If you fly a lot with Oneworld airlines but seek an alternative to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, British Airways Executive Club could be a logical choice.
There are some distinct advantages to earning Oneworld status with British Airways Executive Club instead of Qantas Frequent Flyer. This is especially the case if you fly quite a lot, as British Airways offers some excellent perks to its top-tier members. In addition, British Airways offers lifetime Oneworld Emerald status (equivalent to lifetime Qantas Platinum status) at a much more reasonable threshold compared to Qantas Frequent Flyer.
With British Airways, you also won’t be penalised with lower earn rates when flying on Oneworld partner airlines. By comparison, Qantas punishes its frequent flyers with significantly reduced earning rates when flying on Oneworld partner airlines such as Malaysia Airlines. To give you an example, you would earn 600 British Airways tier points – enough to earn Oneworld Sapphire status – with a return Malaysia Airlines Business class ticket from Sydney to London. But with Qantas Frequent Flyer, you’d earn only 180 status credits for the same itinerary because Qantas credits Malaysia Airlines Business Class at Economy rates.
As British Airways is a Oneworld member, Executive Club status grants reciprocal benefits when flying with all other Oneworld airlines, including Qantas. It’s also possible to earn British Airways tier points, which count towards status, when flying on any Oneworld member airline. Again, this includes Qantas.
If you live in Australia, there are some downsides to earning British Airways Executive Club status. For example, you would need to take at least 2-4 British Airways flights per year to maintain your Executive Club status – something that is much easier if you live in the UK than Australia. Also, some of the very best perks of top-tier Gold Guest List status are only available if you fly with British Airways itself.
Keep in mind that some Qantas Frequent Flyer partner airlines, such as Emirates, China Eastern and Jetstar, are not British Airways partners. So, for example, your British Airways status won’t get you into any Emirates lounges.
It’s also worth noting that Australians are technically not allowed to join British Airways Executive Club. However, it is easy enough to get around this by listing the address of an overseas friend or relative when you sign up.
Earning British Airways tier points
Tier points are the equivalent of status credits in the British Airways Executive Club program. (Meanwhile, Avios are the program’s redemption currency and are equivalent to points or miles.) Tier points count towards status qualification and renewal. They expire at the end of your personal membership year, which is based on your program joining date.
British Airways has three status levels:
- Bronze (Oneworld Ruby, equivalent to Qantas Silver)
- Silver (Oneworld Sapphire, equivalent to Qantas Gold)
- Gold (Oneworld Emerald, equivalent to Qantas Platinum)
This table shows the number of tier points you’ll need to earn each membership year to qualify for or renew British Airways Executive Club status:
|oneworld equivalent||oneworld Ruby||oneworld Sapphire||oneworld Emerald|
|Tier points to earn||300||600||1,500|
|(OR British Airways flights)||(25)||(50)||(N/A)|
|Minimum “BA” sectors||2||4||4|
British Airways status can be earned based either on tier points or British Airways sectors flown. In general, most people would qualify on tier points.
In addition, there is a requirement to fly a minimum of 2-4 British Airways marketed flights (i.e. flights with a “BA” flight number) each year in order to earn or maintain Executive Club status. If you live in Australia, the easiest way to fly 4 BA sectors is to book a British Airways ticket from somewhere other than Sydney to Singapore (flying via Sydney), using British Airways for the Sydney-Singapore legs and BA codeshare flights operated by Qantas for the domestic connections.
There is a full list of Executive Club benefits on the British Airways website.
Gold Guest List
There are additional benefits for frequent flyers that earn additional tier points beyond the Gold status requirement in a year. There are actually some very decent benefits available, making British Airways Executive Club very compelling compared to the Qantas Platinum One tier. Additional benefits include:
- Gold Upgrade for Two voucher upon reaching 2,500 tier points in a year
- Two Gold Upgrade for One vouchers at 3,500 tier points
- Concorde Room Card at 5,000 tier points
If you earn 5,000 tier points in one year, you’ll receive Gold Guest List (GGL) benefits. This entitles you to:
- Give away one Gold Executive Club partner card and two Silver cards
- Book up to five reward seats, twice per year, on flights that don’t have reward seats available – in any cabin class, subject to availability in certain revenue fare classes (these are known as “jokers”)
- Additional guest allowance at British Airways lounges (including arrivals lounges)
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status
- Dedicated 24/7 phone service
Once you’ve achieved Gold Guest List, you’ll only need to earn 3,000 tier points to renew this in subsequent years.
How to earn tier points
British Airways tier points are earned in a very similar way to Qantas status credits. The number of tier points earned per flight is based on the flight’s distance and your fare class. Flexible tickets and higher classes of travel earn more tier points, and you’ll earn more tier points for taking indirect routings.
British Airways does not publish a complete list of tier points earning rates on its website, but you can calculate the tier points earned on any given route using the Avios flight calculator. To give you an idea, here are the earn rates on a British Airways flight from Sydney to Singapore:
And here’s what you’ll earn for a Qantas flight from Sydney to Melbourne:
Note that Qantas Economy tickets booked in “E” fare class do not earn any Avios or tier points. Also, the fare classes M and K, which Qantas classes as “flexible economy”, earn at the lowest Economy rate with British Airways Executive Club.
As a general rule, the number of tier points earned increases significantly for flights above 2,000 miles. For example, Sydney-Darwin (1,957 miles) earns 5 tier points for discount Economy, 20 tier points for flexible Economy (Y, B or H class) and 40 tier points for Business class. But Sydney-Perth (2,041 miles) earns 20, 70 or 140 tier points for discount Economy, flexible Economy or Business class, respectively.
In terms of redeeming Avios, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. You can of course redeem Avios to fly on all Oneworld airlines, including Qantas. Short-haul awards are very good value, but long-haul awards are often poor value. British Airways Executive Club does have a Oneworld multi-carrier reward though, which is similar to the Qantas Oneworld Award and could be quite lucrative. If you need a top-up, is also possible to buy Avios at fairly reasonable prices.
Read more: How to Buy & Redeem British Airways Avios
Recommended by the Australian Frequent Flyer
Be the Frequent Flyer Expert! Subscribe below to The Frequent Flyer Gazette to receive free updates in your inbox every Monday & Thursday morning.