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A 69-kilometre flight to keep Qantas FF status? You bet!

September 13, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Imagine flying from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, a flight distance of less than 70km, solely to maintain your platinum frequent flyer status with Qantas.

John Issaakidis, Qantas manager strategic accounts, has done that and, as he explained to the TravelManagers conference on Friday, there’s good reason.

Issaakidis, who has Australian and global responsibility for the relationship between Qantas and some of Australia’s biggest companies, spoke about frequent flyer points and touched on the advent of Qantas ultra-high-speed Wi-Fi and the Amadeus automated delay recovery system.

John Issaakidis, Qantas manager strategic accounts

Issaakidis said he had been a Qantas frequent flyer member for 19 years, far longer than the three years he has worked for Qantas.

The benefits of platinum membership were well worth it, he said. When he travelled with his family, all three of them went into the first-class lounge. Qantas first class lounges were superb and “the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney is the best in the world”.

Frequent flyer points could be earned in all sorts of ways, Issaakidis said, including at the Qantas Online Mall. You could use this for everyday shopping as well as special purchases and it all added up.

“Instead of going into eBay you go into the Qantas Online Mall.”

From there, you can buy at eBay – and many other places.

“We love it,” Issaakidis said. “I’m taking my family around the world, business class, next year.”

Issaakidis said ultra-high-speed Wi-Fi would revolutionise the in-flight experience.

“This stuff really works – and it’s free.”

Free didn’t mean a free basic service and then pay for the high-speed option. It was all free for everyone. Apart from other things, that will let passengers contact their travel agents in flight.

Issaakidis also mentioned the Amadeus automated delay recovery system, which minimises flight cancellations in adverse weather. This system, exclusive to Qantas, works by responding to bad weather by using high-speed analytical number crunching, letting the airline shuffle slots pre-emptively to prioritise take-offs and landings.

Covering the Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar networks, the delay recovery system was first put to the test when violent electrical storms slammed into Australia’s east coast in June 2016, Issaakidis recalled. As a result, Qantas had cancelled only 15 flights out of 436 scheduled flights over a very rough weekend. That’s 3.4% of total flights.

Issaakidis said “our competitors” (meaning Virgin Australia) had cancelled far more. Some agents at the TravelManagers conference reckon Virgin cancelled about 70 flights in that weekend. That was 22% of its 320 total.

Written by Peter Needham

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