If you have every just missed out on getting your first or next status with BA you may have considered a tier point run. Tier point runs are when flights are booked mainly with the purpose to maximise tier point earning opportunities in a short time and at a cheap price. I would say I do tier point runs in the sense that I will ensure I do enough BA and Virgin flights to maintain my status, but I rarely do a quick turnaround at the destination. I just incorporate the flights into a planned holiday or business trip as for me travelling is as much about the destination as the flying.
Is it worth doing a tier point run?
Before you decide to do a trier point you need to decide if it actually is worth it. Let’s have a look at the different BA tiers and their main perks:
Bronze: 300 Tier Points
- Book seats free of charge 7 days before
- 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
- 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
- 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 economy Avios availability
- Free selection for others even if not on the same booking
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.
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.
Priority rewards – if you are Avios rich and do a lot of last minute flying or changes this could potentially save you a huge amount of money on expensive last-minute fares and changes.
Tier point runs
If you are coming to the end of your year and need some extra miles you may consider some of the following options. You can often get an extension of your tier point year by two weeks if you speak to BA but it is not guaranteed.
For all the tiers you need to complete 4 BA operated flights (not on a redemption ticket) to qualify as well as the tier points. The goal is to maximise the number of flight/tier points on one ticket to get the best value for money. Once I have seen a flight I like the fare for I then look at the flight on ITA Matrix where you can easily see all the rules associated with the flight to help you get the most of it. Stopovers are not usually counted unless they are greater than 24 hours so you can break your journey up that way.
There is a good thread for BA tier point runs on Flyertalk.
Here are some suggestions for business class tier point runs:
Qatar is often one of the cheapest options if you need around 500 points. One return fare with Qatar from Scandinavia to Asia will get you 560 tier points. Add on a one way Club Europe positioning flight (you can come back economy) and you have qualified for silver with 600+ tier points. You can often pick up Qatar sale fares to Asia for around £1000. The current Qatar sale has fares from Helsinki to Bangkok for around £1000. Finnair would be another option if you wanted to go from the UK starting at around £1450 to Asia for 440 tier points.
Ex Dublin or Inverness US flights
During the year, there are usually advance purchase fares of around £1300-1800 to the US including Hawaii. Hawaii is generally the best option for tier point runs as if you add in a transcontinental flight from JFK to Los Angeles and back you can easily get to 920 tier points with one trip.
Bucharest to Phoenix and other US destinations from £1205. If you chose Phoenix (which is a nice destination but not in summer when it is 45°c) and added in a transcontinental between JFK and LAX you would get 800 tier points.
Less than 250 points
The easiest/cheapest/quickest way to get a small number of points would be a day trip domestic flight or Brussels/Amsterdam/Paris depending on whichever is cheapest. All will get you 80 tier points with domestic prices usually available under £200.
Ideally, you want short haul flights that gain extra tier points or add in a connection like last years Tallin flights. Spanish connections get 20 tier points for business class. Here are some of the best tier point earning short haul destinations which get 160 tier points instead of the usual 80 return.
- Gran Canaria
- Kefalonia starts May 2018,
- St Petersburg
- Las Palmas
- Madeira Funchal
- Helsinki (Finnair)
Edinburgh to Palma and Helsinki (HEL) operated by Finnair.
Birmingham to Malaga
There are some good offers in the current BA sale for short haul Club Europe. These include
80 tier points return Club Europe prices from:
- Alicante £180
- Barcelona £160
- Bordeaux £138
- Bilbao from £198
- Geneva £156
- Genoa £ 143
- Luxembourg £158
- Malaga £160
- Nice £180
- Seville £170
- Turin £160
- Venice £180
- Verona £170
160 tier points:
- Catania (Sicily) from £215
- Reykjavik £290
- Malta £272
- Madeira £272
- Keflavik £289
- Paphos £298
You can find the BA low fare finder page here which is useful for finding the cheapest priced dates.
If you are looking to maintain Virgin status there are some great fares from Dublin to the US from £1044. I recently bought a return to Los Angeles for around £1350 including an extended stop over.