Infrequent Flyers: How COVID-19 Has Affected Travellers

How COVID-19 Changed the Lives of Frequent Flyers
Many ex-frequent flyers have not flown since the start of the pandemic, leading to major changes in their lives.

Before the pandemic, many Australian Frequent Flyer members – as you would expect – flew very frequently. Some were commuting interstate on a weekly basis, while others had multiple overseas trips each year.

In fact, quite a few AFF members flew enough to earn Qantas Platinum One status, which requires Qantas flyers to earn at least 3,600 status credits per year. That’s equivalent to one Economy Red-eDeal flight from Sydney to Melbourne every day! A few members had even made it to lifetime Platinum status.

But with interstate borders continuously opening and closing, and international travel almost completely off the cards since March 2020, the pandemic has grounded many ex-frequent flyers and changed their lives quite dramatically. For example, some have lost their jobs while others have embraced the ability to work from home.

Not everyone misses the frequent travel. AFF member Matt_01, based in Adelaide, flew so regularly prior to COVID-19 that he has Qantas Platinum One, Virgin Australia Platinum and Singapore Airlines Elite Gold status. (Due to recent status matches, he also now has Qatar Airways Platinum, Air New Zealand Gold and Bamboo Airways First status.) A lot of that flying was for work, and Matt_01 was flying so often that he described flying as “like taking the bus to work”. Since the start of the pandemic, he’s only taken one domestic trip… and doesn’t really miss flying, either.

But many others do very much miss travel… or at the very least, having the option to travel if they need or want to. One AFF member wrote:

Like most, I’ve missed the ability to travel for the sake of it, and not have to worry about state borders slamming shut on a whim.
Lord_Lenny, 26 May 2021

With international borders closed, the number one thing Seat0B misses is family.

Number one thing I have missed is my son who lives overseas. Haven’t seen him since January 2020, and we usually saw him 2 or 3 times each year. He missed my 60th birthday. He missed the birth of his first niece. He missed his only remaining grandfather’s 90th birthday. I just miss him.
Seat0B, 7 May 2021

The past year has also led many people to reflect on the things that really matter to them in life.

For the first 3 months or so I really missed the travel. In May we were spending a couple of weeks in Japan and then the UK for the Chelsea flower Show. Then later in the year cruising with 25 or so Cruise Critic folk on the new Silversea ship the Silver Moon.
But then I realised that I really wasn’t missing it that much and family was way more Important. That was because we ended up not seeing our grandchildren for 15 months.
drron, 8 May 2021

Work from home became a thing and stayed a thing. We now WFH 3 days per week, office-based 2 days per week. Also, I lost 25kg and realised the things that make me happy. And the things that don’t.
chelzmalee, 21 May 2021

Qantas knows that many former frequent flyers miss the excitement of getting on an international flight. While the airline hasn’t been able to convince the government to reopen international borders just yet (despite its best lobbying efforts), it has launched a range of new initiatives like mystery flights and the recent supermoon flight. These experiences have proven extremely popular, with many selling out in minutes.

So, how has COVID-19 affected you? Have you become an infrequent flyer? Do you miss travel? And what other changes has the pandemic brought to your life – both good and bad?

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Personal reflections a year into COVID-19: What has changed? What have you missed?

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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]