Meet Miles, the teenage AvGeek who reached BA Gold status by 9 years old

May 11, 2020

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Gold status with BA’s Executive Club isn’t an easy feat to achieve. Not only does it take a fair bit of travel and some careful planning, but it can come at a hefty price, too.

So, how could it be possible that a 9-year-old school kid managed to get coveted Gold status when many frequent flyers just about manage to cling onto Silver every year?

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There was only one way to find out. I spoke to Miles to find out more about his travels, passion for aviation and what he did to make Gold possible at such a young age.

Related: Is a Tier Point run worth it for British Airways Silver status?

Who is Miles?

Miles Damone-Mackay is a 14-year-old half British, half Italian self-proclaimed AvGeek who is currently seeing out the pandemic in Warsaw, Poland. In normal times, he splits his time between Poland and Brighton, where he goes to school. He comes from a family of status-chasers, too. His mum is Gold for life and currently holds Gold Guest List status, while his stepdad is a mere Gold cardholder.

Miles in the cockpit of of a 747 after landing in Washington DC (IAD) (Photo by Miles Damone-Mackay)
Miles in the cockpit of a 747 after landing in Washington DC (IAD). (Photo by Miles Damone-Mackay/The Points Guy)

During lockdown, Miles is trying his best to stay as positive as possible about the future of aviation as well as planning trips for Christmas and into 2021.

Miles’ love of aviation stems from the thrill of flying — that moment when the engines kick in at the start of the runway. As an AvGeek, he also loves to think about the biggest jets like the A380 and the Antonov An-225 and how they can even get into the sky in the first place.

Related: What does British Airways elite status get you, and how do you earn it?

His interest goes further than just being on the aircraft. He’s fascinated with how each aircraft is designed and made and then how each airline re-models the interior of those aircraft to make them fit their own specifications.

Miles’ most memorable flight

When I ask people what their most memorable flight is, about 80% of the time I get “when I flew Qatar Qsuite“, which is fair, as it’s an incredible product. I get more excited when AvGeeks tell me that their most memorable flight was because it was on a specific aircraft. Miles is one of those people.

He described to me his “very special” flight from Malmö (MMX) to Stockholm (ARN) on an Avro-RJ100 aircraft. He loves four-engined aircraft, and this aircraft is pretty rare given that it has four engines but is so small. The weather on his flight was perfect, too, which meant he could get those all-important photos.

Which aircraft is Miles most looking forward to flying?

Given the current state of the world, many of us are dreaming of our next adventure. Given Miles’ passion for the aircraft themselves rather than necessarily a destination, I asked him which aircraft he is looking forward to flying on the most when all this is over. To my delight, he said he would love to sit in the nose of Virgin Atlantic’s 747. At the time of the interview, Virgin’s Queens of the Skies were still flying, but sadly, have just been retired as a result of the coronavirus.

Related: Our last ride with Virgin’s 747: A review of Upper Class from Manchester to Atlanta

(Photo by Daniel Ross / The Points Guy)
Inside the nose of Virgin’s 747. (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

His obsession with the 747 doesn’t stop there as he’d also be keen to get into the nose of one of Wamos’ 747.

Related: These are the last Boeing 747s you can fly in the world

Gold status at 9 years old — this is how he did it

Finally, the question you’ve all been waiting for. Well, I certainly was. As someone who flies a lot, but still has to plan a strategy to maintain Silver status every year without breaking the bank, I was keen to see if I could learn a thing or two from Miles.

Let’s kick this off with the fact that he first reached Gold status with British Airways Executive Club when he was only 9 years old. It turns out that at that age, Miles was living in Moscow, Russia. He was applying for secondary schools in the U.K., which meant flying between to the U.K. and Russia for interviews on an almost weekly basis.

What’s special about this route is that even though it’s only short-haul, the Tier Points earned by flying it are the same as if you were flying long-haul. Moscow is only 1,563 miles as the crow flies from London, but flying in business-class earns you a whopping 140 Tier Points each way — that’s only 20 Tier Points off reaching Bronze status just from one return flight.

And, with 1,500 Tier Points needed to reach Gold status, Miles will have only needed to complete just over seven return trips from Moscow to London. Interestingly, Larnaca in Cyprus is almost 500 miles further away from London than Moscow, according to Great Circle Mapper, but you’d only earn 80 Tier Points each way.

Miles explained that around four years ago when he was making these flights, return flights were nowhere near as expensive as they are now and it made sense to pay extra to fly the Dreamliner or Boeing 777 with a lie-flat bed in Club. Why not?

Related: Bringing BA status within reach: Earn 160 Tier Points with these short-haul destinations

The key to achieving and maintaining status, according to Miles, is including a stopover when flying long-haul. Whenever he’s flying to Asia or Africa, he makes sure to pick flights with Qatar via Doha (DOH). Not only does he find it’s often the most convenient route, but the price is usually cheaper than flying direct and you get double the Tier Points by flying two long-haul legs. He loves to hunt for those amazing mainland Europe fares from the likes of Oslo (OSL) and Copenhagen (CPH) — he’s even been lucky enough to bag return fares to places in Asia from as low as £1,000 to £1,100 in Qsuites.

Miles’ aviation hobby going further

If you’re an AvGeek, there’s bound to be one or even several things that you collect on your travels. For Miles, his are safety cards, and when he travels premium, he makes sure to take his amenity kit home with him.

And as for the future for this AvGeek, Miles “definitely” wants to pursue a career in aviation. More specifically, he spoke of big plans to become a pilot. He’s already started clocking up a few hours on a Cessna 152 at Sussex Flying Club in Brighton. Pretty good going for a 14-year old!

Bottom line

Miles’ passion for aviation at such a young age reminds me of my 12-year-old self, just instead of getting Gold status, I was taking my first flight on my own to Barcelona with EasyJet. Hopefully one day soon we’ll get the chance to take to the skies together.

Featured image by Miles Damone-Mackay/The Points Guy 

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