Airline loyalty schemes exist to reward frequent flyers for their custom with special benefits. The more you fly, the more benefits you receive as you progress through the tiers. All of this sounds great and many people aspire to reach the highest level in their chosen programme. However, are the benefits actually useful? Let’s take a look at the British Airways Executive Club and see what is useful and what is not.
Benefits Everyone Receives
Most airlines provide a chart which allows you to easily compare the different levels in a programme and the British Airways chart is below. Avios is the currency or in basic terms what they call miles.
Which of these are actually useful and which are not?
Pay To Transfer Avios is the stand out clanger here. It looks like it should be the ability to transfer Avios that is the benefit but it is very poorly presented. I really would not expect anyone to join the programme so they can pay to transfer miles to another member!
Reward Flight Saver is an excellent benefit. Short distance reward flights have the taxes and charges capped so you spend less money. This actually saves quite a bit on some tickets which is very good indeed.
Priority Waitlist is quite useless. Since online booking became the norm, tickets are confirmed automatically. It would be useful during those times when flights are cancelled and you’re put on the waitlist for the next flight but how often does that really happen?
Seating and Meal Preference are superfluous. People pay for seats or are allowed to select a seat at the time of booking. I’d be interested to see the percentage of people who use the meal preference as it’s rare to see special meals being given out on flights.
The rest are all pretty middle of the road, arguably benefits but kind of expected rather than earned.
Bronze and Silver Benefits
When you move up a tier, you get additional benefits. Below is the continuation of the above list showing those benefits for the next two tiers.
Avoiding the Economy Class snaking queue of passengers by having Priority check-in is a great benefit. While it is only useful when you have checked luggage it makes such a difference to the airport experience. My life was transformed once I received Priority check-in!
Reservation Assurance is a guaranteed seat in economy class on a full flight. It is a benefit for last minute travel for business people, but not for the leisure traveller.
Lounge Access is the major benefit of any frequent flyer programme. A nicely designed lounge that is on trend and has a unique selling point or two attracts me like a bee to honey. I daresay most people join in the hope of having access to the lounge and all the free food and drink contained therein.
Additional baggage is debatable, while bonus Avios points is a definite benefit.
Priority Boarding is a benefit though British Airways made an error by extending it to Bronze level frequent flyers recently. This means happy Bronze flyers while everyone else is upset as sometimes half the aircraft has “priority”.
Free Seat Selection is great as I find paying for a seat very on the nose especially when paying for a ticket in a premium cabin. The seating fees can be quite expensive too so it is a real advantage to have this.
Top tier frequent flyers get a whole host of benefits showered upon them. Mere mortals can look upon the list with envy and it is designed to plant the seed of aspiration into a person. Spend more, get more! Fly with us lots and you too could have these bad boys!
First Class check-in desks are great. They are staffed by knowledgeable people and often have seating, flowers, carpet and all sorts of pleasant things. Rolling out the red carpet treatment is always appreciated!
Upgrade vouchers and partner frequent flyer cards for those who shoot for the stars are excellent benefits. I would love to have these and be able to gift status on people. One day!
Access to First Class lounges is another major benefit. In many cases these have restaurant dining, top shelf liquor and are generally nicer in design and with better amenities than the business lounges. They also have less people which feels much more exclusive. I love them!
Additional reward flight availability in economy class is debatable. One assumes people who are at this level would not be flying economy class, but perhaps the mother-in-law needs a break and only has certain days she can travel. Maybe it’s good for that!
No booking and service fees for Priority Award bookings is nice. A priority award is where you can use double miles to book a reward seat on any flight even if there is no availability. I guess if you’re spending double miles it’s just polite not to also be charged for ringing up to book it.
As I have demonstrated above, frequent flyer programmes feature some excellent benefits that enhance the whole experience. My top favourites are priority check-in, lounge access and priority boarding. All the rest are nice to have rather than must have. What about your programme? What are the benefits and what are so-called benefits that don’t add any value? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for reading!