I’ll start with an admission. Most, but not quite all, of my family and friends think that I’m crazy, that anyone who not just plans, but plans to actually enjoy what are likely to be upwards of 70 flights over the next 12 months must be positively certifiable. The goal of all this flying? Attaining an exclusive tier within British Airways Frequent Flier Program (their Executive Club) called “Gold Guest List”.
I’ve had a “regular” BA Gold Card for a number of years. To get this you need 1500 BA Tier Points (TP’s). TP’s are earned with each flight you take with BA and other airlines in the OneWorld alliance, but earning them is heavily skewed towards taking expensive business and first class flights. For example, a flight in Euro Traveller (Economy) to most short-haul destinations earns just 5 TP, whilst a flight in Club World (Business Class) to New York earns 140 TP. To initially qualify for Gold Guest List (GGL) requires 5000 TP, with 3000 points in subsequent years to renew. That is going to mean a lot of visits to Heathrow, and a lot business class flying! Fortunately there are ways of keeping the cost of the latter down to manageable levels, but paradoxically by flying more…
This is an exercise in the effect of supply and demand on airline ticket pricing. If you’re prepared to start your journey from outside of the UK (a so called “Ex-EU” ticket), and connect say in Heathrow, it’s often possible to buy a long haul business or first class ticket for substantially less than it would cost if you started your journey in London, even on the same plane. This is where paying less for more flying comes in.
And it’s possible to do even more flying for the same price, and earn even more Tier Points by taking further connecting flights. For example flying to Las Vegas via New York rather than direct.
Naturally there’s the extra inconvenience (if you class all flying as inconvenient!) and a risk of misconnections and cancellations throwing your travel plans into disarray, but if you’re prepared to take the risk, then it’s possible to save 50%, and often a lot more on premium cabin tickets, and amass those airline status points much more quickly than you would by starting and ending your journey in the UK.
Flying, from Chore to Pleasure
For me at least, travelling in a business or first class cabin turns flying from a chore to a pleasure. My life is normally super-busy with long working days typically full of business meetings, plus numerous family commitments. Being able to sit in relative tranquility for a number of hours with a book, some music or just my own thoughts whilst drinking a gin and tonic or a glass of wine is time in which I can properly relax.
What’s it Going to Cost?
I’m trying not to think too hard on this one. In addition to my leisure travel I’ll likely be taking five or so long haul business trips in 2019, and some of them will probably be with BA or OneWorld alliance airlines, so not all of the travel will be self-financed. At a rough guess I’d estimate it’ll cost around £15k for the personal travel.
And the Benefits?
A regular BA Gold Card already gets you first class lounge access, first class checkin, priority boarding, premium free seat selection and a bunch of other benefits. Gold Guest List adds a few more perks: the ability to gift one Gold Card and two silver cards to friends and family, a dedicated helpline some upgrade vouchers, and two “jokers” which give you the ability to ask BA to make normal revenue seats available for you to purchase for air miles redemptions. The latter should prove to be quite lucrative if I can use it for first class longhaul travel. Flyertalk is an excellent forum for anyone wanting to learn more of this stuff, and there’s even a complete guide on GGL.
Thanks to my colleague Gordon at work for suggesting I join the BA Executive Club many years ago, to Raffles who runs the excellent Head for Points Frequent Flier website, and the helpful members of the FlyerTalk BA Forum for their collective knowledge which has made all this craziness possible.