Free lounge access. Priority boarding. Extra baggage allowance on every flight. These are just some of the perks enjoyed by frequent flyer royalty. But first, you need to achieve Gold or Platinum membership status on any airline rewards program. Here are some expert tips to get you there faster.
Frequent flyer royalty is doable by accumulating set minimum status credits in a 12-month period (note: this is different to frequent flyer points and award miles.) So how do status credits work? Let’s break it down with some examples.
To earn a Gold membership from scratch, travellers would need to take an equivalent of 18 one-way Sydney-Brisbane business class flights in a year to earn that membership or eight-one-way Sydney-London economy flights.
It sounds like a lot of work, but the benefits are all worth it in the end. For example, Qantas Gold Frequent Flyer members get priority upgrade requests on international flights, extra baggage allowance, domestic and international lounge access, just to name a few. On the other hand, Velocity Gold Membership has benefits such as access to Lounge Premium Entry and Valet in selected airports and the ability to ‘fly ahead’ on an earlier flight for free.
These are my hacks to help you reach Gold membership on airline rewards programs.
#1 In addition to earning frequent flyer points, focus on getting status credits
Each frequent flyer program has its own requirements to reach the Gold. Qantas requires 700 status credits in a membership year to rise to the Gold tier, while Velocity needs a balance of 500. A certain number of credits are also required to maintain your status: Qantas members need to earn 600 credits and Velocity needs a balance of 400 within your 12-month benefit period to maintain your Gold Membership. You also need to have flown four eligible flights within the specified time frame.
#2 Choose an airline program that requires fewer credits to get the Gold
Qantas requires 200 more status credits than Virgin Australia to get to Gold membership. Virgin also allows family members to pool their status credits to help accelerate the ascent to Gold.
#3 Pick a program whose Gold benefits make it worthwhile to work your way up the tiers
Some Gold memberships offer more benefits than Bronze. For example, Qantas offers its Silver members 50 per cent more points than a Bronze member and 75 per cent more for Gold members when purchasing an eligible Qantas and Jetstar flight.
#4 When you can, book business or first class flights
The higher the seat class and the further distance travelled, the more status credits you earn. This makes flying long-haul international in business class or first class seats the fastest way to get to Gold. For example, two return business class flights from Sydney to New York will earn you 1180 status credits, which is more than enough to reach Gold membership.
#5 Travel as much as you can in 12 months
Most programs give travellers a period of 12 months to earn enough status credits to qualify for a Gold membership. It’s best to start your strategy when you know you’ll be travelling frequently.
#6 Try to book tickets long in advance and during a sale
You don’t have to spend a significant amount to reach the Gold tier – play it smart and make bookings ahead of time to get a better deal. Remember to expand your search with partner airlines, as they may have better fares and will still earn you the credits.
#7 Keep an eye out for status credit promotions and flight deals
It’s worth being on a look out for any status credit promotions and flight deals run by airlines. For example, Qantas offered a six-day promotion where travellers could earn double status credits for a domestic or international flight.
#8 Stay constantly in the loop online
Virgin once had an offer that upgraded members to Velocity Gold Status when booking two return premium economy flights to LA, which would only have been known to those that subscribe to its newsletters. If checking email regularly aren’t your thing, look through the airline rewards social pages, which are just as informative, or subscribe to sites such as Point Hacks that has all the deals and promos across all the rewards programs on one portal.
Daniel Sciberras is media spokesperson and frequent flyer expert at Point Hacks, one of Australia’s biggest online communities of airline rewards enthusiasts.