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Most frequent flyers achieve their prized Gold or Platinum status the hard way – clocking up endless hours of bum-numbing miles in business class (or, worse, economy).
However, Qantas and Virgin Australia offer selected travellers a shortcut to that shiny card using little-known ‘accelerator' programs.
These are primarily used to woo business travellers away from competing airlines by offering instant status and the perks which come with it – such as lounge access, priority check-in and boarding and an additional checked baggage allowance.
The lure of this status match is to ensure high-spending travellers who already hold significant status on another airline don’t have to forego the equivalent perks and start at the bottom of the frequent flyer food chain.
But you don’t get something for nothing: accelerator promotions (sometimes also known as ‘challenges’) require that travellers do a certain amount of flying with the airline offering a fast-track status deal.
With both Qantas and Virgin Australia you need to clock up a set number of status credits within three months in order to keep that Gold or Platinum frequent flyer card in your pocket or purse for a full year.
Don’t manage to make those miles? Say goodbye to your gratis status.
How to apply for a Qantas or Virgin Australia status match
Contact the frequent flyer team of the airline with which you’re seeking a status match offer, and explain what you’re seeking and why.
If there’s a possible status match on the table – and that’s not always the case – you’ll need to send a copy of your current frequent flyer card and some recent activity statements showing your travel patterns (this is to weed out freeloaders).
Then it’s up to the airline to decide if you’re a customer worth chasing and worthy of a status match.
The Qantas Tier Accelerator status match
Qantas' Tier Accelerator is a bit 'fight club' – the airline doesn't talk much about it – but it provides a fast-track to Gold or Platinum Qantas Frequent Flyer status.
The number of status credits you have to earn within the three-month trial is believed to be 200 status credits to get a full year of Gold membership, and 400 status credits for Platinum.
And that’s not a big ask.
One business class return trip from Sydney to Singapore or Hong Kong will net you 240 status credits, so you’re Gold with some to spare.
Two of those trips (or one flexible business class fare to Los Angeles and back) puts you in Platinum territory.
The Virgin Australia Accelerate Pilot Gold status match
Virgin Australia’s Pilot Gold scheme provides three months of Velocity Frequent Flyer Gold status.
Pilot Gold is a component of the airline’s Accelerate business travel program for companies spending from $20,000 to $300,000 per year on Virgin Australia flights.
However, Pilot Gold is also known to be offered to individual Qantas flyers prized by Virgin Australia.
Moving from Pilot Gold to the real deal requires you to earn just 80 status credits in three months.
That’s a one-way business class flight between the east and west coasts, or a return trip in full fare economy.