Let’s talk travel perks a little. There are lots of frequent traveller programmes out there and I will shortly publish another post about all the programmes I use. But for now, I want to focus on the loyalty programme of British Airways. And the question whether or not the British Airways Executive Club is worth signing up for.
If you are a regular to my blog, you are probably well aware, that I have Silver Status in the British Airways Executive Club, the BA frequent traveller programme. But what does this mean? And how did I get there?
Let me talk you through the different levels of BA Executive Club and the perks and benefits that come with each level. So that you can decide for yourself, whether the British Airways Executive Club is worth signing up for or not.
But before we dig in any deeper, let me make one thing very clear here: This is not a sponsored post. I did not receive any incentive writing about British Airways and their loyalty programme. I am simply sharing my experiences and opinions about the BA Executive Club. I do not receive any commission if you decide to join. But equally, I am not offended, if you decide that for you the British Airways Executive Club isn’t worth signing up for.
Shall we start with the good news? The BA Executive Club is completely free to join. Even if you only fly once in a blue moon, you can join and collect points. However, you might not get very far with them, unless you reach a certain amount of points. But I am getting ahead of myself here.
How do I collect points with the British Airways Executive Club?
You collect points for booking flights and / or holiday deals through British Airways. And there are two types of points to collect: Avios Points and Tier Points. But which is which and what do they do?
BA Executive Club: Avios Points
The first type of points you collect in the British Airways Executive Club is called ‘Avios Points’.
Avios points can be used to book reward flights. Or upgrade flights. Or shop in the BA shop (to be honest, that is something I have never done).
And since British Airways stopped catering on short-haul flights, you can also use your Avios points to purchase snacks and drinks during the flight.
Even if you only fly once in a blue moon, this might still make the British Airways Executive Club worth signing up for. If nothing else, at least you can get your G&T for free, using your Avios points.
The amount of Avios points you receive for each flight depends on the type of ticket you have booked, the Executive Club level you currently hold, as well as the travel distance. So, the longer the flight and the higher your ticket class, the more points you get.
Especially when flying long-haul, these points can add up quite quickly and you might be able to get a free flight every now and then. You can get a return flight from London to Frankfurt for as little as 8000 Avios points.
In my case, this usually means that I collect the points throughout the year and Mr T gets to spend them for his flights. Why? We’ll come to this later.
But British Airways isn’t the only place for you to collect Avios points. There are partners, that also offer Avios points. For example, I also collect Avios points with my Lloyds credit card (and these are automatically transferred to my British Airways account every month).
BA Executive Club: Tier Points
The second type of points you collect with your British Airways Executive Club is called ‘Tier Points’. These are the points you need to move up the ranks in the Executive Club hierarchy.
The Tier Points are only worth it, if you fly a lot. Otherwise you won’t really get any benefits out of them.
Unlike Avios Points (that are valid for 36 months and won’t expire if you have spent or earned any more Avios points within that time), Tier Points reset once a year. So, you’ll need a lot of Tier Points in as little as twelve months to move up the ranks. And then in every subsequent year to keep the level.
There is a thing called ‘Lifetime Tier Points’, which keeps adding your Tier Points for as long as you are a member of the British Airways Executive Club. However, these do not have any influence on your current Tier level. These are just there for one specific purpose. To reach the ultimate goal of every BA Executive Club member. The one reason that makes the British Airways Executive Club well worth signing up for: A Lifetime Gold Membership. The holy grail of flying so to speak. I mean, a girl can dream, can’t she?
Unfortunately, this is the moment reality kicks in and hits me really hard. Unless I start flying long-haul and business class (or even better first class) very quickly, reaching the Lifetime Gold Membership is even less likely than hitting the jackpot in the National Lottery (and I don’t even play, that probably tells you just how likely this is).
I am not shy to admit, I very much envy those people with the Lifetime Gold Membership. I’ve only ever met one (knowingly at least), during my disastrous flight from Paris to London, where I first got upgraded to business class, but then got stuck at Paris Orly for the best part of 24 hours.
Back in the good old days, it was a lot easier to reach the next level, as you received a lot more Tier points per flight. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, British Airways updated the Tier structure and as a result you need a few more flights to move up the ranks.
The British Airways Executive Club Tier Structure
Tier Level Blue
This is the entry level, straight after you’ve signed up to the BA Executive Programme. It does not have any perks whatsoever, other than enabling you to collect Avios points.
Tier Level Bronze
A little better, but still not worth an awful lot. You need 300 Tier points or 25 completed flights within 12 months to reach Bronze Level.
Once reached, you can choose your seat for free, up to 7 days in advance.
Being bronze level also means that you have Priority boarding in Group 3. And last but not least, you get 25% extra Avios as a bonus for all your flights. Which means you can get free reward flights a little faster.
But I’m afraid that is pretty much it.
British Airways Tier Level Silver
This is where the British Airways Executive Club really becomes worth signing up for. As a Silver Member you get access to the British Airways lounges whenever you fly with British Airways or another member of the One World group (for example American Airlines or Iberia).
Reaching Silver Level made the big difference for me. Having the freedom of accessing the British Airways lounge before boarding a flight is absolutely priceless. Especially when returning from business trips. As more often than not I have quite some time to kill at the airport. And rather than sitting at a restaurant or coffee shop for six hours (been there, don’t that. Not much fun), accessing a lounge makes the wait so much more bearable.
So how do you reach Silver Level? Well, this is the tricky bit. You will need to complete 50 flights within one year. Or reach 600 Tier points. With Tier points starting at as little as 5 Tier points per short-haul flight (if you booked your ticket early and secured yourself a cheap flight), the 600 points can be rather difficult.
For the last four years I managed to reach those 50 flights in order to re-new my silver status. But with me switching to frequent train travels between London and Paris in recent months, chances are that I will not be able to maintain my silver status for much longer.
But access to the British Airways lounge isn’t the only benefit of having silver status.
As a silver member you can choose your seat for free right from the start when booking your flight. In addition, you can use the fast track security and priority bag drop. And you have priority boarding in Group 2.
When it comes to collecting Avios, being a British Airways Executive Club Silver Member gives you an extra 50% on top of your Avios.
But that’s not all. As a silver member you get a higher luggage allowance of two suitcases per person with a maximum weight of 32 kg per bag. And should things go wrong, silver members get priority over bronze and blue members on waiting lists and re-bookings.
BA Executive Club Tier Level Gold
The step from Silver to Gold Level is quite a steep one. Where silver level is just about doable when flying mainly short haul, reaching Gold Level becomes a little trickier (well, a lot really). As you need a whopping 1500 Tier points (which could be in the excess of 150 short-haul flights and more, if flying economy only). Gold Level access is really only for those flying long-haul on higher travel classes.
But if you are one of the lucky ones to reach Gold Level, this gives you access to the First Lounges and Spas, plus access to the dedicated first-class checking desks. Being a Gold Member means you are the first to board as Group 1, even when flying Economy. You will get 100% bonus Avios points for all your bookings.
Gold Membership for Life
As mentioned before, your Tier points will re-set each year, but they will still count towards your Lifetime Tier Points. If you travel a lot over a long period of time, you might one day be able to reach 35.000 Lifetime Tier Points. Which will give you a Gold Membership for Life. At this moment in time, I have 2.715 Lifetime Tier Points. If I kept up with 600 points a year, I would only have another 54 years to fly before I eventually reach my Gold Membership for Life. Probably not the most likely scenario. Show of hand please for any volunteers willing to pay for business class upgrades to help me reach this goal a little faster? No one? Thought so.
So, now that you know which benefits wait for each Tier Level, you can obviously decide for yourself, if the British Airways Executive Club is worth signing up for or not. For me, it definitely was worth it. And even Mr T has signed up for the Executive Club. Although he doesn’t travel a lot and is still (and probably always will be) Tier Blue. But since we’ve merged our two memberships into one household account, we pool our Avios points and he uses my accumulated points for reward flights. Which makes more sense than me using the free flights. Since I am always in need of enough flights to keep my silver status.
When travelling together, me being silver status means Mr T gets to share some of the perks. If on the same booking, he will also be Group 2 for boarding and I can choose his seat at time of booking. And (regardless of whether he is on the same booking or not) I can take him as a guest through fast track security and into the lounge.
My BA Executive Club membership will re-set in June. To retain my silver status, I would need to take another 22 BA flights until then. Which unfortunately is rather unlikely. So, I guess it will soon be time to say goodbye to my travel perks and most of all, my cherished access to the British Airways lounges. To cushion the fall a little, at least I will still have enough Tier points to stay bronze member. If nothing else, at least that means I can still choose my seat for free. And thanks to my frequent Eurostar travels between London and Paris, I now have access to the Eurostar lounge instead.
So, tell me. Are you a member of the Executive Club? Do you consider the British Airways Executive Club worth signing up for?