Update: Many details for The Platinum Card® from American Express have changed as of 3/30/17. The links below are expired, but you can learn more about the new offer and card benefits here!
There’s no denying that collecting airline/hotel status can be sort of addicting. For a lot of people, the goal is to rack up as many status levels as possible. I get emails all the time from people saying “I just qualified for [airline/hotel] top tier status — what should I go for next?”
Nowadays my answer is typically “why don’t you just enjoy the status you have rather than trying to go for something new?”
And perhaps that’s just my bias, as I’m pretty complacent when it comes to status nowadays. On the hotel front I more than double qualify for top tier status with Hyatt and Starwood each year, but I’m happy with that rather than trying to get top tier status with every program.
And the same is true with American. I’m on track to more than double requalify for Executive Platinum status.
And while former me would have probably said “what are you doing?!?” sometimes it’s nice to be complacent rather than constantly seeking out something new. After all, we don’t want to turn this hobby into a chore.
That being said, I’m actually considering going for top tier status with another oneworld program — British Airways. Why?
I’ve been British Airways Gold before
Funny enough, despite never having credited a single “Tier Point” (British Airways’ equivalent of Elite Qualifying Miles) to the program, I’ve collectively been British Airways Gold for about three years:
- Back in the day British Airways had a generous status match opportunity, whereby I could match status from another airline to top tier BA Gold status
- When British Midland got taken over by British Airways, my British Midland Gold status automatically turned into British Airways Gold status
So I really did luck out there, and have benefitted from BA Gold quite a bit.
What are the perks of BA Gold status?
American AAdvantage is an extremely lucrative frequent flyer program, and I already have top tier status with them, which gets me Emerald status with oneworld.
So in my situation, what are the marginal benefits of going for BA Gold status?
They’re certainly not as great as this laughably over-the-top video suggests, as it in no way represents what BA Gold status gets you:
Since I’m already oneworld Emerald, the main benefit of BA Gold status is simple — I’d receive access to oneworld Emerald lounges even when flying within the US.
American Flagship Lounge JFK
Now in practice I’m not sure how much value I’d get out of Flagship Lounge access:
- The American hub I transit most is Dallas, and it has a fantastic American Express Centurion Lounge and no Flagship Lounge yet (Miami Airport also has a Centurion Lounge); I already get access to these thanks to The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Typically when I’m transiting Chicago or New York JFK, it’s because I’m traveling internationally, in which case I get Flagship Lounge access anyway through my American status
- When I’m flying between New York and Los Angeles in American A321 first class, I get Flagship Lounge access anyway
- I already receive access to Admirals Clubs through the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
Frankly I’d probably get the most value out of the Flagship Lounge LAX, which is actually quite nice. And since I’m considering moving to Los Angeles, it would be my home lounge.
American Flagship Lounge LAX
But wait… there’s one other huge perk!
Access to the Qantas First Class Lounge Los Angeles
Qantas First Class Lounge LAX
It’s actually a lounge where I enjoy spending time. As a BA Gold I could use this lounge even when traveling domestically, which I see quite a bit of value in… at least in theory.
If LAX is going to be my home airport, it would certainly be nice to have access to this lounge whenever I fly oneworld.
That being said, I’m not sure how much I’d actually use it in practice. If I had an apartment in LA, would I really leave to the airport early to have a nice restaurant quality meal? And is it just the novelty that’s enticing about that, or is there long term value in it?
Achieving BA Gold status
Achieving British Airways Gold status requires 1,500 Tier Points.
I realize this is a complicated system for those of us used to elite qualifying miles, but 1,500 Tier Points isn’t actually that much. British Airways has a Tier Points calculator on their website.
To give an example, British Airways published some very cheap first class fares between Dubai and Austin earlier in the year, and I’m flying one of these soon. My routing is Dubai to Doha to London to Los Angeles to New York to Austin, all in first class.
Each flight would earn the following number of Tier Points:
- Dubai to Doha: 60 Tier Points
- Doha to London: 210 Tier Points
- London to Los Angeles: 210 Tier Points
- Los Angeles to New York: 210 Tier Points
- New York to Austin: 60 Tier Points
In other words, this one-way ticket alone would earn me 750 Tier Points, which gets me halfway to Gold status. I’m sure I could quite easily earn the other 750 Tier Points within my membership year.
So what’s the catch?
Why wouldn’t I go for BA Gold status? Well, because I’d be giving up valuable AAdvantage miles in order to achieve BA Gold status. Not only would I earn more “base” redeemable AAdvantage miles, but American also has some very lucrative premium cabin bonuses this year:
- Earn up to double Elite Qualifying Points (EQPs) for travel in paid first/business class
- Earn bonus redeemable miles for travel in paid first/business class
I’d be giving up quite a few American AAdvantage redeemable miles for this. Furthermore, if I earn significantly more Elite Qualifying Points with American this year, I may get further bonus systemwide upgrades.
It’s also worth remembering that British Airways Avios are quite easy to earn, as I can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Meanwhile points can only be transferred to American from Starwood Preferred Guest.
I suspect there’s probably not a single right or wrong answer, though I’m curious to hear what you guys would do.
Ultimately the goal with this post is to explain the approach I take in deciding whether to go for additional status. Obviously everyone’s circumstances will vary, which is why I think it would be interesting to hear how different people would approach this.
I suppose this boils down to how much international first class lounge access on domestic flights is worth? What would you do?