Qantas Platinum One status boost explained

It's a near-truism that Qantas Frequent Flyer points are Australia's de facto second currency, thanks to the scheme's 10 million members.

But piling up those points isn't the only goal of savvy travellers. The more often you fly, the more your focus will be on pocketing that Gold or Platinum frequent flyer card in order to enjoy the privileges which come with it.

Such elite perks serve a double purpose, as carefully-crafted Platinum handcuffs.

Qantas is raising the stakes this week with a fistful of perks for its Platinum One status level, which sits at the top of the frequent flyer food chain.

For starters, Platinum One members will be able to bestow Platinum status on their partner – giving them access to first class airport lounges, a higher checked luggage allowance and a better chance for upgrades.

Platinum One card-holders will also be exempt from fare differences in 'fly ahead' situations where they move to an earlier domestic Qantas flight, provided their original booking was as a flexible fare. Also on the menu are bonus serves of up to 100,000 Qantas frequent flyer points as members reach selected 'travel milestones'.

This all comes on top of 'unique Platinum One experiences' such as sessions in a Boeing 747 flight simulator, prime trackside spots at Melbourne's Formula 1 Grand Prix and backstage passes to major concerts.

All carrot, no stick

It's an all-carrot, no-stick approach for rewarding rusted-on Red Roo loyalists, as well as encouraging current Platinum-grade members to keep flying with Qantas and claw their way onto the Platinum One perch. (That top rung requires requires travellers to clock up 3600 'status credits', which is equivalent to six Sydney-London or Melbourne-London business class return flights in a single year).

But such elite perks serve a double purpose: as carefully-crafted Platinum handcuffs, intended to dissuade frequent flyers from switching to another airline's loyalty program.

Raising the stakes

The stakes have only increased since a dramatic mid-year shake-up of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, although the changes tend to favour business class and first class travellers.

Since Qantas launched its Platinum One level in 2011, it's been a common complaint of high-flying members that there are relatively few practical benefits to carrying this shiny piece of plastic. Qantas is clearly hoping to turn this around, although the very existence of Platinum One gives it an edge over challenger Virgin Australia, which still retains Platinum as the top rung on its status ladder.

How do you rate the appeal of top-tier frequent flyer status such as Platinum grading with Qantas and Virgin Australia, and Qantas' Platinum One level? What real-world status benefits could airlines introduce that'd really make you reach for Platinum and beyond?

David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.

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