With the trans-Tasman bubble remaining closed until at least December, Air New Zealand may roll out a further extension to its Touch of Gold status match for Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyers – and this time, the new qualification period is likely to stretch into 2022.
The Kiwi carrier initially launched the status match to its Airpoints Gold tier ahead of the April 19 restart of trans-Tasman flying, with an offer of an instant four months of practical perks such as lounge access, complimentary seat selection, additional carry-on and checked luggage allowances plus priority check-in, boarding and baggage.
And by clocking up just 100 Status Points on Air New Zealand travel within those 16 weeks, that Gold status was set to stay fresh for the following eight months, delivering a full year of Gold-lined benefits.
100 Status Points is an easy earn with a return flight between Australia and New Zealand on a flexible economy, premium economy or business class fare.
Well, it would have been easy if that long-awaited travel bubble hadn't burst following a series of Covid-19 outbreaks in Australia and then New Zealand.
New Zealand's Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins announced last week that the travel bubble with Australia would be out of action until at least December, while the country's Deputy Prime Minister allowed that even the prospects of a Christmas travel bubble remained uncertain.
Air New Zealand has already pushed back the qualification period for its Touch of Gold status match to 8 December 2021 to allow applicants "extra time to earn the required 100 Status Points through Air New Zealand travel."
But that simply might not be long enough, which brings a second extension into early 2022 into the frame.
"Air New Zealand initially extended the qualification period for the Touch of Gold promotion to 8 December as a result of the trans-Tasman bubble closure," the airline's General Manager Loyalty, Kate O'Brien, tells Executive Traveller.
"We are continuing to monitor the situation and will review how our participants are progressing towards the end of November, if not before."
PREVIOUS [August 6, 2021] Air New Zealand is extending the qualification period for its status match against Qantas and Virgin Australia through to December due to the closure of the trans-Tasman bubble.
Launched in April 2021 as that bubble opened up, the Touch of Gold promotion was reportedly very successful in attracting Qantas and Virgin frequent flyers who gained instant Airpoints Gold status for four months, with the chance to lock that down for a full year by earning just 100 Status Points on Air New Zealand flights within that time.
However, those quick trips across the pond were soon thrown into disarray as a series of Covid-19 outbreaks in Australia saw New Zealand block travel from several states across June and July, before the bubble was completely suspended until at least late September.
Air New Zealand has now written to its temporarily gilded members to say they'll have until early December to make a flight with the Kiwi carrier and collect those 100 status points.
"Since the the start of the Touch of Gold promotion there have been a number of travel interruptions caused by Covid-19, which have resulted in some changes to the trans-Tasman bubble," the airline says.
"We'd like to acknowledge that this may have prevented you from earning the required Status Points to move to full Gold."
"We are therefore extending the qualification period to 8 December 2021, allowing you extra time to earn the required 100 Status Points through Air New Zealand travel."
If there's any good news here, it's that pocketing Airpoints Gold by December 2021 will mean you also have Star Alliance Gold through to December 2022 – handy for when international travel resumes next year, with Singapore likely to be an early cab off that rank.
As previously reported, those 100 Status Points can be won on a return flight between Australia and New Zealand in a higher-paid flexible economy or premium economy fare, and they're guaranteed if you're in business class.
PREVIOUS [April 2021] | Air New Zealand hopes to lure across Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyers with an instant status match – no flying required.
The Kiwi carrier's offer comes ahead of the April 19 restart of trans-Tasman flying, and follows Qantas' own 'fast-track' status deal.
And like that Qantas promotion, Air New Zealand is putting its own Airpoints Gold status up for grabs as what it calls Touch of Gold.
With practical perks such as lounge access, complimentary seat selection, additional carry-on and checked luggage allowances plus priority check-in, boarding and baggage, Gold is generally considered the sweet spot in most airline loyalty programs.
"We can’t wait to fly customers across the Tasman, so we’re encouraging Gold status or higher customers of qualifying airlines to try Air New Zealand with our Touch of Gold offer," says Air New Zealand General Manager Loyalty Kate O’Brien.
"We know there is pent up demand for trans-Tasman travel. and it’s the perfect time for customers to get a taste of our world-class customer experience and reap the benefits of our Airpoints programme."
AirNZ's Gold status match is nominally open to the following high flyers in both Australia and New Zealand
- Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum and Platinum One
- Velocity Frequent Flyer Gold and Platinum
However, the airline's Touch of Gold terms and conditions page expands upon that, saying only that applicants "must hold current Gold or higher status (or equivalent) with another airline. Star Alliance airline or Cathay Pacific members are ineligible for the promotion."
A spokesperson for Air New Zealand confirmed to Executive Traveller that its Gold status match will indeed be offered to the middle- and top-tier frequent flyers of any airline, bar its Star Alliance siblings and Hong Kong partner Cathay Pacific.
Applications must be made by May 7, 2021 – and once your application is approved, Airpoints Gold status will be yours for four months.
If you earn 100 Status Points on Air New Zealand travel within that time, your Gold status will stay fresh for the following eight months, giving you a full year of Gold benefits.
This will also include two free 'recognition upgrades', such as from economy to premium economy, or premium economy to business.
It's also worth noting that Airpoints Gold is recognised as Star Alliance Gold, which could come in very handy for the likes of Singapore Airlines once travel resumes between Australia and Singapore.
Status Points, like Airpoints Dollars (the Kiwi carrier's points currency), are calculated based on how much you pay for your ticket – as a quick guideline, here are the earning rates for a one-way flight between Sydney and Auckland:
- Economy Smart Saver, 7-46 Status Points
- Economy Flexi, 33-104 Status Points
- Premium Economy, 33-77 Status Points
- Business, 60-107 Status Points
As you can see, it's quite do-able to pocket 100 Status Points and a year at the Airpoints Gold tier with a return flight on a flexible economy or premium economy fare, and it's guaranteed if you're in business class.
For more details and to apply, visit airnewzealand.com.au/touchofgold-benefits