Take a Gold or Platinum frequent flyer card from one airline and, like a magician's trick, a 'status match' deal will make a matching shiny card from another airline appear in your wallet or purse.
If you've chosen your status match partner wisely, that new card will unlock prized perks such as lounge access, priority check-in and higher checked baggage allowance with not just one other airline but dozens of them via the Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam groups of airlines.
Here are three current status match deals – one for each of those alliances – so if you play your cards right, you'll quickly be a VIP traveller on most of the world's leading airlines.
The airline: German's Airberlin and its Topbonus frequent flyer scheme
The alliance: Airberlin is a member of Oneworld which also includes Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and many more.
The status match: Airberlin is now offering Silver or Gold status – which corresponds to Qantas Silver or Gold, which in turn equals Ruby and Sapphire on Oneworld member airlines – although Gold is the one to get, here as Silver doesn’t include lounge access.
What you need: To qualify for this status match you must hold Silver or Gold frequent flyer status (or higher) with an airline outside the Oneworld alliance.
That leaves Qantas off the list but opens it up to the likes of Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold or PPS Club, Emirates Skywards Gold or Platinum, and many others.
Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyer cards have no weight here: the former due to the airline’s Oneworld membership, the latter due to its existing partnership with Airberlin.
(However, we've heard reports that Etihad Guest Gold and Platinum members have been successful in securing a status match, despite Etihad's partnership with, and financial stake in, Airberlin.)
Why you’d want it: In addition to instant Gold status with all Oneworld airlines, Airberlin Topbonus also gives you similar Gold-grade perks with Virgin Australia. That's unique among the airline world and makes this a great card for Aussie frequent flyers to tuck away.
How it’s done: If you’re not already a Topbonus member, join for free on the Airberlin website, then send an email to [email protected] with your Topbonus membership number and a scan, photo or copy of your current Silver, Gold or Platinum frequent flyer card.
Read more: Free Airberlin Topbonus Gold status match
Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles
The airline: Turkish Airlines and its Miles and Smiles frequent flyer scheme
The alliance: Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance Gold which includes Singapore Airlines, United, Thai Airways, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa and Air China.
The status match: Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles ‘Elite’ status is equivalent to Star Alliance Gold status.
What you need: All you need to take advantage of this promotion is a top-tier frequent flyer card from one of the ‘big three’ alliances – such as Oneworld Emerald, Star Alliance Gold or SkyTeam Elite Plus.
That prestigious list includes Qantas Platinum/Platinum One (Oneworld), Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold/PPS Club (Star Alliance) and Delta Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion (SkyTeam).
However, frequent flyer cards from non-alliance airlines aren’t accepted – which rules out the likes of Virgin Australia, Etihad, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic.
Why you’d want it: Priority check-in and boarding plus lounge access across the breadth of the Star Alliance, the world's largest airline alliance.
How it’s done: Join the Miles and Smiles scheme, then visit the Turkish Airlines website to request your status match via the customer service form, where you'll need to attach a scan of your eligible frequent flyer card along with a copy of your most recent account statement. Qantas frequent flyers can obtain this by clicking ‘View activity statement’ on the Qantas website.
Czech Airlines OK Plus
The airline: Czech Airlines and its OK Plus frequent flyer scheme
The alliance: Czech belongs to the SkyTeam alliance
The deal: Okay, this isn't a direct status match deal – but it's a nifty shortcut to quickly gaining Elite or Elite Plus status across all SkyTeam member airlines such as Delta, Air France, Korean Air, KLM, Garuda, and China Southern.
What you need: Start with a Silver card (for Elite status) or Gold or Platinum card (for Elite Plus status) from any other airline – including Qantas and Virgin Australia – and book at least one flight with Czech Airlines in either business class or flexible economy. A short hop from Paris to Prague will do the trick if you're already Europe-bound.
How it’s done: Join OK Plus, book your Czech Airlines flight, complete this application form [PDF, 416kb] with your membership and flight details, and email it to [email protected]. Your Elite or Elite Plus card will be mailed to you after taking the flight you nominated on the form.
Note that unlike Oneworld and the Star Alliance, SkyTeam doesn’t provide lounge access on domestic flights unless connecting to or from an international SkyTeam service. Lower-level Elite members have no lounge privileges but enjoy priority check-in, boarding and more with SkyTeam.
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