“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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Comments

  1. The article is missing information on the best month to complete the 600-points qualification.

    • The article doesn´t even tell you how to get BA elite “quicker” than you think. It´s just a plain, common, easy summary for people that have heard of FFP but not actually used it to benefit from.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      The month your new TP year starts ofcourse so it lasts a full 2 years. But that isn’t always doable.

      • And if you’re really brave shoot for gold as soon as your TP year starts. Get your 1500TP and do the 4 BA flights required & you get gold straight away and for the rest of your TP year. You would also remain gold for all of the following year ( so 24 months in total ).

        Plus at the end of that second year, from the day your points are zeroed until the 30th of the following month ( so an extra 6 weeks or so ) you also remain Gold.

        You then drop to silver for the next 12 months.

        Timed right you would have gained about 37 months and 3 weeks total status from that one TP run to get gold all that time ago.

        Rinse & repeat…..

        • The Original Nick says:

          @ Roberto. Flight with IB in J was excellent Mad-HAV.
          Loving Cuba.

          • @Nick glad youre loving Cuba. We too are looking forward to our trip next month. It must have been 20 years since we were there last and I am expecting some changes outside central Havana.

            IB business is always consistent, we normally bag the sweetheart seats in row 3 and have never had a bad flight. The crew can sometimes be a little surly but living in Spain its water off a ducks back.

            Disfruta el resto de tus vacaciones, viva la revolucion.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Yup I prefer to earn TP flying somewhere new which is why I’ll probably never make use of this but I’ll be shooting for gold Within the first 4 months of my next tp year

          • Tesh sou says:

            Can’t quite reply to Roberto’s comment, so I’ll do it here.

            Your “Viva la revolucion” comment is the epitome of ignorance and an insult to all Cubans and Latin Americans who have suffered the consequences of Castro’s regime and his geopolitics over the last 50 years. Enjoy the country, by all means, but don’t for one second pretend you know anything about life in places like these, nor the intricacies of politics and impact on day to day life.

            Como latinoamericano que logró escapar espero que tu ignorancia cese en algun momento, y no escribas estupideces en foros como estos.

            T

          • Shoestring says:

            there were probably 2 revolutions, ie Fidel Castro’s and his brother Raoul’s

            ie the latter revolution is the one he means (perhaps)

          • Shoestring says:

            *Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz

          • Shoestring says:

            that damn tense

          • Shoestring says:

            to be fair, sounds like a natural bro we should welcome to the bosom

  2. OT: Looking to hire car with pickup/drop off at different airport in canada next month (same province), what are people’s experiences? Any good deals/websites/codes to check? Preferably with an additional driver though that wont be a deal breaker.

    thanks in advance

    • Use Canadian Affair, we used them when driving across Canada and they were excellent. Cheaper than going direct (they’re a middle man but have a good reputation).

      Also often waive the one-way fee depending on destinations.

      Hope that helps.

  3. After a couple of successful TP runs to HEL; I have for the first time reached BA Silver Status! Looking forward to the benefits compared to Bronze which I have had for the last two years.

    My collection year end in September. So Does that mean I will have Silver Status until September 2021? If on the extreme example where my TP gets reset in September this year; and I earn the 600 TP needed within the first month of resetting (in September 2020); will that mean I will have Silver status going until September 2022 or just 2021?

    I must say after following HfP since the start of last year, I have become slightly entranced (obsessed) with the points/mile game thanks to the advice of this forum I’m keen to maximise the system 🙂 The collection and TP cut off dates is confusing to me – so any help from more experienced BA status holders is appreciated

    • Assuming your collection year ends 8th September this year, you’ll be Silver until 31st October 2021.

      Your TP collection year runs 9th xxx to 8th xxx, and your status lasts until end of following month.

      • If I earn 600 TP after my TP resets in September 2020, so will get Silver for the rest of that year and another year?

        So – if by November 2020 I get 600 TP, I will have Silver until October 2022?

        • Yes. You get the status as soon as you earn it, and it lasts for the remainder of that year and the following year. The bit above about TP collection year and status year explains that. TP collection year always ends 8th of month, and status lasts until end of following month.
          But status best rewards people on economy flights. If you’re flying business it doesn’t add a lot. I guess the biggest thing is seat selection on long haul, but as Club Suites roll out this will matter less, the seat selection importance is magnified on BA because the Club World layout means seats vary greatly in privacy/access/storage, and upstairs on a 747 is a completely different experience to a run of the mill CW seat on a 777.
          I hope you went to Helsinki, and didn’t just turn around at the airport.

      • It follows that if you managed to achieve 600TP (and the 4 flights) on/after 9th Sept 21, this will be your 21-22 collection year, you’ll then be Silver until 31st October 23.
        BA status can be very generous if you time it right. You can gather TP only every other year whilst maintaining status if you can always cram the flights into the 7 week gap between the end of the TP year and the end of the status year. Not sure the value of this if you’re not flying enough to organically gain the TP.

        • Thanks for the confirmation – I do a lot of Short Haul travelling in Economy so I do value seat selection (which allows me to sit at far ahead on the plane as possible); lounge access and also the extra Avios.

          Helsinki was nice – I did a Saturday-Sunday Weekend break there and was nice so it wasn’t a B2B.

          • and to bag an exit seat, great bonus for huge no’s of status pax, who frequently travel in Y. Far prefer Y exit to J seat, if exit available.

  4. Robin Henagulph says:

    BA Club seat selection available at no cost 7 days before flight.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      If you are bronze? I thought it was T-24 otherwise.

      • Yes for bronze, however I’ve found a couple of times now that on a domestic connection our seats have been allocated well in advance of the travel dates (months) and once that’s happened, you can change them. I’ve no idea how or why this happens!

        • Also, the booking doesn’t have to be on that member’s account – any booking with a Bronze pax on it seems to be able to reserve seats 7 days in advance (according to my Easter booking which was made on my account but my Bronze OH is also travelling).

  5. It’s terrible grammar! In the title, please change “quicker” (comparative adjective) to “more quickly” or “faster” (comparative adverbs). “Quicker” is the comparative of “quick”, not of “quickly”. The comparative of “quickly” is “more quickly”. You need an adverb, not an adjective, to qualify a verb.

  6. This is not an offer that most people will be interested in taking up. If you can afford business class, you don’t need the benefits. You’re better off sticking with economy & paying for the extras like seat selection.

    • what about people who travel for work but their employer only pays for economy? by choosing flights that give the most TP they will get lounge access and other benefits that they would otherwise miss out on – or have to spend their own money for seat selection and lounge access because their travel policy will not cover those items.
      I do realise though that most of the readers here are earning points via credit cards and not travelling for work but some of us do travel for work with our employers paying.

    • I’d have to disagree with you there- my work doesn’t involve any air travel but as a migrant worker I make a number of Europe-Asia/Oz/USA flights each year to visit family, inevitably at the back of the plane. The benefits of having status are immeasurable- being able to find a lounge to sit before boarding, a shower, something to bite/drink and priority boarding/check-in all go towards making the journey much less stressful. Makes me work hard every year and strategising (thanks to HfP) to earn those TPs

    • Well this isn’t an offer as such it’s an advisory piece,

      And yes you are right if you fly in Club or F then you get lounges access. But you have to pay for seat selection (not in F).

      Now you might not be bothered about seats or extra baggage allowance but other people are and it can be a considerable costs so it can be cheaper to do a couple,of short haul trips to get the TPs to save on fees on later flights,

      My advice to people is to look at what the costs are of getting status against the benefits,

  7. Well for someone like me this works well.

    I travel long haul around 6 times a year almost exclusively in Y. At the beginning of my TP year every other year I pay for one business class flight on Qatar (~£1700 compared with £700 for Y), which gets me almost 2 years of silver with the lounge and seat selection benefits. I haven’t worked out if I actually get ‘value for money’ on my one luxury flight, but I do enjoy it!

    • I think this is a great strategy, I’ll definitely be doing the same once our travel dates are more flexible. I do like J or F in long haul, though, but don’t think it’s worth it for short haul, which is where Silver status would come in handy.

    • Lady London says:

      Do your benefits are costing you about £150 per flight. For the comfort I call that about even. Plus the gaming aspect of plotting and strategizing which is fun.

  8. If you have 2 parents with Silver status, would accompanying children be allowed in the lounge, or would they need their own status?! (Talking teenagers here, not cute babies who might win over the reception ladies!)

  9. I’m based in London for work but fly home to Singapore 2-3x a year. I often fly in Y though because cash fares are so cheap and I often can get it for £400+, sometimes even below that on Lufthansa/Air France.

    And because of the routing I tend to fly Star Alliance a bit more but getting Star Alliance Gold is a fair bit harder it seems. So to get BA Silver, my best bet will be finding a cheap cash fare for J, perhaps on Qatar, where I’ll get 140 x 4 = 560 which makes me just 40 points short for BA Silver. Am I getting this right? (Currentely have no status with BA)

    • You also need 4 BA flights (segments) as well for silver.

      • The flight segments can be on any of the following:

        BA operated + BA flight prefix
        BA operated + other flight prefix
        Other carrier operated + BA flight prefix
        IB operated + IB flight prefix

        • Thanks both. Seems like Stockholm – Singapore is consistently cheap on J, under £1,300…

          So I have a BA account but have never used it before (i.e 0 Avios). My year end for my Tier Points is the 8th Jan. Is it possible to email BA to have my account ‘deleted’ before creating a new one so I can strategise my dates better?

          • I am not sure if it’s possible to delete your account and then reapply. It’s not something I’ve ever thought necessary.
            I do know your year is set for life. BAEC will not change it.

  10. Any idea why, over this weekend, a lot of fares on ba.com are blacked out/not listed for some European routes for this March-April-May? Is this a common occurence as I haven’t seen this before?

    • Lady London says:

      Could it be that British Airways has somehow secured an advance copy of Virgin’s pricing for multi-segment routes like Newcastle-Amsterdam-Portland and is furiously taking £10 off every fare to match them before Virgin publishes their prices?

      Or, could it be BA has a sale?

  11. Slightly off topic here:

    I have the Amex Gold, of which I’ve hit the spent for the bonus points.

    Also have the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard, where I’ll hit the spent for the bonus points fairly soon.

    What other cards should I be looking to get now? For some reason I keep getting rejected for the IHG card…

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