The British Airways Frequent Flyer scheme, Executive Club, is changing, adding a new tier status level.
The British Airways Frequent Flyer scheme, Executive Club, is changing, adding a new tier status level, but dramatically increasing the number of flights needed to attain that tier for customers in Europe.
The new tier is called 'Bronze'. To attain it, members need 300 Tier Points, including 2 eligible flights or 25 eligible flights. In effect it gives a miles bonus and allows passengers to select their seat on BA flights.
Bronze Executive Club cardholders gain:
- Access to Business class check in
- Seat selection on BA flights seven days ahead (instead of the current 24 hours at online check in).
- 25% mileage bonus for accumulating miles.
- Priority standby and waitlisting.
- Access to the Executive Club phone number.
The status level has oneworld Ruby status, meaning that passengers get equivalent perks on oneworld airlines. Also, it means that members in other schemes at Ruby will now be recognised at British Airways: a long standing gripe for many Qantas Silver cardholders was that BA did not acknowledge the Ruby level. There is of course no lounge access.
British Airways say that about 120,000 executive club members are expected to benefit from the change: a significant number of passengers for BA, which it would like to ensure continue to fly with BA.
There is also a change to earning period for Tier Points. Previously Tier Points reset to zero when you attained a new tier. From November 16th, the membership years are set at a year, and members will keep Tier Points until the end of a 12 month membership period. This is a significant change, for new members, and instead of requiring 2400 Tier Points (300+600+1500) from a standing start to attain Gold, members will now only need 1500 Tier Points.
Equally, members falling in status will see some benefits, with a Soft Landing each year from each status. This will be a real perk for any Silver members who do not achieve Silver status within their membership year, who will be downgraded to Bronze.
There is however a downside for British Airways Executive Club members living in Europe. Previously they benefitted from a very generous structure which allowed them to attain gold after just 800 Tier Points, as BA had previously tried to attract passengers in mainland Europe. No longer: levels will be set the same in every country from 1st March 2012.
- Bronze - 300 Tier Points, including 2 eligible flights or 25 eligible flights
- Silver - 600 Tier Points, including 4 eligible flights or 50 eligible flights
- Gold - 1,500 Tier Points, including 4 eligible flights
This is expected to have significant implications for passengers who have indulged in what frequent flyer forums term 'Eurocheating': in effect moving their address to Europe for six months out of every 12 to benefit from the lower tier levels.
There is however a sweetener for those who do genuinely live in mainland Europe. There is a very generous soft landing to the new levels, as the tier point level will remain at the old level until 2015.
Gold & Silver members can keep their existing Tier Point threshold (400/800 respectively) for the next two membership years, however they can't move up a tier at the thresholds. This means Gold members can hang on to Gold for an additional 2 years with the old 800 point level, so long as they are Gold on March 1st, attain 800 Tier Points, and don't change their address to the UK. The real winners of this are passengers who obtain Gold between now and March, as they could re-qualify three times at the old level.
So what does this mean for BA passengers based in Europe? Quite simply, it will be a lot harder to get status. At present, flying Club, you need one long-haul flight from LHR and its linking short haul flight, plus another flight to London, and you'll get Silver Status. Now, you'll need two long hauls, although some passengers argue that this change was well overdue.
|BA EC Tier Point Changes|
|Flights over 6000 miles are NRT, HND, EZE & SIN|
For members in the UK, it can however be seen as a positive benefit, with an easier to obtain Bronze level, and since the tier point no longer reset, there is more chance of getting Silver from a standing start.
There are other major changes on the way. In November, BA will increase the number of Tier Points awarded on long haul flights, increasing the gap with short-haul flights, and reflecting the extra cost of premium cabins long-haul. The increase isn't much, but on ultra-long haul flights to Singapore, Tokyo and Buenos Aires the increase is 30% in World Traveller Plus, taking tier points from 70 to 100. The limit has been set at 6000 miles for a flight to be regarded as ultra-long haul, which neatly just misses off the US west coast.
On Spanish Domestic flights the Tier Points will decrease, reflecting the low cost of some Iberian short hops.
Press Release: press.ba.com/?p=1948
Another change in the wings is a new brand for the Executive Club including a new look for customers' cards. There is speculation that the names of the tier levels will change. This is a particular bug-bear of some members, where status is sometimes not instantly recognised by other airlines. In particular the hard to obtain Gold level is often not acknowledged by American Airlines as giving lounge access: it is equivalent to AA's lowest tier.