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Should British Airways Executive Club introduce Lifetime Silver status?

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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 Executive Club status cards

British Airways already has Lifetime Gold status

This HfP article explains how Lifetime Gold status in British Airways Executive Club works.

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.

Can I get into a British Airways lounge with a Silver card?

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.

Conclusion

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.


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Comments (71)

  • Stuart Evans says:

    As a ‘Road Warrior Emeritus’, I did most of my flying transatlantic and generally credited to American Airlines. As a result, I have Lifetime Platinum, which translates (via One World) to BA Lifetime Silver. This doesn’t really matter for long haul (where I always fly in a Premium cabin). But its quite useful for short haul economy flights either in/around Europe or further afield like Qantas in Australia. Not so useful in the US, where Lifetime Platinum doesn’t give you lounge access, although has other useful benefits

    Just another data point and option

  • lumma says:

    I’ve always felt that there should be some sort of use for lifetime tier points other than the unachievable for most lifetime gold, just to give yourself something to shoot for. Maybe once you hit 4x the usual qualifying level, you can have status for a year when you wouldn’t usually qualify.

  • Erico1875 says:

    Surely a lot of travelers would earn this Lifetime Silver flying cheap ex EU Qatar to Asia, so not really benefitting BA at all

  • Lumma says:

    36 ex EU Qatar returns is still some going and will still cost over £40k

    • Nick says:

      … none of which goes to BA.

      • Paul Pogba says:

        BA will receive something from Qatar to cover the cost of awarding the tier points, Qatar will also be buying Avios from IAG while the member will usually be adding to IAGs cash flow by toping up their avios balance with credit cards and other points earnings.

      • Lumma says:

        Someone above said that you could get lifetime silver this way if BA took this system up. I was pointing out how unlikely that someone would do it this way.

        It’s not like doing one QR flight to get almost 3 years of status (2 silver, 1 bronze)

  • Paul Pogba says:

    If defence of the idea, Qantas offer life time Silver (ruby) at 7,000 tier points, gold (sapphire) at 14,000 and platinum (emerald) at 75,000. For context economy London to Vancouver earns you 30 points each way.

    • The real John says:

      Better context would be how many QR J returns SYD-DOH-Europe are needed!

  • Kevin says:

    There are also reports of some people achieving Gold Guest List for Life (100k) and their CCR card despite never having achieved the required 5k annual target. Now that takes some doing.

    If LTG requires 23 years of earning 1,500TPs a year, then an equal calculation for LTS would be around 14,000TPs. Earning 15k TPs would still be a hefty achievement for some over a lifetime.
    And why stop there… let’s have LTB for 7k.

    But, the real winner… lifetime blue for all. Zero TPs required. 🤣

  • Andrew says:

    It seems from your article that you’re saying having a gold card over a silver card generally is pointless – in retirement or otherwise. And yet many people on here chase it. You did also miss out that you earn more Avios as gold over silver.

  • Andrew says:

    Someone who has travelled a lot in their career is likely to be someone who has a comfortable retirement and therefore very unlikely to fly economy anyway, nipping around Europe or the world in Club. So a silver card is only giving seat selection and extra Avios – lounge, fast track, priority boarding they get anyway in Club. At least gold upgrades your Club experience with Galleries First and Wing (and we all know how bad Galleries Club is – anything not to have to sit in there!)

    • Lumma says:

      If you had lifetime silver or gold, why would you pay the significant extra for club Europe? Empty middle seat and a mediocre meal over saving a couple of hundred and selecting the exit row?

      • Andrew says:

        And yet people still do. My parents would not sit on a bank of 3 seats with a stranger and have to wait for buy on board to come past to buy a drink. I think when you get to a certain age and standing in life you pay a little extra for a bit more comfort however minor that might be. And the difference between club and traveller is often quite slim, especially when you factor in the luggage cost.

        • Mikeact says:

          Sounds like me and my wife !

        • Polly says:

          Comfort. Ease of movement, J check in reasons to chase and maintain silver. But on SH we would do Y choosing exit row. Having eaten in Galleries even if the choice is not great.
          Also intra Asia on MAS Y useful avoiding the v long queues there.

        • Rob says:

          Once you get past a certain point in life, money doesn’t really matter much. As long as you know you’re going to be OK, the only issue is either leave another £200 to the kids or get a bit of comfort on this flight. Any sensible person, and indeed their kids, would choose the latter.

      • cinereus says:

        Because so many people in this hobby chase status rather than real world benefits.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Those seat reservation fees do mount up, especially on LH.