Join the de­bate




If you of­ten fly with British Air­ways and join its Ex­ec­u­tive Club, you might ac­crue gold tier sta­tus. This dou­bles the Avios you col­lect, per­mits you en­try to BA’s First lounges, and has other perks. Once you reach 35,000 Life­time Tier Points, you be­come a gold mem­ber for life; no mean achieve­ment. But not ev­ery­one has the Mi­das touch, as our read­ers dis­cover.


On a flight to Lon­don City air­port this week, I was handed a let­ter. It was hand­writ­ten, and signed by all crew (in­clud­ing pi­lots, I guess, since five per­sons signed, and we were on board an Em­braer E190). Ba­si­cally it con­grat­u­lated me for be­ing gold tier for ten years, and hoped I will keep my sta­tus for another decade. Mean­while the purser thanked me for my loy­alty.

Two days later, I talked to the BA com­mer­cial man­ager in Geneva at a British Swiss Cham­ber of Com­merce event. He had never heard of any­thing sim­i­lar. Is it a SOP (stan­dard op­er­a­tional pro­to­col), or a per­sonal ini­tia­tive – which would be a very nice ges­ture? Have you ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing sim­i­lar?


What a lovely ges­ture, I’m sure you will keep that let­ter with pride.

I’ve not heard of any­thing like this be­fore, al­though when I was a “Sen­a­tor” with Lufthansa, I al­ways used to get a per­sonal greet­ing – and some­times when trav­el­ling in F or C [first or busi­ness class], my name was writ­ten on the menu card in a neat Teu­tonic script.


Swiss­diver, we’re loaded with a num­ber of blank cards on board, so that we can use them to “sur­prise and de­light” cus­tomers. It’s usu­ally used for a sce­nario where it comes to our at­ten­tion that it’s some­one’s birth­day/wed­ding an­niver­sary, etc.

The se­nior crew mem­ber will also have a num­ber of “per­sonal recog­ni­tion mes­sages” to de­liver ver­bally on each flight, such as wel­com­ing a cus­tomer to sil­ver or gold tier, wel­com­ing them to Ex­ec­u­tive Club, or wel­com­ing them back af­ter a break. In your in­stance, I’d imag­ine the se­nior crew mem­bers’ iPad had a mes­sage to thank you for your ten years of loy­alty, and the crew mem­ber took the ini­tia­tive to put pen to pa­per.


Four years ago when re­turn­ing with Cathay Pa­cific from LHR to SIN via HKG, af­ter the univer­sity run for our youngest daugh­ter, we were a) both up­graded to busi­ness class, and b) the in-flight ser­vices man­ager pre­sented me with a card to say thank you as I had passed the 3,000,000 miles mark. The card was signed by flight deck and cabin crew alike, and I could feel the “who is this guy” re­marks per­me­ate. It costs noth­ing, yet the im­pact was huge.


A very nice ges­ture – I won­der if it is a BA Ci­tyflyer thing, as they were op­er­at­ing the flight? None­the­less, a great piece of cus­tomer re­la­tions that costs very lit­tle and means a lot.


That was a very nice ges­ture – can­not say I ever had a flicker of ap­pre­ci­a­tion in all my gold years, ex­cept when fly­ing with Cathay Pa­cific.


It must be a stan­dard ten-year gold ges­ture. As I en­tered the LGW lounge a cou­ple of months ago, I got mum­bled con­grat­u­la­tions from the lady on the desk. My re­ply was “Thanks, what do I get for it?” Her re­sponse was “Noth­ing!”


RFerguson’s com­ment makes me re­alise that was prob­a­bly what hap­pened to me about five years ago. This would have been about when I achieved 20 years of BA gold sta­tus. I was sit­ting in front row of Y [econ­omy] in seat C, and just be­fore take off the purser came to me and asked if I was trav­el­ling alone, which I was. He then asked me if I would like a bit more space, as the back row of Club [busi­ness class] was empty.

On another oc­ca­sion, this time with Cathay Pa­cific on the Fri­day night home­bound, I was board­ing and the gate agent said: “A seat change for you sir. Lucky num­ber.” I was bumped up from C to F, and no­ticed that my board­ing num­ber was 88. Has this hap­pened to any­one else out of HKG?


88? In 1988 my lit­tle brother was work­ing in Hong Kong for a while. His boss came into the of­fice and re­minded ev­ery­one that the fol­low­ing week would see a date of 8 Au­gust. Eighth day of the eighth month of the 88th year, and there would be rac­ing at Happy Val­ley.

“We’re all go­ing to bet on the eighth horse in the eighth race, be­cause the Tri­ads sim­ply won’t let it lose.”

They ex­am­ined the plan, agreed it was sound, and slapped ev­ery sin­gle cent of spare cash that they had on the nag.

It came in eighth, to the de­light of the Chi­nese crowd who’d man­aged to work it out just one step fur­ther. On the fi­nal run-in, it was in the first three or four and you could see the jockey glanc­ing around and fran­ti­cally rein­ing it back un­til he had seven horses in front of him as they crossed the fin­ish­ing line.

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