Skipping lines, relaxing in airline lounges and generally being treated better when flying is not out of your reach.
It just takes a year of careful trip planning and execution, and then a little bit of maintenance every so often to hold onto it… hopefully forever.
Why all the fuss about Gold status?
Gold status benefits usually include:
- Lounge access (this is most status-chasers’ end game)
- Extra baggage allowance (usually one extra checked bag)
- Use of Business Class check-in counters (saves time lining up at Economy check-in)
- Priority boarding
- Priority standby lists
- Expedited security and passport control lanes (at some airports)
Gold status can go by various names, but, essentially, once you reach this elite level with one airline, you will enjoy reciprocal benefits with their alliance members or partners.
An example is that if you reach Gold status with Qantas, you will enjoy reciprocal benefits with their oneworld alliance members, as well as their bilateral partners like Emirates and Alaska Airlines.
Sometimes Gold is called different names across an alliance, but it is, in essence, the same thing. In oneworld, it is called Sapphire, in SkyTeam it is Elite Plus and in Star Alliance simply Gold.
One of my favorite lounges: the Turkish Airlines flagship lounge in Istanbul has shower suites, fresh gozleme and barista bars, and even self-playing pianos
I want this! How do I get it?
Our top tips for getting Gold status quick
1. Choose an alliance and frequent flyer program which has a low miles requirement
The standard industry threshold you need to reach is 50,000 miles within one year credited to one airline’s frequent flyer program, however there are some airlines which offer a lower requirement.
The following airlines require only 40,000 miles in a year to reach Gold:
- SkyTeam: Air France-KLM and Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines
- oneworld: Royal Jordanian
- Star Alliance: Asiana and Turkish Airlines (Asiana has the advantage of giving you two years to earn miles instead of just one). Aegean has a lower level of 24,000, but four of those flights must be flown with them
2. If sticking to an Australian airline, consider Virgin Australia and Velocity over Qantas Frequent Flyer
Virgin Australia is a bit easier to achieve Gold status with than Qantas, requiring 500 status credits, whilst Qantas‘ threshold is 700 – that’s if you can make your travel patterns and Virgin’s airline partners work for this goal.
Virgin also lets you pool status credits between family members, which can accelerate your ascent to Gold or Platinum.
Whilst Qantas does have the advantage of belonging to the oneworld alliance, Virgin has reciprocal agreements with quite a few airlines typically used by Australian travellers, such as Air New Zealand, Etihad and Singapore Airlines.
Read more in our guide to Qantas Frequent Flyer status.
3. Be aware of the difference between award miles and status credits/tier miles
As we have explained previously, wheretocredit.com is a great resource to work out how many miles you will earn for the distance and fare class you are flying, but that can differ from the status credits/tier miles you will earn from that flight. Figuring out what that number is requires a deeper search on the individual airline’s website.
4. Fly your butt off in a twelve-month period
You usually have one year (or two with Asiana) to earn enough miles to qualify for Gold status. In the majority of programs, you are given any 12 consecutive month-period, but sometimes it has to be in a calendar year (January to December), so time your quest carefully.
Also keep in mind that you are doing it for the elite benefits, not for the redemption opportunities. For example, whilst Turkish has a lower qualifying requirement that most Star Alliance airlines, you have to physically go into a Turkish Airlines sales office to pick up award tickets you redeem with your miles. How ridiculous!
Leisure travellers are much more likely to earn a higher number of miles through credit card sign-up bonuses and spending rather than from actually flying, which is quite a contradiction.
5. Keep an eye out for status credit promotions
Airlines occasionally run status credit promotions, like this double status credits offer from Qantas in April-May 2016, to accelerate their members up to the next elite level.
Point Hacks publishes these promotions when they are run.
6. Keep an eye out for great flight deals
We are now rounding up some of the best flight deals for Economy, Premium and Business Class flights. Any recent deals can be found over on the ‘best active frequent flyer deals page’ here →.
You can also find offers from a dedicated Travel Agent now working with us to bring even more great deals – Luke Vaughan from TravelManagers Australia has deals for readers that can find them Gold status in just one trip, such as a recent offer of 600 Velocity status credits (more than enough for Gold, and on the way to Platinum) on a paid ticket of $2,660!
Right, I’ve worked hard for this. Now I’ve got Gold, how do I hold onto it?
How to keep and make the most of your Gold status
1. Apply for status matches
Airlines want to steal business from one another, so they periodically run status match promotions or challenges to entice customers to focus on their business. The usual requirement is that you have current Gold or Platinum status with an airline outside of the same airline alliance, as alliance members do not want to be in-fighting (but they sometimes do).
An example of a status match promotion is this one from United in June 2016.
Checking out StatusMatcher.com will save you time, as forum members post about whether their status request was matched or denied.
Apply for any status match that you are likely to be approved for.
In the past year or so, the most generous status matches have been run by airberlin (oneworld), Alitalia (SkyTeam) and Turkish Airlines (Star Alliance).
2. Buy or redeem Economy tickets for shorter flights; use points for long-haul Business
When flying, travellers actually spend quite a lot of time on the ground, but with Gold status, you can enjoy Business Class comfort in the actual lead-up to the flight having only paid for an Economy ticket.
If you don’t have points coming out of your ears, perhaps save your miles for longer flights in Business Class, and buy or redeem Economy tickets for shorter flights.
I am usually happy to fly Economy for flights of three hours or less if I am on a Star Alliance or oneworld carrier. This is because I can access lounges, check in at the Business Class (or sometimes First Class) counter, and get priority boarding with my airberlin or Turkish Airlines Gold status cards.
For example, I found a paid Economy Class ticket on a flight last month from Frankfurt to Tehran on Lufthansa for only €100.
Rather than use my miles for the trip, I bought that Economy ticket and used my Star Alliance Gold status with Turkish to enter the Senator Lounge.
On the other end, my bag was one of the first to come out as it had a Priority Baggage tag, even though I was one of the last passengers to deplane.
Enjoying a complimentary pretzel, raspberry custard dessert and glass of shiraz before my flight to Iran
3. Credit your miles to the program that makes most sense to you
Having Gold status with airberlin means that when I make a booking with another oneworld airline, I am sometimes provided access to emergency exit row seat pre-selection, such as with American Airlines.
However, even though I use my airberlin card (or just the number if I don’t have the card on me) on the day of the flight to enter the lounge, I ask the lounge attendant to change the frequent flyer number on my booking and credit my miles to my American Airlines AAdvantage or Qantas Frequent Flyer account, as my redemption opportunities are better with those airlines than with airberlin.
4. Place your Velocity or Qantas status on hold for parental leave
Both Virgin Australia and Qantas offer status holds or pauses of 6 and 18 months respectively when you have a baby, but Qantas’ is more restrictive as you need to take a break from employment to qualify. After the hold or pause is over, you have 12 months to work towards maintaining that status.
In order to get that coveted Gold status, do your research and work out which airline, and therefore alliance, is the best one for you to focus on for a year.
Then keep your eye out for status credit promotions as well as deals to earn you big status credits/tier miles in one or two trips.
Once you have your status, status match whenever you can.
If you don’t have a whole lot of points, save them for comfortable Business Class travel on longer flights, and buy or redeem Economy Class tickets for shorter trips, leveraging your status to enjoy comfort perks on the ground.
Finally, use the frequent flyer program that gives Gold status to access those perks, but credit your miles to the program with the best redemption opportunities for you.
And don’t forget to apply for a status hold with Velocity or Qantas when you have a baby.