A drastic overhaul of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program will change the way that Qantas travellers earn frequent flyer points and status credits – and how many they earn – based on the cost of their ticket.
The changes are sweeping and potentially confusing, so here's what you need to know.
Cheaper tickets, fewer points
Discount economy tickets will earn fewer frequent flyer points than the more expensive 'flexible' and full-fare tickets.
Qantas will also move from a miles-based system where travellers earned one point per mile flown, to a zone-based system where the network of Qantas and its partners is divided into 22 flight regions such as Domestic Short, Medium and Long flights and East Coast Australia to Asia.
In turn, each of those zones comes with its own unique number of points and status credits based on the type of ticket you buy.
Click here to see how many frequent flyer points and status credits you'll earn in Qantas' new zone-based system.
For example, a flight from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to New Zealand encompasses the following earning rates:
- discount economy: 1,000 points and 20 status credits
- standard economy: 1,375 points and 25 status credits
- flexible economy: 1,750 points and 40 status credits
- business: 2,500 points and 80 status credits
While Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney-Brisbane and Melbourne-Brisbane flights are still covered by Qantas' minimum point guarantee based on their relatively short distance, that minimum or discount economy fares drops from 1,000 points to 800 points.
However, the more expensive flexible economy tickets will see a bump from 1,000 to 1,200 points, with business class notching up from 1,250 to 1,400 points.
Already booked a flight past July 1? Qantas says it will honour the current earning rates for tickets already purchased for travel in July and beyond, although the airline warns it might take up to one month after your flight to see the full serve of points appear.
New ticketing tiers
Qantas will also expand the current five ticket categories – also called booking classes or 'fare buckets' – to eight core groups:
- Discount economy
- Flexible economy
- Premium economy
- Flexible premium economy
- Flexible business
The number of points and status credits will be aligned across those eight groups, making it more important then ever to check what type of ticket you're actually buying if you want to maximise your points and status credits.
Here's how those fare types and their associated 'booking class' codes play out.
Cabin bonus turfed, status bonus tweaked
Travellers will still earn extra points if they're sitting in a 'premium' cabin – this covers premium economy, business and first class – and also depending on their Qantas Frequent Flyer status.
However, the new scheme does away with the current and confusing 'cabin bonus' in favour of an increased baseline of points for those better-than-economy cabins.
Bottom line: you'll start with more points in your pocket.
The additional side serving of points known as the 'status bonus' has been capped at the flexible economy rate for premium cabins, rather than the current system of a flat 50% bonus for Silver, 75% for Gold and 100% for Platinum calculated against the distance travelled.
So if you're in premium economy, business or even first class, your status bonus will be counted against the number of points issued for flexible economy ticket.
Because the status bonus is applied onto the baseline of frequent flyer points according to your ticket, and that baseline has gone up for the more expensive seats, it's good news for travellers at the pointy end but bad news if you're in the cheap seats.
For example, a Gold-grade frequent flyer travelling Sydney-Singapore in business class will today earn 8,793 points including their 75% status bonus, but from July 1 the total jumps to 11,700 points.
But a Platinum frequent flyer doing Sydney-Los Angeles in economy will see their haul slashed from 14,982 points to 9,000 points.
But more status credits up for grabs
Despite the outcry over these changes to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, this cloud has a silver lining – or, to be more correct, a gold and platinum lining.
The number of status credits earned on Qantas flights will in many cases increase under the new zone-and-fare-based system, while the majority of route/ticket combinations which don't get a bump in status credits remain the same as today.
As a result, relatively few frequent flyers will be worse off in the status credits stake after the new system kicks in on July 1.
In particular, business travellers making long-distance international trips on flexible fares will find it much quicker to climb up the status ladder.
Fewer status credits with Oneworld partners
If you're flying with one of Qantas' partner airlines from the Oneworld family you'll earn up to 50% fewer status credits depending once again on the type of ticket you have.
For example, a trip with Cathay Pacific from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne to Hong Kong will see your status credit earning halved across the board – going from 120 to 60 in business, 60 to 30 in premium economy or full economy, and 30 to 15 in economy.
The changes send a clear signal that for Qantas, 'loyalty' now means loyalty to the Flying Kangaroo first and partners second.
Qantas will also introduce a new points table for partner airlines in the coming weeks, which is expected to see a similar tumble in the number of frequent flyer points earned.
'Marginal Any Seat Awards' axed
Qantas will also remove Marginal Any Seat Awards, saying they "represent a short cut to tier status and add a significant cost without the revenue in return."
A full rundown is now live at Qantas' new Fairer Flying web page.
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.