As a long-retired member of BA staff, it’s arguable how valuable staff travel privileges might be to me. I have to buy multiple tickets to cover the possibility of not getting away, and then stand around at the barrier until it’s time to run to the gate. I’m unable to travel in a class other than the lowest, unless I am very lucky. When travelling with my wife, it is unusual to be seated near her.
And the tickets are emphatically not free. In fact, it is often cheaper to fly one of the low-cost carriers on a firm booking.