Frequent flyers from Australia and New Zealand can now sign up to British Airways' Executive Club loyalty program - or, to put it more correctly, they can once again sign up to the BA's Executive Club.
The airline pulled down the shutters on membership applications from Australia and New Zealand in 2003, at the time directing its customers to the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme to "earn and redeem points when travelling on British Airways flights."
Qantas' decision in 2013 to walk away from its joint venture with British Airways in favour of an alliance with Emirates spurred some hopes that BA would recant on blocking Australian residents from BAEC membership.
And while that may have taken the best part of a decade, Executive Club membership is once again available to residents of Australia – and New Zealand, for that matter.
Savvy Aussie and Kiwi frequent flyers who valued BAEC membership worked around the long-standing restriction through a number of measures involving the use of an overseas address from a 'BAEC-recognised' country (which was most of them), but there's no longer a need for such shifty tricks.
In the Oneworld alliance, to which both BA and Qantas belong, Executive Club tiers line up as follows:
- BA Executive Club Blue = Qantas Frequent Flyer Bronze
- BA Executive Club Bronze = Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver = Oneworld Ruby
- BA Executive Club Silver - Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- BA Executive Club Gold = Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum = Oneworld Emerald
There's also the Executive Club Gold Guest List tier, which is BA's rough equivalent to Qantas Platinum One; and the invitation-only Executive Club Premier status, similar to Qantas Chairman's Lounge membership.
Joining British Airways Executive Club is free, and while it obviously makes sense for people who regularly travel on British Airways – either to London, or on shorter BA flights within ther UK or to Europe – the BAEC scheme boasts a few advantages over Qantas Frequent Flyer.
That includes a higher serve of Tier Points (equivalent to Status Credits) even when travelling on Oneworld partner airlines such as Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and Finnair.
BAEC's Avios points deliver solid value for money when redeemed on flights, and the Avios you earn travelling from Australia to the UK (for example) can easily be used for quick UK or European trips.
And if you want to set your sights on a lifetime of primo perks at the Oneworld Emerald level, BAEC Lifetime Gold status is far more attainable than Qantas Lifetime Platinum.