Can your family save money with British Airways Silver status?

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Most parents try to survive travelling with young children and let their frequent flyer status lapse. After four years without British Airways status, I ran the numbers for my family and discovered that the free seat selection, extra baggage and lounge access that comes with British Airways Silver status could present real savings to a family of four like mine and could for yours, too.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin /The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin /The Points Guy)

Benefits of British Airways Silver status

While there are benefits to Bronze status with British Airways, the more noticeable benefits start with Silver, 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.

(Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen / The Points Guy)
My boys at the BA business class check-in (Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen / The Points Guy)

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 your child turns 2, you also cross into the land of paying for your family to sit together on British Airways if you do not hold status when you no longer have a lap infant on your booking.

While BA tries to seat families together, there often are not four seats left 24-48 hours before the flight when those without status get access to the booking system. Holding BA Silver status at this stage allows you to book most seats (not exit rows) at the time of booking for free.

For example, here are seat assignments from London to Vancouver. To get a family of four seats together in the middle row of World Traveller, most AvGeek’s biggest nightmare, is £376 return on British Airways. If in a more common layout of 3-1, a family is looking to shell out an even £400 return for the economy seats below:

If a family of four redeems two Companion Pass vouchers in Club World, on top of the taxes and fees plus Avios, the family 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 to most people — the middle Club World seats, although a favourite for families. And this is not even on the new A350 Club Suite.

Baggage fees

We found that the check-in desk at British Airways became less lenient after our children turned 2. As the size of our children’s clothes and toys increased with their ages, we find ourselves checking more, not less, luggage. A ski holiday for a family of four can easily incur up to £240 in extra baggage charges on a Standard Economy ticket on BA, a large saving when waved by a Silver status holder on the booking.

British Airways lounge access

While BA lounge access may not be necessary for the tiniest of passengers, it creates savings for older children who may need to eat a substantial meal before a long flight. 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.

BA Kid Zone at Terminal 3 (Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy)

We get additional practical benefits from a BA lounge such as knowing our flight information will be on the board or announced.

How to earn BA Silver status

In order to reap the benefits of Silver status with BA, one member of your booking must have earned 600 Tier Points or flown 50 flights with British Airways in his or her membership year. However, British Airways status is not just for people who travel frequently for work. If you’ve decided that the value of some of those benefits that can save your family real money, such as seat selection and free extra bags, it may be time to achieve status in order to take advantage of those. You can read how to achieve British Airways Silver status in nearly one flight with Qatar airlines here. Best of all, once one member has the status, all members on your booking benefit.

Bottom line

Many families think frequent flyer status doesn’t benefit them because they do not spend time sipping Champagne in a business-class lounge before a flight. However, Silver status with British Airways presents substantial savings for families.

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