Qantas is considering plans to amp up Australia’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccine rollout by incentivising frequent flyers to get the shot with a reward of free air miles, vouchers and other goodies. The country’s vaccine rollout is key to Australia’s plans to reopen its international borders and keep its domestic borders open.
Details of the incentive scheme are yet to be finalised according to a report by Bloomberg but the airline has confirmed it is working on plans to reward fully vaccinated frequent flyers with loyalty status credits. Any such scheme would run through to the end of 2021 to coincide with Australia’s anticipated vaccine rollout.
In a statement, Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said that the vaccine rollout was “key to keeping our domestic borders open and safely restarting international travel.” The Australian government doesn’t plan to reopen international borders until June 2021, although a firm plan is yet to be revealed.
For Qantas, the need to get international travel back up and running is only part of the problem it’s facing. In a country that has done so incredibly well at controlling the pandemic, the smallest of community outbreaks can result in domestic borders slamming shut.
The latest outbreak facing Australia, this time in Melbourne, has seen the state of Victoria enter a snap seven-day lockdown with neighbouring regions restricting travel and imposing quarantine restrictions.
Victoria’s acting premier James Merlino said on Thursday the restrictions could have been prevented if the federal vaccine rollout had been faster. In fact, the current situation facing Victorians could drive vaccine uptake far more than the promise of frequent flyer points.
On Thursday, the state’s vaccine booking hotline crashed after it was inundated with callers when appointments were opened up to 40 to 49 years olds. A similar rush to get the shot has been witnessed in Taiwan after the country saw a surge in infections – the island’s worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic.
Earlier this week, United Airlines became the first airline in the world to incentivise vaccine uptake with a free flights sweepstakes. Fully vaccinated frequent flyer club members who upload their vaccination card to the United Airlines app could win free flights for themselves and a partner for an entire year.
Five lucky winners could land themselves the grand prize, while 30 runners up will win return flights to anywhere in United’s route network for themselves and a partner. United said it had seen massive interest in the competition, which is part of the Biden administration’s drive to get more Americans COVID-19 vaccinated.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.