Upgrading my Qantas experience-How I get Top Elite status in three round trips (almost)

Qantas A380 at Melbourne airport

I was sitting down to lunch a few years, with the family when my airline called to tell me my flight to Auckland was cancelled and I would miss my connection to Samoa. As a  result, I would get to my holiday  24 hours later than planned. The good news was if I could get to the airport within the hour they could get me into the earlier flight.  My brother in law drove me very quickly through Sydney streets to ensure I made this flight. Not only did Air New Zealand book me onto the earlier flight, an agent met me at the passenger drop off zone at the airport and personally escorted me to the plane waving every security pass possible to get me through security and immigration in a record time.  Air NZ did this because I was (at the time) one of their “Elite” passengers.

It was Elite status that led American, on another occasion,  to organise a meet and greet and personal van to shuttle me between gates at Dallas airport when their late arriving flight threatened to derail my Hawaii holiday.

 

My current Qantas Elite status means I can check in at First class counters, speed through security in minutes (instead of hours sometimes) and access airport lounges with free food, drinks, wifi and showers! I am one of those annoying people who is invited to board the plane first. I also have access to priority phone device with slightly more personalised service and enjoy extra welcomes and additional bonuses on board. My free upgrades have come because of my Elite status.

If you already are an Elite Frequent flyer, are you always scheming (like myself) to find the fastest and cheapest (legal, ethical and moral) way to maintain that Elite status.  For example, keeping my Qantas Platinum status [One World Sapphire]  is one of my flying goals each year. The value to me, is well worth the investment. The privileges I get with One World Sapphire also work on all of the One world carriers including British, JAL,  Latam,  Qatar, American etc plus Qantas partner Emirates.

When I fly Qantas, the airline awards me with frequent flyer points which can be used for free trips, upgrades or gifts such as headphones (I avoid using points for shopping -the value doing it that way is terrible -but that is another story).

Alongside the points, come Status Credits. These Status Credits build and give you a “status” within the airline. Qantas has three Status tiers: Silver which needs 300 Status Credits to attain it, Gold which needs 700 and Platinum which needs 1400. Once you have earnt a particular status, then you need fewer SCs to keep it in the following year.

Frankly, Silver is not worth worrying about. The Holy Grails are Qantas Gold and Platinum status which have the best bonuses and opportunities. Gold translates to One World Sapphire and Platinum to One World Emerald.

A customer who flies once a year one ways on a discount economy ticket from Sydney to Melbourne will get 10  status credits which relegates them to Qantas lowest tier (bronze) which gets no special benefits.

A person who flies three round trips a year between Los Angeles and Sydney in Business Class will earn 1140 SCs putting them in reach of “Platinum”/ “Emerald” status.

For me to keep my Platinum Status means attaining 1200 Status Credits every year. This can be earnt in may ways. For example, 120 flights Economy Class one way flights between Sydney and Melbourne. At the current cheapest fare this would cost about $21,600 to attain. You would be in the air for about 180 hours- about 8 days of flying! As much as I love flying, traveling twice a week between these capitals in a 737 would bore me!

 

Or I could fly between London and Sydney three times in First Class on the Qantas A380. At the current cheapest First fares this would cost me about $31,000 but I would only spend 72 hours in the air.

This is why I try and find the cheapest fares with the highest Status Credit earning opportunities.

  1. The first step is to look for a Qantas double status credits promotion. They come around one to two times a year for all passengers and sometimes Qantas will offer them to targeted customers. There is one running right now until August 14 2018. All Qantas operated flights booked up to that date will earn the flier double points. So to earn Platinum I only need to get 600 Status Credits which will be then doubled to get the 1200 I need to retains Platinum. There are some caveats. Australian Federal employees flying on government tickets do not get the double. You must fly on a Qantas operated plane (no code shares- this has caught people out).  If you change the date or time of your flight, then the double deal is voided. You do not earn double the number of frequent flyer points.
  2. Register for the promotion on the Qantas site
  3. Book sale flights to places I want to go that will maximise Status earn. For me the flights are:

a) Melbourne to Beijing via Sydney in Business Class through the right travel agent cost me $2400 which is about one third of the usual fare. This will net me 320 Status Credits for the roundtrip which then will double to 640SC, half of my goal. This works out at $3.75 per status credit. The flying time in total will be 26 hours. Beijing will be a new city for us and it is a great base to fly down to Vietnam or Hong Kong.

b)  Brisbane to Christchurch roundtrip in Business Class was booked next for just under $900 round trip with my travel agent. This is not much more than the Economy price is. It is a fairly basic Business Class product upfront of Qantas 737s. These flights will gain me 160 SC for the round trip (doubled to 320). I paid less than $2.80 per status credit. The total flying time is seven hours.

c) There are some great Economy Class special fares to Asian cities from Australian ports currently. I tried to find a fare that combined a domestic flight to get  to an Australian gateway which would earn me an extra 20 SCs in Economy each way eg Canberra to Hong Kong via Sydney was available for $632 earning 80 SCs. With the double promotion this would become 160 SCs. I settled on earning the same number of SCs from Melbourne to Bangkok via Sydney which cost me $803 round trip. This was a more expensive earn at $5 per SC for a round trip trip duration of 22 hours. This was a trip I needed to do so I sucked up the lower earn rate. The Business Class fares with Qantas were not worth considering.

These three bookings cost me $4,100, will take 55 hours of flying and will gain me 1120 Status Credits, very close to my 1200 target. This is how I get Qantas Platinum status in almost three flights, for far less cost and far less flying than my original proposition above. ($21K to $31K and 72 to 180 hours of flying). (Thank you Qantas for Double Status Credits!) The remaining 80, I will easily pick up in other flights throughout the year.

 

So, what have you done to get Elite Status with an airline?

 

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