Howdy all. Well, today I am going to do a bit of a review from my personal experiences of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program. I have certainly written about it in the past, but not for a few years really as frequent flyer programs were in a state of limbo once the pandemic hit. For example, Virgin Australia folded (temporarily) and I wasn’t sure whether my points in that program (Velocity) would ever be redeemable. Turns out the program was apparently separate from the airline and they claimed that the points were safe. Still not sure how much I believe that though. Still Virgin is back in the air and so I guess we are good. I have redeemed a lot of points for travel next year and they have been with partner airlines so I am feeling reasonably confident on that score. What was interesting to find was that Velocity is basically the better of the two main Australian Frequent Flyer Programs at the moment, with more options/flights to redeem on. And the main reason for that ISN’T that they have improved, although they have, and I will need to do a full post on Velocity soon, but that Qantas’s program has seriously declined.
Recently Skytrax released it’s list of the best airlines in the world, based on customer reviews, and weren’t we all shocked in Australia to see Qantas coming in at number five on the list. Frankly I think most people here are a bit fed up with our ‘national carrier’ and I have already written on the issues that customers have faced this year when taking Qantas including cancellations on a scale never seen before, massive delays and huge issues with baggage handling. I would also say that Qantas, at least at home, is not known for great customer service or indeed friendliness from staff on flights and that is today and indeed before the pandemic hit. They rely mostly on being the biggest airline by far in the country, their established market share and their iconic image. The reputation of the airline crew, mostly in economy it should be said, is that they are and I quote my parents on this (not the only people I know who think this) is that they are ‘snooty’. And any one who has flown a few different airlines over the journey has certainly encountered crew that seemed to think the customer was beneath them, or clearly wished they were the one going on holiday rather than serving people who were. To class them as fifth best in the world – and don’t get me wrong there is a world full of worse airlines than Qantas, but also there are plenty better – seems so far out of touch with general experience. Perhaps than the ratings come more from perception, as Qantas does seem to have a very solid reputation internationally.
The frequent flyer program itself appears to be in a bit of disarray right now, and I am going on my impressions trying to use it to book for myself and investigate flight possibilities for friends and family. Firstly though, it is an easy program to earn points. And so I will start off looking at the ways you can do that.
How to Earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Points!
So as far as I can see and I don’t want to sound like I am employed by Qantas but honestly EARNING points has never been easier. What ways are there to earn Qantas points for an Australian? Well, the old fashioned way was by taking flights. Seriously though, if you’re like me and despite years of loyalty still sit as a basic member, that’s BRONZE level, well, flying Qantas or its code share partners does not really net you that many points. A domestic trip one way and you’re lucky to walk away with 800 points. The higher the class you book (and I include the increments of different economy classes in this) determine how many points you earn.
You can earn points on a pretty wide selection of airlines, pretty much most if not all of the One World Alliance – that includes American Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, British Airways, Air France and many more – the newest being Indigo, a budget carrier from India. BUT unless you are in air monthly your balance will not grow that fast.
The biggest way to find yourself swimming in points quickly is the credit card. A Frequent Flyer Credit Card often comes with great introductory honours where if you spend a certain amount of dough in the first few months you will get a SWAG of points. This could be anywhere from 40,000 points to I think I saw one offering 125,000 points. As a point of reference a return trip Australia to Europe on points will cost around 120,000 points. Look for the rate of earning as well – the Amex Qantas Frequent Flyer will get you 1.25 points for EVERY DOLLAR SPENT. I have a VISA card that nets me 1 for 1 which for visa is a great rate of return, some cards are only 0.5 points per dollar or less.
Retail Partners with Qantas
Qantas has now partnered with a whole range of retail outlets where you can earn extra points for shopping with them, usually online. At BP you can get points for filling your car up and there are occasional bonus points on offer too. I have personally earned bonus points through Vista Print, Myer, Kogan and many other places it’s really just the tip of the iceberg, generally you have to go through the Qantas website but your browser may automatically keep your accounts connected which is handy because I frequently forget for example when using eBay that I can earn points through that, and the little bubble appears at the top of the page and tells me Qantas is tracking my order.
Using Everyday Rewards is another way to earn Qantas Points, you just have to select ‘Convert to Qantas Points’ when you are on the Everyday Rewards page. Everyday Rewards is itself a rewards program based around the Woolworths Group. 2 points convert into 1 Qantas Frequent Flyer Point. They frequently have bonus offers, especially on items that you need to boost in the app or on the webpage. There are heaps of shops affiliated with the program including Big W and the online Super Pharmacy.
Also Qantas has now branched out into insurance and there are loads of bonus offers for taking out insurance with them – travel insurance (naturally), health insurance and car insurance for example but I think you can get home and contents and various other types through Qantas. You’ll get bonus points for joining/taking out a policy and also earn for the money you spend on said policy.
Redeeming Points for Flights
Once you’ve earned the points, and if you set your mind to it you can earn thousands pretty quickly, you will eventually want to redeem points. You can redeem on flights, hotels, insurance (I think) and then through their shop for many of the things and at many of the places you can earn points. Which is all great – I would say firstly that cashing in for hotels doesn’t seem to be great value for money, although they have adjusted (possibly only temporarily) the points required down by 30% recently.
However, personally it’s flights I earn points for and flights I spend my points on. And the rates are pretty good, 8000 points or even less takes you somewhere domestic, and just over 25000 points will take you Melbourne to Singapore. Where they are even better value is for Business Class flights which are around double that however if you were to buy the ticket they are far in excess of double the cash price.
However, this is where right now Qantas are really performing poorly. Yes, there are flights to be had and if you are going domestically you shouldn’t have an issue finding a rewards seat, but internationally it’s a completely different kettle of fish and getting flights from Australia to Europe or return is a mighty difficult task no matter how far out you are looking to book.
A lot of the issues seems to have to do with the fact that they rely on Emirates for a lot of flights to Europe, and Emirates don’t seem to be giving them the rewards seats. I looked for my parents for a flight from Spain to Melbourne, or Amsterdam to Melbourne, via Dubai and there was one flight available in a three month period and only in economy. Other options are there via Malaysia with Malaysian Airlines or via London but they are very limited as to the number available. And then the taxes on the flights are pretty astronomical, $1300AUD tax for a one way business class flight Europe to Australia for example, so not that far off an economy fare. Actually one way, more than the economy fare depending on when you fly.
Perhaps a lot of routes are still to return to the same number of flights and yes the industry is going through a tough time, but Qantas needs to step up and start caring about the frequent flyers because this is a scheme that actually MAKES Qantas a lot of money. These schemes are not free giveaways as they might appear to the untrained eye. If they were airlines wouldn’t engage in them. Every point earned Qantas make money off it.
Thankfully they have followed Velocity’s lead and introduced a slider as you book and you can use more points to reduce your taxes – however you’re going to need to use more points because the taxes are so high.
Points Plus Pay is a slightly different thing where you find yourself basically using obscene amounts of points plus paying for flights, and the website will show you these if you don’t TWICE in the process specify ‘rewards seats only’. You do it on your search and are taken to a page and then you have to do it again at the top of the page.
As you can see above without clicking the ‘rewards only’ option, you find yourself with economy flights for outrageous amounts of points. This is for seats that are not reward seats, I’m not sure who is prepared to dish out this many points, especially for an economy seat, but you can see on the right that when you click ‘rewards only’ those options disappear and you only have rewards options. You can also see that there are no seats available on a random date in February I selected for anything other than economy class.
Also there are loads of locations you can get a rewards flight to and from, however it can be tricky to get the city to come up. For example I searched for a flight from Dakar back to Melbourne. ‘Dakar’ only appears as a destination, not a starting point. So it’s one way TO Dakar or a return flight you can book. Which is not what I was looking to do. You will get the full array of cities if you book via telephone I believe, however it costs you an extra bundle of points – not sure I think 7,500 points or more per booking and of course wait times on the phone to Qantas can be measured in hours. And that’s pre pandemic. I don’t understand why you would do this to your customers, not employ enough people to answer calls. Not just Qantas of course, energy companies, other airlines etc you always get the message ‘We are experiencing a higher volume of calls than usual at the moment’ – ok but that message is always there. So maybe this is normal and because there’s no alternative you don’t care if customers lose half a day waiting for their call to be answered.
A final tip for you – the ‘multi-city’ alternative let’s you book multiple flights at the same time. The first flight you select is still bound by the limitations, but once you hit the second flight, many more cities are possible as departure points. Book multiple trips if you like. Book a short Melbourne to Hobart getaway on the first two lines for example, and then book your Dakar to Melbourne flight if you want. You need to be about to book multiple trips, or short legs as part of a big trip, but this is a way to get around the limited options Qantas provide.
All in all, Qantas makes a packet from the Frequent Flyer program (I think it’s the most profitable arm of their business, I think I heard that… don’t quote me though lol!) and yes, it does still give you a lot of possibilities, but there are areas where it lacks poorly. Does this all sound similar to other programs in other parts of the world? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading today! May the Journey Never End!