Why can't I find business class award seats to Santiago?

By brettepi | Nov 30, 2018, 08:33 AM
Im searching for 6-12 months in advance. I did the same thing last year and there was a lot more availability. Is Qantas reducing the number of business class seats available for award customers?
Poll: Business class award seats are becoming harder and harder to find
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By Brandon Loo | Nov 30, 2018, 08:45 AM
What's your Qantas Frequent Flyer status? That can affect what international premium award availability you see.
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By mushmush | Nov 30, 2018, 09:40 AM
even as platinum last year i could only secure 1 seat 5 months out, i couldn't secure one for my wife. So we booked them outright and low and behold on the day of flying there was 3 empty seats in business! We will never know the exact method of allocation or what algorithm they use but i feel its becoming more obvious that they are reducing the number of them. SQ is a prime example, since they changed their krisflyer points structure im finding it almost impossible to secure business class award seats unless i book 3 months out, otherwise im stuck on their dreaded wait list option.
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By silentiger86 | Nov 30, 2018, 09:45 AM
I am QF Platinum and only 1 J class seat is available 353 days in advance! Wonder why QF is restricting award availabilities?
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By tommygun | Nov 30, 2018, 11:02 AM
Now why would an airline restrict reward availability? Well, maybe because rewards then become a value you can't spend: you earned reward points from revenue tickets but if you can't spend them guess what, you'll need another revenue ticket. That'll earn you more points, but...
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John Cox

By silentiger86 | Nov 30, 2018, 11:41 AM
Haha...how cynical! You have a point there but the optimist in me would like to think otherwise :)
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By tommygun | Nov 30, 2018, 12:20 PM
For all that's not to like about Air NZ, at least their rewards program is transparent. Your Airpoints can be spent on any flight, any class, any seat, any day. And if you don't have enough you can (for a small fee) spend what you have and put in real money for the balance.
Last edited by tommygun at Nov 30, 2018, 12.25 PM.
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By tommygun | Nov 30, 2018, 12:23 PM
Follow up: yes, of course Qantas does do that with AnySeat. The exchange rate on your points is highway robbery though. Maybe we've reached the point where Qantas "classic" awards are dead or at least terminally ill, because of restricted availability?
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By ChrisCh | Nov 30, 2018, 12:27 PM
I am QF Platinum and only 1 J class seat is available 353 days in advance! Wonder why QF is restricting award availabilities?

Well, on the flight example above where there were three seats unoccupied on boarding, on the Boeing 747 that flies between Sydney and Santiago, assuming all other business class seats were occupied, that would represent a passenger load of about 95% in business class, which is very high.

Airlines generally only release seats for booking using points if they think they won't otherwise be able to sell them to a fare-paying passenger, because a cabin filled with paid business class flyers is naturally much more profitable than having too many seats occupied by points redemptions, because while Qantas Loyalty will have earned some revenue from other entities in buying those points for the member who is trying to spend them, it won't be as much as the value of a full-fare ticket, so while opening up a reward seat is an opportunity to earn 'something' for a seat that'd otherwise be unoccupied and also get the liability attached to those particular points off the books, there's an opportunity cost attached because it means the airline can't sell that seat to somebody who wants to pay with money, and to strike the right balance, most airlines hold back a few seats for any last-minute revenue bookings so that people can still buy flights at the last minute.

(Of course, then things get even more complicated when you start looking at frequent flyer points upgrades, which can again be a good way for an airline to write some points off the books - especially on oversold flights where they'd otherwise have to hand out free upgrades to get everybody on board - but that's something for another day!)

As a general tip for Santiago though, try searching out of Melbourne and/or Auckland as well to see if there's any availability on LATAM, if searching ex. Sydney isn't revealing anything. Once you've found availability on a Santiago flight, you could then put together a multi-city booking to get from where you are to where you need to be to board that flight.

Another option to consider is Emirates via Dubai (you probably won't see that unless you put together a multi-city booking as Sydney-Dubai, Dubai-Santiago)... while the Dubai-Santiago leg goes via Sao Paulo in Brazil, if you're flying the whole way through, you just stay on the aircraft in Sao Paulo and don't need to get a visa for Brazil.
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By slim | Nov 30, 2018, 02:36 PM
Seems to be variable... but I know I was able to secure a business reward seat on QF95 about 4 months out from travel just this March. As a rule & to avoid disappointment, I book them as soon as they become available (even if not precisely the class, carrier or route that I really want (and yep - almost a year out!)), knowing that I can always change if additional/more favourable seats free up at a later date!
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By flyOFTEN | Nov 30, 2018, 03:36 PM
What's your Qantas Frequent Flyer status? That can affect what international premium award availability you see.
with economy slowing rapidly & recession starting to kick in, those who once might have flown paid business are now looking to upgrade from economy. Think business class sales are plummeting for all airlines. Predict many more will close down in 2019-20. Already in past few months dozen or so EU airlines have gone belly up.
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By jgb59 | Nov 30, 2018, 04:53 PM
I have been lucky enough to book with Qantas points as multi city itineraries for travel in 2017 and 2018 to Europe and back on Emirates metal in business class but I had to book them as one way multi city to get to Europe and then another back both years but had to book them 11 months or so in advance in order to get the flight to Europe and then waiting another 3 months or so to book the return one way multi city back to Australia and while a bit complicated it did work and got me on the flights and aircraft I wanted.

I just did a quick check from Sydney to Santiago in August 2019 and found business class available on many days on both QF and LATAM
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By patrickk | Nov 30, 2018, 05:16 PM
Part of this is to keep business class tickets for business bookings. The best time for an award would be a week or so out. But now they prefer to use them for upgrades; but it may be worth a check.
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By sanj747 | Nov 30, 2018, 05:22 PM
I looked in Jan for a sept trip and rang Qantas and the agent was great and since I am QF Platinum he requested for a seat to be released and got this confirmed straightaway.
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By markpk | Nov 30, 2018, 07:56 PM
The LATAM business market - particularly in mining is starting to go gang-busters - my company has had numerous briefings from Qld Govt, Fed Govt, and NERA - this indicates a lot of business class travellers paying cash who are heading way south and east - you can't blame Qantas for holding back redemption seats.

It's kind of their job remember - make money...
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By DCW | Dec 01, 2018, 02:19 PM
even as platinum last year i could only secure 1 seat 5 months out, i couldn't secure one for my wife. So we booked them outright and low and behold on the day of flying there was 3 empty seats in business! We will never know the exact method of allocation or what algorithm they use but i feel its becoming more obvious that they are reducing the number of them. SQ is a prime example, since they changed their krisflyer points structure im finding it almost impossible to secure business class award seats unless i book 3 months out, otherwise im stuck on their dreaded wait list option.

Never assume the seats were left "unsold or empty" They may have been unserviceable thus unavailable.

This occurs regularly.
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