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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.

  • Mikeact says:

    ‘Should British Airways Executive Club introduce Lifetime Silver status?’
    The point being ? Ridiculous.

  • Bernard says:

    The answer is the question: once a lifetime Silver what incentive do you have to keep flying BA enough to make it worth their while?
    (Clearly very little, which is why it will never happen so low down the cumulative tiers points distribution curve).
    For a look into the future, see what Delta Skymiles have done.
    Less competition means the direction of travel is going to be far harder to achieve tiers, not less, let alone lifetime Silver fantasy (which seems to also be a favourite of the children, fantasists and low self esteem braggers over on flyertalk if you do a quick google).
    So, it’s now more important thdd as n ever to head for points.

    • newbz says:

      Delta is a bit different though, because such a huge chunk of its profit is coming from Amex (that’s possible because cc fees in the US are not capped, unlike in Europe).

      • Mikeact says:

        And at least Delta listen to their members, having significantly backtracked this week after announcing major changes to their FFP.

        • Rob says:

          It’s still a sharp jump in what you need, and I’d be shocked if this isn’t a halfway house with the planned changes happening in 2026. At the end of the day they need to lose at least 50% of the people who can potentially get lounge access. Ignore the pics you see of queues – far more people don’t even bother trying.

    • dougzz99 says:

      What I find odd about this view and many like it is that it assumes the point of choosing an airline is to gain a status, rather than use the status you’ve gained. The incentive of continuing to use BA is that you have status with them.
      So many here seem to talk/think of status as something you seek to achieve rather than something you gain advantage from using.

  • MisterE says:

    FWIW, American Airlines has Lifetime Platinum which I got back in 2000 having first become an AAdvantage member in 1984. Most of my travel being on business to and within North America. As I recall, this needed 2,000,000 miles with no reference to prices paid etc. There were some years when we got double miles which made it even easier.

    The equates to One World Sapphire/BAEC Silver, with the key benefits noted above.

    As a now retired leisure traveller I really appreciate this, especially the free seat selection, which is valuable in old style CW Business Class. I can see why it might not be a priority for BA as noted above, but it certainly encourages me to stick with BA.

    In similar vein, I have Lifetime Titanium status with Marriott which is also very effective driving loyalty.

  • Firsttotheleft says:

    “ using the Galleries Club lounge versus Galleries First doesn’t make a major difference. Neither does using the First Wing versus standard Fast Track.”
    ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!

    • dougzz99 says:

      I always assume the person has not really compared the two on multiple occasions. Gold Wing can have issues, but mostly works well and delivers you directly to the First lounge. The First lounge may not be what people would like, but is markedly better than club.

      • LittleNick says:

        How is the first lounge better than club now given they have taken away seat/QR code food ordering, which distinguished it from GC as buffet food is pretty much identical? Don’t get me wrong first wing really is great on the limited occasions I have used it

    • Rob says:

      For someone who only flies 4-5 times per year in retirement …. no, no big difference.

      Anyway, if you use the ‘secret’ T5 fast track line at the far left you’re probably through quicker than First Wing. And 5B will have a live cooking station for fresh hot food by the end of the month which Galleries First hasn’t got, so you’ll have better food and a quieter lounge.

      • Harper says:

        What?!?! The far left ‘Fast Track’ is not secret at all. It’s been there 8 years now. And is advertised as ‘Fast Track’. Admittedly at the opposite end of T5 checkin. However, unlike the main ‘Fast Track’, it often mixes with non- ‘Fast Track’, often making it quite slow. As for the live cooking station at T5B, it’s a Scotch egg and a sausage roll. Literally. And a bit of salad. Give me an AF lounge with decent champagne and a piece of yummy quiche any day of the week. I was gold for 10 years +. Then moved to Star and SkyTeam. My conclusion, (I was blue in August, silver now, and will be gold again by December) is that OneWorld Emerald status IS useful, coupled with always buying biz on Star and SkyTeam in Europe. Win win, as there are few instances with Star and Skyteam that status trumps biz in Europe. (I can think of Senator lounges (though Amex fixes much of that), plus the lovely Gold lounge in Warsaw).

      • MisterE says:

        What’s the secret T5 fast track?

        • Chrisasaurus says:

          North security?

        • Rob says:

          There is a fast track security lane – on its own, not part of the main north security – at the far end of T5. Always deserted.

          • Andy says:

            Rob
            As somebody else has mentioned it is often fed from the non-fast track queue. I went through there last week and as I walked into the area ended up behind 15-20 people who were just arriving having been directed to that end from the normal queue.

      • Firsttotheleft says:

        Two words. Peasant screen.

  • Jack says:

    I think it is very likely that this is never going to happen as there would be little incentive each year for people to fly BA in order to retain silver status

  • Lady London says:

    Hum. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned yet that ‘Lifetime’ is only so long as the sponsoring entity or the programme lasts.

    How many people here still.have their hard earned British Midland Lifetime Status?

  • Farid says:

    I read an interesting comment frim business travellers website in 2013 when BA introduced Gfl :
    “Markxxx
    Posted on 10/09/2013
    The problem is, we’ve been here before and BA defaulted. They used to give lifetime Silver to people who had kept Gold for a certain number of years. Then they just took away the cards from those who had earned them and said that it had become too expensive. Why should we believe them this time?”

    I did not know there was Silver for life then!

    Rob,
    Are you paid by BA to test thw waters on what threshold would make sense for SfL?

  • Alan says:

    Realistically, if BA doesn’t want to lose passengers and have people spend their own money on the airline, it needs to stop treating its clients like they are an enemy when there is a problem. Invariably if you travel a lot you will encounter problems, and as soon as you do you will discover the true nastiness of the airline and its operations.

    • dougzz99 says:

      BA customer service is poor. But the real problem is which airline has decent CS?
      Shoddy, indifferent, misinformed and useless is the norm for CS in almost in all industries. Throw in overseas CS centres where they go cheap and the operators can’t speak English to a working standard, and you have the everyday norm for CS.

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