Imagine enjoying priority check-in and boarding, airport lounge access, a boosted baggage allowance and more for the rest of your life, rather than just for a year – that’s what you’ll get in return for reaching Qantas’ elusive Lifetime Gold tier… if you ever make it, of course.
It’s a hard slog to get there: Lifetime Gold is only awarded to the highest of high flyers who earn at least 14,000 status credits throughout their many years of membership.
That’s as many status credits as it takes to earn and then retain ‘regular’ Qantas Gold membership every single year for nearly 24 years, or to earn and then requalify for Qantas Platinum every year for almost 12 years.
But you can get there if you work at it step by step and work smart along the way...
Choose higher-priced fares to earn more status credits
As a rule, you’ll earn more status credits when sitting at the front of the plane and less status credits when stuck down the back – but wherever your journeys find you, the number of status credits you’ll collect also varies based on the type of fare you book, not just the type of seat.
For instance, fly from Sydney to Melbourne in Qantas business class and you’d normally earn 40 status credits per one-way flight: but book a ‘flexible business class’ fare instead and that’s bumped to 45 status credits.
The same applies in economy. Book the lowest-cost Red e-Deal fare and you’d earn 10 status credits each way, but spring for a ‘Flex’ fare instead and your haul doubles to 20 status credits, as Qantas' website now highlights during the booking process.
It’s not always practical to pay more for your flight – especially if you’re bound by your company’s travel policy or there’s a large price difference between fare types – but when that difference is smaller or you're free to choose, parting with a little extra cash now could reap bigger rewards later in life.
Look out for ‘bonus status credit’ deals
Qantas occasionally tempts travellers with the promise of more status credits per flight than would usually be earned, getting you closer to Lifetime Gold without having to spend more on your ticket or even flying more frequently than usual.
Most recently, Qantas Frequent Flyers were offered double status credits when booking flights by March 6 2017 for travel until February 19 2018.
On those same Sydney-Melbourne hops, that boosts Red e-Deal fares to 20 status credits, flexible economy to 40 status credits, business class to 80 status credits and flexible business class to 90 status credits, per flight – with double status credits again for the return trip.
Booking flights with Qantas, or as a Qantas codeshare
Another rule to remember: booking a flight with Qantas (under a QF flight number) will always earn you the highest possible number of status credits – whether that’s a codeshare service or a flight aboard Qantas’ own aircraft – compared to booking via a Qantas partner airline instead.
Consider a return business class flight from Sydney to Hong Kong, where you can choose between flying with Qantas or with its Oneworld airline partner Cathay Pacific.
Book that trip on the Roo and it’ll add 240-270 status credits to your lifetime pile...
... but fly with Cathay Pacific and you’ll get only 120 status credits on the round-trip – doubling the number of flights it’d take you to reach Lifetime Gold, because you’re earning half as many status credits per flight.
This becomes even more important when booking flights with Emirates, because you can only earn status credits when booking Emirates flights as a Qantas codeshare with a QF flight number. Book Emirates’ own EK flight number instead and you’ll earn points, but won’t earn status credits at all.
You can see how many status credits you could earn on any given flight or journey by using the handy calculator on the Qantas website.
Choose status credits as your ‘loyalty bonus’
For every 500 status credits you earn in a single membership year from flights booked with Qantas and Jetstar, you’ll be offered a bonus of either 8,000 Qantas Points or 50 status credits, up to four times each membership year.
Those bonus status credits naturally help with your yearly goal of reaching or retaining Gold or Platinum status, but they also count towards your lifetime tally!
Assuming you’re already earning 1,500 status credits from flying Qantas and Jetstar every membership year, choosing status credits as your reward boosts that to 1,650 status credits per year – 50 bonus credits for every 500 status credits flown – and ever closer to locking-in Lifetime Gold.
Earn extra status credits with the right credit card
Most credit cards can only earn you frequent flyer points (useful for booking flights and securing upgrades) rather than status credits (used to reach Lifetime Gold): but two choice cards from American Express and ANZ can each slip up to 75 extra status credits in your pocket.
Apply for a new American Express Qantas Ultimate Card by May 1 2017 and then book and take a return Qantas flight by September 30 2017 and 75 bonus status credits shall be yours.
ANZ’s Qantas Frequent Flyer Black Visa offers a similar deal: apply by June 30 2017 and then book and take a return flight with Qantas by 30 September 2017 to notch up 75 status credits also.
That’s up to 150 bonus status credits to be earned just by applying for two new credit cards!
These status credits do contribute towards your lifetime status credit tally, although they don’t count towards your ‘loyalty bonus’ for a double-dip – you can’t pair 75 of these bonus status credits with 425 status credits earned from Qantas flights to unlock a further 50 bonus status credits, for example.