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TRAVEL STRATEGY | In light of the looming overhaul of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, many travellers are looking to hedge their bets by building up elite status in the frequent flyer schemes of other airlines.
Rather than aiming for Platinum status with Qantas and enjoying lounge access and other perks only with the Red Roo and its partners, employing a ‘dual Gold’ strategy could see a better return with a broader network of status recognition.
For most Aussies, Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program is the obvious alternative. If flight choices aren’t yours to make – say, your company uses the ‘best fare of the day’ (BFOD) method – you might have already cottoned on to this idea.
Of course, the status credits to reach Velocity Gold have to come from somewhere. Unless your Qantas tally is approaching the threshold for ‘additional Platinum privileges’ (2,400 status credits) or Platinum One (3,600 status credits), it’ll likely mean sacrificing your Platinum status and dropping to Gold for your next membership year.
That said, with Qantas slashing status credits on Oneworld partner airlines there’s a good chance your Platinum status was already going to take a dive if you frequent destinations not served by Qantas or its codeshare partners – in which case, you’ll be ahead of the game with this strategy.
Double down with Gold status
Here's how the strategy works.
Starting with Qantas: you’ll need 1,400 status credits (SCs) to qualify for Platinum, but only 1,200 SCs to maintain it each year.
Although domestic priority boarding, access to the Qantas First Class lounges and domestic business class lounges is the domain of the Platinum flyer, Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold status isn’t too bad by comparison.
Requiring 700 SCs at the onset or 600 SCs to retain you’ll still enjoy access to domestic Qantas Clubs, international business class lounges, Emirates lounges (except for the First Class lounge in Dubai) and Qantas’ new lounges in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Of course, if you've been a long-time Qantas flyer you may already have notched up Lifetime Gold status, which will make your decision even easier.
Let’s assume you just retain Platinum each year with 1,200 SCs and decide to shake things up.
By directing just 650 SCs Qantas’ way, you’ll have roughly 550 SCs to play with elsewhere while safely maintaining Qantas Gold status.
To hit Gold with Virgin Australia's Velocity scheme will take 500 status credits the first time around but just 400 to retain.
Either way, if you’re a Platinum flyer with Qantas, you could instead have a foot in both camps with Gold status in both Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Yes, Velocity’s partner airline network isn’t as comprehensive as Qantas – particularly in South America, Europe and Asia – although unlike the changes being made at Qantas, your status credits aren’t garnished when choosing to fly on a partner airline.
If you’re a Platinum-grade Qantas frequent flyer, what’s your status strategy come July? Will your travel patterns see your haul of points and status credits largely unaffected, or do you plan to diversify your frequent flyer portfolio with a foot in both camps?
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