Qantas’ top-tier Platinum One frequent flyers no longer have access to a dedicated support team, with the airline reportedly cutting its Platinum One Special Service Team last Friday. 23 Canberra-based staff have been offered redeployment in other parts of the business, as Qantas seeks to drastically cut costs.
Qantas advertises “round the clock support” from a dedicated Platinum One team as a benefit of its sought-after Platinum One status. Platinum One members are given the Special Service Team’s direct phone number, allowing them to bypass Qantas’ traditional call centre and other communication channels. The Special Service Team has also been responsible for keeping track of Platinum One members’ travels, proactively assisting in the case of disruptions.
By all accounts, the proactive service provided by the Special Service Team in Canberra has generally been excellent. There are countless stories of in our Qantas Platinum One experiences thread, which has over 5,000 posts, of the “SST” saving the day.
While this is sad news for Qantas Platinum One frequent flyers – and the staff affected – Qantas says that it will replace the Special Service Team with a new “VIP Service Team” based at the existing Hobart call centre from late 2020. This team will look after Platinum One members and Chairman’s Lounge members.
“This includes a single point of contact for flight bookings, disruption management and special assistance via a dedicated and centralised team,” a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Frequent Flyer.
Qantas says that the change was designed “as a result of feedback from members”.
Until the new Qantas VIP Service Team is established, Platinum One members will presumably now be looked after by staff at Qantas’ regular call centres in Hobart, Auckland, Manila and Cape Town. Platinum One members will likely still receive priority in the call centre queue – so won’t be forced to wait on hold for hours – but the quality of the service provided by some of the overseas call centres may not be as high.
The cost-cutting move makes sense at a time when far fewer Platinum One frequent flyers than normal are travelling. With international borders closed for the foreseeable future and Qantas currently operating just 20% of its usual domestic flights, the number of Platinum One frequent flyers (it’s believed there are currently only several thousand) is also likely to reduce over the coming years. This is despite Qantas extending the existing status of its Platinum One members and providing a “status boost” of 1,800 status credits for the 2021 membership year.
But according to one source, this change has been planned for some time and was already being discussed before COVID-19.
Qantas Frequent Flyer members need to earn 3,600 status credits within 12 months to achieve Platinum One status, with at least 2,700 status credits earned on Qantas or Jetstar flights. With such a high benchmark, this status tier is aimed squarely at high-spending, high-flying corporate travellers.
Given how difficult it is to earn Platinum One status, Qantas has faced some criticism since launching the ultra-elite tier in 2012 that the benefits weren’t enough to justify the high earning threshold. With the latest cut to dedicated Special Support Team, the benefits of Platinum One status are now looking even more marginal.
Qantas lounge staff also made redundant
The loss of the Platinum One Special Service Team in Canberra comes just days after Qantas sacked the staff at several of its overseas airport lounges. With international flights off the cards for the foreseeable future, Qantas’ contracted lounge staff at overseas ports including Hong Kong and Singapore were made redundant.
Qantas has already axed 6,000 jobs due to the COVID-19 travel slowdown, and a further 2,400 positions are under threat from Qantas’ plan to outsource ground services at 11 Australian airports. Many more Qantas staff are currently stood down without pay.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Platinum One experiences?