A new member will soon begin commuting weekly between the Gold Coast and Sydney for work. While they are keen to maximise comfort and perks, they will be paying for all flights out of their own pocket. With this in mind, our member wonders whether the money saved by flying low-cost might outweigh the benefits of flying full-service airlines.

I’m new to flying for work and looks like i’m definitely flying return from the Gold Coast (OOL) to Sydney about 80 to 90 times per year for at least the next 5 years. I would really like some input as to whether i should take advantage of any of the rewards systems or should i just continue to hunt the cheapest possible fares and price match with Jetstar whenever i can?

Four airlines fly between Sydney and the Gold Coast; two premium airlines in Qantas and Virgin and two budget carriers, Jetstar and Tigerair. Our member estimates that by flying on cheap Jetstar or Tigerair tickets, they would save over $4,000 in the course of a year. But does taking the cheaper option come with its own costs?

Our members are quick to point out the perks of airline status. By flying regularly on Virgin or Qantas, our member would be able to accumulate a large number of frequent flyer points and status credits. This would eventually help them to reach Gold or Platinum status. For a frequent flyer, airline status is the key to a more comfortable journey as it comes with priority service and perks like complimentary lounge access before every flight. For a weekly flyer, it’s these small perks like front-row seats, priority boarding, the ability to take an earlier flight and better service recovery if there is a delay that can make all the difference.

Flying on low-cost airlines is cheaper, but this also comes with its own disadvantages. Firstly, both Jetstar and Tigerair have a statistically higher rate of delayed and cancelled flights. And if a flight does get cancelled, the service recovery on low-cost airlines can be notoriously poor. Furthermore, even the most frequent Jetstar and Tigerair flyers will not receive any perks like priority check-in and boarding or preferential seating on board.

Some of our members have suggested flying Jetstar, taking advantage of the airline’s Price Beat Guarantee in order to save the most money. Our members also point out that, for a nominal fee, Qantas Club lounge membership could be purchased. Qantas Club members can access the lounge prior to any Jetstar flight. However in this specific case, this strategy may not work out. At Sydney Airport, the Qantas Club is in a different terminal to the one used by Jetstar. And on the Gold Coast, the Qantas Club is closed for most of the afternoon and evening, opening only for the two hours prior to the departure of each Qantas flight.

With this in mind, and with Qantas lacking in frequency on the route, most of our members suggest flying Virgin. Although our member might have to spend a little bit more on tickets, many believe that the points and status benefits gained would make flying Virgin pay for itself. Lounge access would be available before every flight, and it would make for a better overall flying experience. If flying weekly, this is an important consideration.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]