TRAVEL HACK | What if we told you of a way to get the most appealing perks of Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold status in just one trip?
We're talking airport lounge access – and not just to Qantas lounges but those of Oneworld airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and JAL – along with ever-welcome shortcuts of priority checkin and boarding.
As it happens, those perks and more can be yours if you're flying between Sydney and London in British Airways business class.
By using a little-known trick, that journey can earn you Silver status in BA's Executive Club frequent flyer scheme, which delivers the most useful benefits of Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold due to both airlines' membership in the Oneworld airline alliance.
Here's the drill.
British Airways Executive Club 101
You'll need to be a member of BA's Executive Club frequent flyer scheme.
if you're flying with British Airways we're going to presume you already belong to BAEC – because sadly, membership isn't available to residents of Australia (or New Zealand, for that matter).
Go ahead: try to join the program, specifying Australia as your country of residence, and here's what you'll see.
Given that the only reason BA needs your address is to send out your physical Executive Club card – which bears the same membership number as you'll receive via email as soon as you sign up – then the mailing address of a friend, family member or colleague in almost any other country other than Australia will do the trick.
The shortcut to BAEC Silver
Your BA Executive Club membership kicks off at the non-status Blue level.
To move to a higher tier you need to earn what British Airways called tier points, which work just like Qantas status credits and are calculated based on the distance of each flight and your travel class.
The rungs on the BAEC ladder are Bronze (for 300 tier points – equivalent to Qantas Silver and Oneworld Ruby); Silver (at 600 tier points, which matches Qantas Gold and Oneworld Sapphire); and Gold (for 1,500 tier points, equating to Qantas Platinum and Oneworld Emerald).
It'd typically take quite some flying to work one's way up the frequent flyer food chain, but we're going to show you how to catapult straight to Silver.
The 'Singapore split'
At the time of writing, British Airways' sole Australian route is London to Sydney via Singapore, which runs daily as BA15 out of Heathrow and BA16 back from Sydney.
If you fly all the way from Sydney to London in business class on BA16 you'll earn 240 tier points in business class.
That comes out to 480 tier points for the return trip, which will leave you languishing in the land of BAEC Bronze – and being equal to Qantas Silver, it has has relatively few perks.
However, in addition to the Sydney-Singapore-London service, British Airways also runs a dedicated Singapore-London flight BA12 – and changing flights at Singapore means your tier point haul will be calculated across each individual flight, which delivers more tier points than going all the way on the one flight.
So if you travel on BA16 from Sydney to Singapore, and then continue onto London on BA12, the tally comes out at 300 tier points rather than 240 tier points for flying BA16 all the way.
How so? You get 140 tier points for the Sydney-Singapore leg on BA16...
... plus a further 160 tier points for Singapore-London on BA12.
The same applies to the return trip from London: leave Heathrow on BA11 to Singapore, then change to BA15 for the final leg to Sydney.
But based on a business class fare, this 'Singapore split' will see you earn 600 tier points for the return journey instead of just 480 tier points.
(It also gives you the necessary four BA flights required to qualify for Silver status.)
Silver status on a platter
And 600 tier points is exactly what you need to claim BAEC Silver status, which in turn lines up against Qantas Gold – as well as Gold in Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club and Malaysia Airlines' Enrich, for example.
By comparison, if you flew with Qantas from Sydney to London in business class return you'd net no more than 620 status credits (or 560 if you're on the cheapest business class fare) which is short of the 700 needed for Qantas Gold when qualifying for the first time.
There's no argument that Qantas Gold is the better card and status to have if you're doing a lot of flying with Qantas – it'll earn you a 75% bonus serve of frequent flyer points and ensure you're higher up the list for upgrades.
But if you hold status with another airline or alliance, then this is an easy way to get near-instant and highly useful status across all Oneworld airlines.
Also read: How to get Qantas Lifetime Gold status
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