Living the high line: Mark’s decade in New York made him no stranger to transatlantic travel

MADE BY MEMBERS • December 2020

How do you… sustain Gold status for more than a decade?

Mark Izatt
Mark Izatt

@markaizatt

In our new spotlight on the highest Tiers of the British Airways Executive Club, we get the inside track on what it takes to get to the top. Gold Member and brand and communications consultant Mark Izatt tells us how he’s become a permanent fixture in The Club’s top Tier

I became a Member of British Airways Executive Club back in 1992; I can even remember my first flight from London to Edinburgh. I got as far as Silver and then went to live in New York in 1998 for ten years, racking up more than a million miles with Continental Airlines.


When I was born in 1969, it was the era of the Concorde, the 747, and of course, the moon landing. Growing up during that time, I feel like aviation is in my blood and hugely enjoy the opportunities that air travel offers. But loyalty is a two-way street. I have been loyal to British Airways and have, in turn, enjoyed the benefits of that loyalty. When I returned to London in 2008, I moved from Blue to back up to Silver, and then to Gold within a year. I’m now in my 11th year of Gold Membership.

02 Moscow

From Russia with love: Moscow claims a spot on Mark's frenetic travel itinerary

The travel bug
For me, more frequent travel is better than infrequent because you get into a rhythm. Recently, one of my more intense trips was period of two weeks when I was between New York, Tel Aviv, and San Francisco, with a visit to Edinburgh thrown in. Another memorable moment was waiting for a motorcycle courier at Heathrow’s T5 to bring my second passport and a new visa, both of which I needed for a Moscow flight that I was due on that evening, having just arrived from Dubai.

In 2019, I flew 49 flights with British Airways, which accounts for about 95 per cent of my air travel. Long haul, I made four trips to New York and one to Cape Town, flying in World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and Club World. I enjoy mixing up the cabin experience and, as long as you remember to be happy with the seat you have paid for, I have enjoyed some very welcome upgrades. The rest of all my travel was short haul, and nearly all of that travel is in Club Europe, which helps me stay at Gold and makes all the difference on frantic one-day business trips.

When you get the chance to pay for an upgrade, do. Those extra Tier points never go amiss.

When I started working for myself and paying for all my flights, there were times when I cut it fine reaching the threshold for Gold membership, but I have never had to take a flight just to keep my Membership. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t hesitate to do it if I had to!

Golden hour
‘Mid-haul’ routes can be Tier point-earning goldmines. Destinations such as Helsinki or Athens (both great weekend destinations) earn double the Tier points of similar destinations without being that much farther away. I also take advantage of accepting paid upgrades whenever they are available. It’s probably my number one tip for staying at Gold: when you get the chance to pay for an upgrade, do. Those extra Tier points never go amiss. And this way, an original (and relatively low Tier point-earning) World Traveller flight can quickly turn into a premium cabin and higher-earning flight, all for less cost than the original fare.

inset-athens

Mark collects plenty of Tier points on his trips to Athens, just three and half hours flying from London

Be vocal
Never forget about the oneworld alliance, especially if someone is booking internal flights in some far-flung place on your behalf. It’s easy for them to default to a carrier they would normally use in the absence of you expressing a preference – make sure to state yours! You’ll collect Avios and Tier points, and your status will benefit.

The Avios bug

I’ve become a very loyal Avis car hire renter because of the relationship with British Airways – yet another opportunity to earn Avios. British Airways Holidays is another effortless way to collect Avios on the things you would be doing anyway. After letting my Economist subscription lapse for a few years, I ended up being tempted to renew it in part because of a very generous opportunity to earn Avios.

The best bits
Gold perks are significant and make my life not only easier, but more productive. Top of the list is being able to select the perfect seat when booking, followed by the First lounges and the use of oneworld lounges worldwide and, of course, the discreet but genuine recognition from BA staff on board and at check-in.

This article has been tagged BA, Travel Tips