Your weekly wrap for Qantas, Virgin Australia frequent flyers

By Chris Chamberlin , March 4 2016
Your weekly wrap for Qantas, Virgin Australia frequent flyers
Disclaimer

Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

This week is filled with news for frequent flyers with Qantas unlocking a new type of points upgrade to premium economy and business class, while Virgin Australia tinkers with its Velocity scheme and the number of points you’ll need in order to fly with VA and its international partners.

Also this week, Platinum Le Club AccorHotels members (finally) get access to the Club Sofitel lounges in Sydney and Melbourne when staying in-house, while we also show how you can skyrocket to the equivalent of Qantas Gold status with just one international return flight.

Winding up our wrap, we explore three Black-level credit cards that can earn you an unlimited number of Qantas Points on your everyday spends, profile the St. George Amplify Signature Visa card and look to South America for changes to the frequent flyer programs of LAN and TAM.

Virgin Australia tweaks Velocity Frequent Flyer scheme

Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer members will soon need more frequent flyer points to travel to many destinations with the airline and its web of partners including Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines in changes that apply from June 1 2016.

However, from the same date, many flights will also require fewer Velocity points for travel – particularly on longer routes served by partner airlines – while the expiry rules surrounding Velocity points will also be tweaked.

Whether your travel is mainly domestic, international or a mix of both, here’s what’s changing from June and how it affects you.

Read: Virgin Australia tweaks Velocity Frequent Flyer

Qantas: business class upgrades on frequent flyer reward bookings

Qantas travellers on domestic and international flights can now use their frequent flyer points to upgrade to premium economy and business class when booked on ‘Classic Flight Reward’ tickets bought using frequent flyer points.

It’s a great option to have up your sleeve when your travel dates are firm, such as for a business meeting or to align with your annual leave, but where only economy reward seats can be booked outright rather than something further forward on the aircraft.

The number of points needed to upgrade varies by route, but as a rule is always higher than what you’d need to upgrade on a ticket paid for with actual money…

Keep reading: Upgrading on Qantas Classic Reward flights

Review: St. George Amplify Signature Visa

Bridging the gap between the 'Big Four Banks' and everybody else, the St. George Amplify Signature Visa is your ticket to earning up to 1.65 Qantas or Virgin Australia frequent flyer points per dollar spent, but with the backing of Westpac behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.

Cardholders can either opt-in to earn Qantas Points automatically every month or can pile up points in the Amplify Rewards program before manually converting them into frequent flyer points with the likes of Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.

Here’s what you need to know.

Read: St. George Amplify Signature Visa review

Get Qantas Gold-grade frequent flyer status with just one trip

You want frequent flyer status and all the perks that come with it, such as access to business class lounges, priority check-in and a boosted baggage allowance, even when flying in economy.

But you could do without flying all those bum-numbing miles just to pocket that shiny piece of plastic.

So here's a welcome shortcut: a special 'status challenge' promotion through which you can get Gold-grade frequent flyer status on a single international trip!

Read more: Your fast-track to Oneworld Sapphire

Le Club Platinum members get Club Sofitel access in Australia

Platinum members of the Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program can now – and finally – enjoy access to the Club Sofitel lounges at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins and Sofitel Brisbane hotels when staying in any room type.

The Club Sofitel in Sydney: now open to Le Club Platinum members...
The Club Sofitel in Sydney: now open to Le Club Platinum members...

Offering complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, evening drinks, hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments throughout the day, Australia's Club Sofitel lounges had until recently been off-limits to Platinum-grade members unless also staying in a Club Sofitel room type.

That began to change in August 2015 when Sofitel Brisbane started welcoming Platinum members into the Club Sofitel lounge and then from December when the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth commenced an extended trial of lounge access for Platinum guests…

Continue reading: New lounges for Le Club Platinum

These Black credit cards earn unlimited Qantas Points

While many banks are winding back the number of Qantas frequent flyer points you can earn every month, there are three Black-tier credit cards that continue to serve up Qantas Points without caps, limits or tiering: rewarding you for each and every dollar you spend.

Don’t settle for second-best or a meagre points cap from your existing bank: if your current credit card is holding you back, look for something more suitable – such as one of the cards below – to earn more points and potentially save on fees.

Read more: Three Black cards that earn unlimited Qantas Points

LAN, TAM adjust frequent flyer programs

LAN and TAM, collectively the LATAM Group, are streamlining the airlines’ frequent flyer programs while at the same time improving benefits for existing members.

Cornerstone to the changes are improved ‘courtesy upgrades’ to premium economy and business class on selected but as-yet-unannounced routes, confirmed 12 hours before departure and progressively made available throughout 2016.

That differs from today’s system where travellers make an upgrade request online and only discover the result at the boarding gate which gives the system more of a 'lottery' feel.

Read more: LAN, TAM adjust frequent flyer programs

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Disclaimer

Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

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.


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