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Should British Airways Executive Club introduce Lifetime Silver status?

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One idea occasionally mooted by readers as a way of improving British Airways Executive Club (although, to be fair, the scheme is very competitive these days with the exception of its ‘taxes and charges’) is introducing Lifetime Silver status for long term members who hit a specific tier point target.

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 on top of the points.

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, say, 20,000 tier points?

Perhaps oddly, I’m not convinced.

The case AGAINST Lifetime Silver

I think the majority of people with Lifetime Gold would have been happy with Lifetime Silver instead. This is a problem for BA, because it doesn’t want people to ease off the throttle too early in their career.

For every person who spends a bit more in order to reach Lifetime Silver and who would never had a chance of getting Lifetime Gold, there will be someone else who has Lifetime Silver and no longer sees any benefit in pushing further.

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 in retirement – or during later working life for occasional business trips – using the Galleries Club lounge versus Galleries First doesn’t make a major difference. Neither does using the First Wing versus standard Fast Track.

If these people could hit Lifetime Silver at 20,000 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 may realise that throwing Gold Guest List status and Concorde Room cards at people who have never personally spent a penny with the airline counted for nothing. Their employers won’t let them fly now and they don’t spend on BA for leisure.

For the next few years, 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 facing a drop to Blue (where they will drop to due to limited BA flying post retirement, a job change, new company travel rules or redundancy) would jump to Lifetime 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 (77)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Iain Cottingham says:

    A few statistics from BA Exe flight path – joined in 1997, 783k miles flown equivalent to 3.2x to the moon, 65 days in the air, 54 cities visited, 32 countries visited. Lifetime tier points 23k. Not all of my travel was with BA.
    When my international travelling career first started, my employer had quite a generous travel policy – business flights, flexible tickets. However after the various economic downturns the travel policies became more draconian from a comfort and value of money perspective. Business class replaced by premium economy / economy. Long haul on a Saturday (cheaper) than a Sunday. After 23 years of weekly international travel I was completely knackered. I was in a fortunate position of taking early retirement in 2019. I could have kept of working with the carrot of achieving BA lifetime gold, but at what cost to my health? A lifetime silver would be nice for the semi-retired etc, perhaps a limitation of 10 flights per annum?

  • Steve Redding says:

    Interestingly, BA lifetime silver is something I have been advocating for, for a number of years, I actually wrote a letter to Willie Walsh about 4 years ago on this very subject but never received the courtesy of a response.

    In my opinion, BA lifetime gold is well out of the reach of everyone other than seasoned international travellers. 35,000 points equates to 23 years of continuous gold status (assuming the minimum requirement of 1,500 points per annum) I have been a BA exec club member since 1997 (25 years) and am now 57 years of old, During that time I have been lucky enough to fly countless times internationally on business (mostly to the USA) but have only accumulated 22,795 which averages out at just over 900 tier points per year. All things being equal I will be aiming to retire at the age of 65, so extrapolating the tier points earned to date to retirement will mean I would have accumulated circa 30,000 tier points which is 5,000 short, of lifetime gold status. So, after 33 years of loyal BA service I receive absolutely no recognition of my loyalty in previous years,

    My suggestion to Willie was to use the same formula to calculate the number of tier points to be offered lifetime silver. As you know silver status is achieved on reaching 600 points in a calendar year or in % terms 40% of that required to achieve gold. So instead of having to achieve 35,000 tier points, lifetime silver can be achieved on reaching 14,000 points or even your suggestion of 20,000.

    You are indeed correct in stating that the chief benefits of elevated status are :-
    1 seat choice at time of booking.
    2 Fast track security and check in
    3 Lounge access

    And that other than access to the 1st class lounge, full English v bacon roll etc the benefits airport side are not that different, however having got used to all these “benefits” for the best part of 25 years it is not something I am particularly happy to give up. Of course, on retirement I could chose to book club or first class tickets rather than economy or premium but it is all a question of means etc..

    I can see BA losing a valuable customer (if indeed they really care) if my choice of airline is based purely on price v benefits, recognition etc. Especially to the USA there are numerous airlines operating to all the major cities and with the introduction of a number of low cost / no frills carriers like Jet Blue competition is likely to get more intense.

    Regards

    Steve

    • Iain Cottingham says:

      Hi Steve, I totally agree with your comment / feedback. During our careers we have both invested significantly in BA to fly the flag for the UK. I always felt a certain amount of national loyalty to BA, especially employed by the number 1 brand in France, Orange. So there was an expectation to fly Air France which I resisted. So would be nice for that choice / loyalty to be recognised / rewarded – in retirement we won’t be travelling each week probably once a quarter so not a huge additional cost to BA by awarding lifetime Silver status.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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