Since half the TLFL team (myself, Claudio and Paul) are on a tier point to Phoenix currently I thought it was worth a more in depth look at tier points in general. Today I will look at the basics whilst tomorrow Paul will look at the current tier point runs available and how to build a great value run.
One of the questions I get asked very often is about getting tier points on other airlines for BA status and how to maximise trips for tier points. In this article I will be looking at the different levels of status, how to get them and how to earn Tier points on British Airways and other airlines.
You enter the BA Executive club at Blue level which doesn’t really give you much at at all apart from being to earn and redeem Avios. Avios are miles which allow you to book flights for free (or with a few taxes and charges anyway). Once you start flying on qualifying flights you start to accumulate tier points as well as Avios. Tier points allow you to move through the different level of status on British Airways to get more perks. For each tier as well as the Tier Points you will also need a certain number of eligible flights which I will also look at.
What are the different levels of BA status?
Before you decide to try to get status, it is worth having a look at the benefits as up to Silver the benefits are not that useful if you always travel in business class or above apart from the boosted Avios collection rates.
Bronze: 300 Tier Points and 2 eligible flights.
- Book seats free of charge 7 days before departure
- Priority boarding and check in
- 25% bonus on Avios
BA charge for seats even in business class (not First). It’s worth it for booking seats if you would normally buy specific seats in business class providing the cost of getting Bronze does not outweigh what you would spend on selecting seats. Also worth it if you think you need priority boarding as you travel with full hand luggage.
Silver – 600 tier points and 4 eligible flights
- Club lounge access even in economy
- Free seat selection at time of booking (excluding exit row seats on long haul flights)
- Priority boarding and check in
- 50% bonus on Avios
- extra baggage for everyone on booking – 32kg per bag and 2 bags even in economy except HBO
Lounge access – It is only worth the lounge access if you travel a lot in economy or you are adding a tier point run into a holiday you would do anyway. Otherwise, now that T5 has two pay to enter lounges you may as well just buy access to the lounges.
Seats – It’s worth it for booking seats if you would normally buy specific seats in business class providing the cost of getting Silver does not outweigh what you would spend on selecting seats.
Luggage/Priority boarding – Also worth it if you think you need priority boarding as you travel with full hand luggage. The extra luggage allowance can make a big difference with an extra 9kg per bag.
Gold – 1500 tier points and 4 eligible flights
- First lounge access even in economy
- Spa treatment on long haul even in economy
- First wing check-in and security at Heathrow & JFK
- Free seat selection at time of booking including certain seats only for Gold (1A/K in First, Row 1 in Club Europe)
- Priority boarding and check in
- 100% bonus on Avios
- extra baggage for everyone on booking – an extra bag and 32kg per bag
- Priority reward Avios bookings – pay double to force Avios availability
- Free selection for others even if not on the same booking (bookings must be identical)
Lounge access – It is only worth the lounge access if you travel in business or below and want First lounge access. Otherwise, now that T5 has two pay for lounges you may as well just buy access to the lounges or go for Silver.
Seats – It’s worth it for booking seats if you would normally buy specific seats in business class providing the cost of getting Gold does not outweigh what you would spend on selecting seats. I like the fact that you can get the first row in Club Europe which for me makes it worth paying the extra as all other Club Europe rows have the same legroom as economy (currently). They also block the seats around you if the flight isn’t full. The exit row in economy is also a useful perk – with that and a blocked seat next to you if you are lucky, it is as good as Club Europe for comfort.
Luggage – Also worth it if you think you need priority boarding as you travel with full hand luggage and the extra luggage is something I use.
First wing – this is a big benefit for me as it saves a lot of time with the average time from curb to lounge around 6 minutes including checking in luggage! The First wing is a separate check in area for First and Gold card holders with its own dedicated security channel that takes you directly into the First lounge.
Beyond Gold – upgrade vouchers
2500 TP – Gold upgrade for 2 people. This voucher can be used to upgrade 2 people to the next class of travel for free providing they are on the same booking. If travelling solo you can use the voucher to upgrade yourself once. These vouchers are hugely valuable as you can use them on a cash or Avios ticket and they can be combined with a 2-4-1 voucher for maximum value. If you book your ticket through a travel agent such as Propeller or American Express, there does not need to availability on Avios for the upgrade on a cash ticket. This can be booked into certain revenue fare buckets if there is availability. You can either upgrade at the time of booking or afterwards by calling British Airways. The vouchers are valid for 1 year from booking but BA will often offer an extension for up to 6 months.
3500 TP – 2 Gold upgrade vouchers for 1. This gives more flexibility if you travel solo as the vouchers can be used separately or together to upgrade one person on each voucher to the next cabin as above.
Beyond Gold – Gold Guest List – 5000 Tier Points and then a minimum 3000 to renew each year
Gold Guest list gives a number of extra perks:
Concorde Room Card – 5000 Tier points
This gives access to the Concorde Rooms at Heathrow Terminal 5 and New York JFK for you and a guest on any BA operated flight. Unofficially it gives access to the Concorde Dining and Bar areas at certain airports but for some reason the rules around this seem slightly confused. Concorde bars are generally included, where Concorde dining is not unless on a FIRST ticket.
Standard Gold Guest list perks
One of the most useful perks is the ability to unlock Avios redemptions with what are known amongst GGL card holders as ‘jokers’. You can use these to book flights with Avios even if there is no Avios availability as long as there are revenue seats still available in certain fare buckets – A for first, D for CW.
They work as follows:
- Limited to 5 joker seats per cabin per flight
- Can be booked for other people – you don’t have to travel yourself, but you have to pay for it yourself with cash/avios from the GGL account.
- The seats must be on actual British Airways operated flights, not codeshare flights. However, you can have other non BA flights on the same booking where there are normal Avios seats available on them.
- 2 Guests into BA First lounges
There are some other excellent perks if you are a frequent traveller:
- Hilton Diamond status – I have this currently and find it extremely useful with free breakfast, lounge access and a good success rate for upgrades including suites
- GGL Priority assistance line this is open 24 hours a day although it does hand over to another call centre for a brief period every day.
- British Airways Gold and silver status for friends and family – you receive 1 Gold card and 2 Silver cards that you can gift to anyone.
- Upgrade to First class on the Heathrow Express for free for 2 people (subject to review soon by Heathrow Express)
What are eligible flights?
For each Tier you will need to do a number of ‘eligible flights’ but these don’t necessarily need to be on British Airways.
The official definition of eligible flights is:
Eligible flights are defined as those flights marketed or operated by British Airways and those flights marketed and operated by Iberia.
- ‘Marketed’ means the flight will have a BA flight number (in your itinerary or on your ticket).
- ‘Operated’ means the aircraft that you travel on is a British Airways aircraft (including franchises and BACityflyer).
- ’Marketed’ and operated by Iberia’ means the flight will have an IB flight number and the aircraft you travel on is an Iberia aircraft (including franchises).
In effect this means that you can fly any flight with a BA flight number, any Iberia flight with a BA or Iberia flight number or any flight operated by BA even if it doesn’t have a BA flight number.
Who does British Airways codeshare with?
BA codeshares with a number of airlines but this is not on every route that each airline has. It is difficult to find a list of exact routes. The best bet is to try searching on ba.com for whatever you are thinking of and see what it brings up. If it has a BA flight number but is operated by another airline, it counts. There is some limited information on ba.com here.
Here are some options to consider:
- Aer Lingus
- American Airlines
- China Southern
You can read the eligible flight rules on britishairways.com here.
Earning Tier points
Tier Points are earned according to the cabin you are in and the distance of the destination. Here are some rough guidelines on tier points per flight:
- Economy short haul 5 -40 Tier points
- Economy long haul 20-80
- World Traveller Plus 90-100
- Club Europe 40-80
- Club World 140-160
- First – 210 – 240
Earning tier points on other airlines – oneworld
Other oneworld airlines you earn tier points on:
- Sri Lankan
- Royal Jordanian
- Malaysia Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
Partner airlines and other airlines
This is a quirky one but you can actually earn Tier points and Avios with Emirates if you book on a codeshare with Qantas. The flights must be on Qantas tickets but on an Emirates aircraft to get them. Qantas codeshare with Emirates on a number of Asian routes.
Earning extra tier points
- Qatar to Asia – yields 560 tier points for most routes versus 280 on BA direct
- Finnair to Asia – yields 440 tier points for most routes versus 280 direct on BA
- BA to Asia – Adding in an extra stop such as Hong Kong on the way to Bangkok adds an extra 80 tier points return
- Ex EU BA flights – adds in an extra 160-320 tier points return if you add Club positioning flights. They are also often substantially cheaper.
Tier Point runs