If you hold status with an airline, you’ll often feel obliged to continue crediting points to that airline’s frequent flyer program in order to use your status benefits when you fly. For example, if you have Qantas Platinum status, you may only be granted entry to the First Class Lounge if your Qantas Frequent Flyer number is on the boarding pass. But what if you wanted to credit flights to British Airways Executive Club, and earn Avios & tier points rather than Qantas points & status credits?
Airlines often like you to think that you must credit a flight to them in order to access your status benefits. It’s one way that they’re able to “lock in” their high-value frequent flyers with the so-called golden handcuffs.
Say, for example, that you have Qantas Platinum status and you’re flying from Hong Kong in Economy class with American Airlines. You’re entitled to use the Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong, and Qantas will pay Cathay Pacific for your lounge access as Qantas is the airline you have status with. If you also credit the flight to Qantas Frequent Flyer, American Airlines will pay Qantas for your Qantas points and status credits. But if you credited the flight to British Airways Executive Club instead, American Airlines would pay British Airways for your tier points and Avios. In this example, Qantas pays for you to enter the lounge but receives no revenue in return. That’s why some airlines don’t like you doing this.
But if you want to switch to another frequent flyer program, and keep using your status benefits from your existing membership in the meantime, this is possible. According to AFF member madrooster, global distribution systems such as Amadeus allow airlines to assign up to four different frequent flyer numbers to a single booking using the fields FQTV, FQTS, FQTR and FQTU. This makes it possible to earn points with one frequent flyer program, but use the benefits of your status held with a different program.
The four fields are:
- FQTS – the frequent flyer program that you have status with
- FQTV – the frequent flyer program with which you’re accruing points & status credits
- FQTR – for award/redemption bookings, which frequent flyer program was used to make the booking
- FQTU – if applicable, the frequent flyer program that points for an upgrade are to be deducted from
By entering different numbers into the FQTV and FQTS fields, you should easily be able to credit your points and status credits to a different frequent flyer program – making the switch between frequent flyer programs much easier. However, some airlines either don’t have the necessary systems in place or are unwilling to enter different frequent flyer numbers next to each of the various fields.
In the case of Qantas, according to madrooster, only FQTR and FQTV are used (and most agents don’t know how to change the inputs in each field anyway). Where this is the case, you could simply enter the frequent flyer program with which you wish to earn points at the time of booking. Then, show the other airline’s membership card at the airport when you wish to utilise your status benefits such as lounge access.
If the lounge staff insist that a particular frequent flyer number is on your boarding pass in order for you to enter the lounge, you can simply switch it and then change the frequent flyer number back again after entering the lounge. Some airlines allow you to change the frequent flyer number attached to a booking online. If this doesn’t work on your own airline’s website, you could try using the website of another airline in the same alliance (e.g. the Royal Jordanian website for Oneworld).