I was going to go to Las Vegas in April, in that sweet spot between the end of the Tier Point Collection year and the card expiry where you keep your old status. From the 9th of March until the end of April, I would have had all the Gold benefits and be earning even though I had not earned enough to retain Gold. In the end, British Airways granted another extension anyway, so this run will now see my status as Gold through to 2024, rather than 2023 as the extension granted.
My original fare was Amsterdam to San Fransisco with a side trip to Vegas. The Bucharest – Phoenix (OTP-PHX) fare that had been so useful in 2018 and 2019 was no longer available and shows how these different routes come and go. When it came to travel day, I tested positive for Covid, having avoided it for two years! Thankfully I could cancel, postpone or refund all my arrangements, so I was not out of pocket. A little planning meant I could rebook a similar itinerary for the summer.
After some more schedule changes, I am booked on an epic trip: AGP-HEL-LHR-JFK-LAX-SFO / LAX-JFK-LHR-HEL-AGP with a nested trip in the states of SFO-LAX-PHX-LAS-PHX-LAX. I am travelling solo on this one, so The Poppet is going to her Grandparents for the week, and I am positioning INV-LHR-AGP. I will end the trip with AGP-LCY.
There are a lot of exciting and unusual parts of this trip:
Malaga – Helsinki on Finnair is among the few Intra-European flights earning 140TPs in Business Class. The downside is that it is a narrow-body aircraft with recliner seats that departs after 1am, so I am not expecting much sleep.
Helsinki – Heathrow is Finnair’s A350 which will give 80TPs each way and might allow me to try their new business class cabin.
Heathrow – New York is with British Airways and was booked into Business, but thanks to a very generous friend, I have been upgraded to First using a Gold Upgrade For 1 (GUF1). This will let me into the Concorde Room at Heathrow and JFK.
New York – Los Angeles is on American Airlines. As with the Transatlantic legs, it was booked into Business and would have been the first time I had flown on AA’s A321T in the Business cabin as the three times before have all been in First. However, thanks to a change in how GUFs can be used on partner airlines, I was also able to upgrade the transcontinental sectors into F.
Malaga – London City is the only Economy flight on the booking. As there is no additional space in Club, food and drinks served in Economy, and I did not need the other tier points, the uplift was unjustifiable.
In terms of Tier Points, the trip will earn 1260 in total.
AGP-HEL-LHR-JFK-LAX-SFO / LAX-JFK-LHR-HEL-AGP is 140+80+140+140+40+140+140+80+140 = 1040TPs (sadly, GUFs into First give underlying Business TPs!)
SFO-LAX-PHX-LAS-PHX-LAX = 40+40+40+40+40 = 200TPs
INV-LHR-AGP is an Avios Booking, so 0 TPs
AGP-LCY = 20TPs
It will also earn around 45k Avios worth £360 in Sainsbury’s and easily over £500 when redeemed against flights, potentially even higher.
This is enough for Gold before the end of 2022.
The last round of status extensions and alterations means that the 25% reduction is in place until the end of the year. I must earn 1125TPs by the end of 2022, including 4 BA flights. From 1st January 2023, the thresholds increase to the normal 1500TPs (which I think I would have been able to get by upgrading some legs and paying cash rather than Avios for others on the travel I have outside of this tier point run. Similar reductions exist for other tiers, with 450TPs for Silver being the sweet spot. Unfortunately, the reach for Gold Guest List is still far too big for me even to consider it.
Gold is worth it for me.
My wife and The Poppet are both Silver but are unlikely to be beyond the end of their current years, so having Gold is useful. The First Wing is great when checking in lots of luggage and a buggy; the Galleries First lounge is good, and we have, on occasion, been allowed to all go in despite The Poppet being two and technically not allowed for free anymore. The uplift in Avois earned, and the additional availability is valuable to us too. I can see myself doing a biannual run in that sweet spot to maintain it, and, who knows, maybe The Poppet will join me so she too can be Gold and see Susanne the Horse whenever she flies.
The Trip Report
Part 8 – A long Helsinki Shuffle
Part 10 – Reflections of a weary traveller