Qantas will free up one million seats each year for frequent flyer members – the equivalent of 2,000 A380 aircraft – while dramatically cutting fees, taxes and fuel charges.
Qantas is making it easier for its 12.7 million members to fly to high-demand destinations using points, freeing up an extra one million reward seats while also cutting fees and charges by up to 50 per cent.
As part of a $25 million revamp of the airline’s 32-year-old frequent flyer program, the number of points needed for domestic and international economy reward flights will fall by as much as 10 per cent, effective immediately.
But frequent flyers will have to shell out more points for Premium Economy, Business Class and First Class seats, including upgrades, from September 18.
Upgrading to the pointy end of the cabin will cost around 9 per cent more, while a 15 per cent increase will apply to premium rewards seats.
“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 chief executive Alan Joyce told a media conference in Sydney this morning.
The extra one million seats – roughly the equivalent of filling 2,000 A380 aircraft each year – will be available on some of the airline’s most-popular long-haul routes, including Singapore, London, Tokyo and Los Angeles.
Qantas frequent flyers can now use their points for domestic flights within NZ with Air New Zealand.
The additional rewards seats will mostly be freed-up at peak periods like Easter, Christmas and during school holidays – typically the most difficult times for frequent flyer members to book seats using their points.
Qantas has no plans to increase capacity by putting larger planes on these routes. It is expected to spread the extra seats over partner airlines while also restricting the number of seats available to general travellers, creating more inventory for frequent flyers.
As well as retaining existing partnerships with overseas airlines, Qantas has forged five new partnerships with Air New Zealand, KLM-AirFrance, China Airlines and Bangkok Airways.
It means Qantas frequent flyers can now use their Qantas points to book domestic flights within NZ on Air New Zealand, with similar arrangements likely on other airlines.
Reduced Fees and Charges
Qantas will also provide some hip pocket relief for members by slashing so-called “carrier charges” – the fees, taxes and fuel charges airlines add to an overall ticket price – by as much as 50 per cent.
That could save frequent flyers an average $200 on a return airfare to popular long-haul destinations.
For instance, booking fees for an economy flight from Sydney to New York will drop from $360 to $180 while an economy flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles will fall from $513 to $393.
New Points Club
Later this year, a new tiered Points Club program will be unveiled to better reward members who earn most of their points on the ground, by spending using co-branded credit cards from Amex, Visa and Mastercard, issued by banks.
Even Woolworths Rewards customers can earn Qantas points every time they shop.
A staggering 36 per cent of credit card spending in Australia is now done using cards that earn Qantas reward points, highlighting just how addicted Australians are to loyalty schemes like Qantas Frequent Flyer.
The airline’s top 1,000 loyalty members all accrued the bulk of their points from spending, often linking credit cards to business spending accounts.
That’s why Qantas moved to take a bite out of the banks’ lunch by launching its own Platinum and Everyday credit cards a few years ago.
The airline’s most elite, big-spending frequent flyers will also have a chance to achieve a new Lifetime Platinum status.
But it’s highly aspirational and the bar is set high. Members would need to accrue 75,000 status credits to qualify – that’s roughly two decades of flying at the top Platinum One status level.
In comparison, Qantas Lifetime Gold requires 14,000 status credits while for Qantas Lifetime Silver it’s 7,000 status credits.
Did You Know? Qantas Frequent Flyer - which allows customers to accrue points on flights, when shopping at retailers like Woolworths, and by spending on co-branded credit cards - started in 1987 with about 40,000 members. Today it has more than 12.7 million loyal customers.
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