A few weeks back, I promised to take a look at Tier Point runs – which, alongside hotel mattress runs, are some of the more extreme lengths that people will go to secure elite status with a particular loyalty program.
As I was putting that article together, it struck me that I’ve never really taken a proper look at British Airways Tier Points on Tricks of the Trade as well as the different tiers within the British Airways Executive Club.
If you’re already familiar with all there is to know about the benefits of the different BA status levels, feel free to skip this article.
I actually found writing this piece a useful refresher!
What are Tier Points?
The first thing to get out of the way is that Tier Points are entirely separate to Avios (points) – the loyalty currency used by British Airways.
Earn enough Tier Points and you’ll be upgraded to the next elite status level for the remainder of your current membership year as well as the following year. Your membership year is calculated based on the date you joined the British Airways Executive Club.
How many Tier Points will I earn per flight?
The easiest way to work this out is by using the ‘Tier Point calculator‘ on the BA website. Simply plug in the airline, your departure/destination airports and current BA status level and it will produce something like this:
For economy tickets, the number of Tier Points you earn can vary considerably depending on the type of ticket that you book. Some short-haul flights can earn as little as five Tier Points each way.
On BA long-haul flights, broadly speaking you’ll earn:
- Economy – 20 to 70 Tier Points
- Premium Economy – 90 Tier Points
- Business – 140 Tier Points
- First – 210 Tier Points
This does vary. For example, flights that are considered ultra long-haul such as Buenos Aires, Sydney and Tokyo will earn larger amounts.
British Airways Executive Club – Elite status tiers
This is the entry-level tier. There aren’t really any Blue benefits to write home about except that joining the Club allows you to earn and redeem Avios.
Equivalent to oneworld Ruby status.
Requires: 300 Tier Points + 2 eligible flights*/25 eligible flights.
- Priority boarding
- Free seat selection 7 days before departure for yourself and other members of your travelling party. This is clearly an advantage over the usual 24 hours before booking available to Blue members/other travellers without status.
- Use of business class check-in areas regardless of your cabin of travel
- 25% bonus Avios on flights
*Eligible flights are:
- British Airways operated flights, including franchises and BA CityFlyer
- Flights operated by Iberia, included franchises, with an IB flight number
Avios reward flights do not count.
You can find a full list of Bronze benefits on this page of the BA website.
Equivalent to oneworld Sapphire status.
Requires: 600 Tier Points + 4 eligible flights or 50 eligible flights
- Lounge access
- Free seat selection at time of booking for yourself and of your travelling companions (excludes exit rows and Hand Baggage Only fares)
- Minimum allowance of two pieces of checked luggage at 32kg for all passengers on your booking, even when flying economy.
- Use of business class check-in areas regardless of your cabin of travel
- 50% bonus Avios on flights
You can find a full list of Silver status benefits on this page of the BA website.
Equivalent to oneworld Emerald status.
Requires: 1500 Tier Points + 4 eligible flights
- Extra Avios availability in economy
- Ability to book Gold Priority Rewards
- Access to First/business class lounges
- Free seat selection at time of booking for yourself and of your travelling companions (includes exit row seats but excludes Hand Baggage Only tickets)
- Minimum allowance of two pieces of checked luggage at 32kg for all passengers on your booking even in economy.
- 100% bonus Avios on flights
- Use of first or business class check-in areas regardless of your cabin of travel
- Use of the BA Elemis Spa facilities before your flight*, regardless of your cabin of travel
- Use of the BA Arrivals lounges after your flight* regardless of your cabin of travel
- Transfer Avios to other members for free (capped at 162,000 Avios per year).
In addition to the above benefits, there is a range of added extras that are ‘unlocked’ on hitting further Tier Point thresholds:
- 2,500 Tier Points – A Gold Upgrade for Two (GUF2) voucher. Allows you to upgrade a cash ticket to the next cabin for yourself and a companion.
- 3,500 Tier Points – Two Gold Upgrade for One vouchers.
- 5,000 Tier Points – A Concorde Room card and Gold Guest List membership. The Concorde Room card allows entry for you + a guest into the Concorde Room lounges at London Heathrow and New York JFK.
A full list of Gold status benefits can be found on this page of the BA website.
Gold Guest List
In truth, Gold Guest List (GGL) isn’t actually a standalone tier, but rather a sort of ‘Gold plus’.
Requires: 5,000 Tier Points to qualify initially. You then require a minimum of 3,000 Tier Points to requalify in subsequent years.
As well as all of the standard Gold benefits…
- Gift BA Silver status to two people and Gold status to one person
- No change/cancellation fees on any Avios bookings
- Hilton Diamond status
- 2 x Gold Guest List redemptions (or ‘Jokers’ in Flyertalk terms) – Each of these allow you to force open Avios availability for up to five people in any cabin. These tickets utilise regular revenue availability.
- Concorde Room card for those who hit 5,000 Tier Points in their membership year. (Note: members who requalify at 3,000 Tier Points will not receive one).
Further rewards are available upon passing 6,000, 7,000, 8,000 and 9,000 Tier Points respectively.
You can find more info on Gold Guest List membership via this excellent guide on Flyertalk.
Any other key bits?
On logging into your BA account, you’ll notice a Tier Points total as well as a section for Lifetime Tier Points. For the most part, the lifetime total doesn’t matter too much.
There are two exceptions:
- At 35,000 Lifetime Tier Points, you’ll earn Gold for Life or Lifetime Gold status. This means that you will retain Gold status each year and all of the associated benefits, irrespective of whether you reach 1500 Tier Points or not.
- At 100,000 Lifetime Tier Points, you’ll earn Gold Guest List for Life status. As with Lifetime Gold status, this means you no longer need to maintain at least 3,000 Tier Points each year. Gold Guest List for Life status also comes with a Concorde Room card.
Keep your status during maternity/paternity leave
Back in 2017, BA revealed an enhancement (a genuine one that is) for new parents, to ensure taking maternity/paternity leave needn’t mean dropping down the status ladder.
It allows members to put their account on hold for a year, protecting hard-earned Executive Club Bronze, Silver or Gold status.
To qualify, members just need to provide a letter from their doctor, a birth certificate or documentation relating to the adoption or paternity leave and email it to email@example.com, along with their Executive Club membership name and number.
As a further bonus, if you use this benefit, BA will award 1,000 bonus Avios to your new addition when you add them to your Household Account.
Is it worth chasing (BA) elite status?
Some people don’t get to make that choice. Their work travel patterns dictate that they spend a large part of their working week up in the air.
While perhaps unavoidable, if you find yourself in such a situation it does make sense to at least pick one frequent flyer program and stick to it where possible – allowing you to build up a high level of elite status over time.
For others, it’s entirely subjective. It will largely depend on the value you attach to the benefits of the next tier and whether you are able to access those perks via other means or not.
Here’s a couple of examples where it might make sense:
1.) You fly a lot of short-haul economy trips (work or otherwise)
If that’s the case, lounge access and the ability to select your seats at the time of booking would be valuable benefits. Valuable enough to make you think about pushing to reach BA Silver status.
2.) You want to redeem Avios around peak periods where availability is scarce
If so, the extra economy seats available to Gold members or the option of booking a Gold Priority Reward would be very useful.
The bottom line is that cost has to be a major factor. You may decide that Gold status would be beneficial for you, but if you’re sitting on 1100 Tier Points and those remaining 400 Tier Points are still some way off, earning them is likely to cost you a substantial amount.
And that’s why Tier Point Runs, which in essence, look to bring in the highest number of Tier Points at the lowest possible cost, can be so enticing. More on that to come…
What’s your approach to tier points and BA elite status?
Header image credit: Stuart Bailey / British Airways