16 April 2019
Read Time: 5.6 mins
If you’re a frequent traveller, you’ll know how great it feels to see your points racking up as you hop from destination to destination. For business travellers, the points often accumulate at a breakneck speed – much too fast to manage yourself.
And when you need to hit the ground running and be ‘on’ as soon as you land, the last thing you need to worry about is getting the most out of your frequent flyer memberships.
From how to earn points with every flight, receive discounts, upgrades and complimentary lounge passes, using a Flight Centre Business Travel Manager has plenty of added perks.
As an expert in managing multiple travel profiles across a number of businesses, getting the most out of frequent flyer memberships is all in a day’s work for Flight Centre Business Travel Managers.
It all starts with booking; a Travel Manager will use their knowledge to navigate the minefield of loyalty programs to get you the most points. Once you’ve accumulated them, they’ll also make your points work their hardest when you are claiming to secure you the best discounts, perks and access you can.
But just because you choose to outsource the stress to someone else, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in the know. Read on for a basic rundown of the major frequent flyer memberships that most Australian business travellers will access.
Frequent flyer alliances
Almost every airline now offers their own loyalty scheme. These frequent flyer programs incentivise loyal member with special benefits once certain tiers are reached, which are usually only achieved through flying. Most airlines have partnerships with other industries to broaden the ways miles can be accrued – it’s now possible to earn points on almost everything.
Most carriers also partner with other airlines to form reciprocal agreements known as frequent flyer alliances. The three major airline alliances are oneworld, Star Alliance (currently the world’s largest alliance) and SkyTeam. While not a member of any of these major alliances, Virgin Australia has created their own program, Velocity, which partners with Singapore Airlines, South African Airways and Air New Zealand, Delta and Air Berlin.
Frequent flyer alliances are a great way for airlines to cooperate on a substantial level to provide value to passengers. Such benefits may include but are not limited to:
» An extended network through code share or joint services agreements;
» Lower prices due to lowered operational costs for a given route;
» More departure times to choose from on a given route;
» More destinations within easy reach;
» Shorter travel times as a result of optimised transfers;
» A wider range of airport lounges shared with alliance members;
» Faster mileage rewards by earning miles on several different carriers for a single account; and
» Round-the-world tickets, enabling travellers to fly all over the world for a relatively low price.
Qantas vs Velocity
Not yet a member of either of these amazing frequent flyer programs? Unsure which program will suit your travel requirements better? Most frequent travellers will already have both Qantas and Virgin memberships as a large number of organisations enforce a ‘fare of the day’ policy that requires staff to take the cheapest fare available. Talk to your Travel Manager about what will work best for your business travel needs. Not only will they be able to help you accumulate and claim but they'll keep all of your membership details on file so you don't have to remember them.
Earning points and status credits
There are two main goals in any frequent flyer program; one is to earn enough points or miles to redeem for free, discounted or upgraded travel. The second goal is to progress through the tiers to unlock all the extra benefits being a higher tier frequent flyer affords you.
In order to progress through the tiers, both Qantas and Virgin programs require you earn ‘status credits’, which can only be earned through flying with the airline or one of its partners. Status credits are generally valid during a given 12-month membership period, you will progress from the airline’s entry-level membership tier to its top tier. There may also be a minimum number of the sectors that each airline operates in which you are required to fly in order to progress. These are the status credits required to achieve each status tier. Our experts will be able to help you navigate the quagmire of the status credits system or you can just leave it up to them and trust that you'll achieve the best status possible.
Bronze – Entry level
Silver – 300 credits
Gold – 700 credits
Platinum – 1,400 credits
Platinum One – 3,600 credits
Red – Entry level
Silver – 250 credits
Gold – 500 credits
Platinum – 1,000 credits
Both airlines have comprehensive information on their websites detailing how you can earn points by flying with each airline and their partners but our experts will be able to tell you the precise details of the airfare you’re purchasing.
Top tip: Virgin’s Family Pooling program allows you to amass the points and status credits of your family members to your membership to help you achieve the higher tiers much faster.
RELATED: Airport Lounges Can Be Work Areas
Both programs offer different point redemption options for travel. Generally, this is usually a standard reward seat and also the ability to use your points towards payment of any available fare. For the purpose of this exercise, we will be focusing on the utilisation of classic awards.
Assume that you have 150,000 points with each program and you would like to redeem your points for a return ticket to Los Angeles, leaving from Brisbane.
Velocity’s Economy Reward Seat would set you back 94,000 points and you would need to pay approximately $155 in taxes – or use 117,900 points and pay no taxes.
The Qantas Classic Award Seat would set you back 96,000 points and you would need to pay approximately $621 in taxes.
Using those hard-earned points you’ve accumulated for a comfortable lie-flat seat towards the front of the plane. If you want to use frequent flyer points to upgrade your long-haul international ticket from economy to business first step is to talk to an FCBT Travel Manager but there are some key points to note:
As a Velocity Frequent Flyer, unless you’re in the Gold or Platinum tier you won’t be able to use your points to upgrade. It’s also worth noting the fare must be booked as a ‘Flexi Fare’ booked in Y, B, H, K or L class. The flight must also be a Virgin Australia-operated flight marketed using a Virgin Australia (VA) flight number and ticketed through Virgin Australia.
If you’re a Qantas frequent flyer, you must be flying on a Qantas-operated aircraft marketed under a Qantas flight number (QF). Also, when travelling internationally on a long-haul flight, sale fares (i.e. any fare booked in N, O, Q or E class) are not eligible for upgrade.
Provided you have booked an eligible fare and you meet the above requirements, the upgrade procedure is as follows:
Velocity – Book an eligible ‘Flexi’ ticket and then call the Velocity contact centre to request an upgrade. If there are seats available, your upgrade will be confirmed on the spot. It’s a good idea to call first and make sure there are seats available on the day you would like to fly before you book your ticket.
Qantas – Book an eligible fare and then request an upgrade; either via the frequent flyer portal or online. Your flight upgrade will only be confirmed up to a week before departure, depending on your Qantas frequent flyer tier.