Qantas vs Virgin: which is faster to silver, gold & platinum?

By danwarne, November 8 2011
Qantas vs Virgin: which is faster to silver, gold & platinum?

Which Australian airline loyalty program -- Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer or Qantas Frequent Flyer -- gets you to that privileged silver, gold or platinum status faster?

The status of your frequent flyer account brings with it extra-swanky benefits, no matter which class you're travelling in, and often gives you bonus frequent flyer points on your trips.

So Australian Business Traveller has delved into the differences at silver, gold and platinum tiers between Qantas and Virgin Australia, with typical benefits including:

Silver: extra baggage allowance, priority baggage handling, priority check-in, one lounge pass each year. 25%-50% points-earning bonus.

Gold: all of the above plus free access to the airline lounge and partner airline lounges for your flights, special security lanes with shorter queues, express customs and immigration clearance. 50%-75% points-earning bonus.

Platinum: all of the above plus access to business and first class lounges with better food and more luxurious decor than the regular airline lounge, top priority for upgrades. 100% points earning bonus.

(Qantas also has its high-flyer Platinum One level, for which Virgin Australia currently offers no equivalent.) 

Credit card and retailer spending will give you frequent flyer points, but they do nothing in terms of increasing your status tier with the airline.

The only way to increase your membership status on Qantas or Virgin is to fly, which earns status credits in addition to points. The longer your flight, and the higher your cabin class, the more status credits you'll earn.

Qualifying for gold, silver or platinum

To get to one of these elite tiers of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program or Velocity Rewards, you have to earn a certain number of status credits within a 12 month period.

Once you've attained a level in the program, you need a smaller number of points to renew it the next year.

Qantas also tallies up your total lifetime status credits and awards silver and gold life memberships -- a perk that Virgin Australia doesn't yet do with Velocity.

We've included analysis of how much you'd need to fly to achieve each membership level in the Qantas vs Virgin silver/gold/platinum comparisons below.

  Qantas   Velocity 
  Earn Renew Lifetime Earn Renew
Silver 300 250 7000 200* 200
Gold 700 600 14000 500 400
Platinum 1400 1200 n/a 1,000 800

* rising to 250 at the end of the year

Examples of Qantas status credits you could earn to hit those levels:

SYD-MEL Return Economy - 20
SYD-MEL Return Flexible Economy - 40
SYD-PER Return Economy - 40
SYD-PER Return Business - 160
SYD-LHR Return Economy - 120
SYD-LHR Return Premium Economy - 240
SYD-LHR Return Business - 480
SYD-LHR Return First - 720

If you want to look at how many status credits you'd earn for routes you regularly fly, check Qantas' Earning Points calculator.

Examples of Virgin status credits you'd could earn to hit those levels:

SYD-MEL Return Economy - 20
SYD-MEL Return Flexible Economy - 40
SYD-PER Return Economy - 40
SYD-PER Return Business - 160
SYD-LHR Return Economy - 100
SYD-LHR Return Premium Economy - 300
SYD-LHR Return Business - 400

If you want to look at how many status credits you'd earn with Virgin for routes you regularly fly, check out Virgin's status credit zones page along with its list of which route fits into which zone.

So is Qantas or Virgin better?

The numbers speak for themselves -- it's obviously much easier to achieve silver, gold and platinum membership status with Virgin Velocity Frequent FLyer, due to the much lower status credit earning requirements than Qantas.

However, for die-hard frequent flyer loyalty, Qantas offers lifetime perks after customers spend a lot of money on flights (either many flights, or quite a few very expensive flights), which provides a true long term loyalty benefit.

For people flying business class often, Qantas provides more status credits -- for example Sydney to London return provides 480 status credits, where Virgin only offers 400.

And there's no comparison to the status credits that can be earned with first class flights on Qantas -- for example, 720 on a Sydney-London return flight.

Qantas also brings with it a wider worldwide reach for your benefits through the oneworld alliance, although Virgin is catching up with its own network of direct alliances with various airlines. Advantage Qantas, especially if the UK, Hong Kong, or Continental Europe are on your travel agenda.

Virgin also has no equivalent of Qantas' First Class lounge at Sydney's International Airport (or its oneworld alliance partner equivalents in Hong Kong and London), so that's a point in Qantas' favour.

The value of silver/gold/platinum membership with Qantas and Velocity is another thing to consider. Check out our comparison (note, though, the comparison was done before the changes to the Velocity Rewards program announced on 25th August).

Verdict: on the numbers alone, it's clear that it's easier to achieve and retain status with Virgin's Velocity than Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Qantas Frequent Flyer vs Velocity: the in-depth analysis 

  1. Which program gives more points for domestic flights?
  2. Which program earns the most points for international flights? 
  3. Which program gets you to silver/gold the fastest? [you are here]
  4. Ease of getting upgrades 
  5. How paid lounge membership compares
  6. How silver perks compare
  7. How gold and platinum perks compare

A little thing I stumbled across is Jetstar offering business class status points for their Starclass cabin. I bought MEL SIN return for around $900 and received 280 status points which was just enough to get me over the line into platinum. As our organisation is tithed to VA it was a handy little earner for me. With 2000 status points with VA I'm looking forward to seeing their platinum program.

12 Jul 2011

Total posts 76

Disagree, if you're desperate for platinum status it's easier on Qantas. You can get the any seat awards on Qantas and earn points and status credits. For example, 44,000 points (roughly), you can travel return between SYDand MEL and get the 80 status credits. Not to mention those AA first/business class status runs (E.G HNL/LAX/FLL/PAP/MIA/JFK/LAX/HNL) which I believe is 780 status credits and costs around US$2000. Not including the points you can accrue between SYD and HNL. And then you can do those $800 status runs between SYD and AKL for 160 status points on LAN. 

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qantas vs Virgin: which is faster to silver, gold & platinum?