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Qantas revamps website: better bookings, fewer frequent flyer seats

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, Qantas Frequent Flyer

Qantas has upgraded its website with a fresh design to streamline flight searches, although it seems that no amount of searching will reveal the full array of award seats available to Qantas Frequent Flyers.

As part of the refresh, the airline has pulled several of the most appealing Any Seat Award packages from online availability and restricted them to telephone sales – and hinted that they may eventually be axed altogether.

It's one of the few downsides to the overnight overhaul of Qantas.com.au, which delivers a cleaner look which the airline says is also ‘optimised to work better on tablets’.

Qantas has also reduced the cost of paying for online or telephone bookings with your credit card, and introduced a seven-day 'no fee' period for debit cards.

Read: Qantas cuts credit card fees, adds fee-free booking option

The buffed-up booking engine

After searching for a flight – either as a paid or points-based booking – travellers see an improved layout that’s easier to read, although the larger fonts and increased white space may also make for more scrolling when it comes to putting your itinerary together.

Frequent flyers can instantly switch between cash and Any Seat Award fares, with Jetstar flights more prominently flagged on the schedule – although there’s no way to remove them from the search results page.

According to Qantas, the ‘Points Plus Pay’ option can now be used for any cash or Any Seat Award booking. A large pop-up window reminds you if the booking session will soon time out and makes it easy to keep browsing with the click of an oversized button.

Classic Award options can be displayed by selecting a checkbox on the search pane, although Qantas says that integrating these into the website’s ‘commercial engine’ – so they can be booked alongside flights sold for cash – will follow later this year.

But back to that wrinkle among the shiny-shiny: some of the better-value Any Seat Awards can no longer be booked online.

'Marginal' Any Seat Awards – going, going, gone?

Qantas has removed what it classifies as ‘marginal Any Seat Award’ – these being Any Seat Award bookings which can be purchased at the same rate as Classic Award seats – from the website.

The ASA seats provide benefits such as frequent flyer points and status credits which are not available under Classic Award deals.

While Qantas hasn’t specified which types of seats fall into that category, pundits suggest they include first class and business class Any Seat Awards.

Those award seats can still be purchased, but only by contacting the Qantas call centre, albeit without attracting the standard telephone booking feee.

The reason for this? Qantas says those specific classes of Any Seat Awards are being “reviewed”, so the decision was made not to build them into what it calls Phase 1 of the new website due to their "uncertain future".

Whether they exist at all when Phase 2 rolls around in three months remains to be seen...

"With careful planning and research, Any Seat Award flights in business and first class can be booked at a cost that was very near to the Classic award levels" explains Nick La Galle, from The Frequent Flyer. "It's a very clever way to gain or retain status on Qantas."

Clifford Reichlin, from the Australian Frequent Flyer community, agrees.

"ASA seats in business and first class can deliver a relatively low cost per status credit" Reichlin told Australian Business Traveller.

"It looks to me like this is the first step in eliminating these ASAs completely."

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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.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 26/6/13 by tmsmile

Qantas - the airline who keeps on gifting passengers to others

1 on 27/6/13 by gippsflyer

You said it tmsmile, Qantas rarely misses an opportunity to devalue its Frequent Flyer scheme.

Qantas recently offered me double status credits to tempt me back, but really there just isn't enough to entice me to take up the offer. Even the Qantas First Lounge doesn't seem as special as it used to be, so I think my Red Roo days are over.

2 on 26/6/13 by JBH

'marginal ASA's', 'being reviewed', 'uncertain future'. from such language it pretty clear what's going to happen.

1 on 26/6/13 by 11sjw

The only thing missing is the word 'enhancement.'  

1 on 26/6/13 by Al

What's the bet that Qantas used the 'E-word' but everybody ignored it because they know it'll just make us laugh? Or cry?

3 on 26/6/13 by Serg

I tried new website and could not do any booking - it says "This itinerary can only be booked using Classic Awards" regarding of destination and dated.

1 on 26/6/13 by gazzman

I have the same issue   - wants me to make nothing but redemption bookings

4 on 26/6/13 by TheRealBabushka

People need to actively consider their frequent flyer membership to ensure continued value. Residency is but one approach in selecting a frequent flyer programme. Think outside the box!

Markets will not work efficiently if people behave like lemmings!

1 on 26/6/13 by KG

One of the nice perks of QFF is the ASA option, as mentioned, great way to earn SC's. If this goes it would definitely be a blow to the program IMHO. I agree you need to actively consider your FF program, but residency is a major factor if you ask me especially if you are topping off your FF account with a local credit card. Ofcourse there is the option of switching to CX (OW) or Krisflyer (Star and status is recognised on VA) and I know they also offer credit card earning options, but I feel in general you get the best treatment when belonging to a FF program belonging to an airline from your residency country.

Anyway, all is not lost....as yet......

5 on 26/6/13 by Chrisor

There goes the benefits of QFF membership, it will be a matter now to see what other airlines have to offer.  Loyalty to one airline hasn't paid off for me, I was searching for Any Seat Awards for a flight in September, what to do now?  

1 on 26/6/13 by 11sjw

You've still got 3 months and can do it over the phone without the "Phone Booking Fee."  After that it seems as though it will be tough.

6 on 26/6/13 by sdwylie

How awful...

This was the main way I derrived value from the Qantas FF program.

And to make it worse, the new design of the website makes it incredibly difficult to see all available fares for a given day without having to scroll, which just doesn't make any sense...

7 on 26/6/13 by gumshoe

Its the worst makeover I've ever seen of a web site, hard to use now and difficult to navigate, seat awards a mess and type so big can see it from 2m, come on QF you've made a major blunder. Other Airline site forum members are simply outraged being treated like this.

8 on 26/6/13 by walshy002000

The site doesn't even work for Internet Explorer. Guess they really are pushing me towards someone else.

9 on 26/6/13 by PLATY

Well the removal of ASA access to classic award fare buckets (U class, etc) will be the biggest blow to QFF that I can recall in 20 plus years of flying QF.

One assumes also a stupid business decision in removing THE point of differentiation with Velocity.

I guess in the meantime it's a case of look for the classic awards and then call QF to see if that can be scooped up at a reasonable point rate.

Looks like we're heading back to AA mileage runs to maintain Platinum rather than using ASA for credit top ups.

I spoke to someone on the PlatinumOne hot line (I actually got a real person rather than a voicemail service) and the attitude was, well put something in writing if you don't like it...

 

1 on 26/6/13 by KG

Question is, should we do those AA mileage runs after we have asked AAdvantage for a status match challenge and ensure we obtain EXP Plat with AA whilst doing the runs? Redemptions are much better than QF with AA and combined with the 8 SWU you get a year (redeemable on any fare bucket for upgrades) it seems a pretty good deal!

One thing I am wonderingis whether it would be relatively more difficult to qualify for EXp Plat on AA obtaining 100K miles a year as opposed to obtaining 1200 SC a year. I have been wondering this for a while, same question would go for CX (you need 120K miles or 80 sectors for Marco Polo Diamond, which is OW Emerald).

1 on 26/6/13 by KG

One unknown with AA is what will happen after the merger with US is completed, although i doubt that redemption will become worse than it currently is with QF classic redemption awards. Big advantage of AA is ofcourse the free unlimeted upgrades you get when on AA metal and flying in Northern America and the Carribean, drawback is that you do not get lounge access when flying domestically (but the lounges aren't all that nice, might as well find a decent airport restaurant).

As for now QF still has an edge with ASA, just got the promo mail for the new website and ASA is prominently mentioned (despite the fact that they are very hard to find/ search on the new site).

2 on 26/6/13 by TheRealBabushka

KG! I've done the analysis for this! It depends on your travel patterns!

AY is also another good option due to Lifetime Platinum (Yes that's right, Lifetime Platinum/Emerald status!) - But redemption rates on AY is rubbish. On the flip side, their call centre staff are the most highly trained and proactive lot you could ever find! There is a lot to be said for the Finnish education system.

1 on 26/6/13 by KG

Any chance I can get hold of the spreadsheet to analyse what travel pattern I have and which FF suits me best? When you say AY is rubbish, does that mean you pay more for a C award Europe - Australia than with QF? I am really contemplating joining either CX or AA to rack up my points, but if AY works as well. Key would be to try to get a status match (maybe do a challenge) as starting from scratch is painful. 

1 on 26/6/13 by TheRealBabushka

Hi KG,

Happy to share my spreadsheet. It's rudimentary but in my opinion does the job.

AY rates are rubbish because of the following:

For AY Platinum you need to earn 150,000 Finnair Tier Points. Assuming you are an existing Platinum member you get an additional 25% so that brings it to 187,500 Award Points (Tier Points = Award Points and are a factor of 1.6 miles...AY measures in km). To redeem for AU to EU return in C on QF metal, you need to burn 640,000 Finnair Award Points. The ratio works out to be 3.41 i.e. You need to earn Platinum status 3.41 times to be able to redeem for the return flight.

For QF Platinum you need to earn 1,200 Status Credits (assuming you are already an existing Platinum member). According to the Status Credit charts the optimal way to convert Status Credit to points is to use the ratio of 360 Status Credit per 15,000 miles flown i.e. flying First Class. This works out to 50,000 points. Assuming also that you're an existing Platinum member you triple that figures due to cabin and status bonus, which brings it to 150,000 points. Points required for the same flight in C return is 256,000. The ratio for this works out to be 1.71 i.e. you need to earn Platinum status only 1.71 times to be able to redeem for the return flight.

1 on 27/6/13 by KG

Thanks TRB! Looks like an awful deal on AY.

Tried myself to derive how many SC's you get on a mileage basis with QF (assuming you fly full fare Y, can we say that you earn x amount of SC's per x amount of miles). It is hard as there seems to be no pattern and is dependent on the distance you fly. If there was a straightforward calculation method it would be easy to see whether you are better off with one program or another (e.g. If I do a rough calculation it seems that flying 120K miles, which would be enough to get MP Diamond, would net me around 1800 SC, so it seems that getting QF Plat would be easier attanable, as I would have to fly 80K miles). Calculation does not hold grounds as when you fly premium you would get more mileage (but also more SC's). One thing that is good is that you will earn SC's for the class you fly in when flying OW partners, whereas your (status) mileage differs greatly per partner (and thus the accumulation of status could be less easy with mileage rather than SC's).

1 on 28/6/13 by TheRealBabushka

Dear KG,

I agree.

The lack of straightforward convertibility makes comparison much harder. I am not surprised if that was the reason why airlines like QF and BA have used proxies like SC and Tier Points to decouple the direct relationship between miles flown and status earned. However there are some benefits to this depending on your travel patterns and travel budget.

In my analysis of the value of FFP, I have not used redemption as a goal. Therefore I have not measured the ability of redemption on a particular sector as a success factor. Instead I focused on the realistic ability to accrue points/miles within a 356 day period. This requires a certain amount of forward planning to one's travel calendar.

Realistic planning also takes into consideration the budget for travel. To use the example earlier, yes it would be realistic to fly QF 2 round-trips a year AU/UK BUT to hit Platinum you need to do them in First Class (to hit 1,200 SC you need to fly 1.66 round trips in First or 2.5 round-trips in Business) - That may not be realistic given the cost!

So really you should be putting forward a couple of possible itineraries - perhaps based on prior years travel patterns and consider the ability to accrue miles/points for each of the FFP under consideration. This should help you identify the FFP that provides the best value.

The reason I've not used redemption as a measure is due to the following:

1) If one is travelling on revenue bookings through the year, I considered if it was realistic to find the time to avail myself of that "free flight" (assuming of course you find availability!!!)

2) The objective of FFP is not really, in my opinion, about burning miles BUT about attaining status so that your treatment during travel improves holistically

3) Burning miles/points is most efficient for short haul sectors, as I've explained in some earlier post; you get more value redeeming short haul as the opportunity cost of purchasing is must higher per mile flown. Short haul redemptions are also easier to come by.

2 on 27/6/13 by Skipp

I have heard status matching with CX is relatively easy if you have the equivalent status with Qantas. (The only caveat is they will naturally enquire about your inteded flying with them {CX}). Although I was offered double status for three months from Qantas, it has done nothing to sway me back to Q from Virgin. Virgin may not have the best lounges (I'm not one to devote my limited time to hanging out in lounges), but other perks such as gold/platinum status with hotel chains is a true travel benefit not offered by Qantas. (That's in addition to excellent reward seat availability!)

The latest changes about to occur to the Qantas frequent flyer community re-enforces my decision almost 12 months ago to switch. "Q frequent flyer" offers less, and less as the days go by, almost congruent with their reducing share price.

10 on 26/6/13 by paa

Looks like testing was not a priority at QF. Tried using the Book Award Flight screen for a classic award and I cannot see many major cities in the destination field... Canberra, Melbourne, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles etc. are missing.

1 on 26/6/13 by PLATY

Have you selected the region from the elft hand side?

2 on 26/6/13 by PLATY

There's also a little check box on the top right you need to select - show all classic award destinations

1 on 26/6/13 by paa

I think you are referring to a different screen. If you are logged in at the home screen, on the right side you get the "I want to" pulldown, with the option of "Make an Award Booking". Try that option and for classic awards it is missing about 80% of the destinations. Maybe QF dont realize the links to this screen are still displayed and active.

2 on 26/6/13 by charlesr

Which screen has this little check box in the top rh? On & off since 10am I've been looking for Frankfurt & Paris & they don't appear in the destination drop down box in the award bookings screen. Tried ringing QF but there's over a 10min wait. Assume everyone's got similar problems. What was so wrong with the old website? They've gone overboard with changes. Hate it.

1 on 26/6/13 by charlesr

OK...re-read this page & found the check box in the bottom LH corner of the 'book flights' tab. How silly of me to go to the 'award booking' tab which is still clearly displayed! Not convinced of improvements, so much clicking/scrolling - 10 clicks just to get to the date range I want next year.

11 on 26/6/13 by Al

I'm not a web designer or a webmaster but I know how to manage rolling out a project and I simply cannot understand how so many airlines launch these new websites when they have so many flaws.

Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia and now Qantas, have they no concept of testing and re-testing the platform thoroughly and using a wide variety of people - maybe through a closed invitation-only sample - to ensure that every bug is out, or at least all the BIG bugs are out, before they put it live?

What is the obsession with rolling out a new website when a few hours of use by the public so easily shows that it's clearly not ready?

1 on 26/6/13 by TheRealBabushka

Hear hear!

12 on 26/6/13 by dibs

You guys have it pretty good, if you want a REAL taste of the other end - I'd suggest Skywards.

13 on 27/6/13 by Chrisor

Recently completed a JASA SYD-ADL-SYD for 69008 points, booked in April and travelled in June, today same flight over next few months is 149400 points. More than double the amount of points needed before yesterdays changes.

It will be a lot more difficult now to obtain or retain status.

1 on 27/6/13 by KG

Whilst I am not sure if we can judge wether ASA awards have significantly devaluated on the one flight example (keep in mind cyclical factors) I too do have the feeling ASA are harder to get by. The SYD-HKG, SYD-CGK or SYD-PVG route always had availability for ASA at classic redemption rates, all of it has vanished now. I think time will tell when more people have search for ASA and are not able to book at reasonable cost.

One has to wonder the reasoning of QF behind this change. The QF FF program is a big money maker, but devaluating the program and taking away the one unique differentiator bewteen QFF and other schemes seems odd. People for sure will evaluate other options. Problem is that we do not have an other domestic carrier wwhich is part of a global alliance. If only VA would join star it would be great. I like OW for many reasons and if i would abandon QF, what is the other option? I would like to stay with OW due t my travel pattern. CX or AA seem the obvious ones, BA is an alternative (though redemption is very costly).

I guess QFF wants to further maximise their profits from thier FF program. Although they have a lot of members i doubt that the members are actually flying that much, my guess is they have a lot of household accounts who earn points by shopping or credit card spend (and maybe occaisionally fly). For the real savy travellers, who thankfully made use of getting "cheap" SC's via ASA, they are making the program way less attractive. Then again, the active FF are probably travelling per corporate policy, so QF would get the revenue in any case and making redemption more expensive adds to QF's bottomline.

I have written QF asking what the reasoning is behind their new booking engine, explaining my disappointment in both lay out as availability. let's see what they come back with.

Besides all the negativity around QF, I must say I do enjoy the fact that you can now redeem for EK flights, a very welcome change and something you are not able to do when a member of another OW FF program. AA does have a partnership with EY which enables you to redeem tickets.

1 on 27/6/13 by PLATY

KG, the trick (just in case you missed it) is to look for classic award inventory on the new system for the class/route you want. Then call QF and book that seat via ASA over the phone.

Also, are you aware of the AA platinum challenge

http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Challenge_(AA)

Never tried it myself - others may be able to advise on the practicalities 

 

1 on 28/6/13 by KG

Thanks PLATY, I did not quite get that one and to be honest, looking forward to hear feedback as to wether this trick will work and in how many cases.

I do know the platinum challenge, recently AA actually also had an EXP Plat challenge, which is rare as they nrmally never offer this. Bets of it all, they did not ask for a fee! I did not partake, might do so during the next offer.

1 on 28/6/13 by PLATY

I tested out the ASA by phone. I located a U class (ie business classic award seat) on the new booking engine for SYD-HNL and then rang QF...sure enough (after a long wait whilst they checked it all out) they could offer me that seat as an ASA for the usual 72,000 pts plus around $400 in gasoline gouge rip off fees...so evidently possible

14 on 23/7/14 by FQ ALL THE WAY

Just tried the new website!

As hopeless as the old one!

1. Too much advertising so desperately slow

2. Tried to cancel intl online but had to call qantas! 20 minutes on the line and still waiting!

3. Tried to change a flight and downgraded a class which resulted in a credit! System refused to accept!

4. I had more than 2 mill points! Down to 600k can't wait to forget QF forever!

5. QF makes state rail seem super efficient!

6. CX, SING, UA, THAI, AIR CHINA  all beat QF  hands down in every area!

7. Such a sad sad sad situation! Used to be a great airline!!

8. Maybe FQ is a better call sign!

9. Still on the phone waiting.... 40 minutes and counting

 

 

 

 

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