One of the few positive side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is that it has become increasingly simple to gain frequent flyers at a fraction of what they did cost before. While the doors to simple SkyTeam Elite and Star Alliance Gold qualifications close in December 2021 and January 2022 respectively, the one leading to Oneworld Sapphire remains open through October 31, 2022.
British Airways allows you to cancel all flights starting before August 31, 2022, in exchange for a voucher. You can use that voucher for bookings made up until September 30, 2023. It cannot be exchanged for a monetary refund, though.
A little extra security can’t be wrong for bookings in the second winter of the pandemic.
BA Lowering Qualification Requirements
The first thing you need is a British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) account. You would usually need 600 tier points (TP) and four flights with British Airways (BA) or Iberia (IB) to qualify for Oneworld Sapphire. Until December 2022, this bar has been lowered to 450 TP. This enables you to get the status by benefitting from another promotion:
Double TP for Flight+Car or Flight+Hotel Bookings Departing From the UK
Until October 2022, British Airways rewards all BAEC members with double tier points for the flight segments of flight+hotel or flight+car bookings. Because of this, a single business class booking from UK soil via London to specific destinations will get you past the threshold for Oneworld Sapphire.
British Airways has recently extended this promotion from March 31, 2022, to October 31, 2022.
The four most important rules for this promotion are:
- Your booking has to be a Flight+Hotel or Flight+Car booking on British Airways’ website.
- Your journey has to start in the United Kingdom.
- You need to stay at least five days at your destination.
- Your outbound flight must depart before October 31, 2022.
Thanks to our reader Torsten, who gave us notice via Report a Deal!
Possible Mileage Runs
Any UK domestic business class flight with British Airways to London is worth 40 tier points according to British Airways’ official tier point calculator. From London onwards, there are a bunch of destinations that give you 80 TP for a business class ticket, among them attractive cities such as Athens, Bucharest or Istanbul.
In our example a trip from Glasgow to Istanbul (including a five-day stay at the Bosporus) gives you the following tier points:
- Glasgow – London: 40 tier points
- London – Istanbul: 80 tier points
- Istanbul – London: 80 tier points
- London – Glasgow: 40 tier points
That sums up to 240 TP, which will be doubled after the journey. Voilà, 480 TP and a brand new Oneworld Sapphire tier for yours truly. Since British Airways operates all four flights, you have also met the second requirement of four flights with BA or IB.
If you’re living outside the UK, you can just fly to the starting point of your journey from your hometown. In order to get the status, this starting point cannot be London and your flight+hotel round trip must be a separate booking.
The following destinations give you 160 TP for a business class round trip and are fit for this run:
You can find more destinations and information about the Executive Club loyalty program here:
Here is set of examples we have found for a business class round trip from the UK to three of those destinations, with prices ranging from £566 (~€667) to £782 (~€921) – including five to seven nights of accommodation. Even cheaper combinations may very well be possible.
Here are some examples for trips that will bring enough tier points to get the status:
Examples for a 480 Tier Point Business Class Flight+Hotel Package
Five Days in Istanbul, departing from Glasgow for £638 (~€751):
Five days in Bucharest, departing from Edinburgh for £727 (~€856):
Search & Book
You can book these packages directly on British Airways’ website. The buttons for package bookings are right beside the flight bookings.
It may pay off to plan your trip over a weekend, as most fare rules for cheap business class tickets require a night from Saturday to Sunday.
The promotion ends on October 31, 2022, just like the travel period.
If you aren’t already a BAEC member, it is a good idea to sign up just before you leave for your trip. Since the program’s membership year is not determined by the calendar, but your day of joining, you can maximize your Oneworld Sapphire membership (almost the entire remaining membership year + one additional year).
Advantages of Oneworld Sapphire
Holding a Oneworld Sapphire status will get you quite a few benefits when traveling with one of the alliance’s member:
- Access to all Business Class lounges – worldwide and together with one guest. No matter which cabin class you’re traveling in
- Access to Business Class priority check-in – you can check in at any Business Class counter. Again, irrespective of your cabin class
- Extra baggage allowance – you can bring a second piece of luggage, assuming your fare includes at least one checked bag. On domestic flights, you can bring one bag, even if your fare does not include one (the only exception is British Airways)
- Priority boarding – get on the plane will others are still waiting
- Priority baggage handling – your bags should be the first to appear on the luggage belt after you arrived
- Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating – chose your seat at the time of booking, free of charge
- Priority on waitlists and when on standby
Compared to Star Alliance, there is actually only the fast-track that is missing. And the reason for this is an additional level that you can find within the Oneworld alliance program: the Emerald tier. This level will get you access to first class lounges and also fast-track through security.
In addition, your British Airways Executive Club Silver tier will grant you additional perks:
British Airways Executive Club Silver Facts
- Qualification: 50 flight segments or 600 Tier Points in addition to at least 4 segments flown on British Airways or Iberia within one membership year.
- Validity: Current membership year + another full year.
If you can’t manage the re-qualification, your status will stay valid 7-8 weeks after the end of your membership year.
Example: Your membership year end on November 8th, 2019 -> next membership year will end November 8th, 2020 and therefore your status will be valid until December 31st, 2020.
- Additional benefits
- 50% bonus Avios on flights with British Airways, Iberia, American Airlines and Japan Airlines
- Guaranteed seats until 24 hours priors to departure (booking class Y = most expensive Economy Class)
- Lifetime Gold status (Oneworld Emerald) if you manage to collect 35,000 Tier Points
- Household account for up to 7 people that don’t have to live with you or be relatives
- Re-qualification: same rules as for the initial qualification
- Softlanding: Yes, Bronze status (Oneworld Ruby)