Earn British Airways Silver Status In One Trip (Oneworld Sapphire)

a large airplane flying in the sky

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One of the main reasons I transitioned from the American Airlines AAdvantage program over to the British Airways Executive Club is because it’s now easier and cheaper to earn oneworld status with BA than it is with American – American’s introduction of minimum spend criteria for elite status effectively made AAdvantage too expensive for my taste.

Well, thanks to the way in which British Airways awards Tier Points (the points needed for British Airways status) it’s often possible to use a little creativity to earn a significant number of Tier Points from one trip…and that’s exactly what’s possible right now.

British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner Business Class
British Airways 787-9 Business Class

The British Airways Luxury sale officially ended yesterday but, for one reason or another, a large number of the great Business Class fares I highlighted on Monday are still available and I’ve been considering one of the fares as a possible way to get back to LA after a New Year spent in Europe.

The better deals that I’ve seen have all originated in Inverness (northern Scotland) and, while the Business Class deals to Los Angeles aren’t all that attractive, the deals to San Francisco and San Jose look very promising indeed.

As an example, here’s a roundtrip Business Class routing for travel between Inverness and San Francisco….

a map of the world

….and here is that itinerary priced up on the British Airways website:

screens screenshot of a flight schedule

£1,377.70 is approximately equal to $1,820 and, based on the itinerary above, would earn me 320 Tier Points.

As a reminder here’s how many tier points you need for British Airways status:

  • Bronze (oneworld Ruby) – 300 Tier Points*
  • Silver (oneworld Sapphire) – 600 Tier Points*
  • Gold (oneworld Emerald) – 1,500 Tier Points*

*You also need a minimum of 4 segments booked and flown on BA to achieve BA status 

The itinerary above includes 4 segments on British Airways and would therefore get me 60% of the way to Silver status (oneworld Sapphire)…but I figured I may be able to do better.

One of the quirks of how BA calculates how many Tier Points to award means that a flight between London and New York earns the same number of Tier Points as a flight between London and San Francisco despite the significant difference in the distance traveled.

a map of the world with a red line
Both routings will earn 140 Tier Points one-way (280 Tier Points roundtrip)


A flight between London and New York will also earn the same number of Tier Points as a flight between New York and San Francisco so, if you have the time and the inclination, you can split a London – San Francisco trip in two and earn double the number of Tier Points.

a map of the world with a red line
London – New York earns 140 Tier Points & New York – San Francisco earns 140 Tier Points for a total of 280 Tier Points one-way (560 Tier Points roundtrip)

The problem we usually encounter at this point is that it’s often considerably more expensive to fly from London to New York and then on to the West Coast than it is to fly to the West Coast direct so it becomes uneconomical to attempt to double up on the Tier Points…..but sometimes we catch a break.

Right now it’s possible to take the original routing I priced up at the start of this post and insert a layover in JFK without incurring a significant increase in fare.

Here’s the new routing….

a map of the world with a red line

….and here it is priced up on the British Airways website:

a screenshot of a computer

Here’s how the Tier Point earnings for this trip break down:

  • Inverness – London: 40 Tier Points
  • London – JFK: 140 Tier Points
  • JFK – San Francisco: 140 Tier Points
  • San Francisco – JFK: 140 Tier Points
  • JFK – London: 140 Tier Points
  • London – Inverness: 40 Tier Points

That totals to 640 Tier Points

That’s 40 more Tier Points than you need for British Airways Silver status (oneworld Sapphire) and 43% of the way to top-tier British Airways Gold status (oneworld Emerald).

Not bad for £1,382/$1,825

American Airlines Business Class A321
American Airlines A321 Business Class which operates between New York and San Francisco

Just in case anyone reading this is interested in trying out this itinerary you may wish to know that you don’t actually have to return to Inverness to get this very good deal.

You have to start your trip in Inverness but if you prefer to end your journey in London (and earn just 600 Tier Points) that’s possible too:

a screenshot of a computer

Be aware that you have to be careful which flights you select when using the multi-city tool on the British Airways website as the transatlantic flights have to be booked on to British Airways aircraft for the good fares to show.

If you try to aim for a bit more comfort by booking the American Airlines 777s you’ll find that the cost increases dramatically.

Bottom Line

If I can find a routing that gives me enough time back home in LA I’ll almost certainly be booking this fare but, with the best deals restricted to January 2020 and a few days in February 2020, that’s not looking very likely.

Still, hopefully someone else may be able to make the most of this and earn a ton of Tier Points at a pretty good rate while locking in oneworld Sapphire status in just one trip.