Qantas is splitting the top Platinum tier of its Frequent Flyer loyalty program into three levels to satisfy the appetite of business travellers for even more perks in return for their loyalty.
Even the allure of lifetime Platinum membership remains on the cards.
"We looked at lifetime Platinum in the context of the new Platinum One level" Stephanie Tully, Head of Airline Loyalty at Qantas, told Australian Business Traveller.
"Silver and Gold lifetime membership is definitely an advantage for us over Virgin, but lifetime Platinum would be a big investment for us to make. So we decided to start Platinum One and see how that goes (first)."
Lifetime Platinum membership would be the ultimate reward for the Red Roo's most frequent flyers, many of whom have already reached lifetime Silver or lifetime Gold by earning the respective 7,000 or 14,000 status credits over the course of their Qantas Frequent Flyer membership.
Tully says that the push into Platinum was behind the creation of the Qantas Business lounges. “The business lounges were built for Platinums (because) the core need was for Platinum members to have a sanctuary of their own. It just happens that business class people are allowed in there as well.”
Three degrees of Platinum
By years’ end Qantas will have divided its booming Platinum frequent flyer club into three distinct levels.
The first stage is when travellers reach 1,400 status credits, which is the entry level for Platinum and its associated privileges such as earning double frequent flyer points on all flight, increased luggage allowance and access to Qantas lounges upon arrival in domestic airports – and, in some cases, the ability to turn an unsold seat into a Classic Award seat.
The second Platinum belt comes at 2,400 status credits and attracts a set of one-off ‘rewards’: a choice of a bonus 50,000 frequent flyer points, complimentary Qantas frequent flyer Gold membership for a family member or friend (just watch out for the renewal date snag before you give this to anybody) or vouchers to use for Qantas valet parking or airport chauffeur service.
“We did research and those rewards came out as three things that Platinums would like” Tull says, although she notes that “the points are the most popular option, so the number of partner gold memberships is decreasing.”
The new Platinum One level will kick in at about 3,600 status credits, although Tully says “that's yet to be finalised, but it will be around that.”
The evolution of Platinum One
While Qantas has been mulling a super-Platinum level “on and off for the last few years, we got really serious about it late last year” Tully says.
“We did an incredible amount of market research, and right across the whole market, not just our customers but other (airline’s) customers too. We found there’s a group of people who are earning well above three times the Platinum level – 3,600 status credits – who are also sharing their flying with other carriers, and are also tiered in other carriers.”
“Platinum One is a way of trying to consolidate that flying with Qantas because there was a growing group of people who need more aspiration to keep flying with us.”
Qantas is also fuelling the number of members rising through the frequent flyer ranks by move such as doubling the number of ‘status credits’ earned on domestic flexible fares. More status credits means faster promotion from silver to gold, and gold to platinum.
“If we can get more people into those tiers, if more people are obtaining platinum status, that's a good thing from our perspective” Tully explains. “It means they are flying enough so that the value of us investing in the cost to serve them is worth it.”
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.