Today Qantas announced the biggest changes to its frequent flyer program in 32 years.
New award partners include Air New Zealand, KLM, Air France, China Airlines and Bangkok Airlines
More rewards seats set aside for frequent flyers to book with points.
If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer then perhaps you awaited today’s news with bated breath. The outcome was mostly positive and not quite the massive overhaul we were promised.
For people looking to fly more often in economy class, then good news – the changes are generally a lot better than we expected. If you’re a seasoned Qantas Frequent Flyer looking to fly business or first class, then not so good – just got a little more expensive to fly in style.
For starters, the leading airline noticed most flyers earned their points through credit cards as opposed to earning points per flight flew. This is great news as it shows Qantas listen to their customers, notice how they behave and reward them for it.
Qantas promised this is "the biggest overhaul to the airline’s loyalty program in its 32 year history" but what does that mean for the everyday flyer and how can you make the most of the program?
Let’s take a closer look at the updates and what they mean for you.
Receive up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points!
Receive up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points (20,000 points per month for the first 6 months) when you spend at least $1,500 each month.
Reduced annual fee of $199 p.a. in the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter).
Enjoy 6 months interest-free on your first purchase of selected Qantas products and services.
2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
Citigroup Pty Limited ABN 88 004 325 080 AFSL No. 238 098 Australian credit licence 238098, is the Credit Provider and Issuer of the Qantas Premier credit cards on behalf of Qantas Airways Limited ABN 16 009 661 901.
This credit card offer is subject to change and may not be directly related to the content of this article.
More points seats for frequent flyers
For most members, the most exciting change is the fact that there are more points that you can redeem using points. Availability just got better by more than one million extra seats allocated annually to Frequent Flyers on popular routes.
Qantas’ chief executive Alan Joyce said “The additional seats we’re talking about will concentrate on peak periods that our customers want to use the seats, like Easter, Christmas, and school holidays,” and “Importantly, they’ll also be on the most popular routes, like London, Los Angeles, Singapore and Tokyo.”
Cheaper Classic Reward Economy Seats
Snagging a classic reward economy seat will cost you a little less – in fact, around 10% for international economy reward seats. While this perk is only available in economy class, we guess it’ll be available in premium economy and above later in the year.
Lifetime Platinum status
There’s a new status tier to chase: Lifetime Platinum status, completely out of reach for most people. It wouldn’t be super valuable if were easy to do. To get it you’ll need to reach 75,000 Status Credits over the lifetime of your QFF account. That’s like flying Sydney to London in business class 120 times (flex ticket). Or Melbourne to London in business class 188 times (flex ticket). This comes into effect September 2019.
Upgrades cost more
Unfortunately, if you buy a ticket and go to upgrade to premium, business, or first it will cost you more points. The jump isn’t expected to be excessive and will include up to 15% increase for Premium cabins on Domestic and International Classic Flight Reward seats as well as a 9% increase on points for upgrades.
Lower Fees and Taxes
Airlines are masters of charging “fees and taxes”. It’s a repeated pain point for rewards customers. In this overhaul Qantas are actually lowering their carrier charges. For example, a previous flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles would’ve cost $513 in fees and now costs $393 – that’s about 23% cheaper. Now you’ll find a reduction in carrier charges or the fees you’ll pay when redeeming points.
Premium, Business and First costs more
This is the bad news for those of you who want to fly in luxury. It just got a bit more pricey. If you book a points seat in premium economy, business class or first class – it’ll cost up to 15% more. However, this is somewhat offset by the low taxes and fees. We think there’ll still be plenty of value in the QFF program and new sweet spots. What and see what we find.
New award partner airlines
Some of those million extra seats will be available on new award partners. We knew about China Airlines and now Air New Zealand, Air France, KLM, Bangkok Airways are award partners. For Aussies flying to New Zealand (a hugely popular route especially during snow season) or those travelling overseas to Europe – this is great news. It’s particularly great for anyone in need of a points seat when flying within Europe as Air France and KLM offer a huge range of European routes in and out of Paris and Amsterdam.
The Points Club
Perhaps the most interesting change is the creation of The Points Club – a new program designed to reward members who maybe don’t earn points in the sky. It will feature two tiers with entry requiring each member to pass an annual criteria.
Once you’re in the club, you’ll get flight and travel benefits that include lounge access and bonus status credit across the partner network. You’ll need to earn 150,000 points on the ground for entry-level access whereas the higher tier requires a higher annual threshold. While it won’t launch until late 2019, this is a great reward system for anyone who earns the bulk of their points through credit card sign-up bonus points and/or spending on their card.
You’ll notice an immediate change to the Qantas booking system with a marked reduction in the carrier charged on international points-based bookings. While you’ll only notice this in economy (for now) the updates will be sure to roll out across the board soon.
What do you think of today’s overhaul to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program? Leave your comment below.