Chasing BA status: Which short-haul destinations earn the most tier points?
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Want to earn 160 Tier Points for a British Airways Club Europe return trip?
Before we show you how, what does 160 Tier Points even mean? If you’re new to the game, Tier Points are awarded when you fly with British Airways, or their partner airlines (alongside Avios) and are directly linked to the status you hold with your Executive Club membership.
The more Tier Points you acquire, the higher your status. So, 160 tier points is the top end that you can earn while travelling short-haul from the U.K., it is also a sizeable chunk of the 225 Tier Points currently needed to reach British Airways’ Bronze status from your Executive Club starting status, Blue. Or better yet, the 450 Tier Points you’d need to hit Silver status.
Both status levels afford a number of benefits ranging from increased Avios earned when you fly BA, lounge access, priority boarding and business class check-in privileges, among other perks (check them out here).
Why this is the right time to book a trip
Well, normally, you’d need 300 to reach Bronze (or 24 eligible flights), 600 for Silver (or 50 eligible flights) and 1,500 for Gold – but BA has reduced the required amount needed by 25% until 31 December 2022. This means that until the end of the year it will require only 225 Tier Points for Bronze (or 18 eligible flights), 450 tier points for Silver (or 37 eligible flights) and 1,125 tier points for Gold. From 1 January 2023, these reduced thresholds will revert back to their usual amounts.
But it gets better. Right now BA has a very generous Double Tier Points offer – which gives you double points on flights booked as part of a BA holiday package (covering your flights and hotel/car, for five nights or longer), when travelling before 30 September 2023.
This means if you were to take full advantage of the 25% tier points reduction and the Double Tier Points offer in the next few weeks, you could earn 320 Tier Points with just one return getaway from London in Club Europe – bumping you straight from Blue to Bronze, plus getting you well on your way to Silver (which requires 450 Tier Points until 31 December 2022), unlocking coveted lounge access benefits.
Excited? You should be! There are more than 30 short-haul destinations that will earn you 160 Tier Points — by taking you more than 1,000 miles away from the U.K.
So, where can you go? Let’s take a look.
Greece‘s many stunning islands are about as far as you can fly east in Europe before getting into the Middle East and Asia. The distance means that flights in Club Europe to more than a dozen popular Greek holiday spots will earn you 160 Tier Points.
Choose from Athens (ATH), Chania (CHQ), Corfu (CFU), Heraklion (HER), Kalamata (KLX), Kefalonia (EFL), Kos (KGS), Mykonos (JMK), Rhodes (RHO), Santorini (JTR), Skiathos (JSI), Thessaloniki (SKG) and Zakynthos (ZTH).
There’s only one snag: you’ll pay a premium. Flights to these popular destinations are often only seasonal and don’t operate seven days per week, which makes them considerably more expensive to get there in Club Europe than the other destinations on the list. For example, a return flight to Mykonos in Club Europe for a Thursday to Sunday in May could cost more than £1,000. Yikes. That said, there are deals to be had and we recently managed to snag ourselves return Club Europe flights and accomodation (through BA Holidays) for just under £600. Keep your eyes peeled.
The Cypriot cities of Larnaca (LCA) and Paphos (PFO) are summer staples, both sat on the island’s south overlooking the glittering blue Mediterranean Sea. Warm (or at least mild enough) when the U.K. is at its very chilliest, the pleasant weather is a key factor making Cyprus a contender for snapping up those 160 Tier Points ASAP.
Paphos in particular has a lot to offer. It is part-relaxing beach getaway, part-culture trip – thanks to its beautiful shores, historic UNESCO World Heritage Site (including remarkable, ancient mosaics well worth seeing with your own eyes) at Kato Paphos, and the village of Kouklia being the mythical site of Greek goddess Aphrodite’s birthplace.
Winter sun wonderlands Gran Canaria (LPA), Lanzarote (ACE) and Tenerife (TFS) – aka three of the biggest and best-known Canary Islands – might be classed as Spanish territory, but they make this list and earn you those 160 Tier Points with a Club Europe return flight thanks to their considerable distance from mainland Spain and therefore the U.K.
Positioned off the northwestern coast of Africa, all three islands offer a bit of everything – from beaches to lounge on, charming towns to explore and hotels to chill by the pool at, to nature reserves, national parks and epic peaks to hike. Island-hopping is also possible via ferry, including to lesser-known Canaries La Gomera, diving hotspot El Hierro and the blissfully untouched La Graciosa.
Malta (MLA) is another excellent option for earning Tier Points without travelling halfway across the globe – with plenty of destinations to choose from, including the capital Valletta for a city break with a difference, the coastal towns of Sliema or Marsaskala, or the island of Gozo, known for its natural pools, neolithic Ġgantija Temple site and scuba diving.
It’s especially worth watching out for flights to Malta in the off-season, as I once bagged a return Club Europe fare for £209.
If winter sun is not your thing, you can still bag up to 160 Tier Points with a Club Europe flight to Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik (KEF).
Rarely cheap to explore, it’s worth the cash to visit as the city itself has a number of quirky museums and shops to explore – but also acts as a convenient stepping stone to the wild landscapes and wonderful experiences Iceland has to offer, from Northern Lights viewings and geothermal spa dips, to the Golden Circle sights of Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Strokkur Geyser.
There are three Turkish destinations you can definitely snap up 160 Tier Points by visiting: Antalya (AYT), Dalaman (DLM) and Istanbul (IST) – though they’re all very different.
Antalya is a resort city, and a popular spot for family or all-inclusive holidays with great beaches and plenty to explore, while Dalaman is often dubbed the Turquoise Coast for its beautiful bays and proximity to destinations like Feyithe and Marmaris. Istanbul, meanwhile, is the largest city in Turkey and perhaps the most bustling – best for arts and culture experiences, days spent wandering the many markets, and exploring museums and monuments.
If you fancy an island holiday but you’ve done the Canaries, Cyprus or Malta, then why not consider one of several Portuguese islands?
A return flight to Funchal (FNC) on Club Europe will get you those 160 Tier Points you’re after and at the same time open up all of Madeira – known for its levada walks, whale-watching experiences and watersports, eerie laurel forests, and very sweet Madeira wine. If you fancy an active, nature-packed holiday to The Azores however, flights to both Ponta Delgada (PDL) and Terceira Island (TER) will earn you those Tier Points, too.
Off The Beaten Track Europe
If you fancy trying something new, get off the beaten track and try visiting somewhere like Tirana (TIA), the capital of Albania. Back in 2020, I spent 72 hours eating and drinking there to my heart’s content. Not only are returns in Club Europe often cheapest to places like Tirana and also Sofia (SOF) in Bulgaria, it’s typically very affordable when you get there.
Two more 160 Tier Point destinations in Europe you might not have considered holidaying in before are Catania (CTA) in Sicily, a town located at the bottom of volcano Mount Etna, and the grand, slightly unusual capital of Romania, Bucharest (OTP).
If you want to mix it up and head to North Africa, a Club Europe return to Algeria’s capital Algiers (ALG) or the popular Moroccan city of Marrakech (RAK) will earn you those 160 Tier Points easily.
Marrakech needs little introduction, but it’s worth taking your time to explore the so-called Ochre or Red City. Catch a glimpse of the 12th century Koutoubia mosque’s towering minaret, meander through Jemaa el-Fnaa, the famous, UNESCO-listed market square located within the walls of the medina — and escape city life with a peaceful visit to the botanic garden Jardin Majorelle. If you can, book to stay in a luxury Riad — the name of a traditional Moroccan architecture style.
When is it worth buying Club Europe flights to boost your Tier Points?
As a general rule, spending more than £300 on a Club Europe ticket just for the Tier Points might not really be worth it.
After monitoring these routes for a while, the destinations that often appear to have the cheapest Club Europe return flights tend to be Catania, Malta, Sofia and Tirana. When you’re looking for your value-for-money Tier Point fares, keep an eye out for places like Bucharest, Romania, Istanbul and Marrakesh, too. On the slightly higher end of the scale are places like Madeira and Gran Canaria.
If you can flexible with your destination and are keen to travel now anyway, it’s a great time to take advantage of BA’s Double Tier Points holiday offer — if you act before the end of 2022, while you’ve got a smaller Tier Point threshold to cross to bump up a tier.
You could quickly whizz from Blue to Silver, all the while discovering somewhere new and flying there in style — what’s not to love?
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Atkin
Featured image by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy
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