Spenders with the new Qantas Premier Mastercard can save up to 20% on Qantas domestic flights by taking advantage of the card’s ‘companion fare benefit’ when travelling with up to eight other passengers.
However, those discounts aren’t available on all Qantas fare types, including the lowest-priced business class and economy tickets, and in some cases those low-level fares may indeed be cheaper than can be booked when using the companion ‘discount’.
Australian Business Traveller takes a look at this new credit card perk, including what you need to know, how to maximise your savings and how to check whether a certain flight is eligible for the companion discount before you make your booking: such as when planning your trip.
Qantas Premier Mastercard companion fare benefit: the basics
Available once per calendar year, the Qantas Premier Mastercard companion fare benefit is valid when the primary cardholder is travelling together with two to eight other passengers on the same Qantas flights and dates, either on a one-way or a return booking.
That means you could apply for the card now, use the perk to make a discounted booking before December 31 and then do the same once more in the New Year: even before next year’s credit card annual fee becomes due.
Bookings using the companion fare benefit can only be made by calling the Qantas Premier Concierge team (02 9025 2802 within Australia or +61 2 9025 2802 from overseas, available 24/7) and must be paid for in full by using your Qantas Premier Mastercard.
The companion fare benefit is not available when the primary cardholder isn’t travelling, or when booking flights via the Qantas website or travel agents. Discounts are not available on any Qantas international flights.
Qantas Premier Mastercard companion fare benefit: fare discounts
The discount available varies between fare types, but in all cases, applies only to the ‘base fare’ paid by each passenger – so any taxes, fees and carrier charges levied in addition to the ‘base fare’ are charged in full.
In business class, discounts of 20% can be had on J and C-type base fares, although no discounts are available on the already-lower-priced D and I tickets.
Further back in economy, you can save 15% on all flexible economy (Flex) base fares, including the Y, B, H, K and M fare types.
You can also save 10% on some discount economy (Red eDeal) base fares, being those of the L, V, S, N and Q fare types.
No discounts are offered on rock-bottom Red eDeal tickets, corresponding to the O and E fare letters – so when airfares are significantly reduced in price, it may be less-expensive to simply purchase the low-cost fare at retail price, rather than purchasing a higher-level fare and applying a discount.
Qantas Premier companion fare benefit: planning and booking your trip
Even though you need to call to book your discounted flight, you can use the Qantas website to help plan your trip before dialling in.
This is a more advanced trick and not one we’d expect every reader to follow, but if you’re a little savvy and would rather do the numbers yourself before calling up, it’s a good way to go: especially when planning a group trip, as you can consult your companions on the options before calling.
For this example, we’ll piece together a one-way Sydney-Perth trek, but of course, you can apply this same strategy to any Qantas domestic return journey, with the discount covering the entire return trip.
(You can’t, however, use the companion fare benefit on two separate one-way tickets: it’s valid for one booking only per calendar year, whether that happens to be a one-way or a return itinerary.)
We’ll begin by searching for flights as you usually would via the Qantas website: choosing the ‘use money, points or both’ option when given, but leaving the ‘passengers’ count set to one adult, as this helps later in determining the fare type, the price per passenger and the fare savings.
The next screen displays flights and corresponding prices, as you’d expect. We can see that the early morning flight has a lead-in fare of $273, while the later departures begin at $340 and $440, respectively.
These prices are all-inclusive, which means any taxes, fees and carrier charges (on which discounts are not offered) have been bundled on top of the base fare to provide you with the total overall price: normally this is helpful, but we’re seeking out the value of the base fare only.
You can reveal it by selecting your desired fare and flight, and then on the next screen, clicking the ‘flight amount breakdown’ arrow:
We can see that of the $273 total price of the early morning flight, $225.75 of that amount corresponds to the base fare, while the remainder is taxes, fees and charges:
Here’s where things get tricky: Qantas doesn’t show you which fare letter corresponds to your ticket when booking flights via Qantas.com, so it’s not as simple as seeing “Fare: Q”, and checking whether Q-type fares are eligible for the companion fare discount.
Instead, this is where the subscription-based website ExpertFlyer comes in handy, as you can use the price of the base fare from above to check which actual fare type this corresponds to – and by extension, whether the price can be reduced by using your companion fare benefit.
Existing ExpertFlyer users can log-in to ExpertFlyer.com using their email address and password, while new users can register for a free trial to perform this same search.
In either case, head to the ‘Fare Information’ tab and key in the details of your flight, ensuring the ‘depart date’ you enter is the same as the travel date you searched through Qantas’ own website. Your search window should look like this, and you can leave all other options as-is:
The next screen will reveal a large table of fare prices, but we’re only interested in the first few lines and the contents of two columns: ‘booking class’ and ‘fare’:
From our earlier search on Qantas.com, we found a base fare of $225.75, which ExpertFlyer shows to correspond to the E fare letter, as above.
E-class fares are not eligible for the Qantas Premier Mastercard companion fare discount, so we now know that savings cannot be had on the $273 fare initially spotted.
However, repeating the process on Qantas.com for the more expensive $340 flight reveals a base fare of $286.66…
… which ExpertFlyer shows to be a Q-type fare, which is eligible for the 10% base fare discount.
That works out to be a $28.66 saving on the base fare of $286.66, reducing this to $258 (before tax).
Again, the companion fare discount doesn’t apply to the taxes and charges levied on the same booking, although Australia’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) is calculated on base fare’s value: so, with the base fare reduced in price by 10%, the amount of GST payable is cut accordingly.
In this case, GST is nudged down from $30.91 to $23.45 – and to get the final and total price payable, you simply add the GST ($23.45), the discounted base fare ($258) and the remaining taxes and fees as quoted earlier ($7.64 + $9.26 + $5.53), which becomes $303.88.
Compared to the original, total price quoted, that’s a discount of $36.12 per passenger, or $144.48 for a group of four. If making a return booking at similar prices, that’s an overall saving of $289 for the group.
Of course, even with the discount, the price per person is still higher than the lowest-cost $273 flight we spotted earlier: so you can use this process to decide whether it’s worth using your companion fare benefit, or whether to save it for another day when fares might be more expensive.
(You could also use it to decide that the $30.88 difference between the non-discounted early morning flight and a discounted flight at a more civilised hour is worth it for the extra two hours of sleep at home!)
Still confused by fare letters, ExpertFlyer or percentages? That’s okay – instead of finding prices yourself, just give the Qantas Premier Concierge team a call: they’ll be able to quote you fares inclusive of any discounts, which you can compare to your own search results on Qantas.com.
Want to take advantage of the companion fare discount but don’t already have a Qantas Premier Mastercard? Apply by January 31 2018 and along with these companion fare savings, you could earn 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval, plus a reduced annual fee of $149 in the first year.