Qantas Platinum One is the most elite frequent flyer program

There's a steady progression up the frequent flyer food chain. Your status in the loyalty program of Qantas or Virgin Australia ticks over from Silver to Gold – and for many travellers, Gold is the sweet spot.

It provides the most practical perks such as access to airport lounges, use of the business class check-in lines, a more generous checked luggage allowance and a bonus serve of frequent flyer points whenever you fly.

Lounge or 'X' factor?

If Gold status is your target, Qantas comes out ahead on lounge access: the Red Roo not only has a far more extensive network of domestic lounges, but a Qantas Gold card opens the doors to the business class lounges of Oneworld partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific and British Airways and Japan Airlines.

Virgin has the edge for 'x-factor' perks, however. Its Velocity Gold flyers receive free Gold membership to the rewards programs of the Hilton or IHG hotel groups for room upgrades and late checkouts, plus the equivalent tiers in the Hertz or Europcar hire car loyalty schemes.

There's also Virgin's handy 'Fly Ahead' trick: Velocity Gold members arriving early for a domestic flight can change to an earlier flight at no cost (subject to availability), except on the very lowest-priced Getaway fares.

Of course, the most frequent flyers hold a Qantas or Virgin Australia Platinum card in their pocket or purse.

But what lies beyond the realm of Platinum, for those who travel extensively, and typically at the pointy end of the plane?

Beyond the Platinum

Virgin Australia's Velocity scheme tops out at Platinum, which remains an issue with many travellers. It's not unusual for high flyers to reach Platinum status with Virgin and then switch their domestic flying to Qantas as an 'insurance policy' to achieve useful status with both airlines.

However, like Qantas, Virgin offers a 'companion' Gold card at 1500 status credits (500 above the 1000 status credit qualifier for Velocity Platinum).

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Tuck another 500 status credits under your belt and that companion card is elevated to Velocity Platinum status.

Qantas has a richer 'above Platinum' proposition, no doubt driven by the fact that it also almost twice as many frequent flyers.

Reaching peak traveller

It takes 1400 Qantas status credits in a single membership year to earn your Platinum card with Qantas – and 1200 each year to keep that shiny card in your pocket or purse.

But if you keep flying and reach the 2400 status credit milestone you'll be offered a choice between a bonus 50,000 Qantas Points; free Gold membership for a family member or friend; three complimentary Qantas Valet Parking or Chauffeured Transfer invitations.

Most flyers will wisely ignore the third option and weigh up a selfish serve of points versus sharing their gratis Gold status.

Fifty thousand points isn't to be sneezed at: it's almost enough for an upgrade from business class to first class on Qantas' flagship Sydney-London or Melbourne-London Airbus A380 routes (and you need just 45,000 points to bump up to first class from Sydney or Melbourne to Los Angeles).

But a free boost to Gold status for your partner, family member or friend – there's really no limit as to whom you can assign this to – makes a pretty good present, with gifted Gold memberships running for at least 12 months.

Level up

The next level up on the status ladder is Platinum One which requires that you hit 3600 status credits and includes Platinum status for your partner (family members and friends need not apply).

And what's beyond Platinum One? Right now, that's as high as you go. But don't rule out another stratospheric loyalty tier.

At the launch of the Qantas Premier credit card earlier this year, Qantas Loyalty CEO Lesley Grant remarked to High Flyer that when considering branding for the airline's own credit card, 'Diamond' was ruled out in case it was needed for a new Qantas Frequent Flyer tier.

If that's the case, diamonds may one day become a frequent flyer's best friend.

Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of . His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of 51698009 readers.

Have you racked up enough miles to go beyond Platinum? Share your experience of this illustrious status in the comments below.

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