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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)

  • The real John says:

    Earning a shiny card is not an “achievement”! The closest thing that could be described as an achievement is learning how to use travel tools to find convoluted routes to minimise your cost per TP.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      That’s half the fun of travelling for me. Using ITA to get some silly route that goes via Scarborough just to get an extra tier point or two 🙂

      Lucky enough to not have kids, so I don’t mind the hassle 🙂

  • mr_jetlag says:

    ironically due to the reduced TP requirements, lifetime gold is 25% harder to achieve for people doing the minimum leisure travel for gold qualification.

  • Catalan says:

    Whilst the appeal of earning LT Silver is attractive one can imagine the pressure this might put on the already over burdened lounges. No thanks!

  • Tom says:

    I find it odd that you want the gold reward tweaked, when you are gifted Gold status every year, but do not want lifetime Silver for others?

    Personally I think this would be really good.

    There is a massive difference between business checkin/Lounge and the first wing.

    Many with Silver will aspire to wanting Gold and the ability to use the First Wing again. If they have never used it, then maybe you are correct, but once tasted it is hard to accept less.

    Currently breakfast is rubbish in the business lounge, but far better in First for example.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Agree first wing is a far better experience. If only we could actually fly right now 🙁

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    Baggage is often overlooked here when having Status. We priced a return at Xmas using a LCC from Manchester, and to take our usual 3x32kg each was plus £400pp and that was only to 26Kg! People often ask us why we always transit via LHR…….. Baggage is often more than the ticket price if we didn’t!

  • R says:

    The discussion ignores the fact that the current generation of retired road warriors will have done a lot of their flying in the pre-TP era. I am pretty confident that none of my half dozen Concorde trips earned me any TP’s, and I was also doing a lot of F flying back then.

    • Mikeact says:

      Totally agree, I’m in the same position…spent a lot of money with BA over the years and no status nowadays to show for it. However, flying also with KLM gave me their Platinum for life for the last 10 years, which has been well worth having.

  • Supersub says:

    The best thing BA could do to encourage my “loyalty” would be to scrap the stupid seat selection fees in premium cabins.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      They do if you are actually loyal (to oneworld) ….

      • Peter K says:

        Good point.

      • ChrisC says:

        And Bronze is pretty easy to earn to get free seats within 7 days benefit.

        And if you aren’t obsessed about where you want to sit theres no need to pay them them

        And you could use the savings from not paying seat fees that to pay for flights to get you the TPs to get silver.

  • CapeCam says:

    Rob , as I am sitting on 26700 lifetime tier points I think it is a fantastic idea :).

    • C says:

      Many other airlines (eg, AA) offer lifetime status at lower levels as well. I actually think it’s a great customer loyalty draw. The greatest benefits of elite status for personal travel are priority checkin, preferred / advance seat assignment and, occasionally, extra baggage; those are what will keep me loyal to a BA or another full service airline over, say, EasyJet for short haul or [pre-Covid] Norwegian to the US. Lifetime Silver (even Bronze) locks in that business over a longer term, as well as the marginal business needed for me to get there.

      For reference, I was Gold for 11 consecutive years, now Silver. I am actually shifting eastbound long haul to Turkish where possible, and much of my more recent short haul travel is *A (better schedules for frequent destinations). Westbound is still BA/AA.

      • Ian Sheard says:

        I agree 100% I would remain loyal for the same reason Once retired we will still travel Club but not as frequently so will loose silver status I refuse to pay to choose a seat in club after being a loyal Silver customer for 25 years I haven’t flown any other airline that charges to choose a club seat After flying 2 club flights with Emirates, from Cape Town to UK, I will be on gold status Its a no brainer for me To move They also have a far better club class than BA. BA don’t deserve my loyalty