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Why I think British Airways should reform the Gold Priority Reward

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VERY long-term readers of Head for Points may remember that, six 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.  

BA Gold

Three years ago I tried again.  No-one listened 🙂

I still think it is a good idea though and I want to flag it again.  British Airways got a new CEO last week and Sean Doyle may want to start with a positive change!

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.

Why does the Gold Priority Reward need changing?

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

The numbers therefore look substantially worse.

Let’s assume a family of four 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 makes no sense.  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.  We tend to use them to get seats on peak ski resort flights over February half term.

British Airways Gold Priority Reward

What’s your great idea?

Here is my suggestion – allow British Airways Executive Club Gold members to use Amex 2-4-1 companion vouchers with Gold Priority Rewards.

There are four 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 frequent flyer programme.  The benefit goes entirely to 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 easier to use for Gold members

If this change went through, a British Airways Gold member (travelling with a partner and a companion voucher) 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 to fly with BA.

Imagine, for example, the incentive a flyer would have to reach Gold status if they were planning to marry in 18 months and wanted to guarantee seats to the Maldives for the honeymoon. 

Similarly, 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 British Airways Executive Club programme but would have a disproportionate impact.


how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

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

Nectar American Express

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

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(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 (69)

  • Solitaire says:

    Agreed. Our household now gets BA Gold through CX and the odd QR flying, and we do a double MAN to get our 4 BA legs in. We only redeem on CX, would never redeem on BA because that means flying BA! Golds get little recognition, crew look at them as an inconvenience and people who haven’t paid for their own tickets and then resent them when flying using Avios (yes the crew know if you’re on a mileage ticket) as they didn’t use their money to obtain the Avios. No thanks.

    BA certainly needs to sort their priorities out. A third rate product, even worse customer service; they can change their hard product all they like but with a demotivated, disinterested workforce, poorly managed and poor attitude (It won’t change as it’s so bedded in to the core and heart of the airline) it’s simply a race to the bottom, the new CEO will probably speed it up.

    • Andrew says:

      Huh? You actively dislike BA and give them very little money yet still think they should reward you by making the gold priority reward more useful to you?

      • Mark says:

        It wouldn’t help anyone who doesn’t fly BA anyway, since you can only use a 2-4-1 (and the Gold Priority Reward?) on BA operated flights and Rob isn’t proposing that changes…

    • TP says:

      From my experience working at the airline very recently, your ticket price or type is absolutely not listed on the PIL at all? Not sure where you got this from.

      • Solitaire says:

        You are incorrect. I have seen many passenger lists (paper ones only – iPad lists don’t show the info except for cheap airport upgrades and invol upgrades) also very recently and consistent with many years gone by – there is a code, either RDUG or FTML (redemption upgrade/Frequent traveller mileage) which clearly denotes how the ticket was paid for in those circumstances only eg Avios. The list would not show what fare was paid for a full fare (it used to though with an asterisk denoting full F/J/Y buckets) The paper list (& ipad) also shows if a cheap airport upgrade has been purchased.

  • HM says:

    I thought about this a while back too but came to the conclusion that together, a GPR and a 241 effectively cancel one another out – this raises two main issues as I see it;

    1) Any GCH could guarantee themselves any seat for the usual Avios – there are plenty of GCHs around (+ friends & family) so I suspect this would seriously curb Avios availability for non-GCHs going forward.

    2) ‘GPR + 241 = Joker’ — As we know, Jokers are the exclusive preserve of GGLs so this would both lessen the exclusivity of GGL, and compound Avios capacity issues (although true Joker usage does, of course, have limitations).

    That being said, I would obviously love to be able to use these together, but I can very much understand why we can’t at present.

    Just my 2 Avios!

    HM

  • BS says:

    This would only work for the gold card holders who aren’t GGL. But it means they get what is basically the GGL joker benefit but have to pay avios for it. Seems sensible as to get gold you have to show commitment to BA, and the benefit of using 241 can only be used once a year due to requirements of getting 241. Also pushes spend through the BA Amex which I assume BA make money on.

  • Ian says:

    Sounds like a good idea to me. What would also be great is if Amex stopped penalising single travellers and instead of offering only a 2 for 1 voucher, it offered an alternative for single travellers of a voucher for half the normal Avios.

    • BSI1978 says:

      +10!

      • Andrew says:

        +100!

        Make it a 50% off voucher, for up to 2 pax – that way couples are the same as now, and solo travellers (or people with 1 kid rather than the requisite 2 and a second voucher) can benefit from this.

    • Lady London says:

      about b****y time.
      Lloyds got it right with their voucher.

      But then, you had to deal with Lloyds which could be a pain.

      I think now and next year with a lot of J and F seats empty (where F remains) is the time for BA to try this idea.

      Which 4-member family going to Dubai were you thinking of Rob? 🙂

  • oblong says:

    i guess it would have an impact on revenue though. I imagine seats are like gold dust during peak peak weeks (school holidays etc.) and if you have a load of golds nabbing the seats through redemptions, rather than someone paying top dollar, it ends up costing you a lot in revenue. Whether or not you value the ‘extra’ loyalty achieved through it is subjective – I imagine a significant proportion of golds don’t even know about the priority reward

  • Andrew says:

    The important question is how much incremental revenue would this earn for BA. How many people just short of gold would push just because of this extra benefit? People who are already gold members only become relevant to the discussion if they’re going to drop to silver but spend a bit more to retain the benefit.

    I’d argue the number of people who fall into that bracket is pretty small and even smaller if you exclude fliers who earn the majority of their status on company paid travel and thus don’t have a choice on how much they fly or with who.

  • J says:

    I’ve liked this idea when you’ve mentioned it before, my only question would be how would it affect certain unique flights e.g. flying to the host city of the superbowl/world cup final the day before. BA would be mad to get themselves into a situation where these seats could fill up so cheaply.

    • Lady London says:

      They could ringfence those seats with a new fare class.

      They already were doing something similar by making a different set of fare classes available to On Business award bookers.

      And they for sure already show available award seats of a more restricted set of fare classes, to Bronze members than to Gold members searching. How do I know this? 2 of us have each logged in and searched for award seats on the same date. Gold gets offered seats on flights and in classes on same day/route that are not showing as available to Bronze (and a different selection showing to Silver), all the time. Other things like membership length of time, status in earlier years if higher, tier/lifetime points also might be being taken into account to determine which fare class seats show available for avios. This, because 2 Bronzes also got shown different available seats at sane search/time.

      So protecting seats at Superbowl etc from being all taken up this, would be easy for BA.

      Although for next year or two BA might like the other poster’s idea of double cash ‘taxes’ as well as double avios, better.

      Nothing to stop BA running an extra plane on a lucrative route/date if demand is that high either.

      • Ben says:

        Additional reward availability for golds is a published benefit, isn’t it? These are ‘V’ class economy award seats (on the website, but not in the app, it even shows a message to say that addition seats have been made available as a gold member). There shouldn’t be any difference in availability between bronze and silver though, as far as I know, and certainly no differences between two bronzes – unless something odd is going on here or changes have been made that we don’t know about?

        • Jonathan says:

          There’s definitely no difference in availability for Blue, Silver & Bronze. The redemption fare classes are openly published (Z, U, P & X) with no restrictions on eligibility for members of BAEC or indeed any partners. The only extras as mentioned are the GGL jokers & Gold being able to get a V (revenue) bucket as a redemption.

        • Lady London says:

          Yup tested recently 2 Bronzes did not show same avios availability across flights same day same route.

          One had once been a Silver and the other much longerstanding membership, had been a Gold. Both Bronze, pc’s open sidebyside on the table, same search.

    • Yuff says:

      You have to book a GPR at least 30 days before so you can’t use it last minute to go to the superbowl etc

      • J says:

        You know the date/venue long in advance and can cancel for free if your team doesn’t make it.

  • Neil Donoghue says:

    Cracking idea this! Sort it out BA