2021 Could Finally Mark The End Of My Top-Tier Oneworld Status

a seat in a plane
Qatar Airways 787-8 Business Class

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The travel world may have been turned upside down over the course of the past 12 months but most of the airline loyalty programs have made big efforts to keep their elite flyers happy.

My chosen airline loyalty program, the British Airways Executive Club, has extended elite statuses by a year and cut the targets for elite status in 2021, but it still looks like I may have to accept that I’ll have to give up my top-tier status when it runs out at the end of the year.

My elite status year runs through to December so with almost 10 months still remaining for me to earn some Tier Points, it may seem strange that I’m already considering the possibility of losing top-tier status for the first time in over a decade. The fact is, however, that I can see my travel future.

I don’t expect to be able to fly any of the Tier-Point-rich routes that often get me a significant part of the way to BA Gold Status, I don’t expect to fly as often as I usually do, I don’t expect to fly with oneworld airlines as often as I usually do and even when I do get to fly with oneworld airlines, I don’t expect to be able to earn as many tier points on the routes I usually fly. Things aren’t looking promising.

No Real Chance Of Flying East

I earn a lot of the Tier Points that I need for British Airways Gold Status from great Business Class fares booked with Qatar Airways for travel between Europe and various countries in Asia. In fact, at least half of all the Tier Points I earn usually come from flights eastwards with Qatar Airways. In 2021, however, I don’t think it’s realistic to think that I’ll be able to book trips to places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur.

Most countries in Asia are going to be very careful in how and when they open up their borders to visitors and we’re already seeing examples of that caution with what Singapore, Hong Kong, and even Thailand have been saying and doing. While it’s possible that we’ll see a number of Asian countries opening up to people who have been given a Covid vaccine in the next few months, I’m a long way down the vaccine priority list so it’s hard to make plans that require me to have had a vaccine when I have no real idea when I’ll get it.

I’m Booked To Fly With Other Airlines

The only trips that I currently have booked are trips for travel between the UK and my home in Los Angeles. Ordinarily, I’d be earning at least 280 Tier Points from each roundtrip booking but if my mid-March trip doesn’t take place (which is a real possibility), I’ll be left with just one booking with a oneworld airline between now and the end of my status year. All my other trips are booked to be flown by Virgin Atlantic or Star Alliance carriers.

What’s happened is that I didn’t actually think that my March trip would ever be in as much jeopardy as it is currently in, and as I knew that the March trip would earn me over 78% of the Tier Points needed for Gold Status this year (it a colossal Tier-Point run), I felt free to make the most of the great deals that I saw other airlines offering.

If the March trip has to be cancelled, I’ll be left with 8 months in which to earn 1,125 Tier Points, and with most of the trips that I’ll be able to take in those 8 months already booked. Right now, it looks like I may fall a huge 765 Tier Points short of my target.

Hard To Maximize Tier Points & Hard To Book Economically

A lot of the best transatlantic Business Class fares usually originate in cities like Paris, Stockholm, Budapest, and Sofia, and as these fares almost always route through another European country before heading across the Atlantic, they generate more Tier Points than a standard, simple, 2-segment roundtrip transatlantic booking. Not only are these fares often very good value, but they’re also great for racking up Tier Points.

Right now, however, with countries changing their entry requirements on almost a weekly basis and with airlines reacting to these changes by altering their timetables, it’s incredibly hard to make plans for any kind of trip that passes through multiple jurisdictions.

Booking non-stop routings is the safest way forward right now (you open yourself up to too many variables otherwise) but not only do non-stop routings earn fewer Tier Points, they’re usually a lot more expensive too (especially if you find yourself based in the UK as I am right now).

I love having top-tier oneworld status but I’m not about to break the bank to keep hold of it.

I Can’t See British Airways Offering Me Another Status Extension

Back in June of last year, British Airways offered 12-month status extensions to every Executive Club member with a Tier Point Collection Date between July 2020 and July 2021, so while some elite status holders will be seeing their statuses expire in around 5 months’ time, a lot of travelers have status locked in through June 2022.

That makes it very unlikely that we’ll see British Airways offer another blanket set of status extensions.

As we approach the summer months I fully expect BA to offer a further status extension to anyone whose status is about to run out but, with travel expected to pick up over the summer (admittedly from a very low base), I don’t think the airline will be keen to extend any statuses that it doesn’t have to.

As my status year runs through to December, I cannot see British Airways being in any hurry to give me another extension and I don’t really have a problem with that. I think the best that I can hope for is that the airline pushes through another significant cut to this year’s Tier Point requirements.

Bottom Line

The end of my elite status year may be almost 10 months away but I can already see what my forward flight bookings are looking like and I’m also realistic about how much travel I’m going to be able to do in 2021 and what kind of travel it will be. So, as things stand, it looks like I’m relying on an unlikely British Airways elite status extension or a further cut in elite status requirements if I’m to keep my long run of top-tier oneworld status going.

If I lose my top-tier status it will be a shame and I’ll probably feel a little put-out but given the circumstances we’ve recently all been living through, it will hardly be the end of the world. I’ll just have to re-earn Gold Status in 2022 and move on from there.


  1. Ziggy, you are far from being the only one to [probably] lose status at the end of 2021. Whatever airline, whatever tier, thousands are in the same position. My gut tells me that relatively few people *earned* their 2021 status with airlines through actually flying in 2020 and thus re-qualifying. Most everyone maintained their 2020 status level into 2021 because the airline(s) extended their status through the end of 2021. And with the restrictions on travel, combined with the continuing shift to virtual meetings/conferences, not many people will be flying as much in 2021 as they did pre-Covid in 2019.

    Personally, I was top tier status with Virgin America (Elevate Gold) for years, which translated to MVP Gold with Alaska which I maintained through 2019. But in 2019, I had reconstructive knee surgery which had me laid up for quite some time, and I failed to re-qualify for MVP Gold. So in 2020, I was their lowest tier (MVP), and with Covid and no one flying anywhere, Alaska extended my MVP status for 2021. But Covid is still here, and to date, I’ve taken zero flights so far this year and have nothing booked in the future as I write this. For the first time in 20 years, I’m looking at the possibility of having NO status whatsoever with my preferred airline…and I’m sure I am not the only one in this position.

  2. Same issue here with Qatar, was just about to renew when they extended and gave everyone Platinum for a year. Points are not frozen but counting down, so I guess I have from August to December to get 600points+ Not possible at all, and that is if the world situation allows at all..

  3. Might be worth checking your total TP..when you hit 35K, something magic happens which will serve your longer than any short term pain. Also, because airlines are being so much more flexible about cnx/ refunds, perhaps you can cnx the other trips booked on non one world and rebooked, to see if that gets you there..

    • Sadly, my years of crediting oneworld flights to American Airlines means that I’m a long, long way off lifetime Gold (at 35k).

      I’ve considered making the most of the current generous cancellation policies, but I’ll be getting at least 3 new Business Class reviews out of my non-oneworld trips and that’s something I’m reluctant to give up.

  4. you can score 1120TP in one trip if you book emirates flight on Qantas booking for example Europe-dub-sin-australia round trip in first will get you there !

  5. I think that I’m one of the few to requalify for American EP in 2020, However since my status was already extended through 2021, it did nothing for me. It did not change my expiration, I would have been better off spending my time reaching a better status on another airline. Because of my new situation, I will get plenty of miles in 2021, but won’t make the spending component, so I will drop. I will probably spend enough on the credit card to have the spend waived for Platinum pro, but this is not waived for EP. Essentially I am platinum for life because of 5 million + miles so there is little reason to continue on AA to build status. I wish AA would rethink some of this.

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