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This article is part of our ongoing Business Travel 101 series for newcomers to the world of business travel.
While long-time road warriors could well recite the benefits of Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold status from memory, for first-time qualifiers, there’s a lot to learn: but a lot to gain, particularly when flying economy on Australian domestic flights, where the benefits of status are most pronounced.
Among the many perks unlocked when climbing the ladder from Silver to Gold, here are five of the best privileges you’ll gain as a Gold frequent flyer when travelling within Australia.
1. Lounge access, with a guest every time
It should come as no surprise that the biggest benefit unlocked by Gold-grade status is lounge access, and for domestic travellers flying economy, Qantas offers lounge facilities in 24 airports, with Gold members enjoying access to Qantas Clubs and Qantas Regional Lounges around the country.
One guest can accompany you on every visit – handy on business trips when flying with a colleague, or even your boss, who may not have status or lounge access on their own – and there’s no requirement for that guest to be travelling with you, or even at all: handy for informal pre-flight meetings or when you run into familiar faces along your travels, whether they’re coming or going.
On holidays, that guest could be a friend or partner instead, and if travelling with little ones, Gold members can bring up to two children aged 4-17 into the lounge, along with kids aged 0-3 with no set limit, and that’s in addition to one adult guest, potentially getting your whole family through the door by way of your Gold membership.
2. Skip the queues at security screening
Where available, you’ll be able to get to the lounge faster by taking advantage of priority security screening lanes at major Australian domestic airports.
This includes the fast-track channels at ‘regular’ security checkpoints, along with the Qantas Premium Lounge Entry facility in Brisbane, where you’ll clear security in a private room – accessible directly from Qantas Valet and the check-in hall – before emerging directly inside the Qantas Club.
3. Enjoy the baggage allowance of business class
Gold frequent flyers can forget about Qantas’ regular 1x23kg baggage allowance in economy – instead, these travellers can bring along as much as most business class passengers, being two bags up to 32kg each, at no extra charge.
Add to that priority baggage tagging, and as with Qantas Silver frequent flyers, Gold members can make use of Qantas Premium Service Desks rather than joining the back of the economy check-in queues: although at airports with automated bag drop facilities, it’s often faster to use those instead.
4. Priority boarding, when it works
Joining business class passengers and Platinum frequent flyers, Gold cardholders can use domestic priority boarding lanes wherever available, helping to get on the aircraft sooner and store any cabin baggage when there’s still plenty of space in the lockers.
While the success of priority boarding varies from flight to flight, as with check-in, it usually beats joining the back of the economy queue, especially if you remain in the lounge until boarding is called.
5. You can request an ‘on departure upgrade’ to business class
While all Qantas Frequent Flyer members can request domestic flight upgrades using their Qantas Points – some confirmed immediately, and others waitlisted for consideration closer to departure – as a Gold member, you have one more option: an ‘on departure upgrade’.
Available until just 20 minutes before your flight departs (compared to 24 hours prior for ‘normal’ upgrades), it’s handy if your travel plans regularly change; when you just decide to spoil yourself after a productive day at the office; or even if you tried upgrading in advance and weren’t successful, as staff in the lounge or at the service desk may be able to help.
The number of points required is the same as for any other upgrade on the same flight, and although you may not be ‘guaranteed’ catering if granted an upgrade at the airport, in my experience, you never go hungry: your meal order just tends to be taken last, based on what’s still available.
Gold frequent flyers also earn up to 75% more points than Bronze members on the same flights – excluding short routes like Sydney-Melbourne where Qantas’ Minimum Points Guarantee gives everybody the same bounty – which means you’ll be unlocking free flights and upgrades at a faster rate than other travellers.