Qantas Frequent Flyer status proves hard to keep for overseas flyers

Even with bonus status credits, members still need to take four eligible Qantas or Jetstar flights to retain their tier.

By Chris Chamberlin, July 20 2020
Qantas Frequent Flyer status proves hard to keep for overseas flyers

While Qantas is giving away bonus status credits to help frequent flyers keep their tier-based benefits for another year, members who live overseas face a separate conundrum: the need to make several ‘eligible flights’ at a time when Qantas has grounded all international services.

Each membership year, four eligible flights are required to maintain a member’s existing level or see them climb up to the next tier (that’s in addition to clocking up the necessary number of status credits).

Here’s the sticky part: although status credits can be earned on airlines right across the Oneworld alliance, when it comes to those eligible flights, only tickets sold on Qantas and Jetstar flight numbers are counted.

Living in the UK? While you can earn Qantas status credits on British Airways flights, those flights won’t help you cover off those four ‘squiggles’.

With Qantas’ international flight network on hold as Australian travel restrictions remain in place, the task of taking those four eligible flights could prove impossible for many members based abroad.

When asked whether the ‘four flight’ rule would be amended to count journeys taken with partners such as British Airways, Qantas declined to comment on-record.

However, Executive Traveller understands that Qantas is currently reviewing whether such changes could be made possible, under Oneworld alliance rules.

Oneworld policy currently "mandates that all Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald members earn minimum sectors on their home carrier," confirms Mark Ross-Smith, CEO of Loyalty Data Co and former manager of the Enrich frequent flyer program at Oneworld's Malaysia Airlines.

"Qantas can’t waive the minimum sector requirement as it’s mandated by Oneworld," Ross-Smith affirms. "It’s up to Oneworld to make these changes to help support Oneworld member airlines."

As Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce is also currently serving as Chairman of the Oneworld Governing Board, Joyce could make a motion to waive this requirement across the alliance, with the support of other member airlines, should Qantas decide to do so.

Qantas codeshare flights also out of reach

Under current arrangements, Qantas codeshare flights operated by other airlines like Emirates do count towards those four required flights – that is, booking an Emirates flight on a QF flight number – but there’s another catch.

Those codeshares haven't always been available for sale during the coronavirus pandemic: and even when they are available, codeshare flights aren’t offered on every route.

In many cases, the passenger must also be travelling to or from Australia as part of the same ticket to be eligible to book that codeshare flight number.

Read: Qantas eyes return of Emirates codeshare flights

Qantas Frequent Flyer's international appeal

Qantas Frequent Flyer is, no doubt, primarily designed for travellers based in Australia, who could cover off those four eligible flights in two simple return domestic trips – but in recent times, the program has been pushing itself towards a more international membership base.

Just last month, Qantas Frequent Flyer inked a partnership with American Express UK, allowing UK-based cardholders to convert their Membership Rewards points into Qantas Points.

Over in the United States, Qantas Points can also be earned via a range of US credit cards attached to AMEX Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards.

These partnerships particularly appeal to Aussie expats who were already accustomed to earning Qantas Points, and would otherwise have switched to programs like American Airlines AAdvantage or BA Executive Club.

By keeping these members’ Qantas Points flowing in even after their move overseas, there’s every chance they’ll continue chasing Qantas status credits, too.

But, if ‘eligible flights’ remain out of reach, the appeal of those other frequent flyer schemes can only increase: enticing long-time Qantas loyalists to jump ship to a program that better-rewards the journeys that they remain able to take.

Also read: Qantas gives grounded frequent flyers bonus status credits

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Oct 2018

Total posts 7

Certainly something I think I will be affected by. As I'm based outside Australia 95% of my Qantas travel is back to Australia and other international, with a few domestic connections. I don't think I'll be travelling back to Australia for maybe 12 months at this rate, let alone anywhere else!

05 May 2016

Total posts 576

It's not just those overseas affected. With the current lockdown Victorians can't travel interstate and if not eligible for a travel exemption can't fly overseas either. If these bans aren't lifted soon all flyers whether local or overseas may need another blanket 12 month extension.

Qantas

03 Mar 2015

Total posts 12

Why doesn't Qantas just freeze or snapshot the current statuses of Frequent flyers then enable status anniversary again when international travel resumes?

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 169

That would make sense. As a US based platinum FF the loss of the 380 even when flights resume also removes a reason to fly Qantas to and from Australia.

05 May 2016

Total posts 576

If QF won't fly the A380 from SYD-LAX it would be surprising if any other airline would fly it. I expect QF will use the 787 which has the new business seats similar to what is on the refurbished A380. Obviously the loss of the option of flying F would be a disappointment for some, but most travellers are unlikely to be flying F regularly.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2018

Total posts 10

and what will happen to LAX F lounge if A380 disappear for good? I know it sounds like a first world pre-Covid problem...but you have to admit it was a great way to start our journey back home...

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 300

Totally agree this is the most sensible option. Just freeze the whole status program and unfreeze it once the flights are back and boarders are open and the Oz Government allows us to travel again.

20 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

I live in Singapore and bought some flights to take advantage of the double status credits. Now I won't be able to use these at all, as in certain flights will not resume untill the new year and then due to my membership year it would be a year wasted... My December flight to the UK has also been cancelled although not officially so I cannot even get this stays credit. Whilst the 140 credits given to me are appreciated, they won't help one bit.

JTG
JTG

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 42

I am in the weird position that I am more likely to be able to achieve Lifetime Gold, rather than retain Gold in the next 18 months. I am now based in Singapore and 'only' need 1500 status credits for Lifetime Gold. I think that will be easier than four flights with Qantas

As a UK based Qantas member this is one step forward two steps back! I have been looking forward to using Qantas again with the news that I could convert my American Express membership reward points to Qantas points. Then this news. Come on Qantas get your act together.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Jun 2014

Total posts 36

WA frequent flyers can't even leave the state without permission. No chance of any status credits with flights till sometime next year.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 40

Pathetic that Q has not addressed this. They really dont deserve our loyalty or business. There are plenty of other airlines to choose from and thats what i and suspect many others will be doing.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 67

In fact it will be all QFFs who will be affected, Local folk as well as OS flyers, given current state and national border restrictions. I am lucky in a way that to meet with son in Memphis, USA, I will meet the critical 4 crucial Qflights by a brief family reunion ex Melb/ Sydney to Memphis and return. The catch for all is the timing; we can speculate all we like, but we will only be able to fly when restrictions are lifted and by the looks of things in Melbourne(mid July 2020) it will not be soon. Would strongly urge Q to consider awarding all status holders an additional year in their current level, if not all will likely loose what ever they have attained.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 40

Not only this disaster. But the rediculous unattainable lifetime platinum target they set leaves me (as a lifetime gold for 10 years and a platinum ff for at least 15 consecutive years) with no incentive to fly with Q again. Whoever is running the FF department and strategy is doing an appauling job. Q wake up! and the great AJ do you have any idea what is going on?

Hi all, a quick update here: we've established that Qantas Frequent Flyer's 'four eligible sector' rule is actually a requirement set out in Oneworld alliance internal policy.

Qantas cannot change this without permission from the alliance itself, for any frequent flyer tiers that also align with the Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald levels (which, for Qantas Frequent Flyer, is all of them). We've updated our article to include more information on this.

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 169

Thank you Chris for this explanation, that makes perfect sense. Personally I normally take more than 1 trip back to Australia each year so the 4 sectors is not hard to do, plus I'll often do some domestic AU flights when I'm there as well. But my other international travel is mainly AA which is where I get a lot of the required status credits from. I'm sure there many other people in the same boat so this article and comments have been helpful.

22 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Hi Chris,

Finnair, AA, Malaysia & Cathay don't seem to have any requirements to fly their metal to become a FF.

Doing a quick review only JAL, BA & Qantas seem to have this rule.

22 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

Chris

I'm glad you wrote this article as this is the circumstance I now find myself in. My membership year is about to reset and so I am planning my various flights this year but the 4 flight QF minimum is presently escaping me. In the absence of a change of internal policy with Oneworld - does anyone know if Qantas is selling flights from the call centre that I might be able to purchase essentially as a QF flight minimum status run.

For example, I can get a relatively easy flight from any of the London airports to another UK city, but rather than buy the ticket directly from BA, is Qantas selling marketed flights from its centre under the appropriate QF flight number so as to qualify for the marketed flight policy under the frequent flyer program? I may make enquiries directly in any event with the call centre and see if this is a possibility in the UK.

22 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

Chris / All

As promised, I gave the QF call centre a call today to see if it would be possible to book any flights domestically here in the UK with the UK flight number - e.g. trying to book a flight on QF3553 from LHR to EDI (operated by BA) as opposed to a regular booking under BA 1434.

Advised that as they do not have access to the internal fares here, they could only book the BA number. The QF flight is only available if booked in conjunction with another QF flight (e.g. out from London to SIN etc).

A frustrating outcome as I had hoped to be able to get my Emerald status this year - so may have to switch to the Executive Club unless QF/BA/JL waive the 4 flight segment requirement. Does anyone if this is an actual OW requirement? Some say that it has to be agreed OW alliance wide whilst others suggest that it might be on a carrier by carrier basis. Do we know if QF are actively reviewing this?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Dec 2011

Total posts 11

Thank goodness I live in New Zealand and can do a couple of return flights with Jetstar to WLG from AKL.

22 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

What happens to the membership of those Aus locals who are not able to take any QF nor other flights during the current membership year:

a) I was demoted to Bronze (having taken multiple points flights in 2019)

b) a family member with lifetime Silver status?

Are we expelled FF? Do we lose all past points? current staus credits?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Apr 2014

Total posts 7

This is my situation as currently being UK based. Though not a business traveller my one trip back a year (or 18 months when well planned) allowed me to get the 4 legs easily and leisure travel the other status points to retain silver. Silver isn't really a big deal but it has advantages that i felt were worth keeping. Lucky for me i am not going to worry about keeping this tier as it is easy to retain again but I'm sure i would be more frustrated if i was on a higher tier.

There is the temptation to jump ship to another carrier at this time, I could get a refund for my cancelled March flight and I'm sure my December flight will also be cancelled. I could see what other carriers are offering and i may get the chance to jump on a great opportunity!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2018

Total posts 3

I've gone from platinum QFF and under the changes with giving points etc have told QANTAS that there is no physical way for me to be able to maintain my status. I'm an aussie expat and have been for 5 years, flying between where I live and Australia. I'm afraid that without QANTAS stepping up to hold the status it will force me to simply pick the cheapest flight again. I've sent an email to QANTAS outlining the challenges for aussie expats and how it simply won't be possible to maintain status without some incentives. As soon as I can fly back home I want to but right now QANTAS doesn't give me that option and the SA government have just put a $3,000 'quarantine fee'. I fear it will be a while before I'm in a position to fly back home. It's also going to be difficult for AU based FF as I'm sure there is going to be 2nd, 3rd waves of this. Domestic travel will be affected. Good luck to any QFF that can maintain platinum on domestic flights only.

19 Aug 2017

Total posts 10

Yes, it is going to be difficult to maintain my Platinum status with the 4 QF flights. I am based in UK but work is HQ'd out of HK and Sing. I would normally fly QF to Sing, then around the region with Cathay, back to London with QF. So I would easily pick up at least 10-12 plus QF flights per year. As the London to Singapore flights are not flying, and I'm not flying at all, then all the credit support won't get me back my Platinum status, unless the QF drop the 4 flight rule. I know it is a one world issue, but would be good to see if this can be lifted. Fingers crossed


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