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I gave up top-tier American Airlines elite status a few years ago when I worked out that the benefits that I valued most were oneworld Emerald benefits which are also offered by British Airways Gold status that I could earn at a lower cost. In the years since I gave up on the AAdvantage program, I have come to appreciate British Airways Gold status for more than just the oneworld benefits that I love, and two of the less well-known benefits, in particular, have come in useful more than once.
Better economy class award availability
Did you know that British Airways Gold members get better access to award seats in the airline’s Economy Class cabins (both short- and long-haul)?
Using Avios for long-haul Economy Class bookings is usually a very poor value proposition so this benefit doesn’t usually come in useful when I’m planning trips to Asia or across the Atlantic. Where it *does* come in useful is when I’ve left it late and I’m trying to find short-haul (intra-Europe) Economy Class flights for me, Joanna, and MJ during the school vacations.
Most summers, we fly on a number of hugely popular British Airways short-haul routes on which the standard Avios seats are normally snapped up pretty quickly (British Airways now releases 8 Economy Class awards on every short-haul flight) and there have been numerous occasions on which we would have been out of luck (and facing a big cash outlay) had it not been for my Gold status.
BA makes it very obvious when this benefit is being put to good use because it flags it up as soon as a set of search results are presented to a Gold member…
…and thanks to the fact that I can use Joanna’s account to see what availability someone without Gold status is offered, I know just how lucky I am 🙂
British Airways blocks seats for Gold Members in Economy Class
Another less well-known benefit of British Airways Gold status is that the airline often blocks the seat next to a Gold member to give them more personal space on a flight.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have the seat next to me blocked on long-haul flights between London and Los Angeles where the extra space was very welcome (especially considering the length of the flight) and although this benefit isn’t usually seen in action when flights are very busy, I’ve recently had a short-haul exit row seat blocked when the flight was otherwise full.
This may not seem like a particularly big deal (and it probably isn’t if you’re only onboard the aircraft for a couple of hours), but when you’re faced with hour after hour in a cramped Economy Class cabin, the extra space afforded by a blocked seat can seem like the greatest thing of all time….especially during a pandemic!
It’s been almost 4 years since I gave up on the AAdvantage program and started crediting my oneworld flights to the British Airways Executive Club and so far, I have no regrets. All of the oneworld Emerald benefits that BA Gold status gives me (as well as access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs regardless of my fare class) have been very welcome, but it’s often been some of the smaller (but still important) benefits that I never knew about before I moved over to the BAEC that have made the biggest differences to my trips.