explained there what counts as a BA flight etc etc

      • A flight is, well, a flight. A return on direct flights is 2 flights, a single with a change is 2 flights (eg EDI-LHR-CDG).

        Two ways to get to your four flights, assuming you’re starting in London.
        1) Couple of day/ weekend trips anywhere on short haul network – low fare finder is your friend. Won’t necessarily be domestic destinations due to APD.
        2) Alternatively a trip via Madrid – eg London-Madrid-Seville – as the Iberia flight will count as a qualifying flight.

        See BA board on FT for full details/ discussions.

    • I’d do Leeds to, say, Amsterdam via Heathrow which at least gets you the four flights in one trip AND you get to see somewhere.

      Must be cash flights. As the comment above mentioned, there are obscure rules covering codeshares etc but for your purposes 4 x cash BA operated and coded flights will do it.

  10. OT: .

    Morning All,

    Does anyone know of any driving schools where I can earn additional Avios or Virgin Airmiles (other than by paying for it on an airmiles earning card)?

    Thanks 🙂

    vol x

  11. Any update on the rumoured easyJet loyalty scheme? Remember the article that said it would come at some point in 2019, assume it’s no longer being implemented?

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