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A few days ago, I found myself flying towards Miami airport whilst Hurricane Dorian was thrashing the Bahamas. Why? Well apart from American Airlines’ completely inappropriate travel waiver policy, I am in the middle of a very short window to take advantage of an amazing opportunity offered by British Airways Executive Club to earn nearly two years of elite status.
Your Tier Point Collection Year
British Airways Executive Club determines status using something called Tier Points (TPs). A given flight earns Tier Points based on a number of criteria, but it ranges from 5 TPs for the cheapest Economy fares to 360 TPs for a long haul flight in First Class to Sydney on British Airways.
BAEC has a few different levels of membership, and you qualify for them based on the following chart:
I would hope that most of my readers understand their own Tier Point collection year. Every member has their own. It might end in January or it might end in October, it all depends on when you joined BAEC (or flew for the first time) and you cannot change it, no matter how much you beg BAEC. It will also end on the 8th of the month, although you can request a 2-week extension sometimes.
In my case, my Tier Point collection year ended on 8 August. However, I deliberately did not fly enough last year to re-qualify for Silver status, meaning that I would otherwise soft land to Bronze on 30 September.
However, between 9 August and 30 September, I still enjoy the benefits of my soon-to-expire Silver status. Yet any Tier Points I collect will apply to my 2019/2020 TP year.
What Does That Mean in Practice?
As soon as I reach 600 Tier Points and 4 flights on British Airways or Iberia, my account will immediately be upgraded to Silver status. That status will apply for the rest of this TP year, and all of the next. In other words, I would enjoy Silver status for as much as two full years… i.e. until 30 September 2021!
If I continue on and earn 1500 Tier Points before 8 August, 2020, my account will be further upgraded to Gold status!
However, the most important element to remember is that I am still Silver for this short 7-week window… therefore I continue to benefit from lounge access, bonus Avios, etc. for any Oneworld flights I take before 30 September, 2019.
About That Hurricane…
One of my favourite “Tier Point Runs” is often available in Business Class on American Airlines, flying between Vancouver, Canada and Panama. By routing my flights via Los Angeles and Miami, I could earn 440 Tier Points for approximately £500.
Moreover, American Airlines is one of the few Oneworld airlines when BAEC elites can earn “tier bonus miles”, 50% in the case of Silver members. So not only would I collect 440 Tier Points but I’d also receive 16,000 Avios.
Of course, not everybody finds it easy or cheap to “position” to Vancouver, Canada, but since I have family in the area, it’s quite easy for me to tack on this specific TP run to a family visit. However, hurricanes do tend to play havoc with travel plans!
American Airlines would allow me to change dates but not cancel my booking. In theory I could have received a refund in the form of a travel voucher, but the agent suggested that it would expire within weeks (based on when I purchased my ticket in the first place) and would be subject to change fees when actually used (based on my ticket’s fare conditions).
So… with a close watch on Hurricane Dorian’s expected path and hoping that I wouldn’t ultimately be taking a plane seat or hotel room from somebody fleeing the hurricane, I crossed my fingers and boarded the plane. Luckily Miami airport was unaffected, and my TP run ran without a hitch. Now all I need are those 4 flights on BA and 160 more Tier Points…
The Bottom Line
If you are ever tempted by a Tier Point run to reach elite status with British Airways Executive Club, make sure to know the details of your Tier Point Collection Year and how best to take advantage of it…