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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.

  • Richard Smith says:

    The analysis of people who travelled extensively in their careers and are now funding their own travel is absolutely spot on in terms of what we (I am one of them) are looking for”

  • dougzz99 says:

    I think Silver is too easily achieved. 600 TP really isn’t a lot. On an annual basis you achieve Silver at 40% of Gold, so at current levels would a reasonable threshold for lifetime Silver not be 14K TP?
    Given what Silver get you over Bronze, yet what Gold gets you over Silver the annual targets seem pretty skewed, with Silver the absolute sweet-spot.
    None of this will matter when TP follow Avios down the £ route rather than per flight.

    • Chris W says:

      I agree. Especially with the BA Holidays double TP promotion that’s gone on for years now, Silver is too easy to earn

    • Harry T says:

      Agreed, silver is easy to attain even for casuals.

      • AJA says:

        Silver is only easy to attain if you consistently travel in Club or currently take advantage of the BA Holidays offer. It still takes at least 4 flights to achieve status. Outside of the BAH offer Silver still requires you to do 2 longhaul return trips in CW plus one shorthaul one-way flight in CE or 15 one way flights in CE to 40TP destinations.

        The thing is that if you do travel in Club you already get the dedicated check in, fast track security and lounge access where offered.

        Therefore the only tangible benefits of Silver are free seat choice at time of booking and an extra Avios per £ spent over Bronze status.

        Personally I think BA have set the level correctly.

        On the subject of lifetime Silver even at 15000 TP that would not be huge numbers.

        Rather than Lifetime Silver I’d like it if you got permanent Bronze status with the BAPP card and only needed to earn 320TP on top to get Silver. Or earned Silver status when you spend £13k on the card in your card year. That would incentivise people to continue spending on the BAPP card beyond the £10k to get the companion voucher.

        • dougzz99 says:

          I’m not aware of another OW program where Silver equivalent is so easily achieved. Silver off a spend of £13K, or +320TP, I think that’s pure fantasy.

          • AJA says:

            I agree. That was wishlist talking. And as likely as BA offering Lifetime Silver. I’m not expecting either my wishlist or Silver For Life to happen any time soon.

        • Points Hound says:

          @AJA – “Silver is only easy to attain if you consistently travel in Club or currently take advantage of the BA Holidays offer”.

          Utter nonsense. Fly BA from the regions to London weekly for business and you can get silver flying nothing but economy, so it is very easy to obtain for many.

          • Chrisasaurus says:

            Well now – “easy” is relative and that’s a fair number of flights still, certainly far above the average number flown across the customer base

    • Jack says:

      It is not easily achieved whatsoever and requires a lot of traveling and spend to earn . Only those who fly often in business can afford it same with the BA double tier points offer . I am fed up of people saying status is easy to earn it isn’t at all

      • dougzz99 says:

        It is easily earned in context. This is a frequent flyer program, frequent! You can’t expect to fly once or twice a year in economy or premium and have a worthwhile status. In context and with relevance to other FF programs BA silver is easily earned.
        An Asia return on Qatar in business is 90% of the way to Silver, that’s not much flying for a decent status.

      • marcw says:

        It’s fairly easy if you have a strategy. If you have no strategy, then it’s not.

  • Andrew Barker says:

    Speaking as someone who recently got GfL but all through leisure travel through the years and have also been GL for the last few and will indeed have now till July 25, I would say I have little or no incentive to continue my loyalty to BA now. Once the double tier points for holidays disappear I will not continue to achieve the 3000 TP needed. Therefore i would suggest BA offer GfL the opportunity to get GL at 1500 TP as i would achieve this and it would cement my continued loyalty to BA.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Not sure I follow though – you would fly on another airline without status despite being gold with BA? Why ever did you want status if that’s the case?

      (Or do you have status elsewhere too in which case I think this is something of an edge case)

  • James says:

    Interesting the point about business class being filled with more leisure travellers on attractive deals. Post Covid I’ve been really struggling to find anything I could say was realistic for me to pay.
    Those Qatar days were truly amazing. Even then I appreciated it but now the idea of flying ex-uk to Phuket for under 1k in business return seems pie in the sky.

    It would be nice to see some £1500 deals out of Europe maybe.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Two years of mammoth inflation and even your £1k flight already costs £1.2k now anyway

  • Bernard says:

    Silver for life demands are like people who think they’re ’entitled’ to upgrades. Never ceases but good commercial reasons why it will never happen.

    The tide is running the other way from what I’ve heard from those close to things. Full lounges and lost seat booking money from too many ‘lite’ silvers and golds may mean benefits like seat allocation are cut back.
    I heard that they’re also looking at whether some card holders are abusing their privileges by trading avios for lounge guesting.

    • Tom says:

      As others have said, this is a partly self-inflicted wound in BA’s case. Silver was already possibly the easiest oneworld Sapphire status to earn (pre-COVID it could still be done with one QR business trip to Asia and one BA round trip within Europe, that’s hardly rewarding your frequent flyers!). Piling the double TPs offer on top after repeated extensions was asking for trouble. I agree with those who suggest Silver should be moved upwards to 750 TPs anyway.

      I agree Lifetime Silver is probably not in BA’s interests (speaking as someone with about 20K TPs who would probably be given it).

    • dougzz99 says:

      Not sure who’s demanding Silver. I thought it was a general discussion. Silver for life will only become a thing if BA think it benefits them, they’re not doing anyone favours.

  • RK says:

    As a leisure traveller, I disagree vehemently.
    Silver is not easy to attain out of your own funds.
    It is a minority group here with frequent travelling.. you need to think about the bigger picture as a whole.

    • dougzz99 says:

      As per my post above. Silver is a decent status. How little flying/GBP would you see as reasonable for a status that offers fast track, seat selection, lounge access etc.?

  • Lady London says:

    All I’m seeing is schemes doing is making it harder to earn an amount that can be counted for any benefit at all. Whilst the benefits on offer in not just the midrange, but also now affecting the upper end of midrange, are being lessened, require hugely more points than they used to, or the benefits being taken away completely.

    The only improvements in benefit provision are at the top end and the only improvements in earnings relative to how much of what has to be done to earn, are also at the top end only. Such as Lufthansa’s First Class only lounge, and the only gainers on BA’s earnings chart being the very top end of spend anf everyone else loses.

    So the middle is being cleared out, and is no longer being incentivised. Airlines, and hotel chain policies (with less success) will revert to 30+ years ago when benefits were enjoyed by far fewer.

    Data available lets them analyse and choose segmentation much more finely than all that time ago.

    Meanwhile as Rob says, – apart from big spenders, and you will often note better benefits only offered in markets where there is high growth in numbers of people with high disposable income eg China and Middle East for those – apart from those, airlines and, where they can, hotel groups, are still fighting over the pool of corporates whose aggregate spend is attractive. What happens to that pool – returned growth, static or decline – is unclear yet but for now they’re hanging on, keeping earnings and benefits high.

    The rest of you can go hang and this is probably a correct strategy.

  • QFFlyer says:

    I think BA LTG is reasonably achievable. LTS would be nice, but (in my mind, once I get to retirement) if I were only flying once or twice a year, it would be J/F, any more and I’d have Silver (or OWS) anyway.

    Moot point as QF Lifetime Gold will only take me a couple more years, and the bar for Lifetime Platinum is so laughably high, at 75,000 SCs, that it’ll never happen, so I’ll resolve myself to waving goodbye to First lounges eventually.

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