Qantas is refusing to offer flexibility to frequent flyers that were on track to upgrade to a higher status tier before the COVID-19 travel shutdown.
Several Australian Frequent Flyer members were just 10 or 20 status credits short of attaining Gold status before the travel restrictions were implemented and flights grounded. Under normal circumstances, they would have easily earned the extra status credits required to upgrade to Gold status. However, these members have had to cancel trips that would have got them over the line and were unable to undertake status runs without breaching current government-mandated travel restrictions.
In one example, AFF member Anto7 has Qantas Silver status and had earned 680 status credits in their previous membership year, which ended on 30 April. Anto7 had flown with Qantas over the past year with the intention of reaching 700 status credits – enough to upgrade to Gold status. But coronavirus has made it impossible to earn the last 20 status credits, and this member is now stuck on Silver status.
GSP is another frequent flyer that was tantalisingly close to Gold status. Stuck on 690 status credits when their membership year ended in April, this member’s status credits have now been reset to zero and they haven’t been upgraded to Gold status. To make matters worse, the Qantas call centre had given this member incorrect information in April about what would happen to their status credits.
Approached by Australian Frequent Flyer, a Qantas spokesperson defended its position. They told us that Qantas Frequent Flyer is “bringing status credits back within reach for members by allowing them to earn status credits on the ground – a temporary initiative while flying has been curtailed”. The first of these campaigns allows frequent flyers to earn 10 status credits by signing up to BP Rewards, and up to 50 status credits in total by also purchasing fuel from BP. A second initiative with Woolworths launched last Tuesday, allowing members to earn up to 50 status credits until the end of June by shopping for groceries.
Qantas also pointed to the 12-month status extensions it has provided to frequent flyers while travel on hold. Qantas says this was done “in an effort to preserve the tiered benefits members have earned”.
These measures are all welcome, but they aren’t particularly helpful to frequent flyers that had been loyal to Qantas over the past year in order to upgrade to a higher status tier – only to come up slightly short at the end, with no prospect to earn the additional status credits required.
For example, it takes 1,400 status credits to earn Qantas Platinum status. That’s an average of 117 status credits per month. If your membership year ended in April, and you had earned 117 status credits each month until the end of February, you would end up 230 status credits short for the year. Nobody had planned for a pandemic, and earning 10 status credits by signing up to BP would not be enough to make up the shortfall.
Virgin Australia has accounted for this scenario by gifting a monthly status credit “allowance” to Silver, Gold and Platinum members during April, May and June this year. The amount of status credits being given each month is roughly one-twelfth of the usual amount you’d need to earn in a year to upgrade to that tier level. This takes into account members that were on track to upgrade before the travel shutdown. Virgin Australia is also extending the existing status of Velocity members for one year.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Call Centre: “Your SC do not get wiped out for the year (2020)” [incorrect]