Rumored Changes to the British Airways Elite Program

Sep 3, 2011

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There have been a lot of  changes to the British Airways program announced this week, some good, some bad and a lot to be determined. While they’ve stressed that the elite program is going to stay in tact, they’ve been mum on the exact details of elite status under the new “Avios” program. On Flyertalk, the BA rep had dodged the question directly several times, so it’s clear that the details are not yet finalized.

I received a tip from a reader “in the know with BA execs” that they are currently making final decisions on an overhaul of their elite program, which will certainly ruffle the feathers of some of their top customers.

Nothing has been decided yet, though apparently there is a big meeting in London on September 8th, where plans will be laid out. My understanding is that they are adding a Bronze tier and are thinking of raising the requirements for Gold status (their top tier), because there are far too many in the ranks. Once again, this was just a tip given to me by someone “with friends” at BA. I have no way of verifying this information and I am not personally claiming to have insider knowledge, so take it for what it’s worth.

This isn’t completely shocking to me, because most airlines have at least 3 elite tiers, but I just hope they plan on adding benefits to Gold if they make it much harder to achieve. This will likely please their uber-flyers, but disenfranchise those who can’t make the new requirements. I don’t have enough information to make an opinion, but I’ll let you know my thoughts once a decision has been made and is communicated.

As of right now, Gold status is pretty lucrative: lounge access (including a guest) at over 250 lounges, Concorde room access at London Heathrow when you hit 5,000 tier points (which is incredible and I reviewed here), complimentary upgrades, the ability to gift Silver status to someone else, priority check-in, increased baggage allowance and 100% mileage bonus on flights.

To attain Gold status, you currently need 1,500 Tier Points (if you live in the UK or anywhere but Europe) and only 800 points if you live in Continental Europe (why the huge difference, I’m not really sure). You earn tier points for flights: starting at 10 for a domestic UK flight and going up to 330 for a First Class flight to Australia. Oneworld flight tier points are based on distance (above/under 2,000 miles) and cabin – starting at 20 points and going up to 180. Some flights earn 0 Tier Points.

Overall, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I’m sure we’ve got at least a month before any announcement will be made. Stay tuned!

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