Platinum frequent flyer status isn't merely your ticket to the lounge – it's also the key to a raft of other travel benefits, both on the ground and in the air.
But for Australia's road warriors, how does Qantas Platinum compare to Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum? Executive Traveller puts the two head-to-head.
- Reaching Platinum status for the first time
- Retaining your Platinum status for another year
- Priority check-in for Platinum frequent flyers
- Checked baggage for Platinum frequent flyers
- Carry-on baggage for Platinum frequent flyers
- Airport lounge access for Platinum frequent flyers
- Status bonus for Platinum frequent flyers
- X-factor perks for Platinum frequent flyers
- Qantas Platinum vs Velocity Platinum: the verdict
Reaching Platinum status for the first time
For those beginning their high-flying journey and gaining Platinum from scratch, it's worth considering which airline is the best fit.
The first metric on that scale is how easily you'll reach that goal, so here's how many status credits you'd need to unlock Qantas Platinum or Qantas Platinum, as well as Qantas Lifetime Platinum after some serious flying.
|Earning Platinum status|
|Qantas Lifetime Platinum|
Although Velocity Platinum requires fewer status credits to reach on paper, the figures above only tell half the story.
You also have to factor in how many status credits you'd earn from every flight – and in turn, how many of those flights it'd take to get you to your goal.
Here's an analysis for a traveller starting from zero and taking short popular domestic routes like Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane.
|Short flights to earn status|
|Economy reward seat||
|Standard business class||
|Flexible business class||
|Business reward seat||
*Only for Qantas Points Club members
It's clear that while Virgin Australia requires 400 fewer status credits to reach Platinum compared to Qantas, a lower earning rate on Virgin's entry-level economy fares sees Velocity Platinum the harder status to achieve for these travellers.
However, the numbers swing in Virgin Australia's favour for those purchasing any other type of commercial fare, requiring fewer one-way flights to reach Platinum across the board, and also allowing that Virgin's premium fares are lately much more affordable than Qantas.
Winner: As Qantas has the edge for those on entry-level economy fares and eligible members flying on reward seats, but Velocity sits in front for those paying cash for higher fare categories, we're calling this one a draw, as the best fit differs markedly from one high flyer to the next.
Retaining your Platinum status for another year
Once you've become accustomed to the Platinum lifestyle, here's how many status credits you'll need to keep it locked in for each additional year:
|Retaining Platinum status|
Notably, while Qantas requires around 15% fewer status credits to retain its own Platinum tier compared to earning it, that figure is 20% at Velocity.
This swings the balance into Velocity's favour across all fare types, when it comes to locking-in your Platinum status every 12 months.
On the usually-booming Sydney-Melbourne corridor, for example, retaining Qantas Platinum would require 120 one-way flights on the lowest-priced economy (Red eDeal), while keeping Velocity Platinum needs 115 one-way flights on lead-in Getaway fares.
Of course, the only airline between the two with Lifetime Platinum status is Qantas, but the goal posts for this are so astronomical – being equivalent to retaining Platinum for almost 63 years straight – that its appeal is minimal.
Winner: Although Qantas is the only airline of the two to provide status credits on reward flights (for Points Club members), Virgin Australia otherwise takes the trophy for those retaining Platinum status on an annual basis.
Priority check-in for Platinum frequent flyers
Platinum-tiered travellers rightfully expect fast-tracked service at the airport, and on this, both airlines deliver.
With Qantas, Platinum members can check-in via the domestic Premium Service Desks and international first class (or business class) check-in counters, while with Virgin, the purple priority check-in queues await.
Winner: With both airlines putting Platinum flyers in the fast lane on the routes currently served, this category is a draw.
Checked baggage for Platinum frequent flyers
For domestic business class travellers, Qantas and Virgin Australia assign a checked baggage allowance of 3x32kg for Platinum frequent flyers, which puts the battle here in 'economy' territory.
Aboard Qantas, the standard 1x23kg limit in domestic economy is upped to 2x32kg for Qantas Platinum members – that's an extra free bag, with a licence to pack heavier in each suitcase.
Over at Virgin Australia, the default 1x23kg allowance is boosted to 3x23kg for Velocity Platinum.
Under this system, excess baggage charges apply if any item exceeds that standard 23kg limit. It also means Velocity Platinums pay a fee if bringing only a single bag weighing 24-32kg, which would not attract charges for Qantas Platinum.
We acknowledge that Virgin Australia's allowance provides the greatest total weight overall, being 69kg across three bags versus 64kg across two bags at Qantas, but few road warriors would lug along a third bag just to pack an extra 5kg, of which much of the gain would be lost to the weight of a third suitcase, before adding any contents.
Winner: As the booster for Velocity Platinum is only accessible when carting along at least two suitcases, whereas the benefits of Qantas Platinum allow travellers to pack heavier with only bag to wheel around – while still able to bring an extra if they choose – this one goes to Qantas in economy.
Carry-on baggage for Platinum frequent flyers
Above decks, Qantas' approach is to offer a generous carry-on baggage allowance for every passenger regardless of status, which see Platinum flyers wheeling aboard the same amount as Bronze cardholders.
Virgin Australia does things differently, by imposing a tighter standard cabin baggage allowance, but improving upon this for Velocity Platinum (and Velocity Gold) members.
Here's how the numbers stand across Qantas and Virgin Australia, when flying in domestic economy as a Platinum cardholder.
|Carry-on baggage options|
14kg total weight
14kg total weight
|1 bag + 1 suit pack||
14kg total weight
14kg total weight
Although Virgin Australia's allowance for Platinum members is certainly a respite to the treatment of Red members, the airline doesn't boost the limits high enough to be competitive with Qantas for travellers with common packing habits.
This sees travellers with a single cabin bag better off on Qantas, and those with two bags also having more freedom under the Qantas approach, which better-accommodates a heavier wheeled bag and a lighter briefcase.
Passengers bringing one bag plus a suit pack can also pack heavier under the Qantas rules, and while Virgin allows that bag to be larger, it remains capped at 3kg lighter, which means a traveller can ultimately pack less on Virgin, despite the airline's headline total limit.
Winner: With the freedom to pack up to 10kg in a single bag regardless of the combination chosen, almost every Platinum member is better-off under the Qantas approach.
Airport lounge access for Platinum frequent flyers
With Platinum sitting a level above Gold – which, like Platinum, also provides for unlimited airport lounge access – many travellers expect their Platinum status to go the extra mile on the ground, as they have in the air.
Qantas delivers on that front with five dedicated Domestic Business Lounges in key capital city airports, reserved for top-tier travellers and those travelling business class.
The airline also offers lounge facilities for Platinum members at 19 other domestic airports, being the Qantas Club lounges as are also shared with Gold frequent flyers and paid-up Qantas Club members.
Combined, this provides lounge coverage for Qantas Platinum members across 24 domestic airports, when all lounges are open (or temporarily, 22, while extended airport works take place in Port Hedland and Rockhampton).
Qantas Platinum members can visit any of these lounges with up to two adult guests, plus two kids aged 4-17, as well as any children aged 3 and under.
Virgin Australia instead provides a network of seven domestic lounges, being single spaces shared by all the airline's lounge-eligible flyers.
This sees Velocity Platinum members invited into the same lounges as for Velocity Gold and Virgin Australia Lounge members, and for AMEX Platinum Card holders who lack sufficient Velocity status.
When visiting a lounge, Velocity Platinum cardholders can bring three adult guests, three children aged 4-17, and any kids 3 or under.
Winner: With a larger lounge network along with upgraded facilities for Platinum members in key airports, Qantas is the clear winner for most travellers, although Virgin's generosity on guest limits will appeal to those who regularly fly as part of a larger group or bigger family.
Status bonus for Platinum frequent flyers
Of any traveller in the sky, a Platinum frequent flyer is most often the one earning the highest number of points.
Qantas Platinum status bonus
In the domestic skies, Qantas Platinum members earn 100% more points than Bronze on eligible Qantas and Jetstar fares – that's double points – although that accelerated earn rate doesn't apply to a flight's 'minimum points guarantee'.
On short domestic hops like Sydney-Melbourne or Brisbane-Sydney, this finds no extra points awarded in economy, although business class flyers take home an extra 600 Qantas Points per flight.
For economy flyers, the booster instead kicks in on mid-length routes like Brisbane-Melbourne, taking the standard earn rate of 800 Qantas Points (under the minimum points guarantee) to 1,400 Qantas Points.
Longer flights such as Sydney-Perth see the biggest bonus, with those on the lowest-priced economy tickets fetching 2,900 Qantas Points one-way, a true 100% increase to the base rate of 1,450 Qantas Points.
Velocity Platinum status bonus
Matching Qantas, Virgin Australia delivers a 100% points bonus for its own Velocity Platinum members, although this doesn't apply to the airline's entry-level Getaway fares on any domestic route.
It's a pretty significant distinction, as it means Platinum cardholders booking the most affordable tickets – the very reason many would be flying Virgin over Qantas – miss out completely, and earn no more points than a first-time flyer.
Where the bonus does apply, being on the costlier Elevate fares and above, the rewards are very noticeable given Virgin gives Velocity Points based on dollars spent in the air.
This escalates the standard earn rate on Virgin Australia flights of five Velocity Points per $1 spent, to 10 Velocity Points per $1.
On an eligible $300 airfare, this boosts the default haul of 1,500 Velocity Points to 3,000 Velocity Points – that's 6,000 Velocity Points from a return trip, which gets close to the 7,800 Velocity Points needed to book a short domestic economy flight reward.
Velocity complements this with 100% bonus points on car hire with selected partners, as well as 100% more points on Ola rides to and from selected airports.
Winner: As the Velocity approach has most appeal with those who spend more, but the Qantas system delivers more points for those who fly further – especially on lead-in fares – this one's a draw, as the best-fit will depend on each traveller.
X-factor perks for Platinum frequent flyers
Platinum-plated travellers enjoy extended privileges on both Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Additional benefits for Qantas Platinum
Qantas' Boeing 787s normally fly to places like Los Angeles and London – but are currently being used on selected domestic routes while international travel opportunities are limited.
On these domestic services, Qantas Platinum members flying economy can pre-select seats in the premium economy cabin at no extra charge, as can any other traveller on the same reservation, regardless of status.
Although the service remains what it'd be in economy, sitting in premium economy means more legroom, a wider seat, bigger seatback TV, and a more comfortable journey: all for the price of an economy ticket.
As well, travellers who notch up 500 status credits from Qantas and Jetstar flights each year can choose a bonus of either 8,000 Qantas Points or 50 status credits.
That choice is again available at 1,000 status credits, 1,500 status credits, and 2,000 status credits – so even for a traveller who just scrapes Platinum each year, this could make that process faster by giving 100 extra status credits, after earning 1,000.
Additional benefits for Velocity Platinum
Virgin Australia's raft of extra benefits for Velocity Platinum proves more comprehensive, and includes:
- Four free business class upgrades each year, valid on any domestic route, from Freedom fares.
- Fly Ahead – complimentary same-day flight changes with no change fee or fare difference (excludes Getaway tickets).
- Choice of hotel status: Hilton Honors Diamond or IHG Rewards Platinum Elite.
- Preferred car hire status: Europcar Privilege Elite or Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President's Circle.
- Annual Family Trip guarantee – redeem up to four return economy flights once per year on VA marketed flights, where reward seats weren't otherwise available.
- Family pooling of points and status credits: available to all tiers, but beneficial to Platinum members in gaining or retaining status, where every status credit counts.
While each benefit is certainly useful on its own, the choice of hotel status is particularly notable – selecting Hilton Honors Diamond guarantees hotel lounge access (where open and available) with every stay, a significant benefit itself.
Winner: Premium economy seating on Qantas is nice (albeit on a very small percentage of overall flights), but Virgin Australia's hefty collection of benefits makes it the clear winner for X-factor,
Qantas Platinum vs Velocity Platinum: the verdict
In the battle for Platinum-plated travellers, Qantas and Virgin Australia each put their best foot forward – and each could suit a different type of flyer.
Those who see lounge benefits as the biggest privilege of status will favour Qantas: not only for its five Domestic Business Lounges, but its broader network of lounge locations across Australia.
(Of course, Qantas Platinum is also your ticket to the Qantas First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne for international flyers, but we're keeping this comparison to domestic, and those lounges are currently closed in any case.)
Qantas Platinum also suits those who pack heavier bags, both for check-in and carry-on, and by allowing Points Club members to earn status credits on reward flights, has strong appeal with high points earners, too.
On the other hand, Velocity Platinum can be a better fit for higher-spending travellers, being easier to earn and retain on all fares above the lead-in Getaway category.
The program's calculation of points based on the price of flights also fits that category, with the Platinum bonus escalating that to an impressive 10 Velocity Points per $1 spent – again, except on Getaway.
Adding extra perks like elite hotel and car hire status, four confirmed business class upgrades each year and same-day flight changes (again, excluding Getaway) gives travellers a good reason to consider Virgin if the overall package works for them.