Qantas is considering beefing up the benefits offered to long-term frequent flyers in 2020 with a range of measures including a year of complimentary status for Platinum and Platinum One members who drop below the annual threshold, and establishing a 'status credits superannuation fund' to obtain additional years at Gold or Platinum tiers.
The moves have been floated in a survey sent to a select group of top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyers, whose number included several Executive Traveller readers.
Several options were presented, and respondents asked to how relevant each was to their own situation also offer 'initial thoughts' on each proposal.
The scope of proposals in the survey appears geared to not only reward travellers with demonstrable long-term loyalty to Qantas but to also address the gap between Lifetime Gold (14,000 status credits) and the recently-introduced but stratospherically-positioned Lifetime Platinum (75,000 status credits).
Executive Traveller reader Gold4Life – we have agreed not to publish his real name – was among those surveyed, and suggested that Qantas has several "benefit gaps" to address.
"It's not just about the immense chasm between obtaining Lifetime Gold and Lifetime Platinum," he says. "It's also about the fact that once you reach Lifetime Gold and maybe Platinum or Platinum One each year there's less incentive and less reward to keep going beyond what you need to do in order to get that annual status."
"Having some 'milestones' along the way where extra status credits gain you something instead of going to waste or being flushed away with the annual QFF membership reset every year makes plenty of sense."
Here is a rundown of what Qantas is putting forward.
Banked years of status
'Banked years' of Platinum or Platinum One status could be used to retain that status if a member fails to quality through their own flying.
The first complimentary year would be obtained after reaching 25,000 lifetime status credits, with every 10,000 lifetime status credits adding one more year to the tally, up to a ceiling of 65,000 lifetime status credits (equivalent to five years of gratis status).
An alternative approach to delivering the same benefit was to award those additional years based not on lifetime status credits on how many years a member had held Platinum or Platinum One status, with the goal set at five consecutive years at that tier. Members could choose when to activate that year held up their sleeve.
For many years Qantas offered a discretionary extension of Gold or Platinum status, but in late 2017 shifted to a 'paid retention' model under which frequent flyers who fell short of the annual status credits target for renewing that shiny card could use frequent flyer points to close the gap.
Executive Traveller readers reported benchmarks of around 80,000 Qantas Points for another year of Gold status, with the asking price for one more year of Platinum perks ranging from 100,000-120,000 Qantas Points.
New lifetime benefits
The Qantas survey also called out what it called 'interval bonus benefits' where selected Platinum-grade benefits would be made available "at specific status credits intervals."
Examples cited included priority upgrades at 30,000 lifetime status credits and an automatic 100% frequent flyer points bonus applied from 50,000 lifetime status credits.
These would be available on a lifetime basis rather than limited to a flyer's membership year.
Status credits 'superannuation'
A little more left of field is the proposal to earmark 10% of a member's annual status credits haul for deposit into a superannuation-style 'earn now, redeem later' scheme.
The cumulative status credits could eventually be cashed out "to purchase either Gold or Platinum status" for those times when a frequent flyer becomes a less frequent flyer and falls short of the number of status credits needed to retain that prized status.
"Members can choose when to draw down on their superannuation account for activation of their Gold or Platinum status," the survey suggested.
There would be no limit on how many status credits could be amassed in the super scheme.