My "Soft Landing" from Gold to Silver

Old Sep 18, 23, 6:13 am
  #1  
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My "Soft Landing" from Gold to Silver

After the pandemic, my employer made a philosophical shift away from using one carrier for everything (BA) to using whichever carrier offered the best J class fare for each destination. I fly long-haul regularly, I now find myself a mid-tier member of just about every alliance - after nine years of BA Gold.

This includes mid-tier with British Airways. Today was my first flight in nine years where I didn't check in at First Wing or use the flounge. This was my Silver experience; I feel reality slapping me in the face:

• the check-in queue for Club had a wait estimated to be 30 to 40 minutes. I abandoned the queue and went instead to WT check-in, where I waited instead for 5 minutes.
- At Fast Track security, only one of the two belts was operational, and even the operational one wasn't moving. I used regular security instead.
- The South Lounge was so full that they weren't allowing anybody in. There was a queue that wrapped all the way around to the top of the escalators. I went instead to the North Lounge. There was a queue there as well; I was told that I could join the queue, but that there would be an estimated 90-minute wait to gain entry.

Needless to say, I do not feel valued as an Executive Club Silver member.

I learned during my transitional year of flying business class with a multitude of global carriers just how mediocre the BA product for elite passengers truly is in comparison, especially when considering the tragic state of the IT, and lack of availability of help by phone when one needs it - even for BA Gold. Now that I am Silver rather than Gold, I find myself dreading my future BA flights, but am thankful that they are now less common.

My hope is that Mr. Doyle might somehow resurrect this once-proud airline.

Last edited by Buzzz; Sep 18, 23 at 6:23 am
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Old Sep 18, 23, 6:15 am
  #2  
 
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What is going on with the J lounges at LHR T5? That's insane and unacceptable to be declining entry. I've heard this a few times recently.

Clearly the double TP offers have meant BAEC has way too many Silver members. Sorry to hear you had such a rubbish experience. I'm travelling with elderly parents in J next week and was hoping we could enjoy the priority check-in / galleries lounge experience, since I can't use my Gold benefits for both of them. Sounds like it's going to be nothing to look forward to.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 6:18 am
  #3  
 
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Its amazing how the people on here will defend the totally awful products and services of BA. Yet they just keep on getting worse and worse at everything and for sure they are bleeding the passengers dry at every opportunity.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 6:26 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by leosantos
Its amazing how the people on here will defend the totally awful products and services of BA. Yet they just keep on getting worse and worse at everything and for sure they are bleeding the passengers dry at every opportunity.
To be honest, for many years I was one of those people who was quick to defend BA here on FT. A year and a half of flying biz on KLM, Swiss, Air France, Finnair, Singapore, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Kenya Airways, American, United, and Delta has completely changed my perspective. BA has got some serious work to do.

Last edited by Buzzz; Sep 18, 23 at 6:42 am
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Old Sep 18, 23, 6:32 am
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by Buzzz
After the pandemic, my employer made a philosophical shift away from using one carrier for everything (BA) to using whichever carrier offered the best J class fare for each destination. I fly long-haul regularly, I now find myself a mid-tier member of just about every alliance - after nine years of BA Gold.

This includes mid-tier with British Airways. Today was my first flight in nine years where I didn't check in at First Wing or use the flounge. This was my Silver experience; I feel reality slapping me in the face:

the check-in queue for Club had a wait estimated to be 30 to 40 minutes. I abandoned the queue and went instead to WT check-in, where I waited instead for 5 minutes.
- At Fast Track security, only one of the two belts was operational, and even the operational one wasn't moving. I used regular security instead.
- The South Lounge was so full that they weren't allowing anybody in. There was a queue that wrapped all the way around to the top of the escalators. I went instead to the North Lounge. There was a queue there as well; I was told that I could join the queue, but that there would be an estimated 90-minute wait to gain entry.

Needless to say, I do not feel valued as an Executive Club Silver member.

I learned during my transitional year of flying business class with a multitude of global carriers just how mediocre the BA product for elite passengers truly is in comparison, especially when considering the tragic state of the IT, and lack of availability of help by phone when one needs it - even for BA Gold. Now that I am Silver rather than Gold, I find myself dreading my future BA flights, but am thankful that they are now less common.

My hope is that Mr. Doyle might somehow resurrect this once-proud airline.
It's arguably easier to earn Silver with BA than with most other airline FF schemes (though obviously that depends on your travel patterns). It's treated as a relatively low status accordingly. There is actually a considerable step up with Gold - lots of small things that make a big difference overall.

That's by no means to say BA is brilliant - the IT is pants, and it's very poor that you're only likely to get through to a UK call centre if you're a Gold member (the foreign call centre agents seem to know nothing, constantly putting you on hold for the simplest questions or problems). But ultimately as a UK-based flyer, there are few realistic alternatives for some routes and in the roundit's a better experience than you get with most low cost carriers.

That's hardly a ringing endorsement - however from a pragmatic perspective, you can wish for excellence as much as you want, but if BA's middling mediocrity is the best on offer then that's what you have to take...
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Old Sep 18, 23, 6:47 am
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by oceanscape
What is going on with the J lounges at LHR T5? That's insane and unacceptable to be declining entry. I've heard this a few times recently.
Too many cancellations and delays, therefore more hours in the lounge for the people affected?
Also, for connecting flights, I saw various examples of fares being cheaper with a longer layover time.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 7:11 am
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Originally Posted by leosantos
Its amazing how the people on here will defend the totally awful products and services of BA. Yet they just keep on getting worse and worse at everything and for sure they are bleeding the passengers dry at every opportunity.
I'm more curious that people spend forever criticizing BA on here yet keep flying them. If they're as bad as everyone says then why do people still clock up so many miles on BA seats? The OP seems stuck to whoever offers the best price, which is an approach few seem to normally take.

So, sratus must play a role for sure and the fact that not all grass is greener. Plenty of subclass experiences to be had on other airlines and I include QR in that. They may be more consistent, but it's a misconception that they provide some magical experience every single time.

The lounge situation this last few weeks is appalling I admit but shows how popular the experience has been for people. Delta have been suffering the same problems and people have to queue for the AM lounge in Doha. I'm not sure anyone flying BA regularly will fancy the same type of solution offered by DL to tackle overcrowding or lounge entry only by class of travel.

Part of the problem is BA gets compared to the ME3 and some Asian carriers and it's not favorable in many aspects. Compare it to AA, Delta, UA, Finnair etc, it doesn't look so bad, especially in the bleeding passengers dry part. All revenue based status airlines where cash is king. BA have bucked that trend making lounge access etc more accessible to most. Going forward, if BA makes getting status and access harder it'll get criticized, if it makes it easier then it'll gets criticized. How do they win?

I'm curious to hear what the solution is to the lounge problem because if BA raise the entry requirements it will again be branded the worst airline ever. It was generally well praised for it's handling of status during the pandemic and seems to have shot itself in the foot a little now. Are people here ready for a big correction, a bit like in the markets? Some people will celebrate it because they have the money to keep the perks, others will lament it as BA being greedy.

Question to any silver members, would you be happy to hit 1000 TPs, no double TPs allowed, along with a minimum of 10000 GBP spend on BA?
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Old Sep 18, 23, 7:37 am
  #8  
 
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BA will continue to get used by people based out of London due to the convenience of going direct and not having to swap planes. I am not at the stage of wanting to leave BA Exec club, notwithstanding slipping standards. However, if I did, with my travel split between places that are dominated by Skyteam or Star, I would probably have to start splitting my travel between those two alliances, which makes status harder to build up and maintain. Either that or stick with one alliance but then resign myself to cumbersome and convoluted routings (no thanks). If I lived outside London, where you have often have to change planes anyway, I would be looking closely at KL/AF and Star, but as someone based in London, BA makes more sense.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 7:54 am
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I am not convinced that the double TP offers have very much to do with how busy the lounges are. People who are getting silver status through BA holidays double TP offers are by and large travelling in cabins that would give GC access anyway and then probably not travelling much outside those bookings.

The more likely issue in my estimate is the number of Golds who have dropped to Silver (due to decreased flying and the expiry of status extensions, and work policy changes (as per OP)), combined with a return to travel for business travellers who are already at Silver status level and maintain it normally, a decrease in frequency of flights leading to a longer time spent in lounges waiting for connections, and BA selling out fairly massive CE cabins on a regular basis.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 8:15 am
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OPs post implies they were in club world. If a ticket in the thousands gets you a 30 min check in queue, slow security screening and no lounge then this will negatively impact sales of future tickets. Let’s hope this was a freak day for BA.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 8:20 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Buzzz
After the pandemic, my employer made a philosophical shift away from using one carrier for everything (BA) to using whichever carrier offered the best J class fare for each destination. I fly long-haul regularly,.
If your employer is prepared to fly you in J long haul no matter the airline. I would have thought that has to be a good thing.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 8:35 am
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by crazy8534
I am not convinced that the double TP offers have very much to do with how busy the lounges are. People who are getting silver status through BA holidays double TP offers are by and large travelling in cabins that would give GC access anyway and then probably not travelling much outside those bookings.

The more likely issue in my estimate is the number of Golds who have dropped to Silver (due to decreased flying and the expiry of status extensions, and work policy changes (as per OP)), combined with a return to travel for business travellers who are already at Silver status level and maintain it normally, a decrease in frequency of flights leading to a longer time spent in lounges waiting for connections, and BA selling out fairly massive CE cabins on a regular basis.
Oh I don't know... 2 holidays flown in WTP and that's silver sorted right now... certainly I've been a beneficiary, although for this year it's actually giving me a shot to get back to gold, rather than just hold on to silver.

Either way, it makes the cheapy short hauls in ET more comfortable, especially out of LGW (where you may actually be able to get into the lounge)
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Old Sep 18, 23, 8:56 am
  #13  
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I think silver is great if you fly Y but quite frankly if youre already flying J anyway, it will bring very little added value. Had the op not been silver their experience would have been almost the same.
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Old Sep 18, 23, 9:01 am
  #14  
 
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Originally Posted by orbitmic
I think silver is great if you fly Y but quite frankly if youre already flying J anyway, it will bring very little added value. Had the op not been silver their experience would have been almost the same.
Very true...wife flying J to LHR next week. She's silver and I can't think of anything much different that she'll get than the current extra avos and I think one extra bag? You're right that lounge and priority checkin when flying Y is about the only real difference
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Old Sep 18, 23, 9:02 am
  #15  
 
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Given all these reports.

Currently 800TP each with 6 months to year end - but one flight short of 4 BA metal
MAN/GLA/EDI home airports

About 14 flights due bewtween UK and across AUS and Asia before our TP year end.

NOT ONLY will not go to renew Gold but will only go for Silver on a cheap BA metal flight.

OneWorld J prices compared to ME3 for UK - Asia are just not justifiable this autumn. Will either do EY in J or just slum in coach from MAN to KUL via DOH and hope the queue for the pretty poor lounge is not too long.

Lots we can do with the 5K price difference between OW Y and J for 18 hours in a rigidish seat!
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