Qantas is sweetening its loyalty scheme for flyers from rival airline programmes while borders are closed.
The airline is making the move while Australians who are members of any of the 16 other carriers' schemes have little chance to use their accumulated rewards.
Qantas Frequent Flyer is offering top tier members of other airline loyalty programmes the opportunity to fast track their flying status when they switch.
Air New Zealand Airpoints members who are resident in Australia are being targeted in a sign of how important loyalty schemes will be when air travel heads back towards pre-pandemic levels.
Qantas says this is the first time it has made such an offer and it follows a "large number" of inquiries about joining the programme from members of other domestic and international airline loyalty programmes as a consequence of changes in the local market and restrictions on overseas travel.
Individuals who hold eligible loyalty status with a qualifying airline programme can take advantage of Qantas Status Fast Track – which requires them to take a number of flights to earn 100 status credits in three months to qualify for the airline's Gold tier.
The editor of Australia-based Executive Traveller, David Flynn, said the airline was taking advantage of these strange and uncertain times to swoop in on the high flyers of its biggest competitors.
It was a well-timed play for corporate customers of Virgin Australia, with doubts about the airline's new mid-market position.
"While Virgin Australia is clearly in Qantas' cross-hairs, this rare status match also extends to top-tier frequent flyers at Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and many others."
It comes as Air New Zealand moves to sweeten its scheme with a new Elite Plus tier, plus lifetime Airpoints status.
"It shows are important loyalty is to airlines, even though people aren't flying as much. Airlines want to not only attract new customers, but keep them loyal for the long haul," said Flynn.
Qantas Frequent Flyer has about 13 million members and more than 400 partners.
Qantas says that in addition to helping expedite members' status in the programme, the offer also includes 90 days of complimentary access to the airline's network of Qantas Club lounges and extra checked baggage.
Gold tier benefits with Qantas include lounge access across Qantas and Oneworld airline lounges globally, preferential seating and priority access to reward seats, as well as priority check-in, boarding and upgrade requests.
Those wishing to transfer from a higher flying tier – Platinum and Platinum One equivalents – will only be able to transfer to Qantas Gold status, rather than have their status matched.
Reaching a higher frequent flyer status will require members to earn the normal requirements within a membership year.
Qantas Loyalty chief executive Olivia Wirth said the airline's scheme had remained popular despite the challenges facing the aviation industry this year.
"With so much uncertainty in the market, we've seen a spike in requests from people wanting us to match their status with other airlines. If they are willing to bring their travel across to Qantas, we will fast track them to Gold status," she said.
Typically, members are required to earn 700 status credits to reach the Gold tier and 600 status credits to retain the benefits each membership year. Earning 100 status credits could be done with five return economy trips between Sydney and Melbourne or one return business class trip between Melbourne and Cairns.
•Air New Zealand
•South African Airways