Earning and burning a million Qantas points a year could soon come with first class lounge access and other perks. Already Qantas rewards status-like benefits for activity other than flying.
Possible benefits of the new non-flying Qantas status include business lounge membership; four invites per year to first class lounges; status credit rollover; Qantas experiences and more.
Already Qantas awards status at 150,000 points and 350,000 points in a year. A new level could come at 800,000 or 900,000 miles of earning, or 1 million miles of earn and burn “as long as you tick off at least four channels for earning points and three channels for spending points (the latter includes Qantas flights, hotels, wine, insurance, car hire and the points-based Qantas Rewards Store).”
Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney
The new Air Canada program lets you earn elite status without ever flying, by engaging in points-earning with their partners. It’s expected that this program will expand, allowing members to earn higher levels of status through non-flight activity, or on a promotional basis counting earn like credit card initial bonuses towards the required thresholds for non-flight status earning.
Worldwide there’s a recognition that an airline’s best customers aren’t just those who spend a lot on airline tickets. Mileage programs are engines of profitability for large carriers, underlined with a huge exclamation point by United, Delta, and American each mortgaging their programs for between $6.5 billion and $9 billion with room to borrow more.
Arguably frequent flyer programs are the only thing that kept American and United out of bankruptcy and in normal times American was losing money flying and earning all of its profits selling miles.
It’s a long time in coming recognizing the value of an airline’s best non-flying customers. In fact in recent years U.S. airlines have reduced the value of their credit cards for earning elite status. United’s new revenue-based status program limited the contribution of its credit cards to 1000 qualifying dollars. American reduced how many qualifying dollars could be earned via spend on its Barclays co-brand cards. Delta massively increased the spend requirement to buy out of the qualifying dollars requirement for top tier elite status.
Yet for 2021 American decided to waive the qualifying dollars requirement for earning status up to Platinum Pro with $30,000 in cobrand card spend (in addition to lowering the qualifying dollars requirement for all status levels).
American, run by legacy US Airways top leaders, should be well familiar with the idea of granting status based on partner activity. In the last quarter of 2006 US Airways ran an ‘everything counts’ promotion where earning miles with partners counted towards status. That raised cash for the airline, without the need to provide immediate transportation in return.
The margin on things other than airline tickets is generally much higher than that of air transportation. Selling miles is a high margin business. Selling preferred seats is too. A customer with a co-brand credit card who uses it on the airline’s shopping portal and buys upgrades is a high margin customer, and a customer worth fighting over – and treating well.