The typical frequent flyer programme has four levels of membership. When you join you are obviously at the lowest level. Some airlines refer to this level by colour such as Blue on British Airways or Green on Aer Lingus, while others have no name for it at all. Once you start flying you gradually move up to levels such as Bronze, then to Silver and finally to Gold. The levels can have whatever name but each higher one is is named to make it seem better than the one before.
Made It To The Very Top?
Certain airlines found that many people reached their highest level and so created an extra tier for those who did a colossal amount of flying. At Qantas they created Platinum One for their very best Platinum customers while the very best Gold level flyers at British Airways receive Gold Guest List for their trouble. These provide special additional benefits over the regular people in the same tier and are the highest you can achieve in the programme. Or are they?
Invitation Only Frequent Flyer
You really haven’t made it as a frequent flyer unless you have been invited to an airlines secret invitation only level. At Qantas, this is the Chairmans Lounge while at British Airways this level is called Premier.
At Qantas, there are literally Chairmans lounges at the major capital city airports for card holders. These provide a private sanctuary for people such as politicians, celebrities and big spending clients. There are other benefits as well such as additional recognition on the ground and in the air. Needless to say, these people have amazing travel experiences as a result.
At British Airways, Premier card holders have excellent perks too. If the card holder is on a flight a little delayed and may miss a connection, the airline may delay the connecting flight by a small amount to ensure the person makes it. Card holders are guaranteed a seat on any flight even to the point of taking someone else off the plane. There are also upgrades and a car to take you from the terminal to the aircraft among other things.
Other airlines offer invitation only levels too. Emirates has iO (literally invitation only), American has ConciergeKey and there are many more. I am not particularly a fan of obsequious fawning so to me the Qantas Chairmans Lounge card would be the one I’d want. I would love to be given access to these lounges so I could enjoy all they have to offer – let’s face it, I enjoy a good lounge experience!
What do you think of these invitation only levels? Are they a good thing or a bad thing? Are you a member or know anyone who is? What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve heard of these people getting? Please leave your comments and questions below and thanks for reading!
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A well intentioned but ultimately inaccurate post title. Many of these so-called top tier levels can not be obtained by “frequent flying”; rather they are awarded by the airline to individuals who are celebrities, politicians, or business executives who can direct large amounts of employee flying (and hence revenue) their way, such as CEOs, CFOs and HR heads. You can do all the flying in the world and never “make it” to this tier. Conversely, the people who are awarded this status may not fly very often or even in premium classes at all.
Absolutely agree with everything you say here. I completely understand it is a discretionary level that is given out to people of influence. Airlines have to play the political game too, it’s part of all big business. Providing it to A list stars is more a courtesy to limit them from being bothered. Either way, I think it would be excellent to have even if flying a lot will never get it for you. Appreciate the comment!
Well, the regular lounges are getting quite crowded so if I ever reached that upper echelon I would definitely like access to a more private/quiet lounge.
Yes, regular lounges are getting crowded – I guess that’s the result of the airlines being financially healthy once again. A more exclusive lounge would be welcome for the very top flyers. Thank you for the comment!
The special levels sound great for the chosen few….
They really do! I guess that’s why you never see very many celebrities in lounges. Not that I actively look anyway. Thanks for the comment!
Hate to say it but………..I WANT!!!!!! I’m an amenity kit and lounge junkie! I always save at least 1 amenity kit and I do plan to do a blog on all of them soon. And lounges are worth the expense/expenditure of points/my Platinum AMEX membership fee.
I agree, I have plenty of amenity kits sitting around my wardrobe back home in Sydney. Some of them are amazing! The Chairmans Lounges at Qantas look really, really nice. One can dream! Haha!
Emirates lounge in Dubai is amazing!!!! Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul is pretty nice, too. The old USAirways lounges in JFK and Philly used to have the best soup…alas, American and United have lousy food. Believe it or not, the Tanzanite lounge in Dar es Salaam has the most welcoming and helpful staff I have ever encountered. They are constantly circulating to take/refill orders, will make you a toasted ham and cheese and keep the lounge immaculate. I usually fly Business but love having the free Priority Pass, through my AMEX card, “just in case”.
I’ve heard that both of those lounges are very good. Generally the lounges at airlines home bases are far nicer than the outstation lounges. I think the soup on American is pretty good – I had some amazing bisque in Charlotte when I was there. I haven’t had the pleasure of going to Africa yet, but that is definitely an interesting recommendation! I’d love to experience that kind of service. Sometime for me to add to the list, that’s for sure!
An added benefit to Business class on Emirates….their Chauffeur Drive program! They come to my home outside Moynalty in County Meath and drive us to the airport in Dublin (up to 100 km per passenger, I believe) then, if you’re staying in Dubai, they deliver you to and pick you up at your hotel for transport to/from the airport. Unfortunately, they don’t offer it in Tanzania, where it would be incredibly useful!!!!
Yes, that is something of a massive perk as far as I am concerned! I have never had a Chauffeur Drive as part of my ticket and I think it is a quality touch. It must make the travel day so relaxing knowing you don’t have to wait on taxis or anything like that. I’d love to try that someday!
It is a very relaxing experience, especially after a long flight! As you know, parking at Dublin is a nightmare, so it’s great to not have to deal with it. Driving in Dubai can be brutal, too. It is a wonderful perk…go for it!
I definitely will after that recommendation! Thanks!
Aaah explains the request in the ft thread
Haha! That’s right! I wanted to mention the Premier card and to have a second image to use 🙂