In my first post this week explaining how I became a frequent flyer, I mentioned a trip to South Africa. This trip was a great example of what happens when you start building your airline status.
I’d booked London to Johannesburg and Cape Town to London. Next, I needed to sort the internal flights. At the time there was a British Airways franchise in South Africa operated by Comair. This meant it looked like you were flying BA, but it was actually another company operating the flight.
Unfortunately, as of the time of writing, this service was suspended during the pandemic with no sign of it returning.
I booked Johannesburg to Durban and Durban to Cape Town, all with BA. This was the first time I realised that my frequent flying was going to become a thing for me.
South Africa was my third major trip and I had progressed from Blue to Bronze with BA. Bronze doesn’t give you very many perks, but you do get priority check-in, early seat choice and priority boarding. It’s just enough to tease you into wanting to earn more to get to the next level. That is what happened to me.
I was standing in the queue at the gate for my first internal flight from Johannesburg when a member of staff walked down the queue asking for Gold, Silver or Bronze members. I put my hand up. He then ushered me to a much shorter queue for priority boarding. I mentioned I was travelling with a colleague, and he pointed out that everyone travelling with me also benefited from my status.
This is a trick I’ve used many times since, it mostly applies to check-in and boarding. If you have people with you on the same flight, even if they are on separate bookings, you can usually extend some of your status perks to them.
It doesn’t always work on fast-track security, but that is usually because security staff don’t work for your airlines. And don’t forget, if you have lounge access, you can usually take one guest with you, as long as they are flying on a flight in the same alliance as you. It doesn’t even have to be the same flight! (Each airline has its own rules around this process).
Going for gold!
This experience made me look up in more detail what the different levels gave you and certainly gave me the drive to progress.
After South Africa, my flying continued, even more intensely. I jumped very quickly from Bronze, through Silver to Gold. In fact, I jumped so fast that I reached Gold status before my Silver card arrived in the post.
In total it took me six months of continuous flying to go from no points in Blue to a lot of points in Gold. After that, I was hooked.
Chasing airline status is a dangerous game. But if you are going to travel very regularly, it’s worthwhile. The extra perks you get make it more than worth it. On leisure trips, status allows you to elevate other members of your party to the perks you enjoy.
If you have status on one airline and are considering moving to another, check out my article on status matching.