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What is an “Eligible Flight” according to British Airways?

Do you hold frequent flyer elite status with British Airways or are you looking to accrue elite status? That is, British Airways Bronze, Silver, Gold, Premier or Gold Guest List frequent flyer status? Well, you absolutely need to know what an “Eligible Flight” is, and how British Airways defines the term. This term can be a huge source of frustration and confusion for non-UK-based frequent flyers, or those British Airways frequent flyers who mainly fly with oneworld alliance partners. Below, I will cover all you need to know, and some tips on how to maintain your British Airways Executive Club elite status.

Why are “Eligible Flights” important?

British Airways has a minimum number of “Eligible Flights” you must fly before you move up or renew your British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer status. The minimum number of flights are:

  • Bronze: 2 Eligible Flights
  • Silver: 4 Eligible Flights
  • Gold: 4 Eligible Flights
  • Premier: 4 Eligible Flights
  • Gold Guest List: 4 Eligible Flights

So why are they important? Well, in order to renew or upgrade your British Airways Executive Club elite status, you must achieve the minimum tier points threshold AND minimum number of eligible flights. This is especially important for US, Oceania or Asia-based frequent flyers who hold BA status as they may fly oneworld partner airlines such as American, Cathay Pacific or Qantas more often than British Airways and so may not meet the minimum eligible flights requirement without careful planning. I will cover some tips and tricks later in the article on how to best work around British Airways’ strict requirements.

How are “Eligible Flights” defined according to British Airways?

British Airways defines eligible flights in two ways:

  1. British Airways marketed flights (any flight with a BA flight number)
  2. Iberia marketed and operated flights

British Airways Marketed flights

BA metal (flights operated by British Airways) or flights with codeshare partners with a “BA” flight code are considered “British Airways marketed flights”. Flights booked through British Airways (either website or call center) usually have a BA flight code.

Most codeshare flights booked through British Airways need to connect onto a British Airways operated flight. British Airways famously has a joint venture partnership with American Airlines, Iberia, Finnair and Aer Lingus for most trans-Atlantic flight routes. On these selected routes, you can book standalone one-way or return tickets on any of these airline partners through British Airways, and the flights still count as “eligible flights”.

Codeshare partners that can be booked under a BA flight code include oneworld alliance partners such as American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and Malaysia Airlines. British Airways also has codeshare agreements with Bangkok Airways, Airlink and Aer Lingus. There used to be more standalone codeshare flight routes that could be booked independently without connecting to a British Airways flight but the functionality seems to have disappeared a lot of routes. If you can find any, please let me know at [email protected] and I will update this article for our readers.

Iberia Marketed and Operated flights

Secondly, Iberia marketed and operated flights can help you meet the minimum eligible flight threshold. Iberia marketed and operated flights (Iberia is also owned by IAG, British Airways’ parent company) are flights on Iberia metal. This means codeshare flights booked through Iberia do not count as eligible flights.

Remember to add your British Airways Executive Club membership number to your bookings with Iberia, to ensure your eligible flights, tier points and Avios are credited correctly and automatically to your British Airways Executive Club account.

To note, eligible flights must be cash-paid, and cannot be British Airways Avios redemptions. Additionally, there is no minimum flight length, so the flight can be as short as London to Dublin or Manchester, and it will count towards your minimum eligible flights target.

British Airways Eligible Flights: Insider Tips and Tricks

UK based British Airways Elite Status Holders

For UK and European-based frequent flyers with British Airways Executive Club status, it is very likely you will fly British Airways or Iberia frequently as their flight networks concentrate around their hubs in London and Madrid respectively. If you meet the tier points threshold but not the eligible flights minimum, 2-4 quick flights (that is one or two return journeys) between London and Dublin, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh or Glasgow will suffice the minimum criteria.

Have a look on Google Flights or Skyscanner to figure out which pair is cheapest and book. Some British Airways frequent flyers fly these routes return same day, and Club Europe is available if you are in need of additional tier points. Each of these routes earns 40 tier points each way in Club Europe, so can be a fast and relatively cheap (cheaper than alternative European destinations) way to accumulate tier points.

European based British Airways Elite Status Holders

For European-based flyers, Iberia has a good network of domestic flights in Spain from their hub in Madrid. Flying Barcelona to Madrid or vice versa on their “shuttle” service, or Madrid to Seville or Bilbao are cheap way to meet the minimum eligible flights criteria. Iberia also flies throughout Europe, so booking a cheap weekend away in Spain or Portugal is a great idea to meet this minimum flight requirement whilst skipping the chaos of flying through London. Flying to London (or one of British Airways other UK and Ireland destinations) is also a quick and easy way to suffice the minimum eligibility requirement if you fly oneworld partner airlines more frequently than British Airways or Iberia.

Sunset at London City Airport

USA based British Airways Elite Status Holders

For US-based flyers, British Airways operates an extensive trans-Atlantic codeshare network with American Airlines, Aer Lingus and Iberia, which count towards your eligible flight minimum when booked with British Airways (or Iberia for Iberia flights). One option to explore is east coast USA to Dublin return with Aer Lingus (as this avoids the notoriously high London airport fees and taxes). Connecting this flight to an American Airlines short-haul codeshare flight to New York or Boston fulfils the 4 eligible flight minimum criteria for British Airways Executive Club Silver status and above. Alternatively, connecting American Airlines domestically to a British Airways or American Airlines non-stop flight to London or a direct America to London flight route with connection to Edinburgh, Newcastle, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester or Glasgow also works to meet the 4-flight minimum eligible flight requirement.

If you are planning a European trip, you could consider flying with Iberia through Madrid to your holiday destination. Iberia flies direct to Madrid from 8 destinations directly within the USA, as well as from numerous destinations in Latin America, Mexico, Carribean and South America. You will avoid the chaos of the London airports, and likely arrive at your destination faster, whilst still hitting your minimum eligible flight criteria. You can book through the Iberia website (with an IB flight code), with your British Airways Executive Club membership number added, and it will still count towards your British Airways Executive Club elite status.

Oceania based British Airways Elite Status Holders

For Oceania-based flyers, Qantas (oneworld) and Fiji Airways (oneworld Connect) are the two main British Airways partners in this region. British Airways codeshares with Bangkok Airways, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines for Asia connections.

British Airways has a fifth-freedom route from Sydney to Singapore (and vice versa) and this unfortunately is the only British Airways option available to meet the minimum eligible flight requirement.

In order to be an “eligible flight” and bookable through British Airways, codeshare flights must connect to this flight, or alternatively, Qantas’ Sydney to Singapore or Bangkok flight (booked through the British Airways website). Annoyingly, the Sydney to Bangkok flight seem to be only be bookable outbound from Sydney, either one-way or return. This means that Bangkok to Sydney, both one-way and return, isn’t bookable online through the British Airways website for Asia-based flyers visiting Australia. Something I have noticed is British Airways tends to have a 4-flight sector maximum. That is, you can only do one connecting flight to the British Airways or Qantas Sydney to Singapore flight or Sydney to a connecting destination in Asia, return. To meet the 4 eligible flight minimum, Auckland/Wellington/Christchurch/Queenstown or Melbourne/Brisbane/Perth/Adelaide to Singapore works, as well as Sydney to Ko Samui/Chiang Mai.

It is entirely possible if you do fly Qantas frequently, and up to Asia at least once per year, to take advantage of these two routes to extend or upgrade your British Airways Executive Club status.

Asia based British Airways Elite Status Holders

For Asia-based frequent flyers, once again, finding codeshares is tough and requires careful planning. You can use the Singapore to Sydney flight again and connect to Melbourne or another Australia domestic destination, or Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown in New Zealand. Alternatively, its often cheaper to fly to Europe, and British Airways flies to London from Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Connecting these with a domestic UK flight meets the 4-eligible flight minimum. For an Asia-based connecting flight to London, utilising the Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways or Bangkok Airways flight networks works, but are only bookable through British Airways for flights onward to London. 

Iberia used to operate Shanghai and Tokyo to Madrid, which would have been a great option for hitting your minimum eligible flight criteria, however this has stopped post-pandemic. They are starting Doha to Madrid flights on the 11th of December 2023, so hopefully this will mean flights from Asia to Madrid through Doha are possible with Qatar Airways, with the Doha to Madrid Iberia leg counting as an eligible flight when the whole ticket is booked through Iberia. Qatar Airways already currently fly the Doha to Madrid route, so it will be interesting to see if Iberia takes over this leg or if these flights are in addition to current operations.

Parked British Airways Aircraft at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5


In conclusion, understanding what an “Eligible Flight” is according to British Airways is crucial for members of the Executive Club who are looking to upgrade or renew their British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer status. It is especially important for non-UK and European flyers who hold BA status as British Airways’ network is centered around their hub in London. Careful planning, taking advantage of British Airways’ (and Iberia’s) sales and off-season cheaper flights can help you achieve the minimum eligible flight requirement for the least cost, especially if you most often fly oneworld partners instead of British Airways.

If you hit your tier points threshold but not your “Eligible Flight” minimum (or are just short of tier points), you may want to consider a quick mileage run before the end of your membership year using some of the routes mentioned above.

I want to keep developing this article with some more cheap route ideas to take advantage of in order to meet this minimum flight requirement, especially for non-UK or European BA Executive Club status holders, so if you do find any short-haul codeshare flights you can book through the British Airways website, please let me know in the comments below or email me at [email protected].