Qantas and Virgin Australia: frequent flyers go for 'double gold'

By Chris Chamberlin, April 16 2014

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?

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Apr 2014

Total posts 3

My Gold status is up for review soon with Velocity and found out that I still had 4 eligible sectors that needed to be completed. Apparently eligible sectors are only VA or DJ flights, so if you are travelling with a partner airline with EY or SQ, these do not count towards eligible flights even though you get the status credits!! Not sure how much value this program is to me particularly as majority of my travel is overseas!

Have you tried booking any codeshare flights Ian?

Flights operated by partner airlines but with a Virgin Australia (VA) flight number still count as 'eligible sectors', even though you're not setting foot on a Virgin Australia aircraft. ;)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Apr 2014

Total posts 3

Sure have Chris. The problem is when booking VA flight number with say Singapore Airlines, you can't book the seat. Also you are unable to check-in online prior to the flight to select your seat. So if you are flying long haul to Europe for example, you risk being stuck in the middle...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 28

Ian - 4 sectors needed? 

Sounds like a nice excuse for a little weekend away with your partner!

Don't forget to take advantage of 'Family Pooling' as well - means you'll get your 4 sectors just in the one trip. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2012

Total posts 43

I'm only 20 SC's short of obtaining gold status with VA but it still says i need 4 more eligible sectors to get there. It seems to never change? I have done 6 sectors with them in the past couple of weeks and it has said I still require 4 sectors every time. What's the story there?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

18 Apr 2013

Total posts 23

I don't believe 'Family Pooling' counts towards eligible sectors. I believe only status credit and points are awarded? I could be wrong.

Cheers

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 28

Good pick up Alex. You're right. 

So it's two little weekends away then? 

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Or a little weekend away which happens to involve an unnecessary plane change.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 11

Family pooling also does count toward eligable sectors, you just need to pick the option of Points and Sectors and not just Points, when you  link the family onto your membership.  I have completed this a number of time for non frequent family flyers, and have benefited from the Sectors, and points accumulated

12 Nov 2013

Total posts 8

That's odd - unlike many Velocity Gold members who are regular business travellers, I reached VG via a lucky co-incidence of schedules co-inciding, family pooling, and a scholarship international flight.  But number of sectors was the least of my worries - I found I hit that target way before the SCs came into play?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 11

Hi Ian

I have flown Virgin Australia partner airlines on a  occasions to which their flight sectors and points and status credits do all count. These airlines include Virign Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines.  Im sure that the many other Virgin Australia partner airlines sectors do also count toward your number of sectors required.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Apr 2014

Total posts 3

That's what I thought! But when I called Velocity I was told eligible sectors are those that are ticketed as VA even when flying on codeshare with Singapore or Etihad. So if you have  tickets with SQ or EY, they are not considered eligible. If you get a VA ticket when flying with SQ, you can't pre-book your seat nor can you checkin online...this is a problem if you want to ensure you get your preferred seat. Every little bit counts especially when flying for business.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 39

Last month I flew LAX-LHR and LHR-HKG on Virgin Atlantic ('VS') flights booked via VA's web site, with those flights bearing a VA flight number. I was able to select my seat on VS flights by going to the Virgin Atlantic web site and entering my details and the VS booking ref. I will get 300 SCs for those flights (including the Australian sectors to LAX and from HKG), but am told it takes 4-8 weeks for them to reach my account (I guess those SCs are sent surface mail, not airmail). When they arrive, I'll be just 130 SC shy of Platinum. When they arrive ....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 582

Airberlin's topbonus programme is another interesting alternative, which allows its Gold and Platinum member to access oneworld lounges (including Qantas) as well as the lounges of Virgin Australia (who only operate domestic lounges, so no access when flying Virgin Australia internationally) and Etihad. Further benefits such as additional baggage, priority check-in and priority boarding are also provided on both Qantas and Virgin.

There are a few caveats though, with status miles only earned with oneworld and Etihad (not Virgin), no status recognition & no miles earned when flying Jetstar, and no miles earned when flying various discount economy fares with both Qantas & Virgin.

Mal
Mal

14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

Very good advice. I'm already doing this, Gold with QF is enough for me so I decided last year to spread my travel and get Gold with Virgin Australia as a back-up. For my domestic and international travel, Gold with Qantas and Virgin makes much more sense than Platinum with Qantas alone.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Aug 2012

Total posts 71

I am not happy the way that QF treat their premium FFs [I am Platinum ...for now at least, dont know when they slash the status points on partner travel] also life gold. 

What I really dont understand is why QF dont seem to either see or be concerned about the obvious directions that flyers like me will be tempted to take due to their 'cost efficiencies'.

I dont mean to tell QF how to manage their business or point out the apparent conflict they heve between marketing and the bean counters but surely someone there must have an entrepeneurial bone in their body and see the folley of their actions....or am i just too dumb to understand. I wish them well but not so sure about my future loyalty!

Virgin Australia - Platinum

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 90

I did this and then found I like flying with Virgin so much I went platinum with then but retain my gold with Qantas. I think this is better than platinum with Qantas and gold with Virgin when you look at the benefits and status credits required.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 531

The problem is that there is more benefit having Qantas points when it comes to redeeming them for international flights. So whilst it is great to have Gold status for both airlines, it really comes down to what you use your points for. I don't see any point moving across to Virgin just to get Gold status there because I usually redeem my points for international Business class seats so rather accumulate points on Qantas to do this.

Virgin Australia - Platinum

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 90

I have found redeeming J points with Virgin is pretty good so long as you dont mind flying Etihad. Getting anything with Singapore airlines is a joke. Additionally the cost of taxes is significantly cheaper so you get more bang for your points with VA.

In saying that, having access to two systems is better than one and being Gold with Qantas is the same Allocation of award seats as Platinum therefore I believe the benefits of being Platinum are better with Virgin especially as I do Gold coast, perth and Adelaide a lot and no business lounges with Qantas in these locations.

djb
djb

19 Dec 2011

Total posts 50

Been qf platinum for years and have reached lifetime gold, usually get about 2000 plus status points per year with qantas. I have already started to diversify into star alliance since october last year & should be gold with them soon.

As I fly out of perth I have been abandoned by qantas internationally, the only option is jetstar who on the perth-singapore route don't even have a business class! Its hard to understand how qantas has done this on such a busy route.

As I have to travel to & through asia to europe, emirates is useless & cathay (whom I love) takes me on too long a journey to get to south asia.

20 Sep 2011

Total posts 28

As a long time QF Platinum with lifetime Gold I'm seriously thinking of following Ben Sandilands' advice in Crikey: Just give it all up. Why bother with all this SC and points chasing while the benefits are constantly downgraded? Do I really need the angst, the planning, the scheming, the "Platinum Plus envy" :-)  The life unfulfilled outside of the Chairman's Lounge?  Not really.

I can have gold and perfectly adequte lounge access with Qantas and Virgin then just fly with whoever is best on the day domestically.  Any points accrued are just a bonus and can be frittered away on something or nothing,  since trying to use them for anything actually worthwhile like a Business Class return to Europe or a GUARANTEED upgrade at the point of booking is a pretty pointless pursuit.

Internationally, I can have lounge access with One World if I'm in Prem Econ and if I decide to shop around for the best Business Class flights and fares, they will always have lounge access and good luggage allowances "built in" regardless almost of the carrier.

It makes sense, especially as a prem Econ or Business Class with Qantas is so farcically overpriced.  I'll save more on one trip than all of the benefits of my point accrued over the last 10 years!.

eg....my next trip to Europe is PE on the wonderful Cathay  at $3600 compared to Qantas $6000+ and that's the CHEAP one. Nearly $8000 for the 'flexi PE.  Madness

If I can give it all up I think it will be wonderfully liberating.

 

 

 

10

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 10

In my case my 1,300 status points flying Qantas will go down to around 880 points so even though I am a 20 year member when I rang them to complain they suggested I either fly more or pay more, really are they serious. Suppliers of sevices earn loyalty and customers give loyalty in todays market. I wil not be paying more for flights so I will no doubt lose my Platinum status which is dissapointing but not the end of the world as I already spend too much time in airports. I thought I would give Virgin a call to see what they offer and they kindly gave me a Pilot Gold straight up which converts to Gold in three months provided I earn 80 status points (easy) . Fortunately I have lifetime Gold with Qantas and as  I will be losing Platinum anyway in the next 6 months. It makes sense for me to change to Virgin (along with my staff) and only fly Qantas if it suits. I will also easily be able to upgrade to Platinum within the first year with Virgin.

Intestingly when I rang Virgin, I asked if they were having simlar converstaions with others and they said the phone never stops ringing. So dual Gold strategy here I come (Virgin 90% Quantas 10%)

 


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qantas and Virgin Australia: frequent flyers go for 'double gold'