In a recent column I recounted my observations from a few days of domestic Qantas flights booked as part of a trip to retain my Platinum status in the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme.
Many readers emailed me, asking for more details on setting up those 'quest for status' flights, so here's the rundown on how some strategic travel can easily and cost-effectively lock down your Gold or Platinum frequent flyer membership for another year.
The 'status run'
The more fervent frequent flyers are probably familiar with the concept of a 'status run', which is a series of flights where the primary (or sole) aim is to clock up the necessary status credits to keep your position on the frequent flyer ladder, or in some cases, to climb one rung higher.
Why does status matter so much? It's all about the perks.
Lounge access (even when you're flying in economy), being top of the list for upgrades, priority check-in and boarding to avoid those snaking queues, a higher checked luggage allowance, a bonus of up to 100% extra points every time you fly, and plenty of other reasons too.
Your frequent flyer status is calculated based on the number of status credits you earn each year. If you're just a few hundred status credits short of hitting Gold or Platinum, a little carefully-planned flying will close the gap.
Double status credits
The cornerstone of those flights, from the perspective of a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, is usually when Qantas runs a 'double status credits' promotion (Virgin Australia rarely does double status credit offers).
Double status credit offers can pop up without notice several times a year and let you book flights up to 12 months in advance to earn twice as many status credits as you usually would.
This is a fast track to shiny status. Just two domestic business class flights between Australia's east and west coasts booked during a 2SC promotion will earn at least 640 status credits, which locks in your Qantas Gold status for another year.
Two business class trips to Asia or one business class return to London gets you within cooee of Platinum if you book then during a double status credits offer.
Stacking your status flights
My own status run last month was built around a weekend away in Noumea, and was triggered by double status credits offer landing at the same time that Qantas held a business class sale to the New Caledonian capital.
The Sydney-Noumea-Sydney flight usually earns 120 status credits in business class, so the 2SC offer catapulted this to 240 status credits.
But here's a trick used by many off Australia's keenest frequent flyers (most of whom have been jetting back and forth to Noumea of late, for similar reasons).
Instead of doing the direct flight, you cook up a more creative routing which sees your Noumea trip become part of a longer itinerary where the journey officially starts from the likes of Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide instead of Sydney, and pinballs between several cities before connecting to the international flight.
In my case, I took an economy flight from Sydney to Canberra to set up the run (this is called a positioning flight).
Then I flew Canberra-Brisbane, Brisbane-Melbourne and Melbourne-Sydney, all in business class and on a single day, ahead of the final leg to Noumea. On my return from Noumea I basically repeated that flying pattern in reverse.
Each of those domestic legs earned its own slab of double status credits, and as they were all booked in business class the overhaul haul was exceptionally high.
All up, this admittedly convoluted itinerary netted me 840 status credits: sufficient to lock in my Qantas Platinum status to 2020.
However, because that roundabout routing was carefully designed as part of the Noumea trip, the total fare cost just $500 more than the $1000 for Sydney-Noumea business class return.
Cooking up and booking such complicated routings are often left to experts with access to more advanced booking software than mere mortals.
In my case I called on Alicia Clark from TravelManagers.com.au, a travel agent who has plenty of experience with status runs and stitched together this very cost-effective itinerary.
"I would say probably 15 per cent of my business comes from clients wanting to do status runs because they can or they need to," Clark says.
So there you have it: some insider tips and tricks to quickly climbing the status ladder and unlocking the best perks to make your business and leisure travel easier and more enjoyable.
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.