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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 competitive by global standards) 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 British Airways, 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.

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-pandemic 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 as much as they did pre-2020 and they don’t spend on BA for leisure.

For the next few years, business class cabins are going to be filled more heavily with 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 which might convince the airline. If BA announced Lifetime Silver, it would result in an immediate status upgrade for many who lost status after the pandemic due to reduced flying, a job change, new company travel policies, retirement or redundancy.

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. Is there enough lounge capacity to cope with these people though?

Conclusion

If British Airways decides that, long term, it needs to target the premium leisure market over the business market to fill its premium cabins, there may some logic in launching Lifetime Silver status. Lifetime Gold will virtually never trouble anyone who pays their own way. Personally, I’m not convinced.


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Comments (126)

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

  • BJ says:

    No, the lounges are a disaster already!

    • Andrew J says:

      Agreed! We don’t want to encourage any more people in to the lounges. Or Priority boarding.

    • Sean says:

      Agreed. The F lounge is full of Gold card holders as those more important than they or those in F are in the Concorde. How about getting rid of GfL to thin the crowd out too?

      • Andrew J says:

        That’s the sole purpose of the BA F lounge though – for Gold/Emerald

  • BJ says:

    OT: ability to comment on IHG article today seems to be missing?

    • Rob says:

      Hmmm, will check. Been a few months since one mysteriously locked itself!

      • BJ says:

        Also Rob, somebody just commented in the forum they have not received emails for 3 days so may be wider issues with software at tge moment.

        • Rob says:

          No issues. Mailchimp unsubscribes people all the time – if your email server is down it gets a message saying your account no longer exists and you are wiped.

  • 1ATL says:

    I’d introduce it but push the achievement thresholds higher.

    Lifetime Silver for 30k tier points
    Lifetime Gold for 50k tier points

    Lifetime GGL I’d leave be at 100k tier points.

    That way you’re dangling sufficient carrot for those like minded enough to chase lifetime status. For the other 98% of members who realise they have no hope in hells chance of achieving such status then they can tick on my doing what they do.

    Given lounges these days are generally overcrowded extensions of the main departure lounge, I see (with a couple of exceptions) little value in using them, even when traveling on a Club ticket. They’re hardly an oasis of calm and exclusivity where I’d want to spend any amount of time…. and this probably feeds hand in hand with why Lifetime Silver probably won’t ever come into being.

  • Marcw says:

    Nope

  • JamesSmith says:

    Agree with the pros and cons. Challenge for BA is does such a move buy BA loyalty or OW loyalty more broadly, and the trade off between partner airlines as to who pays for the associated perks, and what switching behaviour it would drive toward and within BA & OW (ie will more people choose to credit flights to BA as a result vs another airline loyalty scheme).

    Key is the distribution of lifetime tier points, and the balance of people who are above the cut off already vs those that will be incentivised to up their tier points. My sense is that there are actually few people (outside this community) who would automatically qualify (and wouldn’t have otherwise based on their class of travel), so the impact on lounges would be minimal. Overall I think the analysis would show this as a clear win for BA.

  • a9504477 says:

    Fast-track security is an emerald rather than a saphire benefit, isn’t it?

    • SonicStar817 says:

      You do get it with Sapphire as well in some cases (where it is offered). LHR and LGW definitely.

      • a9504477 says:

        Yes, but not universally as the article suggests.

        • Andrew J says:

          Even in business class isn’t universally offered – it varies airport to airport. But where BA has opted in for business class, it tends to be offered to status economy too.

  • Can2 says:

    No it shouldn’t

  • Tom B says:

    Most of my work flights throughout Europe are with BA but I still put a load of personal and paid cabin upgrades for tier points through them as well to retain that silver (which makes the work economy flights significantly more tolerable). The current system works for them in my case. I also think too many people have status as it is. Silver should be difficult to get to IMO given all the fantastic benefits it offers.

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

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