a black leather strap on a card

Champagne costs money. Space on planes or in hotels costs money and so do hot meals. With that in mind- we don’t travel hoping for upgrades. Instead, when the rare blessing occurs, we’re nothing short of flabbergasted. There’s one loyalty perk we’ve come to enjoy immensely here at GSTP though, and we’re unfortunately amazed when it’s not delivered.

We’re talking about the British Airways Gold Member greeting. Yes, for all of you who would like to use this as an attempt to call us pompous and privileged, it’s a very first world problem- but it is nonetheless something that means a lot and goes a long way in the world of loyalty and is offered, so should be delivered. Loyalty is a dwindling term in todays world and we think this is a brilliant recognition, if executed properly. This is not unique to British Airways, its’ just a foray into this wider issue.

a row of seats with monitors on themThe idea is that on every British Airways flight, the purser of the flight (person in charge of the cabin) comes around with their iPad (telling them) to recognize gold members- EVEN If they’re seated in economy. Being greeted by name and recognized for frequent flying makes things personal, it makes things homely. It’s like going to dinner in your favorite local restaurant, being greeted cordially by name and shown straight to a table. It feels great and is a literally FREE sales tool.

After around 6 very recent British Airways flights both long and short haul- we’ve been passed over more times than we’ve been recognized. This is not special to travel bloggers, D listers or businessmen, it’s a simple offer of recognition. We blame the crews. We’ve been on 40 minute flights where the purser has made incredible lengths to make the greeting. We’ve been on 10 hour flight where they have not (far more rare). More often than not it’s the short flights that skip out. Having seen great crews work- it’s appalling to see poor ones put forth no effort to any part of the service- gold or not. It’s one hour, it’s your job- lock in, smile. Do it.

(I’m looking at you in particular, entirely moody BA crew on flight 442 to Amsterdam Oct 14th)

a red tag with white text on itWhile blame partly lays upon crews, how could an airline not deliver on this 100% of the time? I don’t expect an upgrade, a free drink, meal or even extra bags (though I do get extra bags thanks to loyalty), but a little hello and “where you traveling?” makes things feel nice. This is cheap, it’s cheerful and if I ran an airline I would find it a very low hanging fruit to make people feel the loyalty.

Following many other bloggers, journalists and frequent flyers on social media, I increasingly see airlines like Delta, Southwest and others going to great lengths to recognize passenger loyalty. I’ve seen hand written notes from pilots, cocktail napkin hellos from friendly pursers and all sorts of convivial ways to say “you matter to us”. Every relationship starts with a simple action- and a hello seems like the cheapest (and best) way to instantly win points, at least in my eyes.

What’s your opinion on frequent flyer greetings?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Didn’t even know that was a thing. I will say I do like it at hotels. Truth is, a business traveler is likely a lonely traveler. So any recognition is appreciated.

  2. I distinctly remember a CX purser acknowledged my wife’s OW Emerald status on a HKG-TPE flight while we sat in coach. It does warm the heart.

  3. I personally like this greeting. And I’ve not had one in months! Really frustrating as it’s always when I’m in economy. Which I have to fly for work. Considering all the cuts BA is doing, they can’t really afford to cut good customer service. Small things make a difference. There is needs to be more humanity in the airlines these days not less.

  4. We flew to Tampa from Gatwick 3 years ago and flew BA economy. It was the first time we had flown BA. I was a total novice about the executive club and getting Avios ect. A friend of mine suggested we join the executive club and start collecting Avios, so we did. After we had boarded the flight to Tampa. The chief purser came up to us just before take off and addressed us by our names and welcomed us onboard and to the executive club We had never had anything like this before and was touched and have been flying BA ever since. And next month will be using our first 2 for 1 Amex redemption to fly to HKG business class and returning first class. If that purser had not been so nice I doubt we would be writing this post now as BA executive club silver members 😊

  5. As a Gold member for a year, travelling business long haul at least once a month, I can count on one hand the number of greetings I have received. Very disappointing for over 20 flights.

  6. I completely agree with this. The first time this happened I had used Marriott points to stay in Dubai. I had just checked out from my room and as I was walking out the front door I hear from behind me – “oh Mr xxx you are leaving us so soon!” I was so shocked that this employee took the time to remember my name and I will never forget it. I did not even have status with Marriott, I was essentially a nobody. I will never forget it- and when I can apply this in my personal life I absolutely do.

  7. I agree, a greeting would be a nice touch, however, having been Gold for a year now, I have not received a greeting on any BA flight, whether in economy, premium economy or business. Perhaps one day…

  8. Yes, I agree, it is a great way to express our Thank you to our frequent travelers/guests. However, as an in flight manager I was once confronted on arrival into JNB buy a Gold card holder who was not happy that I had not come to say hello on the flight.
    I took him to one side and showed him my iPad this showed him that on a full A380 not only did I have to say hello to 14 First customers, 97 Club world customers, I also had 68 Gold card holders over the traveler and traveler plus cabin. I physically do not have time (even on a JNB) to go around and speak to each individual gold card holder. As well as leaising with the flight crew twice an hour and dealing with the day to day running of an aircraft where there are a million questions, issues and health care concerns from customers.
    The new fleet on BA do not have purser positions so therefore the inflight manager is the only person who is incharge of a massive aircraft with one iPad and probably a number of crew who are brand new and need more guidenace.
    If and when We can go and say hello to the Gold card holders We do. However, do not expect this on every flight unfortunately there are restrictions to our super powers.
    We absolutely love our customers. It’s fantastic to build and see returning customers. When we operate regular destinations and bump into the same people all the time is fantastic.

  9. Recently took a very last minute (less than 34 hours!) flight lhr – lca. Was 24k in avios + £50 return in club europe. It was our first flight since gaining silver a couple of weeks ago. Club check in at lhr was awful. Lady was ignorant and downright rude, definitely no silver there. We even had to ask for a priority luggage tag! However, on the return trip on board, the csd came up and congragulted us on recently joining the silver club. She made us feel very special indeed and asked us to remember her wheb we hit gold. Aside from that personal greeting, she was awesome throughout the flight.

  10. You’re talking about an airline that treats its staff with nearly as much contempt as it treats some of its customers. I’m a regular staff flyer, and in the confines of the jump seat the conversation is rarely rosy. BA is running along a very fine line with both staff and customers unfortunately.

  11. BA and AA crews seem to be the only OneWorld crews that do NOT do this, whilst other OW carriers do so consistently.

  12. Cathay Pacific is the best at this on all the airlines I have flown. As a top tier One World Emerald when sitting in coach more than one FA will greet you by name, bring you a bottle of water and ask it there is anything that they can help you with. I have been given pillows and offered a glass of wine from business class. I have never received this from any other airline.

  13. I have to say in the 3 years I finally made gold (all by flying economy A LOT to various places) I excitedly boarded my next flight, which happened to be long haul to Houston, waiting for the greeting… nothing. (In my mind of course I was expecting the captain to come down and high five me). I flew anther 4 times and nothing – it felt pretty deflating as a brand new gold member. The first time I got a greeting was when I flew FIRST on Avios so would have expected a greeting anyway. Have to say my experience of the gold greeting was pretty poor. As you say it’s a first world problem and not the end of the world but does make things a bit more personal.

  14. I agree with you 100%, I spend over £30k per year with them (mostly WT and WTP), so have been Gold for many years, and the level of service does vary wildly on their flights. I was recently on LHR to Chicago (top deck 747) and I almost had a heart attack when the Cabin Services Manager came and said hello to me, which was even more surprising considering that she had a passenger in Economy who was so terrified of flying that she was screaming before take off. Yet, I have been on so many other flights in the last 12 months where I don’t feel the crew care. Now, I imagine they will say that the pay isn’t good or the conditions are terrible, which I do emphasise with, but I don’t think they realise that it is customers like us that keep them in employment …. we are not the once or twice per year on holiday, we are the ones that spend a lot of time in the air and really need to feel wanted. Getting so bad now, I am considering switching to another carrier …. even AA seem to have got their act together with the new Flagship lounge …. makes LHR first look very dated in terms of food and ambience.

  15. Sadly British Airways has gone so far downhill, a lack of ‘greeting’ is the least of my concerns.
    I’m only Silver so probably not entitled anyway, but I have been greeted warmly on Cathay Pacific. Never BA.
    I don’t care that much about the greeting. I’d much rather have my G&T back in economy! Unlikely, I fear.

  16. One time on a short haul in economy the purser came down and greeted me by name and offered some Champagne after take off. One of my fellow passengers asked me what I’d done to deserve this and was impressed at the way BA treats it’s regular customers.

  17. Completely agree with the observations here. I had been a Virgin Atlantic flying club gold member for the last 5 years. Whilst I used to almost always get the same greeting there was no sign of that courtesy throughout multiple flights in 2016. End result – I don’t fly Virgin Atlantic anymore

  18. Just landed back home in London from JFK at LGW and flew BA2272 last night and again, the CSM did NOT come around to say hello – even though she was using a trolly to help collect rubbish, etc through the overnight flight and passed by my seat several times – NO recognition as a Gold Member to me. I completely agree with the observations in this article. I know there are far more important problems in the world – but I really look forward to the kind and warm greeting I sometimes get as a Gold Member. After the Tier Points are put into my account for this particular segment last night, I actually will have 5,040 Tier Points making me a Gold Guest List Member for the 1st time – so the lack of a nice greeting from the CSM on last nights flight stings a little more. And this was a 7-hour flight – certainly no excuse for the CSM to ignore the frequent flyers on this flight. Oh well, I guess it just means that the next time it IS offered, I’ll be that much more grateful for the greeting.

  19. I’d rather have a secure website, clean, bug free cabins, working AV, reliable food and some semblance of customer care when things go wrong. Best Avoided seem to focus on marketing over delivery across the full range of their operations.

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