Qantas has mistakenly sent its frequent flyers a text suggesting customers had until just the end of this year to book and board a flight, despite ongoing lockdowns and border closures, in order to retain their current status.
The airline has since said the message was “made in error”, and that frequent flyers instead had until June 2022 to take their flight.
Last month, Qantas announced that frequent flyers could secure an extension and retain their current membership status until at least June 2023, so long as customers book one eligible flight before their current membership expires.
According to a report by the Daily Telegraph, Qantas has been sending text messages to customers whose memberships were due to expire in the coming days, causing panic and confusion.
The message informed them that to retain their status they must “book an eligible Qantas operated flight” before this date, “for travel anytime in 2021”.
While under a previous status extension offer, Qantas gave customers until the end of 2021 to book their retention flight, this policy was changed in August, in light of ongoing lockdowns and state border closures, Qantas said.
According to a Qantas spokesperson, in November 2020, the airline “announced that eligible members could extend their status by 12 months by simply booking an eligible flight” through to the end of 2021.
“In August 2021 we extended this offer to include members expiring before 30 June 2022,” she said.
“To retain their frequent flyer status, members whose status is expiring between now and 30 June 2022 need to book an eligible flight prior to their membership year ending, for travel until June 2022.
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“Some members received incorrect advice from us via SMS that they needed to travel this year. That was made in error and they have until June next year to travel.”
Qantas said members that were contacted with incorrect advice have been re-contacted by the airline with the updated information.
Finder travel expert Angus Kidman told the Daily Telegraph that Qantas Frequent Flyers should consider whether or not it is worth booking an eligible flight to retain their current membership status.
“Whether it‘s worth booking a flight to qualify depends on whether you imagine flying a lot in 2022,” he said. “If you do [plan to fly], and keeping your status gives you lounge access or other perks you value, it makes sense.
Kidman said that Qantas is planning to resume a near-full schedule of flights between Sydney and Melbourne – Australia’s busiest route – from November.
“A quick flight between those two cities could definitely be worth doing to maintain your status,” he said.
Usually, according to Kidman, a frequent flyer would have to earn 300 status credits to gain or maintain their silver QFF status, which would amount to 15 return economy trips between Sydney and Melbourne.
“So if you can requalify with just a single one-way flight, you‘re getting a much better deal,” he said.
“It would have been nice if Qantas had offered a wider range of dates, but obviously it wants to get passengers in the air as quickly as possible to recoup its enormous pandemic losses.”
It comes as Qantas gears up to re-introduce part of its international flight schedule from mid-December, as well as much of its regional and domestic network over the coming months.
However, the airline recently announced a slew of changes to its flying schedule in light of the current state of domestic borders, delaying all services from Western Australia to the eastern states until February, and putting the flagship London-Perth service on hold.
Qantas has confirmed that it will “temporarily” reroute its flagship London-Perth service until “at least” April 2022, and is currently in discussions with the Northern Territory government and Darwin Airport to facilitate a new direct service via Darwin.
Qantas has also pushed back its planned return to regular passenger services between Western Australia and the eastern states of NSW and Victoria by two months to 1 February 2022, “based on border assumptions”.
The airline said it will continue to operate five return flights a week between Perth and both Sydney and Melbourne to maintain minimum connections for those with permits to travel.
It comes as WA Premier Mark McGowan continues to suggest that he will maintain the hard border with both NSW and Victoria until at least early next year, until at least 90 per cent of the entire WA population has been fully vaccinated.
“Based on our discussions with Western Australia we know their borders won’t be open to New South Wales and Victoria until early next year, so we’ve sadly had to cancel the flying we had planned on those routes in the lead-up to Christmas,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
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