Qantas has reduced the fees levied on award flights, but those savings won’t fully offset the increase in points cost for premium cabin award seats and upgrades for Frequent Flyers.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on September 6, 2019

The widespread changes to Australian airline Qantas’ popular frequent flyer program start in 12 days time.

The changes are not good news for those looking to redeem flights at the pointy end and it might be advisable to make that long-promised trip within the next 12 days.

“We’re increasing the number of Classic Flight Reward seats, reducing fees and expanding the number of premium airline partners you can earn and use Qantas Points on around the world,” Qantas Frequent Flyer states.

However, from 18 September, Qantas and partner airline Classic Flight Reward bookings in premium economy, business and first class will cost up to 18% in Qantas points — with the increases varying by cabin and route. Also, direct flights to and from New Zealand and select Qantas flights to and from the South Pacific are excluded.

Qantas has reduced the fees levied on award flights, but those savings won’t fully offset the increase in points cost for premium cabin award seats and upgrades.

When Qantas announced the changes to points redemption in June, it was met with a mixed response from customers, with many feeling they’d be worse off.

“While the points required for business class seats on international and domestic flights will increase slightly, it is the first increase in 15 years and the product has improved a lot in that time,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said at the launch of the widespread changes to Frequent Flyer.

Qantas CEO Alan Jpyce

Since its inception in 1987, the Frequent Flyer program has grown from 50,000 members who could only earn points on travel to almost 13 million members who can earn points with more than 300 partners. The majority of the points earned across the program are used on travel. Four flight redemptions are made every minute and 60 upgrades are confirmed every hour.

There are winners in the changes to the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme: more than 1 million extra reward seats available annually on Qantas and new partner airlines; a reduction in the number of points needed to travel in economy overseas, and a new tiered Points Club to reward members who earn the most points from on-ground purchases.

“We’ve increased the availability of rewards seats across the Qantas network on the flights and cabins our members want most. Frequent Flyers can enjoy access to 5 million Qantas Classic Flight Reward seats annually. Plus, up to a 30% increase in International Premium Cabin reward seats including during peak travel periods to and from Australia to the most popular destinations such as London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Singapore,” Qantas says.