Qantas cuts points, status credits on American Airlines

Qantas cuts points, status credits on American Airlines

Qantas will cut the number of frequent flyer points and status credits that travellers can earn on some American Airlines flights from this week.

The move is a strategic play in the airlines' renewed push to seek US Department of Transportation approval for a trans-Pacific joint venture.

A Qantas spokesperson said the current allocation of frequent flyer points and status credits on American Airlines' Sydney-Los Angeles flight was not viable without anti-trust immunity from the DoT for the Oneworld members' closer commercial relationship.

Codeshare dropped, points earning plummets

From February 1 2017 Qantas will no longer allow travellers to book American Airlines flights between Sydney and Los Angeles under a codeshare QF flight number.

This means passengers can book the AA flight only through American Airlines, which in turn sees them pocket drastically fewer Qantas frequent flyer points and in some cases, status credits.

In business class the earn rate for a one-way flight drops from 13,500-15,750 Qantas Points under the QF flight number (the number of points depended on the 'booking class' of your ticket) to a flat 9,375 Qantas Points, and 180 status credits rather than a maximum 200 status credits.

Likewise, first class passengers on the American Airlines flight will earn 11,250 Qantas Points per flight rather than the previous 18,000 Qantas Points.

Qantas says that travellers who have already booked the American Airlines flight as a Qantas codeshare (under flight numbers QF309 and QF310) will escape the changes, hoovering up points and status credits at the previous rates.

However, Qantas passengers booked to fly between Sydney and Los Angeles with American Airlines from October 1 2017 will be rebooked onto Qantas' own flights – which will also also deliver a full serve of Qantas Points and status credits.

Qantas will continue to codeshare on other 'non-overlapping' American Airlines routes, including Auckland-Los Angeles and more than 130 of American Airlines' domestic US services, with points and status credits awarded at the same rates as for a Qantas flight.

Most American Airlines economy fares to earn at 'discount economy' rates

A second round of changes from May 1 2017 will see some American Airlines fare types re-categorised within the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme, resulting in drops to the number of frequent flyer points and status credits that can be earned when booked on an AA flight number.

Further, the number of points and status credits awarded within each fare category will also be slashed, proving a double-whammy for passengers booked on AA flight numbers: even on fares which aren't changing categories.

For instance, economy class tickets belonging to the G, N and S categories will switch from the ‘flexible economy’ earning bracket to ‘discount economy’ across all American Airlines routes, while the number of status credits awarded on 'discount economy' tickets is too being cut.

On American Airlines' flights from Sydney to Los Angeles, these fares currently net 7,500 Qantas Points and 90 status credits – but as of May they plummet to a mere 1,875 Qantas Points and 20 status credits.

Likewise, H-class economy will slip from ‘flexible economy’ into ‘economy’ with a 50% hit to the number of Qantas Points and cuts of almost 80% to status credits, dropping to 3,750 Qantas Points and 20 status credits.

Other flexible economy tickets plus all bookings in business class and first class will see a 50% reduction to status credit earning rates, although the number of points earned on those fares remains the same.

That lowers your haul from 270 to 135 status credits in American Airlines first class, from 180 to 90 status credits in AA business class and from 90 to 45 status credits in AA flexible economy, each way, when travelling between Sydney and LAX from May 1.

What hasn't changed...

Fortunately there's no change to the number of Qantas Points needed to book American Airlines flights; and Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One flyers will also continue to earn their points ‘status bonus’ when booked on AA flight numbers.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin (ChrisCh)

[email protected] / @ChamberlinChris

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!


  • Alan Su


    31 Jan, 2017 08:15 am

    Bye bye AA status runs... a J flight between JFK/LAX now earns 10SC more than a 1 hour flight KUL/HKT on MH..
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  • Alan Su


    31 Jan, 2017 08:21 am

    Oh wait what? I'm wondering if the QF calculator is wrong... for JFK/LAX after May 1 it displays the 50% reduction (i.e. from 100 to 50), but for other 2-class routes it still displays the old SC haul - e.g. LAS/DFW remains 60SC and DFW/MSY still displays as 30.
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    31 Jan, 2017 01:24 pm

    That would be because the other two class routes would still have QF codeshares, I think. LAX-JFK won't, because that's a route on which QF and AA compete, so no codeshares will operate there.
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  • Himeno


    1 Feb, 2017 03:34 pm

    QF has confirmed that only the QF309 and QF310 codes are being removed.
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  • fftraveltimes


    31 Jan, 2017 08:56 am

    This is such a bad decision. It was already brutal enough, now one flies pretty much like a low cost carrier...
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  • TheRealBabushka


    31 Jan, 2017 09:27 am

    In reality this change affects mostly hard core QFF'ers. Most onward AA metal connections in the USA is still QF coded, when travel is ex-AU. No issues there. AA status runs have, from Jan 2017 been less lucrative as AA as downgraded 2-cabin First from F,A,P to J,D,I inventories. 

    If you are an Aadvantage member living outside of SYD and want to fly QF metal on AA code, you can still route via MEL.

    If you're SYD based Aadvantage, particularly EXP members, the chances of SWU clearing has definitely gone up as QFF'ers perfer to book on QF metal in J.

    I think you'll find this move benefits consumers more than QF/AA care to admit. They would be dumb to spit the dummy and scale back US/AU capacity. Anti-trust immunity is just the cherry on the cake - I'm sure their business modelling is sensible enough to consider operations without the DOT green light, otherwise they wouldn't have launched services!

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  • PK


    31 Jan, 2017 01:04 pm

    As ready as I am to criticise airlines when deserved, esp QF, this is not its fault. This arises from the inexplicable decision of the DOT to reject something that the ACCC and NZ authority had already given provisional approval to.  They now have to cut away I suppose to a level that pleases the DOT, made even harder by a anticipating the effect, if any, of a new US Administration.
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    31 Jan, 2017 01:29 pm

    QF and AA are planning to refile their DoT application for the JV. The DoT's view was that the JV would not benefit consumers. If QF and AA can now show that, without the JV, consumers are losing out (no codeshares, lower points and SCs, less choice) then that bolsters their case.

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  • kimshep


    2 Feb, 2017 11:22 am

    I agree with your first two sentences JP. However, the last sentence definitely concerns me. Why?

    • QF/AA currently hold 60% of market share across the Australia-US transpacific market.
    • The balance is held by both the VA/DL and UA/NZ JV's, along with independents such as HA, JQ (to HNL) and FJ (to both HNL and LAX). Note: JQ is a QF owned subsidiary and FJ is a 46% owned QF subsidiary.

    Seems to me that if you can't demonstrate a better argument to the USA DoT than a benefit of points and Status Credits (which you have just withdrawn from existing customers and routes to emphasize the point) then your case for a JV is structurally fairly weak.

    Bear in mind that - from the DoT's point of view - the purpose of an immunised JV is to maintain competition and fair pricing on such a route between all players, providing customers an equitable and cost-effective service. The argument made (by others in this thread and others) that QF/AA (OW) should be granted a JV because UA/NZ (Star) and VA/DL (sort of SkyTeam) have it, doesn't hold much water when you are the dominant carrier(s) on such a route.

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  • patrickk


    31 Jan, 2017 05:30 pm

    If I buy a QF economy ticket return ex Washington US I am quoted $4k if I buy AA I am quoted $3k. If it is via Dallas it is Code share. Are points and SC the same. I know I can't get an upgrade but is that the only disadvantage of not booking QF direct
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  • Alan Su


    31 Jan, 2017 10:57 pm

    Seems like the new sweet-spot for AA status runs would be flights >750mi but not quite trans-con or east coast to central US. These still earn under the original rates (since it falls under the "Other flights" earning table) - e.g. LAS/DFW (~1000mi) is 60SC in F (earned at J rate), 10 more than LAX/JFK in J.
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  • BrisbanePE


    1 Feb, 2017 04:28 pm

    If I can't get decent earnings on AA flights within the US then going back to UA for transpac and US-domestic seems a better option. I was already miffed at the huge difference between code-share and non-codeshare AA flights.
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  • Georgina MONAGHAN


    1 Feb, 2017 04:59 pm

    I tried booking flight from JFK to LAX through Qantas using Frequent Flyer points, flight is not until end of June, it seems can't do it. So i sent email to Qantas Customer Service,  apparently using Qantas Points on American Airlines is an exercise in frustration. I have AAdvantage Status miles with AA so perhaps I should transfer Qantas FF Points to AAdvantage??!!
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  • cbourl


    3 Feb, 2017 09:39 pm

    Seems there is a Qantas AA discord misconnect   Tried to use AA  miles to book a AA Award on CX in F JFK-HKG-ADL today and seems QF has caused a rucus
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  • Wingman


    2 Feb, 2017 08:46 pm

    A really negative change which makes me think about the real value of FF membership when they disgracefully halve the earnings on AA in such a silent way. I would like to know if anyone out there has even had an email or communication from QF FFP about the changes. I am a QF Platinum member and nothing in my inbox. I have to thank Chris and its AutBT for promptly dispatching the info...but really poor Qantas...bashing more and more their most loyal clients :(
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  • Elizabeth Gunter


    5 Feb, 2017 10:53 am

    Anyone know what will happen with the credits for internal AA First flights. They are still showing on the Qantas calculator as full value. Planning a trip later in the year and will fly several internal AA First legs.
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  • Wingman


    5 Feb, 2017 08:06 pm

    Dear Dachie, unfortunately they will also be drastically reduced, halved in many cases. Also AA won't be offering A, F classes any longer on domestic flights other than LA-NY or SF-NY therefore even if you fly F Class you will be booked under a business class fare designator. As regards your upcoming trip, it depends when this is happening and in which class it has been booked. Check on the QF website the accrual table which has all the details and fare class breakdown.
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27 Apr, 2018 03:23 am


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