Qantas recently have introduced quite a few ultra-long flights, including their upcoming Chicago route and their London route they opened last year. However, for a long time it was not easy to find award availability on Qantas flights and their Frequent Flyer program is not so valuable.
On June 20, 2019, Qantas published their Frequent Flyer Overhaul, which is considered as “the biggest overhaul to the airline’s loyalty program in its 32 year history”
More Reward Seats
Qantas will provide an additional 30% award availability across the board annually, which is more than a million seats. Additionally, they plan to establish partnerships with Air New Zealand, China Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
This is probably the most important update if it comes about. Qantas offers some great flights and many travellers are looking forward to redeeming tickets on those flights, especially in the premium cabins.
Mileage Cost Change
For international Economy Class awards, the mileage cost will decrease by up to 10%. However, for domestic flights and international premium cabins including: Premium Economy class, Business class, and First class the cost will increase for up to 15%. For those passengers looking for an upgrade using miles, the cost will increase up to 9%.
Although Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce emphasised that “it is the first increase in 15 years and the product has improved a lot in that time” it is still bad news for an increasing cost on award tickets. This change has definitely made Qantas miles even less valuable compared to other airlines. However, for those travelling international Economy Class this is relatively good news when redeeming tickets.
It is good to see Qantas making the decrease effective immediately while the increases will become effective later this year, from September 18th 2019.
Carrier Charges Change
For international award redemption, Qantas said the carrier charges will decrease for up to 50%, which would save members an average $200 for each round-trip. While the changes in international Economy Class will be effective immediately, the charges to international premium classes will apply from September 18th 2019.
While this is finally great news for members, we still need to see what is the real decrease on popular flights. Below is an example in the mileage cost and carrier charges provide by Qantas for award tickets in different classes between Melbourne and Los Angeles; the reductions in cost are not impressive, while the increases are quite large.
Qantas announced a new elite level in their Frequent Flyer program, which is a lifetime status of the current Platinum level. The requirement is 75,000 status credits, which means about 417 discount Business Class flights between Australia and west coast United States. This status gives all Platinum benefits, including OneWorld Emerald benefits.
Qantas is giving members who earn a lot of miles, not through flight status, called “Points Club” and a higher “Points Club Plus” members with status can enjoy lounges and bonus status credits. The entry-level status needs 150,000 points on the ground while the requirement for the higher status will be published later this year.
It is rare to see airlines reward passengers who do not earn miles through flying, however Qantas is currently doing so. The requirement to earn status is high however, and we need more details to determine whether this initiative would work in the long term.
Although Qantas said this Overhaul is the largest in history, the changes are not so impressive. Although reducing carrier charges, providing more award availability, and offering new status are benefits to travellers they are all on a relatively small scale. The carrier charges are still quite high compared to other programs and I imagine the award availability would still be limited.
However, Qantas does not have too many choices. The fuel price is increasing quite a lot and many routes do have limited premium class seats. So it is good to see Qantas have lowered the mileage costs for Economy Class, and offering members who cannot earn miles through flying elite status.
How do you think about all these changes? What was your opinion about the current Qantas Frequent Flyer program?