Air New Zealand is looking to bolster its frequent flyer ranks by raiding the Gold-grade ranks of competing airlines with the promise of an instant status match to its Airpoints Gold / Star Alliance Gold tier.
The Kiwi airline's 'Touch of Gold' promotion is limited to residents of Australia and New Zealand, and no doubt is another salvo in the stoush between AirNZ and former-beau-turned-foe Virgin Australia – although Qantas frequent flyers are also eligible to apply for the status match.
It's a generous status match, running for six months instead of the usual three and including a 'status challenge' component to extend your newly-minted Gold status to a full year.
Here's what you need to know about Air New Zealand's Touch of Gold status match and status challenge.
As mentioned earlier, you'll need to live in Australia or New Zealand and of course already be a member of Air New Zealand's Airpoints loyalty program (with your Australian or New Zealand residential address listed on your Airpoints account).
You'll also need to hold Gold or higher status with another airline – the only exceptions are that it can't be another Star Alliance member (such as Singapore Airlines) or Cathay Pacific (due to AirNZ's partnership with Cathay Pacific on Auckland-Hong Kong flights). This obviously puts Qantas and Virgin Australia in the promotion's gold-plated crosshairs, along with the likes of Emirates and Etihad Airways.
If you tick those two boxes, apply for that 'Touch of Gold' via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your Airpoints membership number along with photo or scanned copy of your Gold or higher frequent flyer membership card with that competing airline
We suggest also including a scanned copy of a recent activity statement showing your flying pattern, especially on trans-Tasman services, to help assure Air New Zealand that you're a legit and Gold-worthy traveller rather than somebody looking to line his or her pocket with another shiny frequent flyer card.
Air New Zealand says that applicants for the Touch of Gold promotion will hear back without 10 business days – and as always, acceptance (nor otherwise) is at the airline's discretion. Assuming you pass muster, here's what you get.
Six months of Air New Zealand / Star Alliance Gold status
Right off the bat, the Touch of Gold status match gifts you six months of gratis status at Air New Zealand's Airpoints Gold tier, which is equivalent to Star Alliance Gold.
This immediately unlocks Gold-grade benefits across all Star Alliance partner airlines: a solid roster which includes Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Thai Airways, Air Canada, ANA, Lufthansa and Swiss.
You can look forward to some very practical perks such as airport lounge access, priority check-in and boarding and a boosted baggage allowance.
Air New Zealand also sweetens the pot with two free business class upgrades on flights between Australia and New Zealand (the Kiwi carrier calls these 'short-haul recognition upgrades'), free seat selection, one extra bag on all fares which include a bag (this obviously excludes the cheapest seat-only fares) plus priority waitlisting and standby at the airport.
Fast-track to a full year of Air New Zealand / Star Alliance Gold status
The Touch of Gold promotion also comes with the option to extend your Airpoints Gold status by earning just 450 status points instead of the usual 900.
As soon as your Touch of Gold application is approved your Airpoints account will sprout an instant 450 status points, putting you halfway towards the 900 status points usually needed to earn or retain Gold.
You'll have the fill six months of your temporary Touch of Gold status to earn those status points.
If the bulk of your potential Air New Zealand travel is across the pond, you'll be looking at anywhere from 7-107 status points on a Sydney-Auckland, Melbourne-Auckland or Brisbane-Auckland flight depending on your class of travel and fare type.
Assuming you typically opt for a flexible economy Seat+Bag fare, that'll land you between 35 and 83 status points – so that's six return trips at the cheapest fare or four return trips at the highest fare category.
If you fly with Air New Zealand from Australia to any of its US mainland destinations (Los Angeles, San Francisco or Houston) in business class you'll be good for Gold with one return trip.
It's also worth noting that you can earn those Status Points with fellow Star Alliance airlines and some other partner airlines – so if you've got a Singapore Airlines flight coming up, consider adding your Airpoints frequent flyer number into the SQ booking to edge you closer to a year of Gold.