Frequent Flyer Fanatics: Angus Kidman
This frequent flyer master reveals how he uses points for a free return trip to Europe every year.
Angus Kidman is the editor-in-chief at finder.com.au. As well as being a professional wordsmith and connoisseur of Hawaiian shirts, he's also a fervent traveller and points collector. With more than 20 years of frequent flyer experience under his belt, Angus reveals his favourite points hacks including how status matches from competitor airlines can help you secure better perks.
1. Which frequent flyer program(s) do you belong to?
Qantas Frequent Flyer is my main game, largely because I have lifetime Gold status and I don't want to give up the perks by flying with other airlines. That's a quirk of my employment history, though: if the preferred airline at my first workplace had been Virgin, I imagine Velocity would be my go-to. (Actually, back when I started working, Virgin didn't exist and the alternative would have been Ansett, which wouldn't have worked out so well!)
I am also in Velocity, but I generally don't fly Virgin often enough for it to get much use. Plus, I'm in Aegean because it had the best status/bonus points offer amongst Star Alliance airlines when I got offered a free business class trip on Air Canada and needed somewhere to stash and maximise those points. And while it isn't for flights, I have just hit gold status in Le Club AccorHotels, which is usually good for a room upgrade and often a free bottle of wine!
2. When did you first become a frequent flyer?
In the mid-1990s (did I mention I was old?), I started travelling a lot for work and joined the Qantas Club when an accountant friend explained it was tax-deductible. My points addiction snowballed from there. I used to run a spreadsheet tracking my points to work out if I needed to book "status run" flights to requalify for Platinum. Annoyingly, every time I did that, Qantas would end up requalifying me early anyway, dammit.
Since I hit lifetime gold, I've been less fussed about hitting Platinum. While the First Class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne are stunningly good, I don't fly as much as I used to, so business perks will do for me. (Yes, it's a tough life.)
3. What's your current points goal?
These days, if I can run up enough points for a return trip to Europe each year, I'm pretty happy. I've booked my 2018 trip, which means my balance is embarrassingly meagre right now.
4. What is the best points hack you've ever used?
Status matching by rival airlines is an often neglected trick which can make travelling much easier. I've already mentioned how I signed up with Aegean because it would immediately take me to Star Alliance Gold after just one flight. That proved very useful when I got stuck flying with non-oneworld airlines in the US, which happens quite often, scoring me lounge access and better seats.
Similarly, a few years back when I was Platinum with Qantas, Velocity offered a one-year status match. Handy for when I was forced to fly Virgin and wanted lounge access without having to pay for it.
5. Which points mistake that amateur frequent flyers make drives you crazy?
The obvious one still riles me: people using their points to buy stuff, rather than for flights or upgrades. Such a massive waste of that points value. I'm also really irritated by people who book an overseas trip and don't sign up for the relevant frequent flyer scheme. Even if you don't think you'll ever fly that airline again, the points you earn can often be used for a cheaper local flight or a hotel stay. Joining fees are largely non-existent these days, so don't miss out!
finder's Frequent Flyer Fanatics series features frequent flyer and rewards experts from Australia and around the world. Check back every Wednesday for our freshest Frequent Flyer Fanatic and the latest points tips.