Reaching the highest status in an airline’s frequent flyer programme is aspirational for some people. As a devotee (slave?) to the oneworld alliance, I’ve maintained Sapphire level with them first through Qantas and now through British Airways for most of the past 10 years.
Sapphire gives you Business Class lounge access whenever flying on oneworld member airlines. This is the perk I enjoy the most. I like unwinding before a flight, having a light meal and trying a glass or two of Champagne. In my mind, once I arrive at the lounge the trip has started.
My travel pattern over the past year meant I earned enough status credit to reach the dizzy heights of Emerald, which is Gold level with British Airways. Those previously elusive First Class lounges were waiting for me!
Once my online account ticked over, I waited for my new British Airways Executive Club Gold pack to arrive in the mail. I deliberately didn’t research what it contained. I was looking forward to rifling through the pack, the member book and any other bits and pieces that might be enclosed.
Finally, the great day came when this gold envelope appeared in my mail. Excitement plus!
After opening the envelope, I gently released the inside contents. Oh! What is this?
The buff coloured tissue paper with the Speedmarque sticker certainly promised wonderful treats inside. I carefully flipped open the tissue paper taking care not to tear the sticker and was presented with two luggage tags.
Luggage tags were expected of course. Flipping over the black cardboard insert and I found my membership card. That was also expected. Nice and shiny and Gold and all mine!
That is when I realised that this was all that was enclosed.
I was used to Qantas where I received a nice colour booklet with a friendly welcome, some nice pictures, and a run down of exactly what I was now entitled to and how to use it. That’s what I used to receive as a lowly Sapphire!
The Qantas booklets I used to get looked something like this.
Where is my smiling straight couple indulging in a piggy back ride by the sea, British Airways?
Instead, I received a form letter from a “James Hillier from the Executive Club” (and they say Australian’s are informal – what is this man’s position?) saying essentially, “Welcome to the club, go online and see your benefits there”.
I already knew what the benefits were from the British Airways web site. Knowing the benefits of the next level influenced my decision to stretch a little to achieve the higher level.
Sure, I understand everything is digital and going paperless is in vogue but in this instance I would have liked something tangible to kick back and read on my couch. It was my first time at Gold and I wanted to feel like I’d accomplished something important. A little bit of fuss! You know, something to make the extra money I paid to achieve it seem like a good investment. Instead, I was disappointed.
How about this, British Airways? When a person first achieves Gold they should get a nice glossy member booklet (piggy back riding straight couples optional). Each year when they retain Gold or reach Gold again, they should receive what I received. This way people would feel warm and fuzzy about reaching Gold for the first time and yet the airline would save money (and the environment!) by not giving the booklet out each year to someone who already knows the deal.
What are your thoughts?