Most business travellers would be loath to go without that Gold or Platinum frequent flyer card in their wallet.
This shiny badge of status provides handy perks such as access to business class or first class airport lounges – regardless of which airline you're flying on – plus a higher checked luggage allowance and first dibs at upgrades.
Most travellers, too, easily clock up enough flights to earn the necessary 'status credits' to obtain that Gold or Platinum card with their airline of choice.
But for those who fall a little short of the target, Qantas now provides an intriguing option: to close the gap using frequent flyer points.
Bridging the gap
Let's say that you typically rocket past the 1200 status credits needed to keep Qantas Platinum for another year.
However, by dint of changed travel patterns – you might be flying less often, or flying to different destinations via a different airline – you might close out the year with around 1000 status credits to your name.
In the past you'd rely on the good graces of Qantas to be offered a free bump back up to Platinum, and with a few years of Platinum under your belt that'd indeed be the case.
Now, under what Qantas calls is a 'paid retention' plan, you can buy another year of status with your points.
It makes certain hard-nosed commercial sense: why give away something that you can sell, especially when it's of such high value to the customer?
"We know how much our tiered members value their benefits and how keen they are to retain their status," a Qantas spokesperson tells High Flyer.
"While they may have been loyal frequent flyers for years, occasionally members' circumstances change which means they've flown less than usual during the past year and therefore fall short of reaching the number of status credits required to keep their tier."
"To provide flexibility and recognise their long-term loyalty, we therefore offer some members the opportunity to use Qantas Points to retain their current tier for another 12 months."
Show me the points
How many points do you need to pony up? I've heard offers of 100,000 to 120,000 points to hang onto Platinum status, and north of 80,000 points to stay in the Gold grades.
It's believed that Qantas extends the offer to frequent flyers according to their long-term loyalty and activity, with the number of points required also based on their flying habits.
Given that those points have an effective value, in terms of both earning them and trading them on free flights or upgrades, is Qantas status worth 'buying'?
What you've got 'til it's gone
The more you appreciate the perks of Qantas Gold or Platinum status, the less likely you'll be to risk losing that shiny card – even if it costs you a fistful of points.
That's why such status is sometimes likened to gold or platinum handcuffs.
As it happens, keeping Gold status for 80,000 points or Platinum for 100,000 points turns out to be a pretty good deal – especially for international travellers who can use their status to get into the lounges of partner airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, JAL and Emirates.
There's a subset of travellers willing to do a carefully calculated 'status run', taking a flight or two purely to earn enough status credits to get them across the line.
Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.
Will you take advantage of Qantas' new hack to higher status? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.