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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.

Comments (69)

  • Silverbird says:

    There isn’t the commercial inclination on BA’s part to impliment this, and everything BA does is based on commercial improvement (which they do excel at as a business). The revenue generation on a flight is maximised continiously and in the first instance if there isn’t any Avios seats available it’s because they know at that moment in time they can generate more in commercial revenue rather than redemption. If the flight is particularly busy (or over peak periods/routes) and only the highest commercial fare classes are available in Economy for example (Y,B,H) which could be costed in the £K’s range, the last thing they would like to do is offer the Gold Priority Reward, and under this idea, will be further diluted from a revenue perspective if the pax is able to utilise an Amex voucher, and the business ultimately misses out on the commercial fare that seat could have brought in.
    There is cost benefit to the Exec member under the current proposition if for example only the higest fare classes are left available, but the per avios cost would need to be worked out for the flight in question on the day the member is wishing to redeem to determine if it is cheaper than the fare. In BA’s eyes this is a proposition to be listed as a benefit (to pad-out the Gold benefit list) but to only be utilised in minimal circumstances, thus maintaining the balance of revenue generation vs listed benefit.

    As other users have also commented it does massively detract the GGL joker proposition (which is already villified by the Revenue Management team at BA).
    Finally the argument around increasing the Gold member sentiment is not something that is a commercial priority to BA, either during Covid-times, or under normal circumstances due to the network monopoly ex-UK.

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Absolutely correct!

    • Ken says:

      +1

      It drives redemptions on seats easiest to sell at high price.
      Would it drive people to use BA more ? Why would it when Gold is easy to come by using Oneworld airlines.

  • e14 says:

    At least allow LSAGs on BACF (the hold co for the London City Fleet), if you want a real benefit, rather than one for certain folks that can’t plan / plan around school holidays.

  • Mike says:

    “Please revise GPR in a way that enriches me personally” Sorry Rob….this is for the fairies, like free domestic on RFS.

    BAEC is created as a one way street, to fill BA’s pockets with the con that the Member is the winner.

    • Rob says:

      Are we talking about the same scheme which lets you get Silver via one £1000 Qatar Airways return Business Class flight to Asia, which then lets you use the lounge, fast track security, priority boarding and have free seat selection on every £29 economy ticket you buy for the next 2 years? Just checking.

      • Doug M says:

        In normal times you need 600 so the 560 from this is not getting you silver. Then there’s the 4 x BA flights too, no?

  • Matt says:

    The bigger issue currently got GPR is that you can now be quoted ridiculous costs, because they go with the max avios+£1 to double for this. It was possible to get them to go off the old pricing, but who knows how long that will list. Strangely that option isn’t there for a 241.

    The new, low cash high avios pricing would be the death of GPR as a useful idea for short haul

  • Littlefish says:

    This idea has some merit but as it stands is likely too niche and not super-attractive to BAEC and BA.
    However, I could see the core idea flying as an annual promotion. Revenue flights in J struggle during August to certain more business-heavy destinations (IAH, JNB, etc) and I could see a promo to offer up GPR + 2f1 on selected long-haul routes. Limited to one per BAEC Household. Limited to restricted routes/dates.
    Whether AUH or DXB would fit the profile for Rob and family is another question.

    One extra wrinkle that might work for BAEC/BA would be running it as a promo takes away the need to hard-wire this to Golds and the GPR. It could simply be a BAEC:AMEX 2f1 double reward miles promo to Golds & Silvers (or even Bronzes too).

  • Mike P says:

    Huge potential devaluation of GGL were this to happen.

  • ECR says:

    I don’t think there is much in this for BA as it effectively would allow a BA Amex and Gold Card Holder to get the equivalent of a standard price avios flight on any flight whether there was avios availability or not. Flights without avios availability are presumably ones which they think they can sell the seats for cash, often at a very high price. Why would they want to give those up for avios?

    They probably don’t want to completely remove Gold Priorty Rewards but they have already reduced the value of them by applying them at the newish £1 RFS rates by default. (Rates for which the avios required have already increased since it was first introduced). I think if you complain you can still get the equivalent of the old RFS rate, but I imagine this option will be removed at some point.

    The only circumstances where I can see where it might be even vaguely worthwhile for BA to introduce what was suggested in the article would be if GPRs were restricted to Economy flights only, and then only at the lowest RFS rate (i.e. £1 short haul, £100/£150 etc long haul).