It’s not all that hard to see the direction leading loyalty programs are headed in.
Emirates recently made it all but impossible for people to use miles other than their own Skywards miles to book seats in their best cabins, and arbitrage opportunities to use points from one airline, to fly another, while saving miles are disappearing by the minute.
For a long time now, the British Airways Executive Club has made an extra number of economy seats available to Gold members looking to use points, but lately I’ve been seeing more impressive examples of just how many seats, and to highly sought after destinations, too.
BA Avios Seats For Gold Members
The behind the scenes operation of Avios and the Executive Club is proprietary, so I can only go on my own experience, but lately, I’ve been seeing more added benefit to being a Gold member than in previous years.
I’m getting access to not just one or two seats, but four or more seats which aren’t available to Blue, Bronze or even Silver Executive Club members. I’ve searched for top summer destinations including Mallorca, Santorini, Faro, Venice and more.
I manage accounts for family members, including some Bronze and some blue. For an upcoming trip together, I planned to help them book some Avios seats, but searching on their accounts turned up no availability on preferred dates. Sigh.
I then logged into my Executive Club Gold account and was offered pretty much as many seats as I wanted for the flight. This is denoted when the British Airways search doesn’t specify something like “2 seats available”, and instead just shows a button of “available”.
- I couldn’t book any seats on preferred dates as a Blue or Bronze member.
- I could book as many seats as I wanted on preferred dates as a Gold member.
The extra availability afforded to British Airways Gold members allowed me to book 4 people using Avios on highly sought after dates, with direct flights. Sure, it’s economy only, but I never mind for Europe.
I consider this to be exceptionally good value, and actually, for pretty much the first time all year, made me consider that I’d like to retain Gold. Flying perks don’t always make a difference, since I’m often booked in a cabin which affords them anyway, but being able to secure dates I want as a reward, is a significant benefit.
British Airways Gold also offers another underrated and underused benefit when it comes to Avios availability, and that’s the Gold Priority Reward. If you’re able to book in advance, you’re able to force a seat open on flights which don’t have one, in any cabin.
If I want to fly to Los Angeles on a busy day and want to fly First Class, but there’s no seats available using Avios, I can force a seat open, as long as one is for sale with cash. I just pay double the miles – and it’s mine. This can get steep, but for people who earn a lot of points and don’t have flexibility, it can be a game changer.
Unlocking Seats For Loyalty
We’ve reached a time (which is pretty cool) when points are literally everywhere.
Shopping, dining, sleeping – you name it – you can earn points. Those points unlock opportunities for people to do really cool things, but if people who frequent a brand can’t get what they want, things can get oversaturated.
I actually really like that British Airways seems to be focusing on delivering extra value for Gold members via these extra seat allotments and can only hope they go further and open up more cabins and opportunities.
Personally, I find it really interesting, that after a year feeling alienated by virtually all airline and hotel statuses, not regularly seeing any benefit, this extra availability is the thing which made me want to renew loyalty. My family got a great deal on a trip on the dates we want, and that’s worth prioritizing some travel with BA in the future.