What Qantas Frequent Flyer changes really mean

IT'S been billed as the biggest overhaul of Qantas' frequent flyer program in its 32 year history. And this is how the changes will affect you.

More availability during school holidays along with reductions in both the number of points required and the extra cash charge, are what make the moves a winner for many of the scheme's nearly 13 million members.

"For most consumers - who tend to travel in economy in peak periods - the changes are good," points expert and Australian Frequent Flyer website founder Clifford Reichlin told News Corp Australia.

If you prefer to use your points to upgrade the story isn't as positive.

 

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce announced huge changes to the airline’s frequent flyer program. Picture: AAP
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce announced huge changes to the airline’s frequent flyer program. Picture: AAP

 

While there will be more seats available in business and first class, the number of points needed to get them is going up.

On the plus side, those carrier charges are coming down too.

In total, fees (they are not taxes, as airlines claim) are falling by $25 million a year, which Qantas will make back through "increased engagement".

"In other words, more people paying less," Mr Reichlin said.

Let's break down the main moves, which Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said constituted the biggest overhal of the program in its 32-year history.

 

There’ll be more seats available in business and first class … but the number of points needed to get them is going up.
There’ll be more seats available in business and first class … but the number of points needed to get them is going up.

 

Will it be easier to book a Frequent Flyer flight?

Yes. Qantas is making one million extra FF international seats available annually on the Flying Kangaroo and partner airlines. This is in response to the chief gripe about the program - that it's too hard to redeem points for overseas flights.

The destinations it will be easier to fly to include Los Angeles, London and Tokyo, with up to 30 per cent increases in the number of highest demand reward seats.

Is Qantas increasing the number of points required to book?

Not for international economy. For these seats the number of points will come down by as much as 10 per cent, effective immediately.

 

How will the changes to Qantas’s frequent flyer program impact you?
How will the changes to Qantas’s frequent flyer program impact you?

 

You can do a before and after comparison here. There are no changes to domestic flights.

What's happening with those annoying extra charges?

From September 18 they are being reduced by as much as half. For example, the carrier charge on flights from Sydney to New York will fall from $360 per seat to $180. Other popular routes checked by News Corp Australia revealed falls of up to quarter.

However, Australian Frequent Flyer's Mr Reichlin said it was possible to fly to some destinations with a low-cost carrier for less than Qantas's add-on charges.

What is going on with upgrades?

Bad news. These seats will require more points. From September the number of points needed to get out of "cattle class" into Business will jump by as much as nine per cent while the points to move to First will increase by 15 per cent.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce defended the hike, saying it was the first in 15 years.

On the flip side, the number of FF seats towards the front of the plane will be increased.