How British Airways’ status freeze programme for new parents works

Dec 27, 2019

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After having my first child in 2016, I went from BA Silver status to Bronze, amassing zero Tier Points in the first six months. The thought of flying with a baby was petrifying. My previous travel habits were halted and I envisaged my Executive Club status diminishing further. However, in May 2017, British Airways introduced a new maternity, paternity and adoption status freeze programme.

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It recognizes the hiatus most new parents have to take in their travel. Rather than penalising members’ newly static existence, it offers to place their Executive Club status on hold for a year, granting an extension until parents can fly again.

Related reading: Baby on board: 12 airlines that allow growing families to put elite status on hold

(Image courtesy of British Airways)
(Image courtesy of British Airways)

British Airways’ policy

The airline first implemented the policy in May 2017. In 2017, the airline said:

“Executive Club Members who may be travelling less than usual as they’re on maternity, paternity or adoption leave will now also be offered a ‘status freeze’. This means their membership will be put on hold for a year, so they don’t lose their hard-earned Executive Club Bronze, Silver or Gold status — even if they take fewer or no flights.

As a further bonus, parents who take the status freeze and enrol their children as part of their household account will receive a welcome gift of 1,000 Avios for doing so.”

As with most loyalty programme doings, the terms and conditions to go along with the programme’s vague outline help to provide more clarity.

According to the terms, members can apply for their status to be extended due to the birth/adoption of a new baby if they are Bronze, Silver or Gold status. Members who have received complimentary status or have Gold or Gold Guest List membership for life are not eligible. In addition, eligible members are limited to a maximum of two approved applications within a five-year period.

If approved, you’ll continue to earn Tier Points and Avios and enjoy your status benefits. In addition, if you manage to qualify for a higher level of status during your freeze, it will be honoured.

If you think you are eligible as a new parent and would like to freeze your status, you’ll have to provide BA with a letter from your doctor, a birth certificate or documentation relating to the adoption or paternity leave. Send the documentation to baby@ba.com. BA says that members who are taking Shared Parental Leave can also apply, as long as the relevant documentation is provided.

Related reading: Can your family save money with British Airways Silver status?

The specifics of this policy seem to depend on a member’s circumstances and who they speak to. In my case, I got in touch with BA in July 2017, having been demoted from Silver to Bronze in October 2016, one month after my son’s birth. It took some chasing, but my Silver card status was reinstated as of August 2017 for a full 12-month period.

It’s worth noting that with the programme, it’s a hold rather than an extension of status. Meaning that if your baby is born in May but your status doesn’t expire until the following April anyway, then this policy will have very little impact, simply freezing your status until May the following year.

However, the freeze seems to be applied from the time of application rather than the baby’s birth. Because of that potential loophold, BA has been known to advise members to submit their freeze application before the end of your membership year to be considered for a 12-month hold.

As with most loyalty programme issues across both hotels and airlines, you might have to keep trying in order to get what you want. If your request isn’t granted, keep chasing. In most cases — like mine — an extra 12-month extension was eventually granted.

Bottom line

At a time of sleepless nights and endless nappy changes, it’s refreshing to see a policy that really does seem to put parents first. While the terms and conditions may be a bit confusing, the programme is great for helping new parents maintain their benefits — even when they might not be flying on BA metal as much.

Featured photo courtesy of British Airways.

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