Silver frequent flyer status is the first stepping stone towards the loftier heights of Gold and Platinum – but can be worth achieving in its own right, particularly for travellers starting their frequent flyer journey and generally booking economy.
Executive Traveller puts Qantas Silver and Virgin Australia Velocity Silver head-to-head, to see where these voyagers stand.
- Reaching Silver status for the first time
- Retaining your Silver status for another year
- Priority check-in for Silver frequent flyers
- Checked baggage for Silver frequent flyers
- Airport lounge access for Silver frequent flyers
- ’Status bonus’ for Silver frequent flyers
- Qantas Silver vs Velocity Silver: the verdict
Reaching Silver status for the first time
For jetsetters just getting started, it’s worth considering how quickly you could begin moving up the status ladder and nudging your way from Bronze or Red to Silver.
Here’s how many status credits you’d need to achieve that goal with Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer, along with a minimum of how many eligible flights you’d need to take.
|Earning Silver status|
|Qantas Lifetime Silver|
While the figures above show Velocity to be the easier target, these digits only tell half the story – you also need to factor in how many status credits you’d earn on each individual flight, as you can then calculate how many flights it’d take to whisk you up to Silver.
Rather than listing the airlines’ full earning tables, we’ve crunched the numbers for you, using short routes like Sydney-Melbourne and Brisbane-Sydney as an example.
On those quick hops, here’s how many one-way flights you’d need to take to reach Silver status for the first time, based on the types of fares purchased.
|Short flights to earn status|
|Economy reward seat||
|Standard business class||
|Flexible business class||
|Business reward seat||
*Only for Qantas Points Club members
As the numbers show, Qantas provides the fastest path to Silver for those travelling on entry-level economy fares, although Velocity status comes speedier for flyers booking flexible economy or business class.
Virgin Australia passengers also have an ‘in between’ fare, Elevate.
Sitting above standard (‘discount’) economy but below flexible economy, Elevate provides extra status credits to those paying more than an entry-level ticket, but less than a flexible seat.
Winner: With Qantas best for those booking lead-in fares, travelling on reward flights (with Points Club) and with the carrot of Lifetime Silver, yet Velocity fast-tracking status for those on pricier tickets, this one’s a draw, as the best fit depends on a traveller’s booking habits.
Retaining your Silver status for another year
Once you’ve already achieved Silver status, you don’t need as many status credits to keep it for another year, as below.
|Retaining Silver status|
Following a similar trend as when earning status, Qantas Silver members retain their status faster than Velocity Silver on entry-level economy fares, with 25 one-way Sydney-Melbourne flights achieving this goal on Qantas, versus 29 one-way flights on Virgin.
However, the balance swings in Virgin Australia’s favour on all other types of paid fares.
Those booking flexible economy on short routes, for instance, would retain Velocity Silver after just eight flights (Freedom fares), versus 13 on Qantas (Flex fares).
Winner: As Qantas again provides the fastest path to retaining status for those booking lead-in fares, yet Virgin Australia unlocks status sooner for those on higher-category tickets, this remains a draw, with the best choice depending on the fares a traveller normally purchases.
Priority check-in for Silver frequent flyers
When it’s time for check-in, both Qantas and Virgin Australia operate priority queues for selected frequent flyers – but whether Silver members can use them is a different story.
On Qantas, they can, with Qantas Silver cardholders able to use domestic Premium Service Desks and international business class check-in counters.
But on Virgin Australia, Velocity Silver members aren’t shown the welcome mat – instead directed to the back of the main domestic economy queues. Priority check-in is a published benefit for international Virgin flights only, which the airline isn’t currently operating, making this moot.
Winner: With Silver-tier travellers finding a smoother start to their journey with Qantas, the Roo takes the trophy here.
Checked baggage for Silver frequent flyers
Both Qantas and Virgin Australia provide a boosted checked baggage allowance for Silver members travelling in economy, but each airline handles this differently.
On domestic economy flights, Qantas increases the standard limit of 1x23kg bag to 1x32kg bag for Silver, which will appeal to those travelling with just one suitcase – avoiding excess baggage charges after any shopping, perhaps with the bag’s expander unzipped.
Virgin Australia instead charges excess baggage for Silver members bringing 1x32kg bag, given its allowance for Silver is 2x23kg bags.
This means Velocity Silver members can travel with more checked baggage overall – up to 46kg in total, versus 32kg for Qantas Silver – but the higher allowance for Velocity Silver is only accessible when carting along a second checked bag.
Winner: As some travellers will prefer the convenience of a single, heavier bag on Qantas – and others, the greater total weight of Virgin Australia’s limit spread over two bags – this one is a draw, as it boils down to a traveller’s individual packing preferences.
Airport lounge access for Silver frequent flyers
Travellers need to unlock Gold-grade status for year-round airport lounge access, but Silver members don't miss out entirely.
On Qantas, Silver frequent flyers receive one complimentary lounge invitation per membership year, which can be used for access to domestic Qantas Clubs or international Qantas business class lounges when travelling aboard Qantas or Jetstar.
Virgin Australia instead provides two airport lounge invitations to its own Velocity Silver members, which can be used for access to a Virgin Australia domestic lounge prior to a Virgin Australia flight.
With that second invite, Velocity Silver members can either visit the lounge a second time, or bring a guest in with them on a single visit, when using both passes at the same time.
Winner: While the Qantas invitation can be used in more places given the airline’s broader airport lounge network, Velocity Silver members will appreciate getting a second visit every year – or inviting a guest inside with them – which makes Virgin Australia the winner here.
’Status bonus’ for Silver frequent flyers
As a reward for reaching Silver status, you may be able to earn more frequent flyer points on your travels.
Qantas Silver status bonus
On the domestic front, Qantas serves up 50% more Qantas Points to Silver members travelling on points-earning Qantas and Jetstar fares – but only on a flight’s ‘base’ earn rate, and not on the ‘minimum points guarantee’ as applies on many routes.
This sees no difference in points earned between Silver and Bronze on short hops like Sydney-Melbourne in economy, although it does nudge standard business class from 1,400 to 1,700 Qantas Points earned, and flexible business from 1,700 to 1,900 Qantas Points.
Economy flyers will instead see a boost on longer routes like Sydney-Perth, where discount economy rises from 1,450 to 2,175 Qantas Points, and flexible economy jumps from 2,200 to 3,300.
Silver members who also earn 500 status credits from Qantas and Jetstar flights in a single membership year (still being shy of Gold) also get their choice of 8,000 bonus Qantas Points or 50 status credits.
Velocity Silver status bonus
Velocity similarly offers its Silver members 50% more points on Virgin flights, but blocks this on its most popular and affordable Getaway fares, on which Silver cardholders earn the same as Red members.
It’s an appealing bonus on Virgin’s higher-priced fare categories, however, as Velocity Points are calculated based on dollars spent.
For Silver members, that means 5 Velocity Points per $1 plus the 50% bonus, giving 7.5 Velocity Points per $1. Velocity Silver members also earn a 50% points bonus on Ola airport rides, as well as car hire.
Winner: As it’s again the case that those booking entry-level economy fares will prefer the Qantas approach – especially on longer flights – while those buying higher-level tickets will generally benefit more from the Velocity system, this one’s a draw.
Qantas Silver vs Velocity Silver: the verdict
It’s clear from the above that Qantas Silver and Velocity Silver appeal to different types of travellers.
The benefits of Qantas Silver will resonate with those booking entry-level economy fares given the faster path to earning and retaining Silver on these tickets, and the 50% status bonus on longer routes.
Add to that, the time-saving benefit of priority check-in for Qantas Silver flyers, and an increased baggage allowance that suits travellers packing a single, heavier bag.
Velocity Silver has the notable absence of priority check-in, but counters that with an extra lounge pass every year, as well as requiring fewer flights to earn and retain Silver from higher-priced airfares.
The Velocity Silver baggage allowance will also prove favourable with two pieces of luggage – or perhaps, one suitcase and one set of golf clubs, with Qantas charging Silver members for the latter.