Reader Question: Why Did I Choose BA Gold Over AA EXP?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader dropped me a question by email why I have chosen to go for BA Gold instead of AA EXP?


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Here’s the email from the reader:

I was wondering how come you favour being/keeping BA GOLD, as opposed to for example AA EXP

Just curious, if BA is an interesting alternative now with the coming changes to AA, and seen from a European perspective..

I have had American Airlines Executive Platinum status for quite a few years in the past and have lifetime Platinum status after reaching 2 million miles (didn’t used to matter how you earned them) with them that maps to Oneworld Sapphire.

I made British Airways Gold status for the first time the other year and got more than 5,000 Tier Points in last time around that made me Gold Guest List member with Concorde Room Card. The requalification criteria for Gold Guest list 3,000 but you still need 5,000 for the Concorde Room Card.

If someone lives in the States (I no longer do), going for American Airlines Executive status is IMHO no brainer. You get unlimited domestic upgrades and get the (now reduced number) systemwides. American Airlines moved to awarding miles based on the revenue instead of miles flown. Next year the airline will also have dollar requirement for qualification purposes.

Star Alliance used to be my preferred alliance but I have flown more on the Oneworld as of late partially because of Qatar Airways. Star Alliance doesn’t have any member airlines based in the Middle East.

I like the fact that I can book most partner airlines online with British Airways while redeeming American Airlines miles always requires me to give them a call.

Redeeming Avios for long-haul business or first class tickets is usually bad proposition (unless you have 2-4-1 voucher) but short-haul redemptions and RFS (Reward Flight Saver) on BA metal are often good deal.

You can also earn upgrade vouchers with British Airways first for reaching 2,500 Tier Points and then again at the 3,500 level. You can use these vouchers to upgrade the entire trip when on BA metal (ticket can sometimes contain flights on other airlines as well). If you do the booking via travel agent, the upgrades book into revenue first (in case of upgrading from business) and there doesn’t have to be award availability on the flight.

Gold Guest List members can also open up award space for up to four people twice a year that only requires certain revenue bucket to be available. This is crucial for those that wish to use their Avios around the holidays. I used this benefit the other week to book economy LHR-KEF return for 17,000 Avios.

Gold Guest List members can also gift one Gold status (Oneworld Emerald) and two Silver ones (Oneworld Sapphire). This is also very valuable benefit.

British Airways members can get Gold (Oneworld Emerald) for lifetime when they reach 35,000 tier points. American Airlines doesn’t offer higher than Platinum (Oneworld Sapphire) when reaching 2 million miles.


British Airways Gold is far easier to get if you fly on premium cabins compared to American Airlines Executive Platinum one.

Whether one prefers BA Gold over AA EXP really depends how you use the membership and how much flights one has with American that are eligible for complimentary upgrades.

I would say that, if one is able to get to the Gold Guest List level, I would certainly choose BA over AA if not living in the States.

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  • Jamo

    It’s easy to hit GGL with first class US domestic routes on AA if you do coast to coast a lot.

    The two joker redemptions then become very valuable. On more than one ocassion we’ve had travel worth $20,000+ for 120,000 avios, a gold upgrade and a companion ticket + taxes. Flying from the USA via London to South Africa and Dubai. Not done that way round to Australia yet but we have it planned.

    The AA system wide upgrades are very good but if you’re flying in the main cabin (coach) to take advantage of them, it’s unlikely you’d ever hit EXP.

    Also if you call AA with GGL status and they have your number, then EXP customer care answers – so it’s a really good arrangement to use BA in the US. Plus still around 2/3 working towards lifetime Gold so too late (or too early) to change.

  • SkyFlyer

    Interesting article John. I also was wondering why you prefer BA Gold over AA EXP. As you already said it really depends on what type of traveler you are. In spite of the introduction of the EQDs I still prefer AA. I fly more for leisure than for business purposes and when I look at the value of the miles I definitely prefer AA miles. Another reason is that I can redeem on Etihad with AA miles which is my preferred airline. But for those who want to reach status as soon as possible and don’t count on award miles BA will probably be a better option next year. BAEC offers a better lifetime threshold but it’s not interesting to change if you are already on your way to reach this on AAdvantage. My conclusion is if you are looking at the value of the miles on long haul Business or First Class tickets AAdvantage is more interesting but that is just me.

  • BA For Me

    BA Gold for less than $3,500 = easy. MCO – MIA – LAX – LAS – LAX – MIA – MCO for approx. $1,100-$1,200 in first x 3 = 1920 Tier Points ! It’s relatively easy and cost effective to maintain GGL with this plus a couple of PE returns to Europe on BA to satisfy the 4 flights on BA metal requirement.

    And as the other poster commented I’ve even had a AA EXP experience while have ZERO miles accrued with AA, due to my BA status.