Published: Sat, June 22, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Qantas' biggest overahaul of Frequent Flyer programme in decades

Qantas' biggest overahaul of Frequent Flyer programme in decades

Qantas will now offer an extra one million seats for customers paying for flights with points, and will also reduce the number of points needed for global and domestic flights by up to 10%.

It's not all good news, though, with premium upgrades and business class seats set to require more points from September 18 - though a reduction in fees will still apply.

Slashing carrier charges - the additional costs associated with flights booked with Points - by up to 50 per cent on global bookings, saving members on average $200 per return journey. According to the carrier, the majority of points they have earned are used on travel. Four flight redemptions are made every minute and sixty upgrades are confirmed every hour.

"There's a lot about the Qantas Frequent Flyer program that our members tell us they love, but there are also areas of the program that have increasingly come under pressure as a result of rapid expansion", she said.

The introduction of the new Lifetime Platinum status, recognising the airline's most loyal flyers.

A million extra seats and a slashing of carrier charges are the centrepiece changes in the overhaul of Qantas' Frequent Flyer scheme, which was announced on Thursday. These will accommodate peak leisure travel periods to popular destinations, such as London, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Singapore as well as destinations across Europe, New Zealand and South East Asia through new frequent flyer agreements.

Qantas is sharing few solid details on the Points Club apart from that it will have two tiers. Members who earn over 75,000 Lifetime Status Credits will enjoy the benefits of Platinum Status for life.

The base tier will require members to earn 150,000 points earned on the ground.

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In that regard, the Qantas Points Club appears like a "status lite" proposition for buyers rather than flyers.

For other worldwide routes, lower fees will be applied in premium cabins, and in some cases will offset the increased number of points required for a redemption.

Qantas's chief executive, Alan Joyce, defended the increase: "It is the first increase in 15 years and the product has improved a lot in that time".

Mr Joyce said among the most popular uses of points when the system was founded 32 years ago were grandfather clocks, ride-on lawnmowers and cassette players, before the option of purchasing flights with the rewards was introduced in the 1990s.

Carrier charges will be slashed by up to 50 per cent on global redemption bookings, saving members on average $200 per return journey, halving the out of pocket expenses associated with reward travel.

For an economy class passenger redeeming a return trip between Melbourne and Los Angeles, the changes will see the number of points needed fall from 90,000 to 83,800 and the charges drop by $A120 to $A393.

Members will have much more inventory to choose from. Qantas has promised to open up more reward seats while also reducing its carrier charges on worldwide flights.

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