If nothing else, 2020 was a different year. With travel pretty much wiped out, most programs tried to maintain the trust of their members and opted to give their members an extension of their status levels.
2021 is starting out differently. While travel is resuming, it looks as though it will remain subdued for a large part, if not all, of the year. In response, loyalty programs are throwing out various incentives to capture a share of the travellers wallets.
Instead of straight out extensions, most programs are offering, one way or another, reduced qualification requirements. This provides some unique opportunities – not just to retain status, but to even move up the ladder in some programs.
My approach to travel in 2021
In framing my thoughts on how to approach 2021, I start from the point that my own travel will still be reduced. Having said that, the optimist in me hopes that 2022 will see things turned around a bit.
Given that, my basic goals are to maintain my current status levels. Furthermore, I will take advantage of opportunities to advance a level or two in programs during 2021. The basic aim here is to set myself up, status wise, for 2022.
In this post, I will look at the two main airline programs I use, and outline my plans for 2021, and my thinking behind those ideas. A separate post will take a look at my plans for hotel programs in 2021.
In many respects, the airline programs offer a simpler range of options – I am simply aiming to maintain my current status levels through to 2022.
Remember, much of this is specific to my own circumstances. You may choose a different path, and that is fine as well.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
I began 2020 as a Platinum member of Qantas Frequent Flyer. Following the initial status extension, I now have that status through to 2021.
I do not really regard it as likely that I will be able to move up to Platinum One level in 2021. As a result, I will be looking to maintain my status and set myself up for 2022 as best I can.
In November, Qantas announced its latest offers to support members. There are two aspects of the current Qantas offer that are of interest to me.
- Fly a single eligible flight be my anniversary date, and Platinum will be extended by a year
- At least 40% of your status credits will roll over into the membership year.
I guess the need to fly a single eligible flight is a no brainer. I will easily achieve that. Perhaps more of interest is the status credit rollover into the next membership year. In my case, as a Platinum that could be up to 500 Status Credits.
My plan is to try to maximise the number of status credits that I will roll over into my following membership year. If I can roll over 500 into the next membership year, that will leave just 700 more to earn to retain platinum for another year.
On top of that, I am looking into the possibility of making a move into Points Club. This could allow an additional 100 Status Credits to roll over. That would make the subsequent renewal of Platinum slightly easier again.
Virgin Australia Velocity
I currently hold Platinum level in the Velocity program. In some ways, the current offer from Velocity has similarities to the Qantas offer, although it does try to add some up from incentives to book on Virgin Australia.
That needs to be weighed up against the fact that we still don’t have a full picture of what the Virgin Australia product will look like.
The first part of the Velocity offer is to make one eligible flight by 28 March, and my status will be extended to 31 March 2022. I think this is worth doing, as it will lock in status for a year, and hopefully, by the end of March, a clearer picture of the Virgin Australia product will emerge. Once April comes, I will revisit this plan based on what the Virgin Australia product ends up looking like.
The Velocity offer continues with a promise of 5,000 Velocity Points for taking a second flight by 28 March. A third flight adds the ability to redeem upgrade awards from any economy fare.
I probably won’t go out of my way to do these additional flights. If the price or time of a flight suits my needs I will certainly do it. If not, I will not be too concerned about missing out.
So there you have it. My current plan of attack for retaining airline status in 2021, and setting myself up for more travel in 2022. For airline programs, it is really a matter of keeping things where they are.
I plan to write a similar post looking at my hotel plans for next year. This will be somewhat more complicated, as I am looking at trying to improve my status position in a program or two.