Qantas is going after competitors top tier frequent flyer as it tries to gear up by buying loyalty with the increase of the domestic business and preparing for the commencement of the international flights next year.
Qantas is offering to fast-track eligible top tier frequent flyers to “Gold Status”, granting them lounge access and a range of complimentary extras.
To qualify, rival flyers must earn 100 flight credits with Qantas, roughly equivalent to two domestic return flights in a three-month period.
Qantas has plans to aggressively expand its loyal customer base as its business emerges from the pandemic with the incremental domestic network due to the recent domestic border opening.
The airline announced on Thursday quite plainly that it would be actively poaching other airlines’ frequent flyers by offering to fast-track the loyalty status of those who switch and fly Qantas.
Qantas is targeting 16 rival airlines with the promotion, including recently salvaged Virgin Australia, as well as Air New Zealand, Etihad, and Delta.
“With so much uncertainty in the market, we’ve seen a spike in requests from people wanting us to match their status with other airlines,” Qantas loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth said.
“If they are willing to bring their travel across to Qantas, we will fast track them to ‘gold status’.”
As part of the program, applicants from a rival airline must earn 100 credit points with Qantas within three months to qualify. That is the equivalent of about two return domestic flights in economy, and one-seventh of the flight credits normally required.
If successful in attaining gold status, flyers can access Qantas and Oneworld airline lounges globally, receive preferential seating as well as priority to reward seats, check-in, boarding and upgrade requests.
Applicants have less than a month to register for the program, with the window for expressions of interest closing December 18.
And what about the loyal customers that have stuck with Qantas for years? Sometimes marketers are perceived to only focus on new business and not those who have weathered the changes, price increases, etc. customers should all be treated with the same credence even during the effort to lure in new business. In fact, older customers should be given a little extra attention in this case as the competitors will not sit there and watch their loyal customers being lured by Qantas.
During this time all airlines would put up an arduous fight to protect their business and loyal customers. The lure of new accounts and the discounts needed to attract them don’t necessarily weigh up when the target airlines respond.
Qantas is saying that existing flyers will not be entirely disregarded for their loyalty either, promising a 50% increase in the number of domestic rewards seats, but would that be enough?
By early December, Qantas expects 30 of its 35 domestic airport lounges will be open, whereas Virgin last week said it would maintain only six domestic lounges as part of its shift to becoming a more value-focused mid-market airline.
Qantas also includes free Wi-Fi on its domestic flights, while Virgin is reviewing the future of its Wi-Fi offering, which had previously been complimentary.
Qantas is flying just under 40% of its pre-pandemic domestic capacity now that state border openings have allowed it to ramp up Sydney-Melbourne flights.
It expects that to rise to around 60% of pre-pandemic levels by Christmas as Queensland opens its borders further, which could allow the airline to report positive net cash flow in the second half of its financial year ending June 30, 2021.
Edited: Joe Cusmano