Gold Guest List beginner's guide

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Old Jan 16, 16, 7:31 am
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Gold Guest List beginner's guide

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When I first reached GGL, I realized that there's not a good centralized guide to GGL. This guide attempts to fill that void!

Overview

The British Airways Executive Club has several status tiers. The highest status that can be earned directly through flying is Gold Guest List (GGL). This guide attempts to help both new and experienced GGL members get the most from the perks and benefits available with GGL.

Qualifying

The detailed guide to earning status has information on requirements to reach all status levels, including GGL.

While requirements were changed in early 2015 to require 5,000 TP to initially qualify for GGL, you currently only need 3,000 TP to renew your status. Lifetime GGL may be attained at 100,000 TP.

GGL is somewhat complicated to explain in that it's not a truly separate status level above gold, in that if you fail to reach 1,500 tier points as a GGL, your soft landing will be to silver, not to gold! Also, some of the perks of GGL are only retained when earning at least 5,000 TP.

For those people more familiar with mileage based systems, it's worth comparing what it takes to earn GGL status compared to status in other programs. The following oversimplified scenarios would earn GGL:
  • 18 longhaul return trips in business class. If all were LHR-JFK, this would be 36 * 3,450 miles or 124,000 miles, whereas if all were flown on a longer journey such as LHR-ICN, it would take 36 * 5,500 miles or 198,000 miles flown to earn GGL.
  • 12 longhaul return trips in first class. If all were LHR-JFK, this would be 24 * 3,450 miles or 82,800 miles, whereas if all were flown on a longer journey such as LHR-ICN, it would take 24 * 5,500 miles or 132,000 miles flown to earn GGL.
  • 125 longhaul return trips in the lowest economy classes of G, O, and G. On the same LHR-JFK route, you would need a near impossible 250 * 3,450 miles 862,500 miles! And LHR-ICN would be 1,375,000 miles, which would mean flying 3,800 miles in economy every day of the calendar year!
Some members achieve GGL a bit faster by flying on partner F segments of 2,000 miles or more. Or perhaps a CE return twice per month of NCL-LHR-HEL could also qualify, and would be around 60,000 miles per year. The minimum number of miles flown to reach GGL is probably around 50,000 miles, but is typically much more.

So reaching GGL requires a significant amount of flying in Club World or First on BA and its partners each year, a significant number of ex-eu tier point runs, or a very regular connecting route!

For the original author of this guide who is based in the US, the first year of qualifying for GGL looked like this (primarily in business and first class):



And as noted in the detailed guide to earning status, you must have at least 4 eligible flights. The simplest is to fly 4 BA or IB flights per year, but BA codeshares on AA also meet this criteria, for example.

Starting as GGL

A few days after you reach 5,000 TP, your account should update from Gold to GGL. So typically 1-2 days for your tier points to post, and another day for your status to change to GGL. Shortly thereafter, you will receive the following:
  • A welcome kit by post, including your GGL card
  • A separate Concorde Room (CCR) card by post
  • Eligibility for all GGL benefits
These cards are sent regularly from the UK, so international members will have a longer wait than UK residents. For example, as a resident of the USA, it took me 23 days from my GGL qualifying flight to receive my GGL card, and 26 days to received my CCR card.

You will also no longer pay fees for cancelling, changing or booking award tickets with more than 24 hours noticed. And you can transfer Avios to another member for free. And you may bring an extra guest into each BA operated lounge.

Some members report getting a welcome phone call (sometimes in the middle of the night if you live in North America!), whereas many others report never receiving such a call. This may be a new benefit, or it may only apply for those that choose to answer their phone. When I reached GGL, I called the GGL line within a few days, so that may have counted as my welcome call.

GGL card

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The GGL card looks nearly identical to the BA Gold card, with a small crown logo and the letters GL in the top right corner. Your background on the website when logged in while also change to show the GGL crown. This card contains a new phone number for the GGL Priority Assistance line.

GGL Priority Assistance line

After getting GGL, you get access to the GGL Priority Assistance line, no matter where you live. It's open 24 hours a day, unlike most of the BA phone lines. You also get a direct email address, though you typically need to ask for this during a telephone call to the GGL helpline. Note that you will need to verify your status when calling, so there's no point in dialing this line if you are not a GGL. If you need to find the GGL line, dunk’s BA contact number tool is very useful. And if you cannot find the GGL email address, a message to the general BA email with your BAEC number will result in it being forwarded to the GGL team.

The GGL priority assistance line is incredibly useful, with a very helpful staff that is very proactive in offering their help and reminding you of your benefits.

Note that the GGL team has a five hour break between 1am and 6am UK time. Between 1am and 6am, calls are routed to a solid BA team (probably the Gold line that typically handles US-based calls in the evenings). While you may of course call between 1am and 6am, more complex inquiries should be made during the dedicated team's hours.

CCR card

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The CCR card gives you access to the following lounges that are usually reserved for first class passengers only, regardless of your class of travel:
  • LHR T5 Concorde Room
  • JFK T7 Concorde Room
  • LHR T5 Arrivals Concorde dining area (you still must arrive on a longhaul flight; medium haul flights such as Moscow, Tel Aviv, and Beirut which have a CW cabin qualify) and Arrivals baths
  • BOS Concorde Dining Room (reports are that this is currently limited to passengers flying in first due to capacity)
  • IAD Concorde Dining Room (reports are that this is currently limited to passengers flying in first due to capacity)
  • LHR T3 First dining area
  • Future lounges with a separate Concorde area may also be available for CCR card holders
As part of your GGL benefit, you may also invite one guest more than you would normally be allowed to invite into a particular BA lounge:
  • Flying in First, you may invite two guests into any BA operated lounge, including the CCR
  • Flying in any other class, you may invite one guess into the CCR
  • Flying in any class, you may invite two guests into BA operated Galleries Club and Galleries First lounges
The Lounge access overview is an informative comparison of BA lounge access for all classes of travel, but does not cover a few of the Concorde areas within other lounges at the time this was written.

If you need to use CCR before your card arrives, then you can call the GGL helpline and they will email the relevant CCR so they know to expect you. If you forget the card, then there is a file binder with a list of names, but it's best not to rely on that as it will slow down your entry into the lounge. You can also take a photo of your card and show it on your phone, should your card arrive at home while you're on the road.

The secret handshake of the CCR when not flying in First is a subtle flash of your CCR card to the poor BA agent with the job of turning away the 90% (or more!) of people who try to use the direct door to the CCR at T5 south just past the security checkpoint.

Be sure to check out the CCR dining menu as food choices are updated monthly.

Your CCR card follows the same expiration rules as your GGL membership. So if your GGL membership year ends on 8 April, your GGL and CCR cards are valid through 31 May. In the first year that you qualify for GGL and CCR, both will be valid for the current membership year and the following membership year. For example, if you qualify on 1 February 2016 and your membership year expires on 8 April 2016, you will have GGL and CCR cards that expire 31 May 2017. You will need to reach sufficient tier points for renewal by 8 April 2017 to extend the expiration date to 31 May 2018.

Similar to when flying in first class, cabana and spa reservations may be made up to 28 days in advance for CCR card holders. Cabanas and spa treatments may also be requested upon arrival. Both the cabanas and spa treatments are subject to availability.

Gold and silver partner cards

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You can nominate one person to Gold status and two people to silver status. To nominate them, simple add them to either your household account if desired, or as friends/family if not part of your household, and then click on nominate in the friends and family section in your account. As soon as your family or friend has been added, you should be able to nominate them instantly. Also, all nominees need to be at least 18 years of age to be nominated via the website, though you can call the GGL line to nominate one of your under age 18 children.

There are several strategies for optimising the maximum time for a partner to have status. The GGL timing thread has recent details. Note that it is not 100% clear if a partner will receive a soft landing or not when their year expires and they do not earn enough tier points to retain their status, but it is not a published benefit.

Also note that when you first qualify for GGL, you will not receive a new batch of partner cards until you qualify again for GGL. So reaching GGL right before the end of your tier point year will not earn you double the number of partner cards in a short stretch of time.

Transferring Avios

In addition to the partner cards, you can also help your friends and family , even those that do not reside at your address, through the transfer of Avios. For non-GGL, you are generally limited to sharing Avios via a household account.

There are two ways you can transfer up 324,000 Avios per calendar year:
  • Free for the first 162,000 Avios transferred (combined total for all transferred within a calendar year) TODO: Not connected to your renewal year?
  • You can pay to transfer up to 162,000 additional Avios
Other conditions and details:
  • You can transfer a maximum of 54,000 Avios per member each calendar year, 27,000 Avios for free and 27,000 by paying to transfer.
  • You will need to know the Executive Club number, full name, and email address and Executive Club number to make a transfer.
  • The receiving member must already have at least 1 Avios in their account, so you cannot create a new account for someone to receive Avios before they've flown BA.
  • Avios can only be transferred online in multiples of 1,000 Avios.
  • Avios are transferred immediately and can be used right away.
  • When paying to transfer, you will be charged a non-refundable fee, dependent on the number of Avios transferred.
  • You must be over 18 years old to transfer Avios. (How many underage GGL members does BA have?!?)
Hilton Diamond status

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You will also achieve Hilton Diamond status when reaching GGL. To receive this, email the GGL team and give them your Hilton Honors number. It may take up month to process. The main benefits of Diamond status are:
  • Premium internet access
  • Express check-in and late check-out
  • Still water
  • Space-available upgrades
  • Executive lounge access
Just do your best to not be this guy:



Otherwise you may find yourself on the Hilton equivalent of the dykwia thread.

It seems to be pot luck whether requesting this will be a simple short phone call to BAEC armed with your Hilton Honors number, or whether it'll involve calling several times over a month or two before the Heath-Robinson machine that makes it happen kicks into action. For me, the Diamond status was active within about ten days of requesting it.

GGL Redemption/Jokers

This is by far the most sought after benefit, as it allows you to make two return bookings per year on BA flights with Avios booking into revenue available seats as follows:
  • Book up to 5 seats using avios even when there are no redemption seats available
  • Limited to 5 joker seats per cabin per flight (though the GGL team can request additional seats on your behalf in some circumstances)
  • Seats needs to be available in revenue classes (A for first, D for CW, T for WT+) (though the GGL team can request additional seats on your behalf in some circumstances)
  • All flights must be on BA metal (cannot be used on codeshares with AA, CX, etc.), though can be combined with itineraries with seats on other metal if normal availability is available on those flights
  • May be used for other people, even if the GGL member is not flying
Jokers/GGL redemptions can only be used by calling the GGL priority access line.

The GGL redemption (otherwise known lovingly on FT as the 'joker') makes it possible to create redemption space where none existed subject to the criteria noted above. Once this space is created it can be used just like any other redemption space. For example, it can be booked in full with Avios or by upgrading a revenue ticket. In addition, it can be used with a GUF1 or GUF2 and/or with any of the two for one options such as the AMEX 2-4-1 or the Chase Travel Together coupon. Note that may not use Avios + GUF to upgrade two cabins of travel on a revenue ticket.

You'll get two jokers/GGL redemptions for each qualifying membership year, meaning two on initial qualification (which need to be used by the end of that year) and two when you roll over to each new membership year. So if you reach 5,000 tier points in March and your year expires on April 8th, you'll get two to use almost immediately, which expire on April 8th, and then two more on April 8th, which expire 12 months later. This will then repeat each year that you qualify for GGL. So you may get a boost of extra jokers the first time you qualify for GGL.

The expiration date for a GGL redemption is the date you need to book by, not the date you need to travel by. So you can book a redemption for up to the usual 355 days in advance, well beyond the date of the GGL redemption deadline.

Jokers/GGL redemptions may also be used to open upgrade space on a paid booking (to one class of travel higher, e.g. CW to F or WT+ to CW).

When calling the GGL priority assistance line, it is best to ask about a GGL redemption rather than a joker, and politely ask for the dates, travelers, class of service, and route you seek to fly. Also, you may be told that space needs to be confirmed (typically when A class availability doesn't exist in F, or similar for other cabins), and you'll receive a call back in 20-30 minutes once it is confirmed (which is much better than waiting on hold!). Once confirmed, you can either pay any tax and surcharges that are due, or place a complimentary hold for 72 hours.

Example: First year of GGL redemptions

Given the number of questions about how to use GGL redemptions, the OP will share the first year of GGL redemptions (qualified in early March, tier point year expires on April 8th):

In March, I had two GGL redemptions to use prior to April 8th. I used one redemption to upgrade an existing BA booking from CW to F on LHR-PHX//LAX-LHR using Avios. I then used the other joker to book our family of five in F, PHX-LHR-PHX using Avios, Chase 2-for-1 certificate, 2 GUF1, and 1 GUF2. This was approximately 7-8 months in advance, and the outbound did not have sufficient availability, so the agent called revenue management and cleared availability and then called me back to complete the booking.

After April 8th, I had two more GGL redemptions to use prior to the next April 8th. I used both on separate occasions to upgrade LHR-PHX-LHR from CW to F using avios.

Beyond 5,000 tier points

GGL earn extra GUFs based on tier points, beyond the 1 GUF2 and 2 GUF1 that are earned by Gold and GGL members at 2,500 and 3,500 TP, respectively

An additional joker/GGL redemption is earned at 6,000 TP.

At 7,000, 8,000 and 9,000 TP, you can choose one of the following:
  • 2 GUF1
  • Another GGL redemption (joker)
  • 50,000 Avios
Additional GUF1 and GGL redemption/jokers are valid for 12 months from their issue date, and are not connected to the membership year like the GGL/redemption earned at 5,000 TP. If you cannot decide which option to choose, perhaps the GGL choice discussion will help you decide.

To the disappointment of corporate-wage-slave, there are no further benefits above 9,000 TP other than reaching lifetime GGL more expediently.

Special services

GGL passengers often receive the Special Services treatment on arrival and departure from Dubai. This meet and greet service is provided by Marhaba, and it includes golf buggy transfer, immigration assistance (fast track), porter assistance etc. Note: It has been reported that this service is NOT provided any longer in Dubai.

India generally gets Special Service style meet and greet, arriving and departing. Miami, Singapore, JFK and to a lesser extent LAX too.

Special services is not provided by default, but is provided when available. It should probably be thought of as a special surprise when it happens, rather than something to expect as a GGL.

Premier members

BAEC Premier members, an invite-only status typically reserved for the senior decision makers at companies and government bodies with substantial spend with BA, can earn the other perks such as GUF and the additional rewards at 7,000, 8,000, and 9,000 TP. These are earned when a member earns the same number of tier points required for non-Premier members. They remain Premier cardholders with Concorde Room and BA lounge access in all circumstances ("open doors") with 2 guests. Premier cards can be withdrawn at anytime, it's not a lifetime invitation, at which point the cardholder typically drops to Gold or GGL level, depending on recent TP history.

GGL renewal

If you reach at least 3,000 TP, your GGL status will renew, and you'll receive a new set of GGL cards, two silver & one gold nominations, 2 fresh jokers with any remaining jokers from the previous year expiring.

If you reach 5,000 TP, you'll also receive a new CCR card.

Lifetime GGL

After 100,000 TP, you will receive GGL for life (normal requirement to stay active in BAEC). Lifetime GGL members also receive a CCR card.

LTGGL members do not receive an alternative benefit to the CCR card when earning 5,000 TP.
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Old Jan 16, 16, 7:35 am
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Didn't someone do this a week or so ago????
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:01 am
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Good guide. The only comment I have is that for the JFK CCR guide you may be better off linking to the LHR CCR dining guide as well. The JFK menu is often posted in the LHR CCR thread so that is probably the best place to find an updated menu.
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:02 am
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Originally Posted by UKtravelbear View Post
Didn't someone do this a week or so ago????

Yes, the OP.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...e-new-ggl.html
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:02 am
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Originally Posted by UKtravelbear View Post
Didn't someone do this a week or so ago????
Yes. So much fuss over such a little thing. And are there really so many GGL card holders on FT ?
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:06 am
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Originally Posted by bafan View Post
Yes. So much fuss over such a little thing. And are there really so many GGL card holders on FT ?
Some one taking the time and effort to make a guide that might be helpful to some people is a fuss??

If the guide isn't relevant to you don't read it.
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:06 am
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Superb guide dylanks

I know this took a great deal of time and effort to collate and publish so I am indebted to you for making this happen.
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:08 am
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Originally Posted by bafan View Post
Yes. So much fuss over such a little thing. And are there really so many GGL card holders on FT ?
My issue isn't the guide itself but that this appeared to be yet another guide for GGL people.

Looks like I saw this post before the closure of the original post.
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:09 am
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Originally Posted by bafan View Post
Yes. So much fuss over such a little thing. And are there really so many GGL card holders on FT ?
Well someone's grumpy today! I won't apologise for my enthusiasm.

I was looking to fill in a gap in the guide, as the info was spread across many threads.

Sorry about the noise of a new thread, but I thought that a clean thread for the guide would avoid any confusion from the earlier work in progress.
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:19 am
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thanks dylanks for pulling together! I know from my own and other experience how much work it is to do this and it's greatly valued by the community - especially as we get many questions on GGL benefits etc.

great guide for both existing and aspiring GGLers.

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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:20 am
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I would change the 90% to 97% being turned away from the "million pound door".

Good work, it is it a bit sobering as a Y pax, that I'd need 800,000-odd miles to achieve GGL, or about 7x as much flying as I currently do.
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:20 am
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I couldn't be further from GGL

However, I appreciate the effort and time that has gone into this, and will enjoy reading (fantasizing?) about it
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Old Jan 16, 16, 8:24 am
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Thanks for posting this dylanks. That was a very interesting read and I'm sure that it took quite a while to compile. I'm certain that this will be a very useful thread on this forum.

Originally Posted by bafan View Post
Yes. So much fuss over such a little thing. And are there really so many GGL card holders on FT ?
This guide isn't personally relevant to me as I don't think I'll ever be in the situation to qualify for GGL but I found that it is extremely informative and will be a great asset to the BAEC forum for current and/or prospective GGL'ers as posters will be able to be directed to a comprehensive guide about GGL.
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Old Jan 16, 16, 9:02 am
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Wow. This whole "Joker" thing is mindblowingly awesome!!!!

I will never achieve this level of flying (I do about 150,000 miles per year--all leisure), but this sounds like an amazing benefit.

Are there any other airlines that offer something similar that opens up award space?
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Old Jan 16, 16, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by dylanks View Post
Well someone's grumpy today! I won't apologise for my enthusiasm.

I was looking to fill in a gap in the guide, as the info was spread across many threads.

Sorry about the noise of a new thread, but I thought that a clean thread for the guide would avoid any confusion from the earlier work in progress.
Although this guide has no direct relevance for myself, it was still very interesting and informative. It is great that people have the enthusiasm and are prepared to spend their time producing them. These are the sort of things that make the BA board what it is.
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