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While the Qantas Frequent Flyer program has shied away from offering Lifetime Platinum status, there’s still a way to lock-in lifelong access to top-grade benefits such as priority boarding and even the luxe Qantas First Class lounges.
That shiny solution is to chase Lifetime Gold status in British Airways’ Executive Club scheme.
Although Qantas has aligned with Emirates on flights into Europe, the Red Roo also remains partners with British Airways through their common membership in the Oneworld airline alliance.
BAEC Gold status sits in line with Oneworld's Emerald tier, which also equates to Qantas Platinum... meaning that Lifetime Gold with British Airways packs all the core travel perks of Lifetime Platinum with Qantas.
Earning Lifetime Gold in BA Executive Club
What Qantas calls status credits are known in British Airways' parlance as tier points, and they work the same way.
You can earn tier points on flights with BA and Oneworld partners (including Qantas). These not only go towards your annual BAEC status tier, such as Silver and Gold, but slowly contribute to your lifetime tally.
Naturally you'll earn the most BAEC frequent flyer points (which BA calls Avios) on British Airways flights, although you can also clock them up when travelling with Qantas and other Oneworld partners such as American Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
The magic number is 35,000 tier points over the course of your BAEC membership, as this delivers Qantas Platinum-grade status for life as a lifetime Gold member of British Airways' Executive Club.
How many tier points you’ll earn depends on both the fare you’ve paid and how far you’re flying. As a rule, you’ll earn more in first class and business class than on cheap economy tickets.
As an example, a return voyage from Sydney to London in business class with either Qantas or BA reels in 480 tier points, while a round-trip business class sojourn to Hong Kong with Qantas or Cathay Pacific nets a respectable 280 tier points.
Chasing Lifetime Gold status
Seventy-eight return business class trips to London will get you that much-awaited Lifetime Oneworld Emerald card, and that’s assuming you don’t travel anywhere else.
That’s basically eight trips each year for 10 years, which isn’t out of reach for some – and when you combine other domestic and international travel, the wait is even less.
Mixing in domestic connections from Melbourne or Brisbane to Sydney at the start and end of those journeys reduces the climb to 63 return trips: shedding two years off your wait for a lifetime of Platinum-grade luxury.
At the pointiest of pointy ends, first class travel could get you there in 49 return trips, so with eight annual jaunts to London, you’ll reach the top in a little over six years.
We should point out that Lifetime Platinum (Oneworld Emerald) can also be achieved through the Finnair Plus program, but you’d need to fly to London in business class every single month for 15 years to get there – making Executive Club the smarter choice for serious road warriors.
Earning Executive Club status each year
Until you’re king or queen of the frequent flyer castle, you can enjoy perks similar to both Qantas Gold and Qantas Platinum year-on-year through Executive Club, as you would under the Red Roo’s own program.
BA Silver – Oneworld Sapphire and equal to Qantas Gold – can be had after earning 600 tier points in a year, while BA Gold – Oneworld Emerald, matching to Qantas Platinum – comes after 1,500 tier points.
Similar to Qantas’ own program, you’ll also need to fly BA at least four times per annum to unlock that status, but that’s quite an easy task for Aussies…
Along with sending its own aircraft between Sydney and Singapore, British Airways also codeshares on Qantas’ Singapore flights from other ports, and with both Qantas and Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong.
Codeshares count as a ‘BA flight’ under Executive Club, so you’re all set.
A quick tier points booster
At the time of writing, British Airways' sole Australian route is Sydney to London via Singapore, which offers a handy trick to boost your tier points balance.
Tier points are calculated based on the distance of each BA flight (and of course your travel class) – but if you fly all the way from Sydney to London on BA16 you'll earn just a single serve of 240 tier points in business class.
However, British Airways also has a dedicated Singapore-London flight in BA12: and changing flights at Singapore means your TP haul will be calculated across both individual flights, which comes out at a higher 300 tier points (140 tier points for Sydney-Singapore on BA16, plus a further 160 tier points for Singapore-London on BA12).
The same applies to the return leg from London: just fly out of Heathrow on BA11 and then at Singapore change to BA15.
Based on a return business class fare, this 'Singapore split' will see you earn 600 tier points instead of 480 tier points.
There's ample of time at Singapore airport to make the change between flights: it just means an extra few hours in either the British Airways or Qantas lounges.
Extra travel benefits with Executive Club
Beyond lifetime status, Executive Club also comes with some pretty neat perks for the well-heeled, starting with a free single-use upgrade voucher for both the member and a companion after earning 2,500 tier points in a single year.
Subject to availability, it’s good for an upgrade for two to the next class available with British Airways, such as from business to first class or from premium economy to business class.
Once reaching 3,500 tier points over 12 months – roughly equivalent to the earning requirements for Qantas Platinum One – a further two single-use, single-passenger upgrade vouchers are dished out.
From 5,000 annual tier points, you’ll pocket a Concorde Room Card. It opens the doors to the airline’s most elite lounges, normally reserved for international first class passengers and BA’s uber-VIP Premier guests (on-par with Qantas’ elite Chairmans Lounge).
At these lofty heights, you’ll also be quite popular with your friends and family – one Executive Club Gold (Oneworld Emerald/Qantas Platinum) and two Executive Club Silver (Oneworld Sapphire/Qantas Gold) cards are yours to distribute as you see fit.
That’s also available if you earn at least 3,000 tier miles in two consecutive years – as is Gold Guest List status which comes with additional lounge guesting rights and a free status boost in the Hilton HHonors program – although the Concorde Room Card is exclusively for the Ryan Bingham-esque.
The fine print
The biggest hurdle to membership is that British Airways doesn’t accept Executive Club applications from those with an address in the ‘South West Pacific’: including Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands.
But, if you’re racking up that much travel to London to really make the chase worth your while, chances are you already have a house in The Hamptons or could well feel at home with a U.K. address…
Also, British Airways membership doesn’t churn out any benefits when flying with Emirates, so even if you book your Middle Eastern travels on a QF code, you’ll earn nothing under Executive Club.
There’s one slight exception: when flying on a Qantas aircraft from Australia to London via Dubai, BA Executive Club Gold (Oneworld Emerald) members can access the Emirates business and first class lounges in Dubai – so be sure to book QF1/QF2 from Sydney or QF9/QF10 from Melbourne.
Finally, you won’t build frequent flyer points, tier miles or enjoy lounge access when jet-setting with Fiji Airways or Jetstar, which is where Qantas Frequent Flyer packs a punch.
But really, if making the journey to British Airways’ Lifetime Executive Gold status is within your grasp, you’ll never look back...
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