How to plan and book a round-the-world trip using Qantas Points

How to plan and book a round-the-world trip using Qantas Points

Looking for one of the very best ways to use your pile of Qantas frequent flyer points? Here it is: booking a lavish, round-the-world business class trip for only 2,000 Qantas Points more than a return journey to London.

For example, a return business class flight from Sydney to London with one of Qantas’ many Oneworld alliance partners – such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines or Qatar Airways – commands 278,000 Qantas Points: yet a round-the-world business class ticket costs only 280,000 points.

Want to luxe it up in first class? You’ll need only an extra 14,000 Qantas Points compared to a return flight to Europe with the Roo’s partner airlines, and in premium economy and economy, you’ll actually save 10,000 to 15,000 Qantas Points by flying around the world compared to return. Yes, fewer points for a more exciting trip!

However you choose to travel, here’s what you need to know to turn your hard-earned Qantas Points into that round-the-world trip of a lifetime.

Jetting round-the-world with Qantas Points: the basics

Under the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, these bookings are known as Oneworld Classic Flight Rewards, and the number of points you’ll need to book them comes directly from Qantas’ Oneworld Classic Flight Reward table.

These aren’t to be confused with the more common Partner Classic Flight Rewards – being ‘normal’ one-way or return bookings with most of Qantas’ partner airlines – or Qantas Classic Flight Rewards, which cover flights booked with only with Qantas, Emirates, and a few other select partners.

Oneworld Classic Flight Rewards are a separate beast, and as such, they come with their own set of rules.

Firstly, every airline you incorporate into your booking needs to be a Oneworld alliance member, so you can’t work in flights with non-Oneworld carriers such as Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, China Eastern, Fiji Airways and others.

That means you can fly with Qantas, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM (formerly LAN and TAM), Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.

In fact, your Oneworld Classic Flight Reward needs to include two airlines other than Qantas: so you can’t simply fly Qantas from Australia to London; tag on an AA or BA flight to New York, and then fly Qantas home from New York.

You’re not obligated to include any Qantas flights in the booking, of course – you just need to fly with at least two Oneworld airlines other than Qantas as part of the trip.

Flying round-the-world with Qantas Points: how far can you travel?

All up, your round-the-world trip can be up to 35,000 miles in total length, from the time you embark on your first flight until you return to the same place.

This includes both the length of the flights you take, as well as any flights you don’t take because you’ve arranged other transportation, which are known as ‘surface sectors’.

For instance, flying into London, catching a train to Paris under a separate booking and then flying onward from Paris as part of a round-the-world booking pegs ‘London to Paris’ as a surface sector, and the distance between those two cities is included when the system calculates your trip length.

Another thing to watch out for is where you begin the trip in one city (such as Sydney) but conclude it in another city (such as Melbourne), because the distance between the first and last city will also be added to your tally – which, again, needs to be 35,000 total miles or less.

Within the trip, you can plan a maximum of five ‘stopovers’, which is where you remain in one place for 24 hours or more: whether you're there for days, weeks or longer. Each stopover must be in a different city, so you can’t go back to the same place twice on the one booking.

The system also seems to allow up to two 'transits' as well without affecting rewrd pricing, being where you spend less than 24 hours on the ground, whether or not you leave the airport: useful when flying to multiple destinations near major airline hubs which aren’t otherwise served by direct flights, or where award availability makes a connection necessary.

Flying round-the-world with Qantas Points: a sample itinerary

Considering all the rules around distance, stopovers, transits and the ‘two airlines other than Qantas’ rule, here’s a sample itinerary that ticks all the boxes for a traveller planning to visit Asia, Europe and North America on a single trip:

  • Sydney-Hong Kong with Qantas or Cathay Pacific
  • Hong Kong-Tokyo with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or Japan Airlines
  • Tokyo-London with British Airways or Japan Airlines
  • London-New York with American Airlines or British Airways
  • New York-Los Angeles with American Airlines, or Qantas, but only if flying Qantas onward from LA
  • Los Angeles-Sydney with Qantas or American Airlines

This keeps things simple without any planned ‘transits’, which keeps those free if connections are needed to work around frequent flyer reward availability.

All up, this trip measures up at 25,811 miles – well within the 35,000-mile cap, giving plenty of room for extra transit detours, or the inclusion of Africa or Central and South America in lieu of other cities, without exceeding the limit.

Flying round-the-world: how many Qantas Points you’ll need

While Qantas’ Oneworld Classic Flight Reward table lists a range of figures for journeys of varying lengths, if you’re flying round-the-world, the numbers you’ll need are at the very bottom in the “19,201-35,000-mile” range.

As such, you’d be looking at 420,000 Qantas Points for a first class ticket, 280,000 Qantas Points for a business class booking, 210,000 Qantas Points for a premium economy journey, and 140,000 Qantas Points to fly economy.

The number of points needed is based on the highest class of service flown throughout your itinerary: so if you mostly book business class flights but take one flight in first class instead, choosing that flight bumps your entire booking from the ‘business class’ to the ‘first class’ rate, costing you 420,000 Qantas Points instead of 280,000 Qantas Points.

At that stage, you may as well go back and book your entire trip in first class, because you’d be parting with 420,000 Qantas Points either way – but if you’re happy to keep things at business class, you’d instead shell out the standard rate of 280,000 Qantas Points.

As with any booking made using frequent flyer points, merely having enough points in your account doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to book any specific flight or travel with any particular airline. Whether or not you can book each flight depends on reward availability, as always.

Because most airlines tend to release flights for reward bookings around 10-11 months before travel, this is when you should consider making those bookings if you can, to maximise your chances of getting the flight you want.

Certainly, you might get lucky and be able to book a set of suitable flights much closer to departure, but when you’re dealing with multiple airlines and flights, planning ahead keeps your options open and gives you enough time to construct a Plan B (and Plan C, or Plan D…) if need be.

When it does come time to book, you’ll also need to pay an amount on the side to cover all necessary taxes, fees and carrier surcharges imposed on your booking.

The exact amount payable will depend on your itinerary, but as a guide, expect to pay at least $800 on the side: more if you’re taking a flight from the UK at the pointy end due to the country’s APD charges; and even more if you’re flying with Qantas or BA, as both airlines’ carrier surcharges are among the highest.

Flying round-the-world with Qantas Points: booking your trip

Because the Qantas website now allows you to search and book reward flights with all Oneworld alliance airlines, these tickets can be secured online rather than having to call.

Begin by clicking “multi-city” on the Qantas homepage – not “round the world”, which is only for round-the-world bookings purchased entirely with money, not points.

On the next screen, your first step should be to select “use points – Classic Flight Rewards only” at the top:

Then, key in your planned journey, including the dates you’d like to travel. Keep clicking the “add a flight” button until your entire trip has been filled out. There’s a lot of data to enter, but if it starts to look something like this, you’re on the right track:

At the bottom, select the number of passengers you’re searching for and the cabin you’d like to fly, then click “search flights”. For our sample itinerary, we’re going to fly business class:

Before you start choosing individual flights, the system gives you a chance to double-check what you’ve entered, so before you continue, make sure the dates you’ve entered are all correct, along with the cities you’ve chosen.

Then, it’s a matter of choosing the most appropriate flight for each part of your journey.

This part can be simple if there’s reward availability on the exact flights you want, but when there’s not, this is where your transits can come in handy.

For example, on the date we wanted to fly from Sydney to Hong Kong, none of the non-stop Qantas or Cathay Pacific flights that day had any reward seats available in business class…

… but scrolling further down the page revealed a different option: flying Qantas from Sydney to Brisbane in business class, and then flying from Brisbane to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific business class:

Here, Brisbane becomes a ‘transit’ city, getting us on our way. A similar process is followed for the rest of the flights, such as onward from Hong Kong to Tokyo…

… and so on, until all flights are entered. During the process, you’ll notice something changing at the bottom of the screen: the number of points required to make your booking, but in these early stages, the figure shown doesn’t take your full trip into account and can be safely ignored.

If you eventually see 280,000 points in this section, you’re on the right path – but if the figure remains above that once all your flights have been entered, it’s a sign that you’ve broken one of the key rules of these bookings, such as by having too many stopovers or transits.

The itinerary shown in this article meets all the rules, but it’s just something you should look out for when planning your own trip. Towards the end of the process, you may also find it tricky to book a flight from North America to Australia on points, if your journey takes you that way round…

… but don’t forget that trick we used for our very first flight – scrolling further down the page to look at connecting flights, which revealed a Qantas business class flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, with an onward Qantas business class flight from Melbourne to Sydney:

All up, that completed this round-the-world booking, with the maximum of five stopovers (in Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, New York and Los Angeles), two transits (Brisbane and Melbourne), and beginning and concluding in the same place (Sydney).

As every flight is in business class, this ticket costs the expected 280,000 Qantas Points, and once those flights are all selected, you’ll have a chance to look back over them all, and the dates you’ve selected, to make sure they’re correct before continuing with the booking process and finalising your reservation.

That’s all there is to it, but if you run into any problems finding flights that can be booked using points, grab a pen and paper (or open Notepad on your computer), and try searching for flights through the Qantas website one at a time.

For example, to find flights and dates that work to get you from Sydney to Hong Kong, search for a one-way Classic Flight Reward from ‘Sydney to Hong Kong’ only – jot down which flights are available on the dates you want, and start a new one-way search for ‘Hong Kong to Tokyo’, etc.

Repeat the process until you’ve found suitable reward flights for every part of your journey, and then head to the multi-city page to get your mega booking locked and loaded, having done your research and knowing which flights will be available when you need to travel.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • Michael Thorns


    16 May, 2018 10:00 am

    I would also suggest using the Round-The-World option when planning your itinerary. It allows you to understand which carriers fly to where, what options are available in terms of stopovers, and you can save itineraries. It's a good way to test routes before trying to book the reward flights.

    Not that I've actually booked one of these yet... But from the advice I've found on various forums and from slowly planning one myself I've found this to be a useful aid!

    Members who gave thanks

    Frank, sillytraveller

  • Going Boeing

    Going Boeing

    16 May, 2018 04:30 pm

    The OW RTW planner is excellent for this purpose!
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  • Going Boeing

    Going Boeing

    16 May, 2018 04:46 pm

    Captn Toast, you are spot on, incremental is the way to go.
    We've managed three of these so far and they have been fantastic. You can also add in local carriers to connect to the RTW flights you want. eg getting back from US to AU, also search SFO to Australia, or DFW, and either buy an internal ticket, or you can add flights that do not qualify, just by using a few more points to connect.
    Last year, - we were MEL-HKG-FRA-VIE, Air Berlin withdrew that last segment leaving us technically stranded. QF call centre were fabulous, switching us to HKG-DUS-VIE on the same dates and times.
    Another great route was MEL-HKG-JNB-VFA JNB-LHR-VCE-JFK then SFO-LAX-MEL. This is where using the RTW planner can help - checking who flys where. Be flexible and creative and you can have really great experiences.
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  • Tim Simpson


    16 May, 2018 01:16 pm

    Great article and much clearer than other articles on this topic. I think the one trick / pitfall is obviously securing the flights. Is there a trick to booking the segments progressively to secure award availability. i.e if my round the world trip is 30-40 days long instead of waiting until all the segments become available for bookign is there away to book the segements and consolidate at the end ?

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  • worldwanderer


    16 May, 2018 11:39 pm

    Captn Toast - just remember that every time you call up to amend a booking or add sectors to an existing booking you will have to pay the penalty points for manual assistance (unless the sectors are not bookable on the Qantas engine)
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  • Going Boeing

    Going Boeing

    17 May, 2018 02:50 pm

    From the Classic Rewards fees page on QF: "Service Fees will not be applied when changing Classic Flight Rewards booked for travel in Business or First class."
    There is a change fee of 5000pts per ticket, but no call centre fee. On average I make 2 or sometimes three changes to get the right flights home, which still brings in the RTW award at a very reasonable 300,000 points each.
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  • grov


    16 May, 2018 02:09 pm

    On the RTW we travelled on last year, we were allowed to backtrack which was handy. Also we removed a couple of flights, bringing the total points below 280,000, then added two Emirates flights. The total was around 300,000, and the taxes only $1250. A very cheap way to travel business class.
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  • Sally Rodd


    4 Mar, 2019 10:51 am

    Hi there, curious as to how/why you were able to backtrack. Did you do the booking online yourself and just put in the destinations (to see if they worked) and the system OK'd it?
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  • oxy


    4 Mar, 2019 10:58 am

    No problems with backtracking on this ticket, as long as you don't exceed the transit/stopover/mileage limits.
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  • lafleche


    13 Mar, 2019 10:26 am

    you can backtrack within a sector, for example from Heathrow to somewhere in Europe and back again. You cannot retrace your steps across the pacific or the atlantic.
    That said, I think there are limits to the number of backtracks you can do within a sector.

    I just booked an RTW (with $ not points) in First and really looking forward to it.
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  • fxdxdy


    13 Mar, 2019 10:31 am

    Wow, First - I'm sure you'll have an awesome time!
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  • Brian Williams


    16 May, 2018 03:27 pm

    Excellent article and some very helpful comments as well. Just the kind of combination that makes this one of the best airline forums
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  • Tom


    16 May, 2018 04:14 pm

    I have used the 280K J class twice now and had some of the best business class flights ever. I have been lucky to fly in J with QF, BA, QR, CX, AA on these trips and even had two op-ups to F with BA on the trips. You can add in Y sectors as well if you need to and no J is available. Surface sectors means if you cant get a Oneworld flight then choose another carrier or surface segment and then pick up the Oneworld trip again from the next appropriate port. Great value. QR J class on last years trip was amazing. Best I have flown
    Members who gave thanks

    Going Boeing, sillytraveller

  • Traveller14


    16 May, 2018 04:38 pm

    Excellent article, but the number of sectors (and this comment doesn't just apply to OneWorld, but *Alliance and SkyTeam as well) with first class as we know it (not the USA's) is pretty limited these days, so perhaps it's better just to book a J class RTW due to the large points required difference.

    Also QF at times has a bad habit of making one fly on 3K as an 'alternative' even if searching for J reward availability on an Oz to Asia flight or vice versa.
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  • fxdxdy


    3 Jan, 2019 10:18 pm

    Yup, I noticed that too 3K and Emirates often suggested.
    To work around I sometimes had to replace the 3K leg with a 'positioning' leg on QF.
    Also, in one case there was a 3K leg and then the following day was the next flight. Simply moving the itinerary forward one day got around the problem for me.
    It's definitely fidgety and fiddly and the error messages at the end may as well be in Japanese.
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  • Chris Chamberlin


    16 May, 2018 04:49 pm

    Jetstar Asia (3K) flights can't be combined with this ticket: all carriers must be Oneworld airlines, so choosing a Jetstar flight will 'break' the pricing, as such. (It'll still work, you'll just be charged a lot more points.)
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  • OZjames70


    16 May, 2018 09:58 pm

    We've done this several times now. Plan ahead and be flexible and it can be a wonderful trip. We did SYD - DFW - LGA - LHR - ROM - HKG - SYD over Christmas - NY on our last trip (2017-2018), with NYC for NYE. When we had trouble with flights, a quick call to the Platinum desk got flights freed up and all was fantastic. Working on the miles for the next RTW trip :)

    We also did separate DFW - SFO - LAX and LHR - DUB - EDI - LHR as side trips and did the whole lot on J-Class tickets. Our airlines were Qantas, American, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific. There are OW support desks in LA, DFW, NY, LHR and HK if you have problems, and the support for J-Class travelers is great.
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  • worldwanderer


    16 May, 2018 11:12 pm

    I have booked one of these for this year and you can go pretty much anywhereprovided you plan carefully.

    Chris - A couple of things I’d like to challenge with your summary.

    The fare has hard limit of a maximum of 16 sectors for the round the world journey. This includes the surface sector(s) in your itinerary.

    The number of transits is not limited to "two" as in your article. The number of transits is limited by the number of sectors. (My RTW this year has 7 transits, 13 sectors and 5 stopovers in it.)

    It is not correct to say all destinations on OneWorld partners are available to book on the Qantas website. However, they can be booked by calling the operator. (e.g. But one example – a large number of smaller airports in the USA in the AA network).

    If you point out to the operator the destination is not available online then there will be no manual booking surcharge added.

    To book trans pacific, look for alternative transits rather than direct flights with award seats which are very limited. e.g. Toyko, Hong Kong etc. While getting to your destination will take a bit longer, at least you are in Business Class and have access to excellent lounges along the way.

    Be creative with routing and you will usually find seats on a flight to suit within a day or so of your timetable. The Qantas website will not present all the possible routings that have award seats on them to get you to your destination. Use the OneWorld site planning tool and it will give you all the possible routings. You can then plug these into the Qantas website as sectors and then the Qantas website will reveal the available seating.

    (BTW: Just so people are aware Emirates, although a partner of Qantas, is not OneWorld, so are not eligible)

    Members who gave thanks

    sillytraveller, PokingAbout

  • smit0847


    17 May, 2018 07:49 pm

    What were the total fees and surcharges for the example itinerary above?
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  • OZjames70


    18 May, 2018 05:40 pm

    smit0847, the total cost for the round world ticket flying out Christmas day was A$1.089. This covered all fees and taxes. Our non-RWT local trips were A$379 and A$489 and we used points to upgrade these from Y to J. The only risk doing them separate, is that if something goes wrong, you don't have quite as much protection, but you can build this into your travel plan.
    The key flights were the RWT with OW. Everything else was flexible. Booking well in advance we got to go everywhere we wanted, on the flights we wanted and when we got to our destinations, we never queued and never rushed once.

    We pre-booked Alcatraz, the Radio City Rockettes, spent NYE in Times Square and our NYC hotel (it hit -16 outside), the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the Abbey Road Bealtle's Crossing, several Castles in Ireland, Edinburgh Castle, the Scotch Whisky Experience, the Edinburgh Dungeons and the Outlook Tower, Pompei, Amalfi Coast, and Venice. We took 6 weeks and had a great time. Just took a little planning.
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  • comeflywithme


    19 May, 2018 08:50 am

    This is, in my opinion, the most valuable use of QFF points, especially with the J redemption at 280k. I have done about 10 of these over the years.

    You don’t have to actually to “round the world” with these fares. I often use them but bypass the Americas for EU trips. All you need is two other OneWorld carriers other than QF and you get the points cap. Pretty easy with great options like CX/IB/BA/AA. The next one is an EU trip out of QF to SIN, BA to LHR, land sectors then out of ZRH on CX back via HKG. Of course I can add a bunch of intra EU fights if I want to but the taxes sometimes exceed the train fare which can be more efficient.
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  • mikimoto


    21 May, 2018 07:29 pm

    I see that One World has a number of other multi-continent "Circle" fares including Circle Pacific, Circle Asia, Circle Atlantic, etc. Are the rules for these fares also "built into" the Qantas booking engine and could these OW fares also therefore be booked through the Qantas website using Qantas Points? For example there is a OW Circle Pacific fare which allows 4 stops and up the 22K miles. Could we book this through the Qantas website? If the selected 4 stop itinerary actually came in at less that 22K miles - say 16.5K miles - would we be charged Qantas points applicable to the actual mileage for the trip (ie 16.5K) or would we still have to pay for the standard 22K applicable to the 4 stop 22K max mileage Circle Pacific fare?
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  • oxy


    20 Jun, 2018 07:39 am

    All the OW circle options are completely different using cash not points. Even the round the world option with cash has a completely different set of rules to when using points. If you don't want to travel as far, but still want to use points the same rules as per this article apply but the points will be lower. It's not much of a saving though, hence the strong focus on traveling up to 35,000 miles.
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  • Flossy


    13 Nov, 2018 03:45 pm

    Hi, does the place you end your journey count as a stopover or is it just all the places in between the start place and the end place that are considered stopovers? Thanks!
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  • Flossy


    13 Nov, 2018 03:59 pm

    Oops, I've just re-read the article. I can see now that they don't :)
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  • fxdxdy


    3 Jan, 2019 10:14 pm

    Anyone had any problems with including Iberia in their itinerary?
    When I used Iberia on any leg I'd get an error at the end of choosing all the flights, however, if I swapped the Iberian flights for with BA or AA or LAN then it would go through.

    Also, I find it best NOT to use the 'Flexible with dates' option since it just adds an extra useless step to the process.

    Chris' tip of finding flights one by one and then bringing it all together at the end is genius and I highly recommend following that approach or you'll go mad.
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  • Sally Rodd


    4 Mar, 2019 10:58 am

    Thanks for a clearly written, v informative article. :)
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  • Josley


    7 Mar, 2019 08:40 pm

    I have an itinerary (or at least 90%) and enough points. Essentially want to leave from Sydney go via Tokyo, Sanfran, NY, London maybe another stop then Sydney. My issue is I want to travel over say 9-12 months everything says book at least a year in advance but my first flight is going to be almost a year before my last? How am I best booking it?
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  • oxy


    8 Mar, 2019 07:24 am

    Book what you can when it is available. Call them up to add the extra flights, you will have to pay a change fee each time though, but probably worth it to get the flights you want.
    Make sure you still meet all the conditions listed above, and it will automatically re price when complete.
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26 Mar, 2019 01:57 am


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