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How the Qantas Frequent Flyer ‘overhaul’ will affect you

How the Qantas Frequent Flyer ‘overhaul’ will affect you

Chris Chamberlin explains what’s changing in the Qantas Frequent Flyer world, and how it will affect you.

Qantas is embarking on a year-long overhaul of its loyalty scheme, but it all boils down to those points-based ‘reward’ seats, plus the long-awaited launch of Lifetime Platinum status for the very very frequent flyer.

The bottom line? There’ll be more seats up for grabs, with ‘carrier charges’ on most international Qantas flights reduced by as much as half.

Fewer Qantas Points will be needed to book an economy seat on international flights, although you’ll need more Qantas Points to snare a seat in premium economy, business class and first class and more points to upgrade, too.

Framing all of this is a revamped website which the airline says will make it easier to find and book those points-based trips. It’s a work-in-progress which will eventually put a full year’s worth of reward seat availability just a few mouse clicks or finger swipes away. The first component of this – a streamlined My Account page on the Qantas website – is now live.

New to the mix: a Qantas Points Club to recognise members who earn most or all of their points on the ground as ‘frequent buyers’ rather than frequent flyers.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s changing in the Qantas Frequent Flyer world, and how it affects you.

Qantas Hong Kong Lounge

Qantas Lifetime Platinum frequent flyer status

Crowning its existing Lifetime Silver and Lifetime Gold frequent flyer tiers, Qantas will introduce Lifetime Platinum status in September 2019.

But pocketing that shiny card won’t come easy: you’ll need a whopping 75,000 Qantas status credits to your name.

More reward seats released for frequent flyers

Just about every Qantas Frequent Flyer member knows the pain of trying to find a reward seat that they can ‘buy’ with their Qantas Points.

Qantas promises to earmark some five million seats on Qantas domestic and international flights each year, with “up to 30%” more premium economy, business class and even first class seats to popular destinations such as Singapore, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo.

In addition, there are between three and five million seats on partner airlines – including an extra one million seats largely allocated through newly minted partner airlines Air New Zealand, Air France, KLM and Bangkok Airways – opening up reward flights across New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Qantas London Lounge

Qantas ‘carrier charges’ reduced on reward bookings

Qantas has come in for plenty of criticism over the self-imposed ‘carrier charges’ levied on points-based bookings, or fees that sit on top of government taxes and airport charges.

The airline is reducing carrier charges on most international flights, except for New Zealand and some nearby South Pacific locations, at a claimed rate of “up to 50%”.

The reduced rates kick in this month on international economy reward flights and for bookings made from 18 September 2019 on international premium economy, business class and first class reward flights (the delay is tied in with the increase in the number of points required for those premium bookings).

Here’s an example of how the total amount payable in taxes, fees and carrier charges will change for points-based premium cabin bookings on two popular routes:

Route (return)

Premium economy (today)

Premium economy (at 18/09/2019

Business and first class (today)

Business and first class (at 18/09/2019)

Sydney–London

$924

$664 (-$260)

$1,284

$904 (-$380)

Melbourne–LA

$793

$603 (-$190)

$943

$703 (-$240)

The savings for international economy class flights are less pronounced; expect a drop from $564 to $484 in taxes, fees and charges on a Sydney-London return trip, and $513 to $393 round-trip between Melbourne and Los Angeles.

Qantas Sydney First Lounge

Swings and roundabouts for points-based bookings, upgrades

The number of Qantas Points needed to book an international economy class fare will drop “by up to 10%” as of today. But if you’d rather travel in more comfort, it’ll cost you “up to 15%” more points as of 18 September 2019.

Here’s how that shakes out on the two key routes of Sydney-London and Melbourne-Los Angeles, based on round-trip travel.

Cabin class/route

Sydney–London

Melbourne–LA

First class (today)

384,000 Qantas Points

288,000 Qantas Points

First class (at 18/09/2019)

433,800 Qantas Points

325,600 Qantas Points

Business class (today)

256,000 Qantas Points

192,000 Qantas Points

Business class (at 18/09/2019)

289,200 Qantas Points

216,800 Qantas Points

Premium economy (today)

192,000 Qantas Points

144,000 Qantas Points

Premium economy (at 18/09/2019

216,800 Qantas Points

162,600 Qantas Points

Economy (previously)

120,000 Qantas Points

90,000 Qantas Points

Economy (from today)

110,400 Qantas Points

83,800 Qantas Points

Domestic routes will be affected too, with transcontinental treks to Perth seeing the highest increases. All domestic routes will fall into one of these three categories.

Cabin class / route length
(Figures in Qantas Points)

Short
(e.g. Sydney to Melbourne)

Medium
e.g. Perth to Darwin

Longer
e.g. Melbourne to Perth

Business

Currently

16,000

24,000

36,000

From 18/09/2019

18,400

27,600

41,500

Premium

Currently

-

-

27,000

From 18/09/2019

-

-

31,000

Economy

Unchanged

8,000

12,000

18,000

The cost of an upgrade is also set to rise “by up to 9%” when requested from 18 September 2019.

This will affect longer international flights the most, with an economy to business upgrade on Sydney to London increasing from 120,000 points to 130,800 points, and discount business-to-first upgrades on the same flights needing up to 81,700 points, up from 75,000 points.

Here is a summary for classic upgrades on domestic routes from economy to business. Not included in this table are upgrades to premium economy on QF9/10 domestic sectors or upgrading from a classic reward economy fare, both of which will need more Qantas Points as well.

Cabin upgrade
(Figures in Qantas Points)

Short
(e.g. Sydney to Melbourne)

Medium
e.g. Perth to Darwin

Longer
e.g. Melbourne to Perth

Economy to Business

Currently

10,000 (Red e-deal)
5,000 (Flex)

17,500 (Red e-deal)
7,500 (Flex)

25,000 (Red e-deal)
10,000 (Flex)

From 18/09/2019

10,900 (Red e-deal)
5,400
(Flex)

19,100 (Red e-deal)
8,100
(Flex)

27,200 (Red e-deal)
10,900
(Flex)

Popular oneworld Classic Flight Rewards, which are typically used to book around-the-world journeys with Qantas and its oneworld partner airlines, will also increase. In first class, the cost will rise from 420,000 to 455,000 Qantas Points, and in business class, from 280,000 to 318,000 Qantas Points.

What hasn’t changed…

Qantas’ decision to trumpet all this as “the biggest overhaul to the airline’s loyalty program in its 32-year history” sparked plenty of speculation and kicked the rumour mill into overdrive, so let’s set the record straight.

The Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme isn’t adopting the demand-driven ‘dynamic pricing’ model adopted by several international airlines, where the number of points needed for a reward ticket varies from flight to flight.

Qantas confirms there will be no change to the number of status credits needed for Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum or Platinum One, or to the benefits these tiers provide; or to the qualification levels for Lifetime Silver or Lifetime Gold (which remain pegged at 7,000 and 14,000 status credits, respectively).

Double Status Credits promotions won’t disappear; some will continue to be targeted to individual members, while others will remain open to all Qantas Frequent Flyer members.

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