Friday, August 13, 2010

Earning more status credits

So how do I earn more credits, I hear you ask?  Well, quite easy really - spent more money with Qantas!!! Its not just about where you are going, but how you're going to get there - and yes, this can be said about a few things in our lives today.

So how does this apply to earing status credits?  Once you've decided where you want to travel to, then next bit is to arrange your trip to earn maximum status credits.  Remember - a theme of this blog - you have to pay for the trips to earn the credits!  Now that we've got over this hurdle, of course it is a good idea to pay as little for the trip as possible, but still making sure you are earning maximum credits.  For example travelling anything less than a fully flexible Jetstar fare will not earn you any points, nor status credits!  Travelling star class on Jetstar will earn you the equivalent of business class points and credits at a fraction of the cost (but as always, you get what you pay for!).  Another tip - if you are travelling a long distance, is look at the route you are choosing - it may be that for some extra time in the air, you can get heaps more credits, and the fare may actually be less! 

Very important at this stage of the discussion - make sure you have a fabulous travel agent!!  I wouldn't  have discovered this tip if my travel agent hadn't recommended it - it not only saved me dollars, but I also earned way more points than if I had just travelled directly - this was a trip from Australia to USA and we went over via Hong Kong on Cathay, which is also part of the Oneworld Alliance which means earning points and credits. My travel agent books all of my paying overseas trips, and I still use the net to book any domestic trips (as in those I have to pay for, not FF tickets!). ( - it would be very rude of me not to share my agents details!! - John, Ryan and the team at Premium Sports Tours organise fabulous sporting trips too!!)

If, for example you were travelling to the east coast of the US, then you may have the time to do a trip via London - yes I know a bit more time, but think of the extra credits and points!!!  The first time I paid for a first class ticket, it cost the equivalent of a business class ticket and I got the extra credits/points all because I was prepared to spend an extra 6 hours of flying time! 

A word of warning here - just because you are travelling on a Qantas plane, it doesn't mean you are on a Qantas/Oneworld ticket!  You can't earn points/credits unless you are - and yes, I did find this one out the hard way!!  That little error meant I had to pay for another trip to get the level I was aiming for!!  With the advent of codeshare these days, you have to ensure that the fare you are buying entitles you to the credits/points, if your outcome is to earn such! 

Next time - some of the published and not so published benefits of Platinum Frequent Flyers!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A bit of history!

Whilst Qantas was the first frequent flyer program that I joined, it wasn't the one that I first started realising the benefits from.  When I did my first big trip overseas back in 1993 (NZ is only classed as a short O/S trip for me!) we went to the UK for the "working holiday" trip on a one way ticket, and stopped off to say hi to family in NZ.  We were travelling with Air NZ (who would still be my 2nd favourite airline after Qantas) so went to the UK via LA and stopped over for 24 hours there!  It was a few years later travelling on this route that I discovered the benefit and drawbacks of using points to upgrade flights.

We were in LA for the flight back to Auckland and had requested an upgrade, but unfortunately when we were at the gate, all excited for the upgrade to travel home in Business class, we discovered that there were no seats available!  And I do mean no seats!  You know when a NZ multi gold medal Olympian (Mark Todd) is standing at the counter requesting (rather loudly!) his upgrade and is being told there are no seats, then there is no hope for us mere mortals!!  The 15 hour trip home in economy wasn't that memorable, but what I did learn was that I didn't enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing whether or not I had received an upgrade!

So the moral of this story is that now I always use my points to get the class of travel that I want to travel in, not waiting until the day before travel to know what class of travel I'm flying in!  (side note here - some airlines do confirm upgrades on booking - Cathay for one, but Qantas don't anymore!).  This however is not for everyone, and I have lots of friends who want to confirm that they can get on the plane first and foremost, and then the upgrade is the added bonus!!

Getting upgrades and where you are sitting on the plane all depend on your current frequent flyer status.  This in turn is decided by your status credits, which unlike your FF points, can only be earned on paying flights.  One of the most important things to know is when the anniversary of your joining the program is, as that is the date to which your status credits are linked!  You need to get a certain amount to achieve the higher levels of silver, gold and platinum, and once you get to that date if you haven't achieved your status goal, then its tough luck and back to zero to start again!!  Of course if you have maintained a certain status for a number of years, then Qantas may decide to award you the higher status even if you have not quite reached your target (very nice of them to do this I reckon!!)

So I strongly suggest that if you are in a position to plan your annual travel, then you can work out which trips you need to pay for, and which ones you can do using points.  The chances of you getting your ff ticket or even your upgrade and where you sit on the plane is all to do with your status level, which of course is a clever way of Qantas ensuring your loyalty.  So its not just about having lots of ff points earned on big spends on credit cards, if you have the status level, then you are more likely to be able to spend the points in the way you want to.  I'm also not a fan of using points to purchase goods and/or services - I find the best way of spending them is on long distance high value tickets!

That's all for now!  Time to leave the comfort of the Qantas Business lounge (another perk!) and get on with the day!!  Next time, a couple of tips to stretch your dollars for maximum credits (and comfort of course!!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Time to start!!

So enough with the talk, time to take action!!  I've finally worked out how to do this blogging thing, so here goes! I've been a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program for over 15 years, and during that time I've travelled around the world, and through the good old trial and error, found ways to maximise the benefits that are avaliable through the program. 

Please note - this blog won't be for all members.  It's not about cheating the system (if thats at all possible!) but more along the lines of you are a frequent flyer and maybe have wondered why when you go to look for free flights they are never available when you want them!  It is also aimed at those flyers who want to work their way up the status levels to reach as high as they can, because believe me, the higher you go, the more benefits there are!!  At the top of the Qantas chain is the Chairmans Lounge, and I'm not there yet, but am at the next level down, which is a Platinum Frequent Flyer, and very happy about that.

The most important thing to remember is that the more you fly, the more you get - but the rule here is that its not just about the points, its also about the status credits.  The only way that you get the status credits is to pay for the flights - and guess what - the more you pay, the more status credits you get!!  So if you only want to use frequent flyer points that you have accumulated through your credit card programs then be my guest, but without the status credits, you don't get the really good benefits!!

So if flying at the front of the plane for next to nothing and using first class lounges all around the globe is something that appeals to you - stay tuned, there will be more!!