Photo credit: David Rogers / RFU

MADE BY MEMBERS • April 2022

Going for Gold: Bill Sweeney, England Rugby

Bill Sweeney
Bill Sweeney

Bill Sweeney, CEO of our prestigious partner, England Rugby, gives us the lowdown on being Gold (for life), his business-savvy travel hacks, and the British trait he admires the most

Tell us about your relationship with British Airways
You guys have been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was ten or 11, I was an unaccompanied minor flying out to Asia for holidays. My best man was a BA captain.

What’s the best thing about flying with us?
At Adidas, I was doing about 400,000 miles a year. I remember that sense of coming home after a long trip. Getting into the cabin and the crew settling you in. Then, after take-off, having a cup of tea and a Twix bar. That moment where you think, right, I’m on the way home now.

Which Tier are you?
I’m a Gold Member for life.

How do you spend or collect your Avios?
I never get a chance to spend them – my kids use them all.

What are your in-flight essentials?
A good book or two in case of delays. Having your laptop is also a given. When you’re on a flight, you don’t have emails or phone calls coming in, so there’s that undisturbed quality time where you can end up getting a huge amount done.

Favourite baggage brand?
I’ve always liked Tumi, which makes sensible luggage for travellers, particularly my suit carrier that I’ve had for ages. You can pack in an instant because everything seems to have its own place.


What’s your favourite cabin and why?
Business, actually. Occasionally, I’ve been upgraded to First and the service is amazing, but the layout of the Club World cabin and friendliness of the staff make me feel very comfortable. The most important thing is a flat bed (pictured above). One of the reasons I stopped playing rugby was that I had a back injury, which can still get set off, and being able to lie flat, particularly on a long-distance flight, is essential.

Aisle or window?
Always aisle. I like the flexibility and you don’t disturb anybody in the night.

What do you value from an in-flight experience?
The in-flight entertainment. I’ll always watch at least a couple of movies on a long-haul flight. It breaks up the journey quite well.


When in Rome... (Gabriella Clare Marino/Unsplash)

Where are you heading next?
Italy. The under 20s are playing against Italy, and then it’s the men’s match. Later, in July, we’ll be in Australia for two weeks.

Anything particular you want to do in those places?
To play an international game in Rome (pictured above) – it’s such a beautiful city. But, when you work in sport, you end up being so focused on the match. It’s about training, playing, digesting the result, meeting with coaches. Unfortunately, you don’t always get the chance to enjoy the experience as a tourist.

What’s your favourite trait of the British?
We have a sense of humour that’s unique. I also like our resilience – we tend to be best when we’re up against it.

What your favourite travel hack?
I don’t know how many flights I’ve taken in my life, but I’ve only ever missed one. I use that learning and apply it to business. I look at the arrival time at the airport as the target and work back. How long is the journey? Add a ten per cent contingency. In the sport, if we have a goal, when are we going to achieve it? 2028? If that’s the case, then what do we need to be doing to achieve it in 2026?

Any tricks for balancing travel and work commitments?
I’ve never managed to get the balance right. Particularly when I was at Adidas and travelling so much. But I never worried about business pressure, more that I was missing out on family-related or social events. The number of things you miss becomes quite difficult. I think other people and the younger generation have a much better work-life balance. Long may that continue.

British Airways is the Official Airline Partner of England Rugby

This article has been tagged BA, Travel Tips