No frequent flyer upgrades in renewed Qantas+Emirates partnership

No frequent flyer upgrades in renewed Qantas+Emirates partnership

Hoping to use your Qantas frequent flyer points for a business class or first class upgrade when travelling overseas?

Then you’ll need to continue booking flights operated by Qantas, rather than Emirates, as points-based upgrades on Emirates flights remain off the airlines’ immediate agenda – even as the Qantas+Emirates partnership will soon require the ACCC’s approval to continue for a further five years.

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller following last week's announcement of changes to the Qantas-Emirates alliance, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said that “for us, the filing to the ACCC is based on what we’ve been doing, the competitive nature of what we’ve actually delivered, and the benefits we’ve delivered to customers.”

“We’ll continue to work with Emirates through the refiling, and beyond, to clarify and adjust the customer proposition,” added Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans, tipping that the introduction of reciprocal frequent flyer upgrades would require “demand from customers, and (making it) work for both airlines”.

Qantas is instead seeing high demand for outright points-based bookings on Emirates in business class and first class, with that demand surging by 50% over the past year: making Emirates Qantas Frequent Flyer’s most popular international airline partner for travellers using their points.

Emirates first class: an increasingly popular way to spend Qantas Points

As opposed to upgrade requests which may or may not be granted, outright reward bookings at the pointy end avoid the ‘international upgrade lottery’ system altogether, in favour of a guaranteed seat in business class or first class from the time of booking.

Unlike some airlines – Qantas included – where business class and first class reward bookings can be scarce on international flights, “there are no problems with availability in premium classes on Emirates for redeeming (Qantas) points,” Joyce highlights, and the number of points required to book an Emirates flight is the same as for Qantas flights of the same length.

“We’re pretty positive about it, and we’re using that evidence to the ACCC as part of our filing, because I think it shows our customers are getting huge benefits out of this that they wouldn’t have gotten without the Emirates alliance.”

Qantas Frequent Flyer members will be able to use Qantas Points for upgrades to premium economy and business class on Qantas’ upcoming Perth-London Boeing 787 flights, and to premium economy, business class and first class on the rejigged Airbus A380 Sydney-London route, which will detour via Singapore rather than Dubai from March 2018.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and 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!
 

31 comments

  • mviy

    mviy

    4 Sep, 2017 08:59 am

    The lack of upgrades on Emirates using QANTAS points is a big disappointment.

    However fortunately for me almost invariably I anticipate flying to London when visiting Europe so I can stick to QF operated flights to London when not going on an outright reward booking.
    Members who gave thanks

    large, Mark_S

  • flyOFTEN

    flyOFTEN

    6 Sep, 2017 03:13 pm

    speaking to travel agents regularly, most say "everyone" is trying to upgrade using ff pts & no one is wanting to buy business class anymore. Obviously that's an exaggeration, BUT, many say they are sick of clients, expecting to be upgraded, just because they have a million frequent flyer points, earned mostly from credit cards not actually flying.

      The number of Qantas frequent flyers who have a million ff pts(in a family) must be enormous. I have over 2 million & never ever would I pay to fly on poor old Qantas. (I wish they were Virgin ff pts)

    Member who gave thanks

    Mozzie

  • Anthony Thompson

    triumph8

    7 Sep, 2017 07:37 am

    Why would you bother flying Qantas when emirates is so superior?
    No member give thanks

  • highflyer

    highflyer

    4 Sep, 2017 09:55 am

    So technically nothing has changed... status quo from the first 5 years...
    Member who gave thanks

    large

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    4 Sep, 2017 10:03 am

    There may also be clause in there (The QF EK agreement) stopping QF flying in competition with EK to mainland Europe ports from Perth (QF have gone very quite about this) which the ACCC may frown about and reduce upgrade opportunities to Europe unless with a BA connection.
    No member give thanks

  • mviy

    mviy

    4 Sep, 2017 01:58 pm

    @patrickk If QF only flies from PER to LHR and doesn't expand it to other destinations then PER's status as an international mini-hub for QF will be short-lived one would think. Once QF can fly direct they'll have no reason to fly any 787 via PER anymore.
    No member give thanks

  • aggie57

    aggie57

    7 Sep, 2017 03:29 am

    Or fly the 787's to Europe at all.
    No member give thanks

  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    4 Sep, 2017 01:27 pm

    I'm not surprised at this news but I am disappointed, because for the entire five years of the QF/EK partnership Qantas has been promising this is something they're looking into, something they're working on. Looks like it was simply too hard for them all along.
    No member give thanks

  • maabbot

    maabbot

    4 Sep, 2017 02:11 pm

    it's like a divorce... in slow motion
    Member who gave thanks

    Mark_S

  • large

    large

    4 Sep, 2017 02:44 pm

    Dissapointing to say the least.
    Member who gave thanks

    Mark_S

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    4 Sep, 2017 03:54 pm

    MyI it may be some time before QF flies direct from Syd and Melb and by then they would have moved to their new digs across the way at Perth. Interestingly when checking options for a trip next year Canberra to Madrid, QF offered QF codeshares on EK going, and Iberia to LHR then QF10 to Perth connecting back to Canberra (no buses anywhere) Note only flexible seats available. It may not be so 'short lived' after all. 
    No member give thanks

  • Adam T

    AT

    4 Sep, 2017 04:15 pm

    Hang on....if you were running EK Skywards program the last thing you would approve is upgrades for QFF members over your own EK members. Get real....EK couldn't care less about QF or it's FFs cause they'll get the business anyway. 
    Members who gave thanks

    Mozzie, Frank

  • Brian Williams

    evilbrian

    6 Sep, 2017 03:17 pm

    Damn right it's the last thing I'd want. With my wife and I currently hovering around 400K of EK points each, and usually able to get a points upgrade, the last thing I want is to have to compete with QFFs
    No member give thanks

  • chris p

    Booster

    5 Sep, 2017 11:04 am

    I'm more concerned that on bookings other than the Syd-DXB-LHR I can't earn status credits.
    I didn't realise until it was too late and have booked HKG-DXB-HKG on EK and should have booked with CX for points and credits..
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    5 Sep, 2017 11:17 am

    You can earn Qantas status credits on many Emirates flights - you just need to book through Qantas on QF flight numbers. :)

    Member who gave thanks

    large

  • eminere

    eminere

    5 Sep, 2017 03:38 pm

    I doubt QF codeshares on EK's flights from HKG-DXB.
    No member give thanks

  • Adam T

    AT

    5 Sep, 2017 03:07 pm

    Chris the fares on Emirates are usually much more competitive than QF. Also QF doesn't codeshare on all of EK's destinations. When you weight it up EK does QF no favours.
    Members who gave thanks

    Mark_S, Mozzie

  • chris p

    Booster

    5 Sep, 2017 03:16 pm

    Hi Chris CH, I did try that originally (out of habit using the QF site) but it would only offer Dubbo as a destination out of HKG and not Dubai..tell me I didn't muck that up !!
    No member give thanks

  • Mark_S

    Mark_S

    5 Sep, 2017 09:11 pm

    Qantas know that the Emirates planes and service are so much better and want to stop the points leak.  Disappointing
    No member give thanks

  • flyOFTEN

    flyOFTEN

    6 Sep, 2017 03:16 pm

    could never understand why anyone would want to fly an arab airline via Dubai to anywhere. Via Sin is a much better option.

     Actually I almost always fly SQ via SIN to Europe.

    No member give thanks

  • OzDino

    OzDino

    6 Sep, 2017 04:06 pm

    From Singapore onward destinations are limited with QF.  Try flying SYD-DUS or SYD-DUB via Singapore on a QF flight. Dubai has so many options to 2nd tier cities throughout Europe and UK. Arab airlines? Etihad, Qatar and Emirates run rings around poor old QF for service and amenities. I was very disappointed flying QF from DXB back to SYD after flying  Emirates to DXB. Same aircraft a380 but QF standards are so much lower.
    Member who gave thanks

    Mozzie

  • OzDino

    OzDino

    6 Sep, 2017 03:55 pm

    Never been able to use my QFF points flying to Europe on Emirates, and QF flights are always full. I have nearly 1/2 mill. points I can't use effectively except for bunny hops. 
    No member give thanks

  • Brian Williams

    evilbrian

    6 Sep, 2017 04:09 pm

    Genuinely surprised to read that OzDino, unless you always book your flights many weeks or months in advance. Next time, especially if it's in  a non-holiday season, wait until 14 days before your departure. You might get a pleasant surprise.
    No member give thanks

  • OzDino

    OzDino

    6 Sep, 2017 04:17 pm

    Thanks for the tip evilbrian. Bunny hops I can book a couple of weeks ahead but European trips I need to book months in advance. Sometimes yes I do find an award booking but trying to match it with a return flight is always a challenge.
    Member who gave thanks

    Frank

  • flyOFTEN

    flyOFTEN

    6 Sep, 2017 04:45 pm

    1/2million pts is nothing. Must be hundreds of thousands of people with way more than that. Just because number has 5 zeros doesn't mean much.
    No member give thanks

  • OzDino

    OzDino

    6 Sep, 2017 05:06 pm

    It's not the number of points...its the fact they're difficult to redeem. I also have significant Velocity points, and they're much easier to dispose of. The old Ansett Star Alliance partnership was great for redeeming flights, still lamenting the fact I lost 750k points when Air NZ dumped them. Never flown Air NZ since.   
    No member give thanks

  • Charles Lo

    chas

    6 Sep, 2017 06:19 pm

    I booked flights from HK to BKK on emirates and got QFF points. On the return journey I asked to pay for an upgrade in biz and then to my surprise got two complementary upgrades. 
    No member give thanks

  • Pete Campbell

    SpeedyPete

    7 Sep, 2017 12:32 am

    I understand that I can use Qantas points to 'buy' an Emirates flight in any class (subject to availability) but I can't use QF points to upgrade a purchased ticket.
    What about codeshare flights? I plan to fly SYD-DXB-Barcelona next year. I can book Emirates flights on the QF website with QF flight numbers. If I purchase tix on these flights, can I use QF points to upgrade?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    7 Sep, 2017 07:45 am

    Pete: No. As per the article, you can only upgrade when flying with Qantas, not Emirates.
    Member who gave thanks

    SpeedyPete

  • Pete Campbell

    SpeedyPete

    7 Sep, 2017 08:54 am

    Thought so, but worth an ask. Bit frustrating not to be able to use Q points to upgrade a flight with a QF number bought from Qantas on their website. Not much point buying codeshare flights, I guess - may as well go direct to Emirates website. 
    No member give thanks

  • Anthony Thompson

    triumph8

    7 Sep, 2017 07:31 am

    I just flew emirates first to London in the last day or so.

    There is no comparison to Qantas first, there wasn't a single moment in the journey where she thought I wish I had flown Qantas rather than emirates codeshare.

    The reason that Qantas doesn't want to allow upgrades is that their product is so inferior to emirates. Etihad and Singapore come close but a shower an hour before you land is hard to beat.

    Qantas is toast long term whilst a cost focused leader is in charge
    No member give thanks

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22 Jul, 2019 10:47 pm

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