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How I got my Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold in 2019

Although I’m based in Singapore, personally I’m more of a fan of Oneworld airlines rather than Star Alliance (and by extension, Singapore Airlines). As a matter of habit, I find myself booking on Oneworld carriers more than on Singapore Airlines, given the relative higher price of the latter out of Singapore.

Back in 2018, I paid good money to be part of Marco Polo Club (which is separate from the Asia Miles programme) and managed to get myself to silver after making several trips. The perks at this Oneworld Ruby level is pretty decent: while I’m flying Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon, I’ll get lounge access.

Cathay Pacific A330 business class seat

So after having a year of Marco Polo Club Silver and enjoying its pretty good perks, I thought I’ll try out Qantas Frequent Flyer and see how far I will get. I knew I was going to fly more in 2019 so I wanted to see if I will be able to fly enough to qualify for Gold, which will offer me more perks.

For a start, joining Qantas Frequent Flyer is free (note that if you reside in Australia or New Zealand, there’s a joining fee). This is in contrast with the USD100 I had to pay to join Marco Polo Club.

Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold benefits

For the uninitiated, Qantas Frequent Flyer (QFF) belongs to the Oneworld Sapphire tier, which is equivalent to Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold, or British Airways Executive Club Silver.

As a summary, this is what you get at QFF Gold, which is also what you get as a Oneworld Sapphire elite status holder:

  • Oneworld business class lounge access when travelling on Oneworld airlines
  • 75% bonus Qantas points when travelling on Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates and American Airlines
  • Additional baggage allowances when travelling on Oneworld airlines
Oneworld Sapphire gives you business lounge access, such as this Cathay Pacific lounge at Changi Airport Terminal 4

Beyond the above, QFF offers some pretty unique perks, including:

  • Lounge access when travelling on Jetstar and Emirates
  • Access to Emirates lounges when travelling with Qantas
  • Additional baggage allowance

If you need detailed information on what QFF Gold offers, check out Qantas’ website here.

Lifetime Gold

More importantly, I have a chance to gun for lifetime Gold status at some point, when I hit 14,000 status credits (that’s another story for another day… maybe 20 years later).

Marco Polo Club has ceased their lifetime membership a while back so if I want to keep my status, I have to keep flying and accumulating 600 club points every single year.

How I did it

To qualify for QFF Gold, I’ll need to rack up 700 status credits in a year. To keep it in subsequent years, I only have to earn 600 credits each year.

This is a summary of the flights I took and the number of status credits I earned from each flight:

FlightsTrip TypeQantas PointsStatus Credits
Cathay Pacific business class
Singapore to Okinawa (via HKG)
Return7,750280
Malaysia Airlines business class
Singapore to Bangkok (via KUL)
Return2,150120
Qantas economy class
Singapore to Perth
Return4,05050
Jetstar Max bundle
Perth to Singapore
One way4,05050
Jetstar Max bundle
Singapore to Ho Chi Minh Ctiy
Return3,15060
Jetstar Max bundle
Singapore to Taipei
Return4,40080
Jetstar Max bundle
Singapore to Bangkok
Return3,15060
Total:28,700700

So in total, I scored exactly 700 status credits and 28,700 Qantas points, enough for me to get QFF Gold.

Some people may argue that going to BKK via KUL is an absolute waste of time, which technically was not wrong. After all, why spend 5 hours travelling when you could spend just two?

However, this route is one of the best value to rake in status credits: at SGD600+ in business class for a roundtrip between Singapore and Bangkok, you get 120 status credits, working out to about a little above SGD5 per status credit.

As a point of reference, 28,700 Qantas points is enough for me to redeem a one-way economy class ticket to Sydney on Qantas, or a one-way economy class ticket to Japan.

One way Economy class ticket from Singapore to Sydney on Qantas: 25,200 points + $123.30
One way Economy class ticket from Singapore to Tokyo-Haneda on Japan Airlines: 24,500 points + $106.90

How does this compare if I were to credit the points to Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club or British Airways Executive Club?

For a start, over a third of my status credits came from Jetstar flights, so we are naturally comparing apples to oranges.

To recap, to reach the equivalent of QFF Gold, I’ll need either:

  • 600 tier points for British Airways Executive Club + 4 segments on BA
  • 600 club points for Marco Polo Club

Even if I swapped the Jetstar flights out for Malaysia Airlines or Cathay Pacific flights, this will be how my earnings will look like on BAEC and Marco Polo Club:

FlightsTrip Type / Fare ClassBAEC AviosBAEC Tier PointsAsia MilesMPC Club Points
Cathay Pacific business class
Singapore to Okinawa (via HKG)
Return6,22216010,000120
Malaysia Airlines business class
Singapore to Bangkok (via KUL)
Return2,3901602,35880
Qantas economy class
Singapore to Perth
Return
O class
1,2144000
Qantas economy class*
Perth to Singapore
One way
O class
6072000
Malaysia Airlines economy class*
Singapore to Ho Chi Minh Ctiy
Return
V class
4222000
Cathay Pacific economy class*
Singapore to Taipei
Return
Q class
1,056202,66030
Cathay Pacific economy class
Singapore to Bangkok*
Return
Q class
448102,00020
Total:12,35944017,018250

*substituted with the best matched Oneworld carrier routing

As you can see, the number of tier points and club points don’t quite get me to Marco Polo Club Gold nor British Airways Executive Club Silver, or even anywhere near.

In terms of the number of miles earned, 12,300 Avios is hardly enough to get you anywhere, while 17,000 Asia Miles can get you a one way ticket to Hong Kong, or even Shanghai, albeit in economy.

tl;dr – both Marco Polo Club and BAEC are solid programmes, but this will not help leisure traveller me get to the Oneworld Sapphire level as easily as with Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Jetstar Asia is a key advantage

The ability to earn Qantas points and status credits on Jetstar is also another huge plus for QFF. As I’m based in Singapore, taking Jetstar flights was easy, given it’s the home for Jetstar Asia.

To get points and status credits with Jetstar, you will need to purchase either the Starter Plus or Starter Max bundle. I usually go with the Max bundle, so that gives me 30kg check-in baggage allowance, a complimentary meal, seat selection on any seat in the aircraft, as well as a decent amount of Qantas points and status credits. 

For instance, for an extra SGD180 (the price of the Starter Max bundles on a roundtrip) on a roundtrip between Singapore and Taipei, you get a whopping 80 status credits and 4,400 points on the fare (my total fare including the bundle was about SGD520). This is a very good value if you ask me, as I usually will purchase check-in bags and food on board anyway. 

The best part is that if you travel with Jetstar, the flights count towards the four Qantas/Jetstar flight per year requirement in order to get Silver or higher status, which makes it really easy for Singapore-based travellers.

Maintaining QFF Gold in 2020

Will I strive for Gold in 2020? Definitely. I have a couple of trips on Qantas coming up in 2020, including one in Premium Economy that I’m dying to review.

Hoping to score the new Qantas A380 when I’m doing the premium economy cabin later this year (photo: Qantas)

On top of the Qantas flights, I also have a couple of weekend trips planned, and can easily take Jetstar on those trips to clock up status credits and maintain my Gold status.

Having said that, the caveat is this: QFF is a solid programme if you care about getting elite status that gives you perks such as extra baggage allowance and lounge access when you travel, rather than having cheap redemption options for award tickets.

It’s not that QFF does not allow you to redeem, but rather, Qantas still has an opaque “additional fees and surcharges” that comes with the redemption tickets, that may make the programme very unattractive. For instance, a one-way redemption in business class from Singapore to Sydney will set you back by over 68,000 points, and another $250 in fees and taxes.

All in all, I still find it very good value to go with Qantas Frequent Flyer, given that my total investment to get gold was slightly over SGD4,000, or about SGD5.70 per status credit, which is pretty economical.

And the perk of getting into a good quality (read: non pay-per-use lounge) lounge all the time? Very much worth the chase.

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