Some quick mental arithmetics says that I am unlikely to qualify for BA Silver before May (I have less than 20 tier points and no flights booked), so I checked out some potential tier point run fares around February.
Using Jersey (JER) as a starting point and ‘Europe' as a destination, Google Flights allows you to scan prices at a glance. I was able to set “Oneworld” as a filter for applicable airlines and this is the resultant map.
I judged £2/TP as ‘good' and £1/TP as a bargain. A couple of key expenses that people regularly forget when planning tier point running is the cost of getting to airports and cost of accommodation, so I needed to find a way to reduce these too. I did consider the 80TP routes, and also trips over to USA or Qatar Airways as per the mega TP run guide, but to no avail in my situation.
Having spent about 2 hours digging around for routes which can be completed relatively quickly I have shortlisted the following routes due to a combination of practicality and price:
Lisbon – Helsinki – Stockholm round trip. 360 Tier points, £1.70/TP
This route balances a product I have never tried before, Finnair Business Class, plus the return would be 35 mins after arrival. This means I can complete this itinerary all in one day and have flexibility to purchase as few or as many of these as I want. I could get silver in just two of these or nearly hit gold in 4, so be done with it very very quickly.
Given the 6:35am departure time from Lisbon I would need to stay in a hotel near the airport. My preference would probably be Holiday Inn Express Lisbon Airport or Radisson Blu nearby. Both of which are asking similar prices of around €70 per night.
Porto – Gatwick – Jersey round trip. 160 Tier Points, £1.75/TP
The price per tier point is on par with the first option, but the one flight per day between Porto and Gatwick and fare rules dictate that this would require a minimum of one Saturday night stay. The good thing here is that I am already familiar with all three airports, and with Jersey being an ideal turnaround airport, this should be relatively pain free.
Jersey – Gatwick – Amsterdam. 160 Tier Points, £1.75/TP
I recently updated my guide about this infamous route. This would work in conjunction with the Porto – Gatwick – Jersey ticket above. Nesting this ticket inside the above would mean I can do a turnaround each side without issue. And if I time my flight right I could get off at Gatwick for the night, head to my parents' place by train (cost around £4 each way) and continue the run the following morning.
Gold or Silver?
This one was actually tricky for me to decide. There are good arguments for either tier given my travel plans for the 2nd half of this year and beyond.
- Additional check-in luggage (which I do use frequently)
- Lounge access (I definitely need this!)
- Seat selection on all fares. This doesn't give me complete choice as some seats are reserved for gold card holders but it's enough.
- Fast track security lanes where offered
- Based on £1.75/TP, plus £30 for transportation to/from airports, estimated cost £1100.
Gold, all the above plus:
- Access to first class lounges,
- Soft landing to silver, so no need for Tier Point running next year.
- Realistically due to time, this could only be done with four round trips of Lisbon-Stockholm route. Estimated cost £2900.
Since I fly hand luggage only fares or Avios redemption Reward Flight Saver most of the time, seat selection is benefit I would appreciate. My most frequent route of Porto-Gatwick requires passport control on arrival, so not having to be held up by passengers while disembarking would be great.
Fast track security is a genuine benefit for me at my home airports of Porto and Gatwick owing to the sheer volume of passengers flying Ryanair and Easyjet. Then the fact many get scanned again due to having chunky earrings or belts…argh! I regularly queue over 20-30 minutes for security here while the fast track is completely empty.
On whether to go for Gold or not, while £2900 sounds like a lot, it guarantees that I can maintain Oneworld Emerald for 18 months and guaranteed Oneworld Sapphire for 12 months after (though the intention is qualify through ‘normal' flying). So for me I justify this as being about the same as two lots of silver Tier Point runs. I would also get the first class lounge and check in facilities while I build up more tier points for the following year.
Mixing all three itineraries would allow me to review several different lounges which is a big plus side. Due to the short connections at Amsterdam and Stockholm these places may not be possible though. Below is an old video I took from the last time I did this tier point run 4 years ago.
What could go wrong with a Brit asking the public to choose? Well I'm putting a poll out on Twitter to gather opinion, but feel free to comment below!
The PTBM referendum (advisory only, not legally binding). Tier Point run planning for @British_Airways silver or gold, which would be more interesting for a trip report? @BoardingArea @FlyerTalk @EconomyBeyond @alexisk79
— Tim Lai (@PTBMade) January 25, 2019