British Airways Executive Club – A Complete Guide (2021)

British Airways Executive Club – A Complete Guide (2021)

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British Airways (BA) is among the world’s largest airlines. They’ve got the biggest presence in the US of any European airlines. They’re also one of the most generous airlines with the number of reward seats they release in first, business, premium economy, and economy classes. 

As such, you’re likely to either come across BA reward flights or want to know more about their frequent flyer program, BA Executive Club. While most airlines reward you with miles for your loyalty, BA coined the term “Avios” for their point currency. 

This guide will walk you through the basics of earning and redeeming Avios, earning elite status with British Airways through their Tier Points scheme, and take a look at the best redemption opportunities with British Airways’s frequent flyer program.

About Executive Club: British Airways’s Frequent Flyer Program

British Airways is part of IAG, one of the world’s major airline conglomerates. All of IAG’s airlines, including Aer Lingus, Iberia, Level, and Vueling, use Avios as their points currency.

British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) is the most popular of IAG’s airlines’ loyalty programs. With BAEC, you can earn and redeem Avios for flights on British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, Alaska Airlines, and all of the other oneworld airlines. 

British Airways has a distance and segment based award chart. That means the price of a reward flight reservation is determined by the distance of each sector and the cabin of service. Longer flights in premium cabins require more Avios. Short flights require as few as 4,000 Avios. 

BAEC tracks progress towards elite status through a Tier Points scheme. Your flight will fall into a certain band depending on its length, and you’ll earn a number of Tier Points for that band depending on the fare code. Tickets in higher fare buckets earn more Tier Points, while the cheapest economy flights earn the fewest number of Tier Points. 

If you’re crediting flights to British Airways, transferring points to BA, or making redemptions via BA, you’ll want to be familiar with the nuances of the Executive Club program. 

British Airways’s Partners and Alliances

British Airways was a founding member of the oneworld alliance. BA is also part of IAG, one of the world’s largest airline groups. You can earn or redeem Avios with BA or any of their partners.

As a British Airways Executive Club member, you can earn and redeem Avios with the following airlines:

Alaska Airlines
Finnair
Qantas
S7 Airlines
American Airlines
Iberia
Qatar Airways
SriLankan Airlines
Cathay Pacific
Japan Airlines
Royal Air Maroc
Fiji Airways
Cathay Dragon
Malaysia Airlines
Royal Jordanian
Aer Lingus
BA’s Network of Partners

You can move Avios between Aer Lingus, British Airways, and Iberia accounts. You can even credit Vueling flights to Iberia, and transfer those Avios to British Airways. It’s worth being familiar with all of the airlines in IAG, as well as their website Avios.com. 

Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • 5x Avios points on Aer Lingus
  • Annual Companion Certificate
  • Priority Boarding on Aer Lingus Flights
  • $95
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • 5x Avios per dollar spent on purchases with British Airways
  • 10% Discount on British Airways Flights
  • Reward Flight Statement Credit
  • $95
Iberia Visa Signature® Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • 5x Avios per dollar spent on purchases with Iberia
  • 10% Discount on Iberia Flights
  • Iberia $1,000 Flight Discount Voucher
  • $95

You can redeem other miles for travel on British Airways, but you’ll need to read our guide to that specific loyalty program. Some of BA’s most popular partners include American AAdvantage (you can find the AAdvantage guide here) and Alaska Mileage Plan (you can find the Mileage Plan guide here). 

BA Executive Club Benefits

British Airways Executive Club is a useful frequent flyer program for any traveler. You can redeem Avios for travel domestically on Alaska and American Airlines across the US and to Hawaii and Alaska, and even to the Caribbean and Mexico. 

BA has a distance based award chart. There are a number of different bands that flights fall into, and then the price is determined by the band and cabin of service. That makes BAEC a great program for short haul redemptions, while redeeming Avios for long haul flights can be outrageously expensive.

BA has a fairly intuitive website, and all of their partners can be booked online with the exception of Aer Lingus. Alaska Airlines awards are now bookable on the website as the airline is a oneworld member.

Use Avios to book Alaska Airlines flights

BA has very moderate change fees. If you need to change or cancel your reservation, it’s just a $55 fee. BA phone agents also tend to be friendly and knowledgeable, though they won’t bend any rules for you. 

There are a few downsides to the program worth being aware of. If you need to cancel any award flights, you have to do so at least 24 hour prior to departure otherwise you forfeit the Avios. 

Additionally BA’s call centers maintain hours of operation that depend on the country you’re calling from. In 2020 that’s downright annoying, considering BA operates flights to every corner of the globe. Having to wait for a call center to open at 7AM to get help with a reservation can be frustrating. 

How to Earn Avios and Tier Points

You can earn Avios by flying on British Airways and any of their oneworld and non-oneworld partners, including Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, and LATAM.

However, you only earn Tier Points on flights with British Airways and their oneworld partners. Flights on Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, and LATAM won’t earn Tier Points, and thus don’t count towards elite status. 

Both Amex and Chase points transfer to British Airways Executive Club. You can transfer points from either credit card rewards program to British Airways instantly. 

There’s a unique way to earn Avios on Vueling flights, one of Europe’s biggest low cost carriers. You can credit the flights to Iberia Plus, and transfer the Avios to your British Airways Executive Club account via Avios.com. Remember that Avios do not count towards elite status; they can only be used for reward reservations. 

As you can see, earning British Airways Avios is easy. Here are some of the best ways to accumulate a large number of Avios: 

Flying British Airways on discounted business class tickets

British Airways frequently sells business class tickets for reasonable prices. There are often cheap fares out of markets like Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain to the US via London. It’s rarer to see them out of the US, but they do happen. 

BA also offers a discount for AARP members and those with the Chase British Airways Visa. You can oftentimes stack these discounts, and find some very attractive prices for travel on BA. 

Book British Airways business class during a fare sale

You can even upgrade these tickets to first class if there’s award availability using Avios. If you credit the flights to British Airways Executive Club, you’ll earn Avios and tier points, which help you earn BA status. 

Flying American Airlines or Alaska Airlines across the US

If you fly American or Alaska Airlines, you can credit those flights to British Airways Executive Club to earn Avios. You’ll want to double check the earnings for your specific fare bucket first to make sure you won’t earn more miles with a different program. 

Higher fare tickets earn more miles, and paid first class can be a great way to earn status with BA. 

Signing up for a British Airways credit card 

Both American Express and Chase offer British Airways co-branded credit cards. The Chase offers are especially lucrative, as it’s not uncommon to see sign up bonuses of 100,000 Avios.

If you’re looking to earn a large number of Avios quickly, signing up for a credit card is your best bet. 

Transfering points from Amex or Chase to British Airways 

In addition to BA co-branded cards, Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points both transfer to British Airways. A card earning either of those points can help you earn Avios, as it’s easy and instant to convert the points to BA Avios. 

British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • 5x Avios per dollar spent on purchases with British Airways
  • 10% Discount on British Airways Flights
  • Reward Flight Statement Credit
  • $95
American Express® Gold Card
  • 4x points at restaurants
  • 4x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in purchases annually
  • 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com
  • $250
American Express® Business Gold Card
  • Earn 4x Membership Rewards points on airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Access to Amex Offers
  • Redeem Amex Points Towards Airfare
  • $295
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Earn 5x points on flights purchased directly from airlines or through Amex Travel (up to $500k/year)
  • $200 Annual Uber Credit
  • Amex Centurion Lounge Access
  • $695
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Earn 1.5x on purchases of $5,000 or more in a single transaction on up to $2MM per calendar year
  • Redeem Points For Over 1.5 Cents Each Towards Airfare
  • Amex Centurion Lounge Access
  • $595 ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022)
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • 2x points on purchases up to $50k then 1x
  • Access to Amex Offers
  • No annual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • 5x total points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3x points on dining
  • 2x points on travel purchases
  • $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • 3x points on Travel after the $300 Annual Travel Credit
  • 3x points on Dining
  • $300 Travel Credit
  • $550
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Learn More Terms Apply.
  • Earn 3x points on travel
  • Earn 3x points on shipping purchases
  • Cell Phone Protection
  • $95

Chase has some of the most lucrative sign up bonuses, while Amex cards are typically easier to get approved for. You can find some of the best offers here. 

Buying miles during an Avios promotion 

British Airways frequently sells Avios at a discounted rate. You can keep up with all of the current promotions on our Promo Page here. They sell them as cheaply as 1.84 cents each. While Iberia typically has better deals on purchased Avios, it’s worth keeping an eye on promotions from both airlines. 

Shopping online at the BA shopping portal 

British Airways Executive Club has an online shopping portal. You can earn Avios for shopping with merchants via their online portal. All you have to do is set up an account, click through to the merchant with which you’re making a purchase, and proceed to check out like normal. Your bonus Avios will take a few weeks to post, but it’s an easy way to earn extra points for online shopping. 

This is also a great way to prevent any Avios from expiring. Even if you earn just a few Avios from an online purchase, they’ll extend the validity of all of your Avios for another 36 months. 

Ways to Spend Avios

Once you’ve earned your Avios, you’ll want to know how to use them. The best redemptions are for reward flights on British Airways or their partners. That’s where you’ll get the best value for your Avios. 

Most reward flights online, with the exception of awards on Aer Lingus or Alaska Airlines. 

Some of the best options include:

  • Redeeming Avios for short haul flights in North America, including to Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines 
  • Flying Aer Lingus to Europe via Ireland with low surcharges
  • Upgrading a ticket to a premium cabin with Avios 
  • Jetting around Asia in Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines business class 
  • Hopping around Australia and New Zealand in Qantas business class 

You can find out more about the best way to redeem Avios here.

How to Maximize Avios

As I mentioned, Avios are a unique currency. Because of the way BA prices reward flights according to the distance of each segment, you’ll get the most value from Avios for shorter flights. 

If you’re transferring points to British Airways Executive Club, you’ll only want to use those Avios for short and medium haul flights. Travel on long haul flights is exceedingly expensive when booked with Avios, and there are much better programs for booking those awards. (You can read more about transferring Amex and Chase points here.) 

If you’ve earned your Avios through flying, you’ll still want to be strategic with your redemptions. 

BA levies hefty surcharges for travel on most carriers. Those can be as high as $850 for a one-way flight from North America to Europe in a premium class. That’s insane. To avoid those surcharges, you can travel on:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM

Those carriers have much lower surcharges for award travel when booked with Avios. 

The British Airways Visa can also be used to get more value from your Avios. It comes with up to $600 in statement credits for the taxes, fees, and surcharges on BA flights. You can save $100 on economy and premium economy awards, and $200 for business and first class awards. The benefit is capped at $600 per year.

British Airways has a hidden “multi carrier” award chart, which can present significant savings. The trickiest part is getting availability to line up across your travel dates. With a bit of flexibility you can save a lot of Avios for multiple long haul flights booked on a single reservation.

British Airways credit cards also have a number of voucher schemes, or 2-for-1s, where you can book two passengers for the number of Avios required for just one passenger. You’ll have to pay the taxes, fees, and surcharges for each passenger, but it can still save you a good number of Avios.

BA will also let a household pool Avios into a single account. You can link up to six accounts, which makes it easy to earn rewards faster. This is great for families that fly infrequently. Instead of waiting years to earn enough miles for a redemption, you can pool everyone’s Avios from a single trip to redeem for a free flight.

British Airways Executive Club Elite Status

British Airways Executive Club has four elite tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and then an unpublished super-elite tier: Gold Guest List (GGL).

Earning status with British Airways is unique in that the elite membership year does not run by a calendar year like US programs, but rather runs on a 12 month calendar. Your elite qualifying period resets on your enrollment date every year. 

That means if you signed up for your Executive Club account on March 12, your membership year runs March 12 to March 11. You have to earn all of your tier points in that 12 month window to earn and maintain your elite status. 

You don’t earn elite status by miles flown, but rather by earning a certain number of tier points. Depending on the distance of your flight, the number of tier points you earn will vary based on your fare class. With this system you earn more tier points for connecting itineraries than you do for longer nonstop flights. 

A relatively short one-way flight from Boston to London will earn 20 tier points on the cheapest economy fares, or 210 tier points in paid first class. While if you travel on BA’s longest service from London to Sydney, you’ll earn anywhere from 30 tier points to 360 tier points. Even though BA’s London to Sydney flight makes a stop in Singapore, it’s considered a direct flight. You’ll earn more tier points by making connections. 

If you’re someone who’s looking to start earning BA status from scratch, there’s quite a bit of strategy involved given the tier points system and each traveler’s unique membership year start date. 

Elite Tiers

Here are the Tier Point requirements for each elite tier with British Airways:

  • BA Bronze: 300 Tier Points and 2 eligible flights flown in a membership year 
  • BA Silver: 600 Tier Points and 4 eligible flights flown in a membership year 
  • BA Gold: 1,500 Tier Points and 4 eligible flights flown in a membership year 
  • BA GGL: 5,000 Tier Points in a membership year (3,000 Tier Points to maintain status) 

You can also earn Bronze and Silver elite status solely by the number of segments flown in a membership year: 

  • BA Bronze: 25 eligible flights in one membership year  
  • BA Silver: 50 eligible flights in one membership year

An eligible flight is any British Airways operated flight, a flight operated by another airline but with a BA flight number, or an Iberia operated flight with an Iberia flight number. 

Elite Benefits

Once you earn status, here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy with each tier: 

BA Bronze Status: 

  • Earn 25% more Avios for BA flights 
  • Business class check-in and priority boarding 
  • Free seat assignments from seven days before departure 
  • Priority baggage arrival services for any missing luggage 

BA Silver Status:

  • Earn 50% more Avios for BA flights
  • Business class check-in and priority boarding 
  • Free seat assignments at the time of booking (excluding exit row seats on long haul flights) 
  • Access to business class lounges when flying BA and oneworld partners 
  • Additional baggage allowance: two pieces of checked baggage when flying economy class, and a weight allowance of 71 pounds / 32 kg when traveling in any cabin 
  • Dedicated BA Silver line for priority phone support

BA Gold Status:

  • Earn 100% more Avios for BA flights 
  • First class check-in and priority boarding 
  • Access to more award seats: BA opens up more seats in economy class at the standard price; if a seat isn’t available in any cabin, you can spend twice the number of Avios to secure a seat in any cabin as long as you book 30 days or more before departure 
  • Access to first class lounge when flying BA and oneworld partners 
  • Additional baggage allowance: two pieces of checked baggage when flying economy class, and a weight allowance of 71 pounds / 32 kg when traveling in any cabin 
  • Complimentary spa treatments at Elemis Travel Spa when flying to/from either London Heathrow or New York/JFK 
  • Dedicated BA Gold line for priority phone support 

If you manage to earn 2,500 Tier Points, BA will also reward you with an upgrade voucher for you and one companion. If you earn 3,500 Tier Points, BA will give you two additional Gold Upgrade vouchers that can be used for yourself and one companion.

Gold Guest List

BA has a super-elite tier that isn’t even published or advertised by BA, but is well known within the frequent flyer community. It’s called Gold Guest List (GGL). To achieve GGL status, you must earn 5,000 Tier Points in your membership year. To maintain the status, you’ll have to earn 3,000 Tier Points every year after. That requires a lot of flying in premium cabins.  

As a GGL, you’ll be rewarded with two Gold Guest List Redemptions. British Airways will open up award seats in a cabin of your choosing for you and up to four others, so long as there’s space.

GGLs can also “gift” status to friends or families. They can give one person BA Gold status, and two people BA Silver status. GGLs are also awarded with Hilton Diamond status. There’s a dedicated phone line for GGLs, so calling BA is a more convenient experience. 

Executive Club FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about British Airways Executive Club:

How much are Avios worth? 

According to OMAAT’s valuations, each British Airways Avios is worth 1.3¢ each. That’s a conservative estimate, and there are certainly ways to get outsized value from Avios as outlined above.

You can find the full guide to OMAAT’s point valuations here.

How many Tier Points will I earn on my flight? 

You can earn Tier Points on flights operated by British Airways and their partners. fTier Points are awarded by flight distance and cabin class. The longer your flight and the higher your fare class, the more Tier Points you’ll earn. You can find BA’s calculator here to see how many Tier Points you’ll earn.

Do Avios expire? 

Yes, Avios expire if you don’t have any activity in your account in the past 36 months. It’s incredibly easy to prevent Avios from expiring. You can extended the validity of all of your Avios by crediting a flight to British Airways, shopping through the online portal, or transferring points from Amex or Chase to British Airways. Simply do that once every 36 months and you won’t forfeit any Avios.

You can find more information about preventing miles from expiring here.

Does British Airways sell Avios? 

Yes, British Airways sells Avios. They occasionally sell Avios at a discount, and it’s usually only worth buying them during a sale. Otherwise you’ll pay around $27 per 1,000 Avios if your account is registered in the US. You can also buy Avios from Iberia during a sale and transfer them to your British Airways account.

You can find the latest British Airways Avios promotions here.

Why are the taxes so high for award flights on British Airways? 

British Airways levies hefty surcharges on award travel on BA operated flights, and many other partners. You’ll pay upwards of $750 to fly from the US to Europe in a premium cabin with American, British Airways, Finnair, or Iberia. Surcharges on Qatar Airways are also steep.

To save on the surcharges you can book award travel on partners like Aer Lingus, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines for international awards.

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