BA Exec Club – Why Bother!Back to Forum
For many years, I did the same as many of you. Pursued the Gold renewal. I’m now at a point where I’m Gold for Life – which is great. However, I currently have 4 gold upgrades and 1 companion ticket which sounds great but are completely unusable because BA have so dramatically restricted the use of these “benefits” so as to render them utterly worthless.
Even if you were to attempt to book flights in economy, with the hope of these being upgraded to premium economy – in almost every search you’ll ever do – unless it’s a year out – you’ll get no results back.
Having been part of the program since ’96 and having earned over 40000 tier points, I am utterly disillusioned with the program and would not encourage anyone to sign up to a scheme which serves you a glass of wine in the lounge with some food – and then does almost nothing in recognition of your revenue contribution.
Personally, I’m now booking much of my long haul travel to the US, the Far East and Australia with other airlines because they “do” want my business and to offer be rather more accommodating than BA. So if you’re pursuing Gold Glory with BA thinking you can re-use all the upgrades, etc, – think again. Revenue Management – how disappointing!!
1 user thanked author for this post.17 Jan 2019
Why I like BA Exec Club:
– it’s very easy to obtain Silver with one cheap Qatar Airways flight europe to asia via DOH plus a return BA flight to MAN. Gold is also not as difficult to obtain as in some frequent flyer programs.
– being gold, access to ‘First Wing’ at LHR and F lounges of the likes of CX/QF.
– the 2-4-1 AMEX companion voucher. I am realistic about this and set me expectations appropriately. I usually book a year out and have never not been able to get F redemptions for two to JNB (yes i’ve had to be flixible – VERY flexible).
– OW redemption sweet spots. Like flying Qantas Business Class Melbourne – Perth for 11k Avios plus £80. A330 long haul configured aircraft, 4hr10 min flight times. Never retails below AU$600. There are others also.
– The ability to reach the top tier without virtually having to touch BA metal.
– the european off peak reward fares.17 Jan 2019
BAEC and Brexit have similarities, both are far from perfect and generally its all about compromise..
I agree about the GUV, 99.99% (there will always be one who can use them) USELESS for longhaul. I’ve had 4 of them over the last 6 years, never managed to use any, even for a one way.. for longhaul. However, there is value to be had when travelling with a partner when using for European travel. I used one in the summer to Barcelona (5 days notice) and yes, it was value, of sorts.
If your travel pattern is purely longhaul, then again, you have lots of choice in different airlines and executive clubs, but combine your travel pattern with European travel and it does make sense to give your business to an airline with an extensive longhaul and European network, to accumulate benefits.
There are some very good lounges both in London and some excellent lounges worldwide that BAEC members have access to.
The saying “who wants my business” is interesting. Yes on CX I always have a personal welcome, but does it show the airline really want my business or is it just a gimmick.. I guess its all down to personal preferences.
BAEC is far from perfect, but over the years, the avios points earned, have saved me significant amounts of money for easily obtained free European travel and the lounges have been enjoyed, even if on one occasion the lounge distracted me so much I missed a flight.
1 user thanked author for this post.17 Jan 2019
Maybe I am lucky but I have been able to make great use of my membership, I travelled to DXB for my honeymoon in business using avios and an upgrade voucher, have taken many short breaks in Europe using avios and this year will be the second year we have booked our annual family holiday flights on points.
You have to be flexible and/or plan well ahead but I have no complaints.
As a frequent flyer for business I also think some of the BA lounges are excellent (LHR, FCO) but the fact you can also use other carrier’s lounges (Qantas, Qatar) makes a massive difference in some countries.17 Jan 2019
PDF – if you are wanting to use an upgrade flight on pure BA flights only – much easier to redeem via an agent and pay an agency fees as not then tied into Avios availability but general availability on normal revenue codes – so far more choice.17 Jan 2019
In several customer forums, I’ve heard customers repeatedly ask about using GUVs on both waitlist and short-notice (effectively gate) stanby basis, with other carriers have no issue doing. Once a plane goes up, those empty seats are worthless. Wouldn’t it be better to offer them via a voucher to someone who has shown loyalty and invested in the airline with their business? It is a very frustrating point and something BA could easily remedy. But they don’t seem to wish this to happen.
The London lounges were good when they opened, but these days lounges like the F Lounge at T5 can be a challenge to use (finding a seat, better if it is clean seat/area around it). I won’t even go into the T3 F Lounge, rodent traps and all.
Like Martyn, I’ve ended up using GUVs on short-haul…it is a value (ish), but a small one, not the ‘reward’ I would prefer. I’ve had far better luck with StarAlliance.17 Jan 2019
I agree fully with rferguson’s comments.
I’ve been GCFL since it was launched, and Gold in the BAEC since the 80’s.
Yes, reward flights were very easy to get then, and very much harder to get now, as are worthwhile 2-4-1 etc.
I haven’t flown long haul on a BA revenue ticket for about 10 years, but I sometimes get lucky and manage to find reward tickets in F for leisure, and have trillions of Avios waiting to be used.
The real value of being Gold though is what it gets you beyond reward tickets; access to OW premium lounges, ease of check-in, First Wing at LHR even when on a shuttle to MAN etc etc all have a value. Being on a real cheapo ticket to HEL on Finnair but spending 90 minutes in the CX F lounge in LHR T3 is a good example of how valuable it can be.17 Jan 2019
I posted a few months back complaining about the usefulness of the Gold Upgrade vouchers. The fact that you could only upgrade for reward seats meant that you needed to use them sometime the full 355 days in advance!
However I have managed to use them. There are some tricks.
– Firstly some travel agents can use them to upgrade to revenue seats that are in the lowest class. I managed to find some flights to HK with ‘I’ class revenue seats available and got the travel agent to book it all at premium economy prices. Got full business class from Glasgow to Hong Kong and back again with one voucher. I thank the other users in this formum for helping me figure this one out.
– Next I managed to use some for return flights to Jo’burg. Yes one of those routes that goes in minutes. I got the only 2 reward seats in business and mentioned the GUF2 voucher. Hold on said the operator (do it on the phone and not online), then she came back with PE pricing and Airmile requirments. I had assumed that I would need to be book PE at the time and as there were no reward seats in PE I hadnt considered this option. I was told you only need to have the reward seats in the cabin you are upgrading to. This was combined with a BA companion ticket from my Amex card so thats 2 of us flying club return from Glasgow to Jo’burg for the miles of one Premium Economy ticket and the PE taxes!
There’s no way I could have done this myself online and needed the expertise of the BA gold club call centre to sort it out.
– Finally, I still needed to get 2 more tickets to Jo’burg and hadnt realised I could spend double airmiles as a gold card holder to get additional reward tickets opened up. So if there’s a route you want to fly on with no reward seats you can double the miles spend and force them open. What would be interesting is to see if this could be done in conjunction with a GUF1 voucher. I.e double airmiles for PE cost but open reward seats in club??
– I know I already said finally but here’s one last one. I called the BA exec club to request the lifetime of the GUF2 voucher to be extended so I could use it at a later date and they did extend this for without too much trouble. Had to wait for the team responsible to get back to me but it was pretty easy to do.
Hope that helps.17 Jan 2019
I actually think that Executive Club is the best thing about BA! Certainly much better than Miles and More or Flying Blue (I have been gold in the past in both)
Lots of good advice on here from everyone as to how to get availability on Executive club and use the various incentives. There is actually a surprising amount of availability if only you can find it. One of the issues with BA IT is that it doesn’t really help you much when you are looking to spend Avios. However I have flown transatlantic thrice in the last year using Avios and have two more lined up. We tend to try to have one of us gold at any time and then use Avios and drop to silver using the soft landing, then start paying cash again. We are leisure travellers and fly Club for long haul.
There is a useful tool out there for finding availability, its called BA redemption finder and can be found at https://baredemptionfinder.com/ . The basic service is free but I pay GBP3 per month for upgraded alerts. I am writing this on a day when it is down due to an IT issue (it does feed off BA after all) but it is very useful if you are looking to use Avios and cant be bothered to do a cumbersome search on BA. Try it out when it comes back online17 Jan 2019
I like the idea of using a travel agent to use for upgrade purposes as explained above. A shame I couldn’t use this route to use my Lloyds vouchers….I’m not aware of anyway around not having to use Avios.com, and I don’t mean on line, when you are invariably requested to call in.
1 user thanked author for this post.17 Jan 2019
“Nobody is perfect”, or shall I say no incentive program is perfect… I am also a satisfied BAEC member for many years.
Being based near a smaller airport, I tried number of these programs since I can choose to connect at LHR, CDG or FRA/MUC/ZRH. Over the years, I’ve been BAEC Gold (still am), Flying Blue Platinum and Star Gold (using the late Aegean trick). While all gave me access to fast tracks, free seat selection and business lounges, only BAEC goes one step further with First lounge access (LHR First Wing included), easier points’ use, full points and miles when upgrading at check-in and great partner airlines such as QR or CX (yes, SQ is *A, but it is the only one I’d love to fly with in the two other alliances).19 Jan 2019
Agree with the points swissdiver makes.
Having been a long time * gold member, SQ were always notoriously difficulty for redemption bookings.
F lounge access a noticeable difference for OW emerald.
BA may not offer a great premium product in the air. However, am sat in the excellent CX F lounge at LHR before a BA flight to MIA. An absolute pleasure and more than likely the best part of my journey today.
(Mid J 747, poor quality IFE, small screen / low res etc, mixed fleet crew so could be hit or miss, more than likely a dirty seat area, dilapidated aircraft).
BA Exec Club, IMHO, adds quite a bit to their overall offering.19 Jan 2019
I am generally pleased with the whole BAEC setup. When it comes to redemptions, its all about flexibility.
If you want to go a specific place on a specific date, you probably wont have much luck, but if you can be flexible there are generally interesting place to go.
Over the last few years, we have done Manchester – Nairobi in First, 4 times in January and Feb, even taking 2 friends along on 2 occasions.
This year we have Manchester – Seychelles booked at the end of this month (that one took a phone call to BA, and their guy found availability on Qatar), then we have Beijing in April in First which will use up a 2 for 1 voucher that was about to expire.
As mentioned above, the paid version of the BA Redemption Finder is a great way of finding “What is available if I go on these dates”. Much better than randomly choosing destinations on BAs own website.
Another heads-up. if, like me, your origin is not London, you may find that BAs site says there is no availability for a destination when actually its just that the connection times from an available flight dont give enough time for transfers from/to the regional flight. The solution is to search from London, if you find availability, phone BA. They will probably be able to put you on the shuttle the next/previous day.
I know a lot of people use Avios for European flights, but I prefer to save them and splurge on a long haul in F. Makes the companion voucher much more valuable.20 Jan 2019