If you run your own business, the bills and expenses you’re already paying every day could be your ticket to free flights and upgrades to business class, just by paying for those expenses using a points-earning credit card or charge card.
Better yet, you can get your points balance off to a positive start by taking advantage of one of American Express’ generous sign-up deals, which places 100,000 bonus frequent flyer points in your account (or even more!) by doing just that.
American Express cards are widely accepted for business expenses – you can use them to book flights, hotel stays and hire cars; dine at many restaurants; order goods from suppliers; pay the rent on your business premises (via Rental Rewards), and more.
Even better, if a business doesn’t accept AMEX, you can still pay them using your American Express card through services like PayPal, RewardPay and B2BPay, to maximise your cashflow and your frequent flyer points, without necessarily needing a second, ‘backup’ card.
Here are the biggest business offers on the table right now, with huge piles of bonus points at the beginning and good ongoing frequent flyer earning rates as you continue to spend.
AMEX Qantas Business Rewards Card: 100,000 bonus Qantas Points
Apply for the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card by July 2 2018 and you could earn an easy 100,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 on purchases within two months of your card approval date, and pay an annual fee of $450.
You’ll also earn 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on everyday purchases, with a boosted earning rate of two Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas flight bookings and Qantas Club airport lounge memberships, and an earn rate of one point per $2 spent on utilities, insurance and government payments.
There’s no limit to the number of points you can earn, and these will be credited monthly to your company’s Qantas Business Rewards account. From there, the business owner determines who those points are transferred to – whether that’s themselves, or an employee or client as a nice ‘thank you’ or to book a business trip.
Business owners can apply if they have a personal pre-tax income of just $24,000 per year and their business is registered for GST.
Once you have the card, there’s no extra fee to issue up to 99 additional cards under the one account, such as for your spending employees, so that the business keeps earning points in the one central account regardless of who pays each bill or expense.
American Express Platinum Business Card
Look to the AMEX Platinum Business Card for an even higher offer of 120,000 bonus frequent flyer points, for businesses that apply by July 2 2018, are approved, and spend at least $5,000 on the card within the first two months – plus an annual fee of $1,500.
Sound pricey? As with the Qantas Business Rewards Card, you can also add up to 99 additional cardholders onto the account at no extra cost, but being a higher-grade product, each cardholder is also covered under a master American Express insurance policy when travelling for business, even if the trip wasn’t paid for using the Platinum card: great if your clients usually handle your travel arrangements.
The business earns points in a central AMEX Membership Rewards Ascent Premium account – from which, points can be converted across to 10 different airlines at a 1:1 rate, including Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Australia Velocity, or to two hotel chains (Hilton and SPG).
Spending on this account attracts two frequent flyer points per $1 spent at most AMEX-accepting Australian restaurants, hotels, airlines, advertising companies, couriers and on computer equipment purchases from selected suppliers such as Apple, Dell and IBM, up to 375,000 points per year.
Once reaching this threshold, you’ll continue to earn one point per dollar spent, uncapped – the same earn rate you’ll get on most other purchases year-round, except on government, insurance and utility payments which always earn one point per $2 spent.
Business owners can apply for this card with a personal pre-tax income of $75,000 when their business is registered for GST.
Not a business owner?
Just because you’re not working for yourself doesn’t mean you can’t earn points when spending your own money!
For a solid everyday earning rate of 1.5 frequent flyer points per dollar spent on most purchases, look to the American Express Qantas Ultimate Card, the AMEX Velocity Platinum Card or the AMEX Explorer Card – the latter also earning points with Velocity, plus others like KrisFlyer and Asia Miles.
In places where American Express isn’t accepted, you could also earn one Qantas Point per $1 spent up to $7,500 per month with the ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa – currently with no annual fee in the first year and an offer of 75,000 bonus Qantas Points for eligible new customers.
Prefer to earn Velocity points? ANZ’s comparable Rewards Black Visa has a similar earn rate of one Velocity point per $1 spent when converting points via the ANZ Rewards program, also with no annual fee in the first year and 75,000 bonus ANZ Rewards points (37,500 Velocity points) for eligible new customers.
If KrisFlyer miles are your goal, the St. George Amplify Signature Visa has Australia’s highest earning rate for KrisFlyer miles on Visa/Mastercard spend, initially delivering 0.75 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent, boosted to 0.825 KrisFlyer miles per $1 after the bank awards you with a ‘birthday bonus’ each year.
Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyers will enjoy have access to Qantas Clubs around Australia under the newly-forged alliance between the two airlines.
As of October 28, 2018, Airpoints Elite and Gold members booked on a codeshare flight with Qantas will find the doors swing open for them at the two dozen Qantas Club lounges in Australia's capital cities and regional centres. They'll also be permitted to bring in one guest.
But it won't be as easy as flashing your shiny Airpoints card, as the following conditions apply:
- you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
- it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
- and this must be booked as part of a trans-Tasman booking
This arrangement replaces Airpoints access to Virgin Australia lounges following the dramatic bust-up between the two former allies.
However, there appears to be no Qantas Club lounge access for Koru Club members, nor can AirNZ frequent flyers cool their heels in the more upmarket Qantas Business lounges.
The Qantas / Air New Zealand alliance covers selected flights on the domestic network of each airline, however trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement.
Cathay Pacific will roll out its new 'business class dining concept' this month, with the meal service taking a step closer to a first class experience.
Meals will be individually plated and delivered to passengers by hand rather than by trolley, as the airline adopts more personalised and upmarket approach.
Cathay also expects this will result in a "quieter and calmer cabin environment", especially on late night flights.
Passengers will have a choice between three appetisers and "up to six main course choices" on flights over ten hours in the initial launch of the service to the likes of Chicago (on July 30), London/Gatwick (in August) followed by Frankfurt, Manchester and Washington DC (September); Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg (October), Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona (November) and London/Heathrow (December).
And, being very much on trend, light and healthy 'wellbeing options' feature in every main course.
On flights from Hong Kong the menu will be changed every month, with a quarterly menu refresh for flights to Hong Kong.
Fights from Hong Kong (but not, for now, the return leg) will also see a new range of Hong Kong Favourites inspired by local dishes, such as
- Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, seasoned soy sauce, spring onion and ginger (shown below)
- Wok fried seafood in lobster soup with ginger, spring onion, crispy and steamed rice
- Beef brisket with flat rice noodle soup
- Mango with pomelo and sago
But before all that eatings starts, business class passengers will notice the new-look menus.
Printed as eight pages on quality paper, they not only detail the meals and drinks available on that flight but include foodie-friendly articles such as 'Anatomy of a Laksa' and feature a local chef revealing their favourite eateries both in Hong Kong and around thr world.
There will also be a breakfast menu card which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.
However, these are set menus rather than allowing travellers to pick-and-mix from a wide selection of items.
In addition to what's described as 'traditional' Chinese and Western breakfasts, there's also a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.
Refreshments will be revamped as a selection of 'most loved dishes' available throughout the flight as a snack between meals on services to North America and Europe, including the airline's signature burger and popular soup noodles. These will also appear on the main meal menu.
Next year will see Cathay's 'new business class dining concept' extend to medium-distance routes, with plans to include Sydney and Auckland in February 2019 and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth in May 2019.
Very few watches can claim true originality, and the Cartier Santos is among those few.
The Santos made its debut way back in 1904 as a personal timepiece for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, making it both the first pilot’s watch and one of the earliest known men’s wristwatches.
As we've previously detailed, the Santos was borne from a request by Brazilian flyer Santos-Dumont, who told his friend Louis Cartier – then a Parisian watchmaker – of the challenge of timing flights using the then-conventional pocket watch, as pilots needed to keep both hands on the aircraft controls.
In response, Cartier designed a large square-faced watch and fitted it to a strap so it could be worn on the wrist – quite a revolutionary concept at the time.
The first commercial Cartier Santos watches went on sale to the public in 1911 with solid gold cases and ultra-thin mechanical movements designed by French clockmaker Edmond Jaeger.
(In order to produce this movement for Cartier, Jaeger worked with Swiss movement manufacturer Jacques-David LeCoultre, a partnership that would lead to the birth of storied brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.)
The enduring design of the Cartier Santos was reimagined in the late 1970s as a luxury steel sports watch, later adding two-tone steel and gold and the now-iconic screwed bezel with exposed gold screws along the bracelet for a modern, industrial aesthetic.
For 2018, Cartier has once again re-invented the Santos.
The distinctive screw-set bezel now tapers at both ends towards the bracelet to create an organic, integrated look.
The satin-brushed case features a wide mirror-polished bevel along its length, extending all the way to the gracefully curved crown guards at 3 o’clock. A square watch the Santos may be, but there’s hardly a sharp edge or straight line to be found.
The case has been slimmed dramatically from previous incarnations of the Santos, allowing this watch to disappear easily under a shirt cuff when needed.
The bracelet is fitted with a new 'QuickSwitch' system allowing for easy swapping with the included tan calfskin strap or Cartier’s alternative crocodile straps, providing some style versatility.
Adding or removing bracelet links has also been made easier with a new 'SmartLink' design which allows the wearer to expand the bracelet during a hot summer’s day without requiring a tool.
While the bezel, case and bracelet have all been modernised, the dial remains classic Cartier. With Roman numerals, a railroad minute-track and heat-blued hands, it’s hard to imagine a more traditional look.
The 2018 Cartier Santos can serve dress-watch and sports-watch duties equally well, and boasts a history that few timepieces can match.
• In-house mechanical movement with automatic winding
• Seven-sided crown set with a faceted synthetic spinel
• Silvered opaline dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 10 bar (approximately 100 metres)
• Medium version case width: 35.1 mm, thickness: 8.83 mm
• Large version case width: 39.8 mm, thickness: 9.08 mm
• Pricing from A$8,750 for the Cartier Santos Medium in steel, to A$52,500 for the Cartier Santos Large in solid pink gold with matching pink gold bracelet. For stockists, visit www.au.cartier.com.
Finnair will launch inflight Internet on its European flights this week, with travellers able to enjoy the high-speed satellite service free of charge during a two-month trial period running through to the end of September.
The Oneworld airline has already outfitted six of its single-aisle Airbus jets with technology provided through partner Viasat, which also provided the backbone for Qantas' Australia-wide WiFi system.
By the end of northern summer some 20 aircraft will be upgraded, with Finnair's entire single-aisle Airbus fleet slated for WiFi by mid-2019.
The system will be available on a gate-to-gate basis, so passengers won't even need to wait for their jet to reach level flight – which will maximise time online for many of Finnair's relatively short European hops.
However, parts of some European routes will present black spots to the satellite network, including above the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, while some restrictions also apply over Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Belarus and Russia.
Over the two-month testing period Finnair intends to "gather information on system functionality and feedback on the overall customer experience."
"In entering the passenger testing phase, we’ll be gaining the critical insights needed to further optimise our service to ensure Finnair customers get a unique experience built around their needs, interests and usage behaviours," explains Viasat vice-president Don Buchman.
The airline has yet to reveal what pricing it will charge for its sky-high WiFi once the trial period ends, although frequent flyers will no doubt hope that some sort of monthly pass is available as an alternative to paying on a per-flight basis.
Finnair already offers WiFi on its long-range 'intercontinental' jets, with the first hour free for business class and Finnair Plus Gold members, then €3 (A$4.70) for three hours or €20 (A$31) for the entire flight. Finnair Plus Platinum frequent flyers are provided with free Internet access for the whole flight.