Many adults let their frequent flyer status lapse after they start a family, but should you? After four years without any airline status when my children were young, I ran the numbers for my family. We discovered that the free seat selection, extra baggage, and lounge access that comes with British Airways Silver Status could save money for a family of four like mine and yours, too. It can apply to any group of four people who book their travel together and not just people who are related.
Benefits of British Airways Silver status
While there are benefits to Bronze status with British Airways, the more noticeable benefits start with British Airways Silver Status, including:
- Immediate free seat selection for everyone on the booking
- 2 x 32kg bags on British Airways on Standard Economy and above tickets (not in basic economy/luggage free tickets)
- Fast-track security (at some airports)
- Business-class check-in desk
- Priority baggage handling
- Access to business-class lounges
- Priority boarding
- Bonus Avios on flights
Families with lap infants do not need British Airways status
As long as you travel with a lap infant (a child younger than 2 without their own seat), I argue that you do not substantially benefit from Executive Club status on British Airways. Many British Airways Silver benefits come automatically to all passengers on the booking with a lap infant no matter the class of service or their Executive Club status. Travelling with tiny passengers on BA means free seat selection at time of booking (even on hand luggage-only tickets). Many families creatively pack a child’s pram and car seat bags to maximise their baggage allowance, reducing the need for extra bags. Pre-boarding for families with young children goes in front of priority boarding, which means this benefit is wasted on families.
Other benefits wasted on families with young children surround anything ‘speedy’, as you likely have to wait anyway due to not being able to use the e-gates until all of your children are older than 12. Priority luggage tags rarely help speed up a large item, such as a stroller or car seat. Families can use family check-in at certain airports (Heathrow Terminal 5) and the family security at others (Gatwick) for an experience tailored to them. For lounge access, families with young children like mine use the play areas and use a lounge with a Priority Pass membership or The Platinum Card from American Express UK. However, everything changes for families once all of your children are over age 2 and as they continue to grow.
When British Airways Silver status saves families money
Along with paying for your child’s seat when he or she turns 2, you also need to pay for your family to sit together on most airlines. You can book seats for free with a lap infant on a booking on British Airways.
While BA tries to seat families together, it doesn’t always happen. Often the booking system cannot find four seats left 24-48 hours before the flight, when availability opens. BA Silver status allows you to book most seats (not exit rows) at the time of booking for free. Bronze status allows booking 7 days before and no status is 24-48 hours.
For example, here are seat assignments from London to Vancouver. Just the seat fees for a family of four seats together in Economy Class is £376 return on British Airways. If you want a window, the family will pay £400 as below.
It’s not just in Economy Class. If a family of four redeems two Companion Pass vouchers in Club World, you still need to pay seat fees. A group of four will pay a minimum of £632 return (starting at £79 per seat per way). That’s £632 for the least desirable seats in Club World. British Airways Silver Status becomes worth it for most families based on that one redemption.
We found that the check-in desk at British Airways became less lenient after our children turned 2. As children grow, we find ourselves checking less free items, such as pushchairs/strollers. Now they check normal luggage. For example, a ski holiday for four easily incurs up to £240 in baggage charges on a Standard Economy ticket. This is a large saving for a family when waved by a British Airways Silver Status holder on the booking.
Related article: How to save hundreds on British Airways flights from the UK
British Airways lounge access
While BA lounge access may not be necessary for the tiniest of passengers, we always find it handy. It creates savings for older children who may need to eat a substantial meal before a long flight. We like the clean and private bathrooms. Children also outgrow the free softplay areas by around age 6 or 7. The British Airways Kids Zones within their lounges become more desirable as children are older as they have Playstations. A pandemic update is that most airport softplays remain closed as of the publication date.
We get additional practical benefits from a BA lounge. We know our flight information will be on the board or announced. However, they are very strict about the one guest policy so if only one family member has status, only one guest can join.
How to earn British Airways Silver status
In order to reap these with BA, one member of your booking must have earned Silver status. Silver Status normally requires 600 Tier Points or flown 50 flights with British Airways in his or her membership year. However, this year British Airways reduced the Tier Points to 450 to qualify due to the pandemic. British Airways status is not just for people who travel frequently for work. If the value of seat selection and free extra bags adds up for your family achieving status is worth it. Best of all, once one member has the status, all members on your booking benefit.
We earn our status by flying return London to America in Premium Economy a few times a year. London to the US is 90 tier points each way in Premium Economy. We earn 600 easily with a few intra-European flights. We’ve never done a “tier point runs” where you fly just to earn tier points. Also, we benefited from British Airways extending our Silver status during the pandemic.
Many families think frequent flyer status doesn’t benefit them. Just because you may not have time to sip Champagne in a business-class lounge before a flight, doesn’t mean British Airways Silver status isn’t for you. However, Silver status with British Airways presents substantial savings for families.
All photos exclusive copyright of Kathleen Porter Kristiansen