The British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) is the frequent flyer program for British Airways (BA). There are various benefits of belonging to the club, including reward flights, upgrades and hotel offers to name a few.
You can join for free here.
Members of the BAEC earn points (Avios and Tier Points: see below) when they fly with British Airways (or a partner airline). British Airways is part of the fifteen airlines that make up the oneworld alliance, but is also partnered with a number of other airlines who are not part of the oneworld alliance like Aer Lingus, Alaskan Airlines and Meridiana. BA also operates other codeshare flights with airlines such as Flybe (an airline that is even uses Avios as its frequent flyer currency) – so every time you fly with one of these British Airways’ partners, you will earn Avios and Tier Points.
Avios and Tier Points are earned depending on how far a member travels, on what fare type you are flying and in what class of travel. British Airways Avios points are the currency of the club – they can be earned, spent, bought or transferred, much like any other currency. Tier points on the other hand can only be earned by flying with British Airways (and some of its partner airlines) and govern your progression through the Executive Club.
British Airways Executive Club has four different tiers, or levels, of membership – Blue, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Anyone who joins the Club automatically attains Blue membership tier. There aren’t that many benefits to blue membership but it’s your starting point with the club and it will give you priority over non-members if a flight is busy and you can save your preferences for which seats you prefer (window or aisle for example). You also get access to the personalised BA app and you’ll get to hear about members-only offers, but that’s pretty much it.
To gain access to the other tiers you must collect a specified number of tier points…unlike the options available for earning British Airways Avios points, flying with British Airways (or one of the partner airlines) is the only was to earn Tier points. Tier points are allocated depending on how far you fly and in what cabin you choose to fly in. Unlike Avios points, they cannot be spent; they purely aid you in moving up the membership tiers. They also cannot be bought or transferred and they need to be earned on a regular basis to maintain a membership tier – fail to fly one year, or not earn enough tier points and you could risk dropping back to blue membership in the future…
Bronze membership is the next level up. To earn bronze membership you can either take a minimum of two flights with British Airways and earn 300 tier points or fly 25 times on a British Airways flight in one membership year. As a bronze member you are entitled to the same privileges as a blue member, however, you get a few more benefits with bronze membership. These include 25% more bonus Avios whenever you fly with British Airways, (in addition to the Avios bonuses you get travelling in a premium cabin), Business class check in and priority boarding (except at London City Airport), the ability to reserve your seats up to seven days in advance on British Airways flights and priority at baggage arrival service desks (in the unfortunate event of losing your bags).
Silver membership goes one (or two) better than Bronze membership. To get there, you need to fly on a minimum of four British Airways flights and earn 600 Tier points or take 50 British Airways flights in one membership year – that is actually achievable if you do a (very) long haul flight in premium economy and a few return flights to Europe cities in business class/Club Europe. Silver membership brings with it a classier experience, the most notable perk (for some) being access to the world of the airport lounge whenever you fly with British Airways or its partner airlines. These provide a haven from the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal and provide you with complimentary food and drink, magazines and newspapers and various business facilities – the good old plug socket so you can charge your laptop for free being one of them! Along with the lounge access, you will also receive a number of benefits with any hotel stays at Mandarin Oriental hotels and in addition to the benefits you’d get with Bronze membership you will also receive 50% more bonus Avios whenever you fly with British Airways (in addition to the Avios bonuses you get travelling in a premium cabin), the ability to reserve your seats when you book on British Airways flights and a minimum allowance of two pieces luggage to check in (unless it is a hand baggage only fare), regardless of whether you are in First or economy!
Gold membership epitomises exclusivity. To name a few of the benefits, you get access to the First airport lounges whenever you fly with British Airways or its partner airlines and get complimentary Elemis spa treatments when flying out of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 or New York JFK’s Terminal 7. A higher level of priority is offered to you at worldwide first-class check-in desks and benefits at Mandarin Oriental hotels, Langham hotels and Avis car rental.
You will also get 100% more bonus Avios whenever you fly with British Airways (in addition to the Avios bonuses you get travelling in a premium cabin), and the ability to reserve your seats when you book on British Airways flights and a minimum allowance of two pieces luggage to check in (unless it is a hand baggage only fare), again, regardless of whether you are flying in First or economy! To earn Gold status, you need to fly on a minimum of four British Airways flights and earn 1500 Tier points in one membership year. And to keep the high fliers happy, if you earn 2500 Tier points you and a partner will be awarded a voucher to use for upgrade to the next cabin of your choice on a flight; earn 3500 Tier points and that will be two vouchers; and get to 5000 Tier points and not only will you receive two Executive Sliver Partner card memberships and one Gold Partner card membership for your family/friends but you will also receive a Concorde Room Card, granting you access to the exclusive Concorde Rooms found only at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and New York JFK’s Terminal 7.
Maintaining membership tiers
Every membership year your Tier points will reset – any Tier achievement will be maintained for a further 12 months, but then after that your membership will reset to Blue if you do not collect enough Tier points and the required number of flights. Therefore, to retain your membership tier, you simply need to collect the required number of Tier points and fly on the minimum number of British Airways flights expected on an annual basis (based on your membership year) for that particular tier.
What is your membership year?
Your membership year is like your own personal BA year. The day you sign up for Executive Club membership is the start of your personal membership year, like your BA birthday if you like, and so every year on that particular date will be when your points reset. When they do this, your hard earned tier points are not lost in the ether, they become Lifetime Tier Points – the total number of Tier points you have accrued since day one of membership. Do Lifetime Tier Points have a point? Well yes – once you have earned 35,000 Lifetime Tier Points, you will be a Gold Member for life and all the perks that come with Gold membership!
Earning British Airways Avios points
British Airways Avios points are earned every time you fly with British Airways, or one of its partner airlines. The number of Avios points earned from flying, like Tier points, will vary depending on the cabin class, fare type and distance you are travelling. Fully flexible fare types and flying in premium cabins will earn you more Avios points than the lower economy fares.
Unlike Tier points, Avios points do not contribute to your membership status, however, there are multitudes of other ways in which British Airways Avios points can be earned, in addition to the those points earned from flying. British Airways are partnered with many hotels, credit cards, many online retailers, wine merchants and car hire to name a few and all offer ways of earning bonus Avios points, either as a set number of Avios points per pound or a fixed number of points in total.
Gate 365 is British Airways’ online eStore. It is affiliated with hundreds of online UK based retailers, including department stores, such as House of Fraser, John Lewis and Selfridges, and fashion retailers including high street brands like Coast and Dorothy Perkins to higher end brands such as Ralph Lauren and Net-A-Porter. Digital retailer The Apple Store features and telecommunication companies like BT, O2, EE and NOW TV are all associated. If you are looking for gifts or flowers then the experience company, Red Letter Days, and suppliers such as Flowers Direct are also associated. Bonus Avios points offered can vary from between 2 Avios/pound up to 12 Avios/pound spent or one-off awards like 1000 Avios points can be earned, and occasionally Gate 365 will do offers such as 50% extra or even double Avios points.
Credit cards offer partnerships with British Airways offering various bonuses for spending a set amount of money in a three-month period (see below).
There are many ways in which you can spend British Airways Avios points. Using them to book reward flights on BA or one of its partner airlines/codeshares is the obvious choice, however there are various other ways you can spend the points…
Reward flights to destinations all over the world can be booked online via the British Airways website or over the telephone. BA Avios points can be used to pay for BA/Iberia/oneworld flights either in full or as part payment (although this is not including any taxes so you will still need to pay for these). You can book a reward flight in any of the BA cabins if there is availability – note for some destinations, especially for seats in the premium cabins, availability of reward flights can sometimes be limited and you may need to book at least six months in advance, and for some routes nearly a year in advance to make sure you get the flight and seats in the cabin you want. BA Avios points can also be used to upgrade a flight to the next cabin (see below).
There are other options for spending BA Avios points that are open to you if you do not want to use them for reward flights. Using them for booking hotel stays, car hire and tours are all options available to you. You can choose from hundreds of hotels worldwide or hire a rental car (usually with car rental company, Avis) in many cities and countries – if you can fly there, there is usually an option to hire a car, and do so in advance with BA Avios. BA offer a variety of different experiences too that you can purchase with Avios points, be it a helicopter tour over New York or taking a safari tour in South Africa, there are many to choose from.
Fancy some wine? British Airways is partnered with Laithwaites Wine in the UK and offer various cases of wine, champagne, sparkling wine, beer and spirits, all of which can be purchased using BA Avios points via the BA website
Your British Airways Avios points will not expire unless you fail to collect, spend, buy or transfer at least one Avios point in a three-year period (every 36 months). With all the ways of collecting (and spending) points it is pretty easy to collect points (even if you are not a regular flyer) so it is easy to keep your points active.
Upgrades using points
Like booking any reward flight, upgrades using British Airways Avios points are dependent on reward flight availability, so that is something to bear in mind as some destinations will need to be booked well in advance. You can either book with cash and upgrade with your Avios points at the time of booking the flight, or you can upgrade using your Avios at a later date. The number of Avios needed will vary on the destination, but for example, to upgrade one way on a Heathrow to New York flight will cost 20000 Avios points or Heathrow to Tokyo will cost 33,000 Avios points (regardless of which class you are upgrading from). You can only upgrade to the next cabin level though – economy to premium economy, business to first; you cannot upgrade from economy to first or business for example.
Cash and points redemptions
British Airways offer you the option of paying for flights using a combination of British Airways Avios points and cash, and can save you up to £200 off the cost of your flight (although terms and conditions apply). For example, 3000 Avios points will save you £20 off the cost of your flight; 30000 Avios will save you £200 off the cost. If you go through the standard process of booking a flight (non-reward) via the British Airways website, this option is offered to you after you have selected your flights, just before checkout and you can choose from saving between £10-£200 off in general, depending on how many Avios points you want to put towards the cost. Better still, even though you are using some of your Avios points if you opt for this option, you will still earn British Airways Avios points on the flight.
UK credit card partnerships
BA Executive Club is an Amex Membership Rewards partner, at a 1:1 transfer rate.
Buying and transferring points
British Airways offer you the option of buying up to 35000 Avios points per year for you, but also for someone else as a gift. For example, 35000 Avios would cost you in the region of £575; 20000 would cost you £335 and 5000 Avios £95.
It is also possible to transfer Avios points to your British Airways Executive Club account from memberships elsewhere. The affiliated company Avios allows you to transfer generic (non-BA) Avios points into your British Airways account and likewise any affiliated companies, like Amex rewards, will allow you to transfer points into your account to boost your BA Avios balance – there are no limits to this.
You will benefit far more from membership if you are a frequent flyer as progression through the membership tiers will be all the more easy. That said, there are many ways of collecting British Airways Avios points, aside from flying, so there are the perks of earning reward flights for the non-frequent flyer. British Airways offers a slightly more luxurious experience of flying than some other airlines; certainly one has to experience the Concorde Room either at Heathrow or JFK and compare them to other airlines’ first class lounges – it will be hard to go back! The service offered by its cabin and lounge staff often goes above and beyond what you would expect, particularly in the premium cabins, and particularly if you are an Executive Member. That said, the service offered from British Airways customer services team could be improved upon – BA is a little lax in this department. However, all in all, the British Airways Executive Club is well worth membership of – frequent flyer or not.