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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.

Comments (71)

  • TGLoyalty says:

    I would personally love to see lifetime Bronze or Silver added.

    I won’t stop flying BA or Oneworld on revenue flights because Gold doesn’t offer more than Silver (First Wing and 1st lounges are actually worth it). But it would mean at some point I wont need to worry about getting those last few TP if its been a high redemption or low travel year as silver is the bare minimum I’d wan’t to maintain.

  • ECR says:

    Whilst I would like Lifetime Silver, I don’t think it makes sense for BA as many people whilst still fly BA, as it will remove the pressure to make every flight a oneworld flight once that target is acheived, as Gold, although nice doesn’t offer all that much over Silver.

    The only circumstance where it might make sense for BA is if they were to increase Lifetime Gold to say 50,000 tier points (or 70,000 which is broadly in line with Qantas Lifetime Emerald), then introducing Lifetime Silver at say 30,000 (or even 35,000) would be small crumb to be thrown in the direction of those who were getting close to Lifetime Gold only to find the target moved.

    They could even do this in sneaky way by realigning the names of the tiers so that they matched Iberia (i.e. Silver=Ruby, Gold=Sapphire and Platinum=Emerald). They could then promote it as making Lifetime Gold easier to achieve at 30,000 tier points (but effectively reducing its worth).

    Lifetime Bronze (Ruby) would perhaps make sense to BA as it offers little (select a free seat a few days earlier and a few extra avios) so wouldn’t cost a great deal to BA, but might encourage people to fly BA/oneworld to hit the target and lock in a status for life.

  • AJA says:

    I support the idea of lifetime silver not that I am expecting it to happen. Instead of that however how about silver status for as long as you hold the BAPP Amex card? That would prevent churn which is what Amex have tried to do with the 2 year rule for bonus Avios and would make holding the BAPP over the free BA Amex really worthwhile.

    • Thom says:

      I like the logic of BAPP counting towards status. Granting silver might be a bit generous as it’d become a very cheap way to get lounge access and extra baggage when flying one world. Maybe it could grant bronze/ the equivalent of 300TP towards that years status (but not Lifetime) so effectively requiring BAPP holders to just earn 300TP to get silver.

      • AJA says:

        I like the compromise idea of Bronze status while you hold the card and reduced TP’s to get or maintain Silver. It would be very cheap to implement and it would give an incentive to the card holder as it would still require the holder to buy flights (using the card) to get to Silver. From BA’s perspective it doesn’t cost very much to offer Bronze status as that doesn’t give lounge access but is still a step up from nothing as it gives Business class check in, choice of seats from 7 days out and it would make attaining Silver easier for those while they hold the card.

  • Denise Sheard says:

    We have our own business In South Africa so pay for our own flights We have been silver carD members for the last 25 years If we had flown SAA We would now have lifetime gold membership But with BA we have only accumulated +- 20,000 points so have nothing Guess what we are now retired and have no loyalty to BA whatsoever We will fly club class on whichever airline is the cheapest These airlines usually have a far better club class as well Last year we bought Emirates first tickets cheaper than BA club

    • Peter K says:

      Basically you are saying that BA did it perfectly from a business point of view. They got your business for 25yrs but have no long term liability on their behalf.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    It’s many many years since i last paid for any flight on BA always use Avios (before that airmiles) 241 and Lloyds vouchers.
    don’t see the point of chasing status on BA, always been on bottom tier (blue i think lol) i book either 1st class or Business class (Or Club)
    I always have more than enough Avios to book wherever wanted to go
    My plan has always been 1st class day flight, Business Class night flight, Club Europe flights, my reasoning being why fly 1st if i’m asleep.
    Mind In the past always been able to accumulate heck of a lot of Avios (mostly from Daughters partner filling all his works vans up at Tesco with my Amex & my Clubcard)

  • Jason Lloyd says:

    I believe it would make far more sense as an achievable goal to reduce the Lifetime Gold requirement to 30,000 points. This would give a reachable target and an increased loyalty.

  • Gareth says:

    As you said life time silver is as good as lifetime gold in reality. As a 70000 pt lifetime gold member, it would add to my frustration, that lifetime gold gold is 23 years of gold membership , but life time gold guest list with all the redemption benefits is 33 years of GL renewal.

    Not part of this discussion but expect plenty of redemption available for years to come

  • Globetrotter says:

    Given the battle for travellers, IMHO it would be a good idea to:
    1) introduce Lifetime Silver at 20k / 25k to encourage spend pre and post retirement.
    AND
    2) to differentiate Lifetime Gold, increase those benefits eg reintroducing free redemption cancellations (perhaps for a 2 week cooling off period as a compromise?)