After a series of recent changes that have effectively devalued the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, many are looking towards alternatives. Virgin Australia is an obvious choice, while the American Airlines AAdvantage program is a popular program within the oneworld alliance. But the British Airways Executive Club program is rarely given a second thought by most Australian flyers.
As British Airways is a member of the oneworld airline alliance, members of both the Qantas and British Airways programs can receive reciprocal benefits when flying on either airline. This means that BA’s program could be a realistic option, even if you mostly fly with Qantas.
One Qantas Platinum One member recently made the switch to British Airways and its Executive Club program. This member travels to the UK multiple times per year and had previously enjoyed the rewards offered by Qantas Frequent Flyer. But British Airways is starting to win them over.
So what has driven me to the fickle mistress that is BA?
My travel is booked the best part of 12 months out and is primarily to the UK, 5-7 times per year… I worked out that if I could hit GGL in year one, 5000 TP’s, I had a shout at maintaining that level in subsequent years. (3000 TP’s per year) Why did GGL matter I hear you ask? Well on the way to that level one picks up upgrade vouchers and upon reaching GGL one collects “jokers” that allow redemptions into revenue buckets.
“GGL” refers to British Airways’ “Gold Guest List” status. This is BA’s highest status tier, similar to Qantas’ Platinum One. The benefits of Gold Guest List include free upgrade vouchers, much greater access to reward flights, the ability to gift the equivalent of Gold and Platinum status to up to three people, and various other useful benefits. This would appear to make British Airways’ highest status tier significantly more valuable than Qantas Platinum One. And as an added bonus, British Airways also offers Lifetime Gold status (the equivalent of Qantas Lifetime Platinum – which does not exist).
Three of my UK/US work colleagues are particularly happy as I was able to gift a gold status and two silvers.
But it’s not just the greater perks that has attracted this member to British Airways. Our member recently discovered that it is possible to purchase Business class tickets between Australia and Europe for around half the price of Qantas. The trick is to purchase return BA tickets for travel originating in Norway.
Although flight redemptions using British Airways points, or “Avios” are generally not outstanding value compared to programs like American’s AAdvantage, there is some good value to be found on short-haul redemptions. A flight from Sydney to Melbourne, for example, costs just 4,500 points through the British Airways program. This is almost half of what Qantas charge for the same flight.
For Australians and New Zealanders considering switching their loyalty to British Airways, there’s just one minor hurdle. Australian and NZ residents aren’t technically allowed to join the Executive Club program. But it is possible to get around this by listing the address of an overseas friend or relative when signing up.
British Airways’ Executive Club won’t be ideal for everyone, but if you’re considering alternative overseas frequent flyer programs then it could be worth checking out.
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