Air New Zealand mulls Elite Plus tier, lifetime status

The NZ flag-carrier is plotting some actual 'enhancements' to its Airpoints frequent flyer program.

By David Flynn, November 13 2020
Air New Zealand mulls Elite Plus tier, lifetime status
Executive Traveller exclusive

Air New Zealand is considering adding a top-rung Elite Plus tier, along with lifetime status at lower tiers, in a raft of changes to its Airpoints loyalty program.

Other benefits being proposed for high flyers include discounted upgrade offers, immediate confirmation of upgrade requests and even a seperate lounge for Elite and Elite Plus members.

The airline has floated these options in a survey sent to selected Airpoints Elite-grade members, among them several readers of Executive Traveller.

While concepts polled by airlines in surveys and focus groups don't always see light of day, they strongly reflect the airline's thinking simply by the fact that they have advanced to the 'customer outreach' stage and in many cases later come to fruition.

Airpoints Elite Plus

An Executive Traveller reader who received the Airpoints survey reported the big ticket item was the creation of an Elite Plus tier along the same lines as Qantas' Platinum One.

(This would however still rank below the invitation-only Elite Priority One tier, which is an equivalent to the Qantas Chairman's Lounge.)

The survey indicated a target range between 2800 and 3200 Status Points per year would be required to pocket an Airpoints Elite Plus membership, compared to 1500 Status Points to reach today's Airpoints Elite tier and 900 for Airpoints Gold.

The highest of Air New Zealand's high flyers could be vaulted to an Elite Plus tier.
The highest of Air New Zealand's high flyers could be vaulted to an Elite Plus tier.

But that hard-earned Elite Plus status would bring a range of practical benefits, with survey respondents asked to rate the appeal of "some benefits that Air New Zealand is considering offering as part of the Elite Plus tier."

Some of the suggested benefits included:

  • free same-day flight changes for domestic, trans-Tasman and Pacific flights, regardless of the purchased fare
  • immediate confirmation of all upgrade requests based on seat availability
  • free exit rows and preferred seating
  • 50% Airpoints bonus on flights
  • free parking at the member's 'home airport'
  • complimentary Elite status for the nominated partner of an Elite Plus member
  • nominating a "friend or family member to accompany you whenever you fly with Air NZ, free of charge"
A proposed Elite Plus perk: buy one ticket, and bring a friend for free.
A proposed Elite Plus perk: buy one ticket, and bring a friend for free.

Lifetime status, added Elite perks

The survey also proposed lifetime status for lower Airpoints tiers, plus a series of fresh perks for Elite members such as

  • immediate confirmation of upgrade requests for trans-Tasman and Pacific flights, based on seat availability
  • 30% Airpoints bonus on flights
  • discounted upgrade offers send out closer to the day of travel
  • exclusive seating for Gold and Elite members
  • separate lounges for Elite members
Immediate notification of upgrades is certainly a reason to smile.
Immediate notification of upgrades is certainly a reason to smile.

The Executive Traveller reader, who lives in Auckland and regularly flies to Australia, said that if Air New Zealand carried through on all the proposed changes "it would be a very positive step."

"I'd send more of my spend to Air New Zealand rather than splitting between Air New Zealand and Qantas to get top status on both (and aim for Qantas Lifetime Gold)."

Air New Zealand's General Manager Loyalty, Kate O’Brien told Executive Traveller that the survey is a result of "our new business strategy Kia Mau that outlines Loyalty as a second growth engine for the business."

"Part of this is looking at our customer proposition and ensuring it is in line with what our customers want and need from the Airpoints programme."

"To do this, we’ve sent out a survey to our Airpoints members to hear first-hand their thoughts on how we can improve the Airpoints programme and frequent flyer experience."

Flying with Air New Zealand? Don't miss our round-up of Australia's best Airpoints credit card sign-up offers, so you can earn Airpoints Dollars to book any seat on any AirNZ flight.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 72

NOW then they announce this.

My branding agency was one of the final selection tenders when AIr New Zealand called for branding proposals for "Elite ONE" back in 2015?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2568

This is different to Elite One, which is AirNZ's invitation-only tier. From a Qantas perspective, Elite One = Chairman's Lounge, whereas Elite Plus = Platinum One.

06 Dec 2018

Total posts 11

I think the lifetime status is a good idea. And especially for Australian travellers who frequently fly to New Zealand. I believe it will increase 'pressure' (for better words) on Australian based flyers to remain loyal or switch loyalty to Air New Zealand. With the Qantas tie-up with Air New Zealand on the Tasman, it may prove beneficial for flyers too to claim these codeshare flights against their Air New Zealand membership. While I remain a loyal Qantas flyer, I have to say the Koru Lounges across the air New Zealand network, especially domestically leave Qantas for dead. The quality and variety is far better than Qantas. The lounges too have a much nicer atmosphere. I hope the lifetime status becomes reality. 

06 Mar 2017

Total posts 17

NZ's lifetime tier needs to be easier to attain than OZ to get me to switch for a *A airline.

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