Tier Levels (BA)

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Overview

Most airline programmes work on the principle that if you fly “n” thousand miles in a twelve-month period, you’ll get elite status. BA’s programme doesn’t work like that. Instead, if a flight is booked in an eligible fare class, it will earn a certain number of Tier Points. Flights also earn miles which can be used for reward flights etc., but earning sufficient Tier Points is the only way to advance through the tier levels.

There are five tiers in the BA Exec Club:

Blue, Bronze, Silver, Gold & Premier

Blue is the basic level and is where you start. Once you reach the required number of points, you will be promoted to Bronze (OneWorld Ruby). From Bronze, with another load of points you’ll get to Silver (OneWorld Saphire). From Silver, with another load of points you’ll get to Gold (OneWorld Emerald). Premier is an invitation only level. There are only around 1500 Premiers worldwide. You can’t get to it by flying a lot. They are generally given to people that BA consider are important, and each new Premier has to be approved by the board.

Promotion between levels

The promotion process is not as simple as it could be. Firstly, you need to have two tier-point earning flights on BA to earn bronze and two more tier point earning flights (to make a total of four flights) to earn silver or gold. If all of your flights are on partners you will remain blue forever. The number of points required for each level is shown below.

Bronze 300
Silver 600
Gold 1500

Tier points are reset to zero at the end of your membership year and during the next year you must earn the same number of points to maintain the same status. Tier points and the membership year used to be reset on reaching silver, so that it required more than 1500 points in one year to proceed from blue to gold, but this changed in 2011 and all tier points earned in each membership year count towards status promotion. Members starting with a blue card will be promoted to bronze after 300 tier points, an extra 300 earned points will see them promoted to silver and a further 900 points will move them into gold. This must all be done within the same membership year. Once the membership year changes then the tier points are reset and an extra 1500 points are needed for promotion to gold (regardless of which status you ended the previous membership year at).


The promotion process itself can take a few days before your status changes on the BAEC site.

Moving to Europe

Under old rules that changed in 2011, the qualification levels for european residents (excluding UK and Ireland) were substantially lower (400 for silver and 800 for gold). This changed in 2011 and the levels are now the same for all members. However there are still some differences for members living in Europe, such as:

  1. You CAN retain your UK based BA Amex card, but you will no longer be eligible to collect Avios Points by using it.
  2. You cannot transfer Tesco Clubcard points to BA if your account is not UK based. One way around this is to keep the paper vouchers (they are valid for 2 years) and move your account back to the UK for six months once every two years.
  3. You will not longer be eligible (or targeted) for UK-based promotions (although you will instead be targeted for promotions in your new region, which may work out better or worse – but either way, you can’t really complain!)
  4. The European address you give BA must exist, because they will send your shiny new card to this address.
  5. You can only change your address once every six months (i.e. you can’t just move, get promoted then return).

Renewal

Renewal is fairly simple. Again, you need to achieve the required number of tier points and make four BA flights within the year to maintain your status. The number of tier points required for renewal is exactly the same as the number required for promotion.

A Gold card holder who fails to reach the renewal level will receive a soft landing to Silver for the following year.

There are no requirements to renew Blue level, although after a period of 36 months inactivity on your account all miles will be lost.

If you have a Household Account, there is conflicting information on whether you need activity on any one account, or on each account individually. BA Executive Club posted this information which is especially good news for HHAs with a Gold or Silver card holder. However, others have had information from the EC suggesting otherwise.

Earning Tier Points on BA Flights

Tier points can only be earned on oneworld flights. Tier points can now be earned on discount economy tickets. In economy, you will only earn full tier points on Y B H fares (often described as full-fare or semi-flexible). Other economy fare classes will earn 1/4 of the full economy tier points; so for example a discount economy trip from UK to continental europe will earn 5 tier points.

Below is a table which shows how many points you’ll earn for each one way segment flight that has a BA flight number (so a return trip earns double of tier points shown in the table): please note that a lot of discounted fares earn only half of the tier points - and that's an improvement implemented in October 2010 - before that, the discounted clas tickets earned 25% of tier points and 25% of miles. Some destinations in europe earn more points than normal, these are some longer flights such as London-Athens and London-Helsinki.

Cabin
Fare Class
Discount Economy
K M L V S N Q O G
Economy
Y B H
WT+
W T
Club
J C D I
First
F A
UK Domestic 10 20   20  
Europe 10 20   40  
Europe (longer flights) 20 40   60  
Long haul 35 70 90 140 210
Long haul >6000miles 40 80 100 160 240
Australia 60 120 150 240 360

A small point with the Australia flights; if you’re booked to travel to Australia, but with a stop over, it will count as two longhaul flights, so you will actually earn slightly more than if it was booked as a single flight (e.g. 300=160+140 in Club vs. 240 for straight through).

It's worth noting that as of November 2011, Club-class flights on the LCY to/from JFK route ("Club World London City") earn First-class tier points (210 each way).

Earning Tier Points on Oneworld Partners

Most oneworld flights (as long as they are in an eligible fare class) can earn you tier points. An exception to this are flights with a oneworld airlines code, that are operated by a non-oneworld airline. For example AA put their codes on to Alaska Airline flights - these would not earn tier points.

Below is a basic table that shows the tier points earned on oneworld flights. Note that as for BA flights, discounted economy tickets may not earn any TPs.

  Economy Business First
Flights < 2000 miles 20 40 60
Flights > 2000 miles 60 120 180

Cost Efficient Ways to Earn Tier Points

Fifth Freedom BA Flights

Please note that as of March 2008 the anomaly in BA's system has been corrected, and the flights below are treated as short-haul, and earn only short-haul tier points.

BA operates a number of short flights that do not originate, or travel to the UK, these are known as fifth freedom flights. The full list is below:

Abu Dhabi (AUH) - Muscat       (MCT)
Antigua   (ANU) - St Lucia     (UVF)
Bahrain   (BAH) - Doha         (DOH)
Sao Paulo (GRU) - Buenos Aires (EZE)
Singapore (SIN) - Sydney       (SYD)
Bangkok   (BKK) - Sydney       (SYD)
Baku      (BAK) - Bishkek      (FRU) (does this service still exist???)

These are available to book by anyone, and for the short flights, can be fairly cheap, sometimes as low as £300 for a return in first for BAH-DOH. The Asia to Australia flights aren't that cheap. These flights used to earn the full, longhaul tier points, so BAH-DOH-BAH earnt 360 tier points – which was a very good deal! Sadly this loop-hole is now closed.

I Class fares (BA)

Within Europe, a great way to earn Tier Points is to take advantage of Club Europe’s cheapest (discounted, totally inflexible) fares. These book in to the I fare bucket (discount business) so you will see ‘I Class’ referred to a lot on this board. These can be a great way to ‘just top off’ your account if you’re short of a threshold…and great fun for weekend breaks or even daytrips. The list of destinations and the best fares is somewhat seasonal and will also depend on fare sales, offers, etc. However, LGW is usually better than LHR. You can check the official BA fare rules for the base fares (i.e. excluding taxes/surcharges) in the PDF files on their Travel Trade site.

You can search the European listing for the fare basis ‘IEUNBA’ to turn up the I Class fare to each destination (other possible useful searches/fares can be ‘IGOBA’ or ‘IEULGW’). These fares are perfectly valid Club Europe fares and you get all the services and benefits, including lounge access, full miles and 40 Tier Points each way.

Some flights also (for now) appear to earn longhaul Tier Points and miles, even though they are flown on a shorthaul plane and marketed as Club Europe. The current known example is SSH in Egypt. Whether it’s worth over 5 hours on an Airbus in a Club Europe configuration, however, is debatable!

KUP/YUP (pronounced `K-Up' / ‘Why-Up’) fares (American Airlines)

These are fares on American Airlines which carry an Economy (K or Y) booking code but book into the next cabin (First on 2-class services, Business on 3-class). The great thing about them from the BAEC point of view is that they earn miles and TPs for the cabin flown.

Perhaps surprisingly, you will usually want to avoid the 3-class flights by choosing a 2-class one - you'll then get First class TPs instead of Business class ones.

There are some real TP bargains to be had with KUPs/YUPs (e.g. if you’re in America already on another trip). Our friends over on the AA Board have lots more information. And there is a very useful tool on the Fare Compare website where you can check what the deals are from a specific location.

Bronze & Silver & Gold Benefits

A useful tier comparison table is shown here on ba.com.

Executive Club Bronze

For members who reach 300 Executive Club points during a membership year. Benefits include:

  • 25% flight mileage bonus on British Airways.
  • Business class check-in regardless of class of service flown.
  • oneworld Ruby status
  • Free seat reservation on BA flights from seven days before departure
Executive Club Silver

For members who reach 600 Executive Club points during a membership year. Benefits include:

  • 100% flight mileage bonus on British Airways (instead of 25% bronze bonus).
  • Reservation Assurance guarantees booking up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Worldwide priority check-in.
  • Priority waitlistng and standby.
  • Complimentary use of more than 250 exclusive airport lounges for member and guest, regardless of class of service flown.
  • Business class check-in regardless of class of service flown.
  • Dedicated reservations and member services.
  • oneworld Sapphire status
  • Free seat reservation on BA flights from the time of booking
Executive Club Gold

For members who reach 1,500 Executive Club points during a membership year. Benefits include the above listed, plus:

  • Unrestricted access to British Airways operated business class lounges worldwide, when flying any oneworld airline.
  • Access to BA and oneworld First class lounges, where available, when flying on a oneworld airline regardless of the class of service.
  • One cabin upgrade for two people upon reaching 2500 Tier Points, and another at 3500 Tier Points (for Europe based accounts, a single upgrade issued at 2000 TPs).
  • A Silver Partner card when you reach 4500 TPs.
  • Access to British Airways Arrivals Lounge at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports when arriving long haul, even when flying discount economy.
  • First class check-in regardless of class of service flown.
  • oneworld Emerald status