Say goodbye to restrictive baggage limits, jostling for space at airport food courts and battling boredom at the departure gate. Those behind Australia's largest independent platform of airline rewards experts, Point Hacks (pointhacks.com.au), have carried out all the research to prove how free lounge access, priority boarding, extra baggage and additional frequent flyer points can be within anyone's reach.
The secret is in achieving Gold or Platinum membership status on any airline rewards program. Travellers can achieve this by accumulating set minimum status credits (not frequent flyer points or award miles) in a 12-month period. Travellers earn credits each time they fly on an eligible flight. Typically, Qantas Gold members will have had to take an equivalent of 18 one-way Sydney-Brisbane business class flights in a year to earn that membership or eight one-way Sydney-London economy flights. To retain, an equivalent of 15 one-way Sydney-Brisbane business class flights are required or seven one-way Sydney-London economy flights.
The benefits are worth the work. Qantas Gold Frequent Flyer members, for instance, get priority for upgrade requests on international flights, extra baggage allowance, domestic and international lounge access, and premium security lanes. Velocity Gold Membership offers access to Lounge Premium Entry and Valet in selected airports, the ability to get confirmed upgrades on all long-haul Virgin Australia flights, and the ability to 'fly ahead' on an earlier flight free of charge.
Frequent flyer expert and Point Hacks' spokesperson, Daniel Sciberras, says: "Getting to a Gold or Platinum membership level takes some strategising, but you can get there if you follow our tips. Choosing the right airline rewards programs, the right time of year to start your status credits accumulation, taking up sales and promotions, and choosing the rights flights will help you get there."
Point Hacks reveals its top 8 hacks to help you reach Gold membership on airline rewards programs:
1. Focus on earning status credits – in addition to frequent flyer points. Different frequent flyer programs have different requirements to reach their Gold status. Qantas requires 700 status credits in a membership year to rise to the Gold tier and 600 credits must be earned every year to maintain the Gold status. Meanwhile, Velocity needs a balance of 500 status credits and only requires 400 credits within your 12-month benefit period to maintain your Gold Membership. Additionally, both programs require you to have flown four eligible flights within the specified time frame.
2. Consider choosing an airline program that requires fewer credits to achieve Gold status. For instance, Virgin Australia requires 200 fewer status credits than Qantas to get to Gold membership. Virgin also allows family members to pool their status credits to help accelerate the ascent to Gold.
3. Choose a program whose Gold membership offers many more benefits than the Bronze. Some airline rewards memberships can give you access to far greater benefits than lower tiers. For example, Qantas offers its Silver members 50 per cent more points than a Bronze member and 75 per cent more for Gold members when purchasing an eligible Qantas and Jetstar flight, making it worthwhile to work your way up the tiers.
4. Maximise your travel within a 12-month period. The majority of programs give travellers a period of 12 months to earn enough status credits to qualify for a Gold membership. With this in mind, commence your strategy in a period where you will be travelling quite a bit.
5. Book business or first class flights. When your status credit balance is at zero, flying long-haul international in business class or first class seats is the fastest way to get to Gold. The further the distance travelled and the higher the seat class, the more status credits you earn. For example, two return business class flights from Sydney to New York will earn you 1180 status credits – more than enough to reach Gold membership.
6. Make bookings far in advance and during a sale. Getting the cheapest fares means you will spend significantly less to reach the Gold tier. Booking in advance also means you are likely to get a better deal. It's also worth looking for flights with partner airlines, as they may have better fares and will still earn you the credits.
7. Find status credit promotions and flight deals. Airlines will run status credit promotions and flight deals to help their members move up to the next membership tier. For instance, Qantas offered a six-day promotion in which travellers could earn double status credits for a domestic or international flight.
8. Subscribe to, and follow, airline rewards newsletters and social media pages. When you do, you will be one of the first to hear about limited-time offers. For instance, Virgin Australia had an offer that upgraded members to Velocity Gold Status when booking two return premium economy flights to LA. If you don't check emails as regularly, keep up to date with the airline rewards social pages, which are just as informative, or subscribe to sites such as Point Hacks, which share all the deals and promos across all the rewards programs on one portal.