Qantas Frequent Flyer Changes: “More Seats, Fewer Fees, Better Value”

Last month, Australia’s best-loved airline announced a fleet of changes to its Qantas Frequent Flyer program, meaning more seats and cheaper taxes for millions of Australians.

Amid the appropriate vastness of the SCG, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth together delivered the news that the frequent flyer scheme is set to commence the biggest overhaul in its 32-year history. The 10million+ members of the scheme can expect one million more economy reward seats and slashed carrier charges.

“More seats, fewer fees and better value,” Joyce said proudly.  

What’s changing, why is it changing, and who benefits?

A whole host of changes to the Qantas Frequent Flyer system are set to be rolled out over the next 12 months, the most notable of which is a reduction in the number of points required to redeem economy reward flights. 

In addition, when members redeem their points for economy international seats, carrier charges will be slashed by up to 50 per cent. 

“In terms of international economy reward flights, Qantas are now the cheapest,” said frequent flyer expert and founder of IFlyFlat.com, Steve Hui. 

“Air travel has become so cheap nowadays, by the time you factor in the cost of paying the airline taxes, redeeming points for economy seats previously just wasn’t worth it.”

It seems Hui has a point. Qantas has been forthcoming in saying that it’s the everyday Aussie that’s at the forefront of the program changes. In an arena dominated by high level travellers dining out on points in ritzy premium cabins, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air. 

Frequent flyer experts have applauded Qantas for the changes, praising its proactive approach to squashing dissatisfaction from its members finding points redemption all-too-difficult.

Not only will economy passengers be able to fly for less points and less taxes, the availability of seats is set to ramp up–especially during peak periods. In the announcement, CEO Alan Joyce explained that the flood of seat availability will open up popular travel times, “like Easter, Christmas, and school holidays,” he said.

The airline’s focus is shifting towards offering its members economy reward flights during “periods that our customers want to use the seats.”

In a travel industry first, it’s the premium passengers that suffer this time, as another major change to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program will mean redeeming points for business and first-class cabin space will now cost up to 15 per cent more. 

While the changes don’t favour those who consistently turn left upon boarding, Hui doesn’t think this spells the end for points-based premium travel. “It’s a different market”, he said. 

“A small increase isn’t likely to affect the travellers that have those kinds of amounts of points.” 

While the number of points required to fly in premium air space will rise, Qantas will pass on reduced carrier charges to its business and first-class passengers –but only from September 18, 2019. Economy carrier discounts are effective immediately. 

There’s more good news for those who collect points on the ground rather than in the air. In the announcement, Joyce unveiled the all-new ‘Points Club’–a tiered earning scheme into which you gain access by reaching annual points targets from on-the-ground transactions. 

Set to launch later in 2019, the Points Club will, for the first time, unlock member benefits from lounge access to bonus status credits. The club aims to reward those who rack up points everywhere but the air. 

That said, those who do fly regularly will have the opportunity to access the Lifetime Platinum Club–a privilege Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth dubbed “even more exclusive than the Chairman’s Lounge”.

With a hefty 75,000 status credit entry requirement, it’s something the majority of members won’t ever reach, but an exciting industry first for those that do. 

How do I make the most of the QFF changes?

If you’ve been hoarding a heap of Qantas points, cashing them in for a seat in international economy is likely to give you the biggest bang-for-buck under the new changes. 

“Flying Sydney to London in economy one way would have cost you 60,000 points, but that comes down to 55,200 under the new changes,” said Hui. 

Coupled with much lower carrier charges, you could be jetting off on holiday for much less than you thought. Carrier charges on a return economy trip from Melbourne to LAX will be slashed from $513 to $393, by way of an example. 

Qantas has also lined up a smorgasbord of additional frequent flyer agreements with the likes of Air New Zealand, China Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, giving passengers more choice when it comes to redeeming points for international travel. 

If you want to level up your points redemption game even further, following insider tips from points hackers can help you get the best deals. 

“Some points hackers like to work out where the redemption bands start and finish, to get the most miles for the least points–for example flying Perth-Europe instead of Sydney-Europe, as it’s less miles in the air,” Hui continued.

Despite going somewhat under the radar, Qantas also announced a significant upgrade in the systems members use to search and book reward flights. Focused on making points redemption more intuitive, members will soon be able to see 12 months worth of reward seats in just five seconds. 

With user experience on the up, more seats for less points, and slashed carrier charges, the all-new Qantas Frequent Flyer program could mark a new dawn in points-funded travel for the ordinary Aussie flyer. Bravo, Qantas. 

Best Credit Cards for Qantas Points

A generous chunk of bonus points upon sign up can get you on your way faster–especially with the changes to the QFF program.

  • ANZ Frequent Flyer Black 

100,000 bonus Qantas points and $200 back when you spent $4000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months, and Qantas Frequent Flyer membership fee waived.

90,000 bonus Qantas points when you spend $2500 on everyday purchases within first 60 days.

Earn 1.25 Qantas points per $1 spent plus bonus point per dollar spent on selected products and services in Australia. Plus, enjoy 55,000 bonus points when you spent $3000 in the first 3 months. 

  • CitiPrestige 

Up to 150,000 bonus points and earn up to 3 points per $1 spent. Earn rate varies depending on spend category and retailer. Note: high annual fee.

Compare Qantas Frequent Flyer credit cards with InfoChoice. Be sure to consider eligibility, and weigh up bonus points offers with annual fees, earn rates, interest rates and other features before applying. 

The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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