I ran an article yesterday explaining why I think British Airways should change the Gold Priority Reward.
A reader got in touch to say that a more useful change would be to introduce Lifetime Silver status for long term members of British Airways Executive Club.
Whilst this sounds sensible, I am not totally convinced. Let me explain why.
British Airways already has Lifetime Gold status
To give credit to BA it is very simple. You need to earn 35,000 tier points. That’s it.
There are no restrictions on where those points come from (BA or partners). Unlike some ‘lifetime’ schemes, there are no restrictions on how many years of Gold, or even consecutive years of Gold, you need to have as well. Hit 35,000 tier points and Lifetime Gold is yours.
Is it worth introducing Lifetime Silver?
If British Airways is happy to give out Lifetime Gold for 35,000 tier points, surely it would make sense to introduce Lifetime Silver at 20,000 or 25,000 tier points?
Perhaps oddly, I’m not convinced.
The case AGAINST Lifetime Silver
Travel generally increases, rather than decreases, as people move up the career ladder. Anyone with a chance of Lifetime Gold will be knocking up 1,500 annual tier points for annual Gold easily. Lifetime status, for many, will only have value two years post retirement when their Gold status naturally expires.
For someone travelling 4-5 times per year in retirement on their own money, they are looking for the following benefits:
- lounge access
- free seat selection
- fast track security and check-in
Lifetime Silver would provide all this, if it was on offer. Lifetime Gold doesn’t provide much on top. For the sake of a handful of flights per year, using the Galleries Club lounge versus Galleries First doesn’t make a major difference. Neither does using the First Wing versus standard Fast Track.
I know that the lure of Lifetime Gold encourages people to keep pushing money towards British Airways.
If these people could hit Lifetime Silver at 20,000 or 25,000 tier points, how many would stop there? Quite a lot, which is bad news for BA. The effort required to earn the extra 10,000 to 15,000 points may not be worth the reward.
The case FOR Lifetime Silver
Of course, this could be outweighed. There will be other people who – if on, say, 15,000 lifetime tier points to date – might start pushing money towards British Airways because Lifetime Silver is achievable, in a way that Lifetime Gold is not.
This isn’t really the British Airways way, however. It has been happy to add extra tiers at the top – Gold Guest List, Concorde Room cards etc – to butter up passengers who, oddly, may never have spent 1p of their personal money on BA in their life.
In the new post-corona world, BA is about to realise that throwing Gold Guest List status and Concorde Room cards at these people counted for nothing. Their employers won’t let them fly and they don’t spend on BA for leisure.
For the next few years, the business class cabins are going to be filled primarily by leisure travellers on attractive deals. Dangling the carrot of Lifetime Silver may persuade some leisure travellers who are nearing 20,000 tier points to book these cabins for the tier points. In reality, I doubt it would move the needle enough.
However …. there is another angle. If BA suddenly announced Lifetime Silver, it would result in an immediate status upgrade for many. A lot of people would jump from Blue (where they had dropped to due to limited BA flying post retirement or redundancy) to Silver.
Having meaningful status again may encourage these people to put leisure spend to British Airways which may otherwise have gone elsewhere. The older you get, the more the benefits of an easy status-led journey through the airport appeal.
If British Airways does make a dramatic tilt to targetting the premium leisure market over the business market, there may some logic in launching Lifetime Silver status. Personally, I’m not convinced.