With a huge network of global partner airlines plus its own twice-daily flights to London, Qantas’ Frequent Flyer members have so many ways to travel from Australia to Europe using their hard-earned Qantas Points: but not every path is created equal.
Some airlines and routes may require fewer points but can cost you hundreds of dollars more in fees and charges when booking your ticket, while other airlines command more points to book but could reduce the cash ‘cost’ of your trip by hundreds of dollars, or even thousands, for families travelling together.
Here’s a look at the three main strategies for using Qantas Points for your European business trip or holiday.
Option 1: Spend fewer points but pay higher fees
If you’re cautious about how many points you’ll burn but still want to fly in comfort, booking your European journey with Qantas, Emirates or even American Airlines can keep more of those points in your pocket, in exchange for paying higher fees and surcharges on the side.
Whichever option you choose, you’d part with 128,000 Qantas Points for a one-way business class ticket from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide to most points in Europe, while from Perth with Qantas or Emirates, it’s slightly less at 112,000 Qantas Points.
Here are the main options using this strategy:
- Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth to Europe via Dubai with Emirates.
- Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to London via Perth or Singapore with Qantas.
- Perth to London with Qantas, or other Australian cities via Perth with Qantas.
- Sydney to Europe via Los Angeles with American Airlines.
- Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Europe via Los Angeles with Qantas on the first leg, connecting to American Airlines on the European sector under the one reward booking.
Taxes, fees and charges vary from flight to flight and are quoted at the time of booking, although expect to pay $800-1,200 per person per return journey for business class.
To help ease the sting, passengers travelling to London on a business class or first class Qantas flight – including bookings made using Qantas Points – remain eligible for the airline’s complimentary Chauffeur Drive service, despite other upcoming tweaks to the offering.
Booking your pointy-end journey with Emirates before March 1 2019 will also include access to Chauffeur Drive in eligible cities, but you’ll need to secure those arrangements before that date: otherwise, you’ll miss out!.
Option 2: Spend more points but pay less in fees
Sitting on a hefty balance of points, or regularly raking in good quantities of points? Another option is to spend a few more of those points booking your flight, to pay significantly less cash on the side.
This isn’t the same as using points to directly ‘pay for’ the taxes and fees attached to a ticket: it’s choosing to fly on airlines that require slightly more points to book compared to the likes of Qantas and Emirates, but which levy lower fuel or carrier surcharges on points-based bookings.
Expect to pay 139,000 Qantas Points for a one-way business class flight to Europe from Australia’s east coast, but with fees and charges on the side in the range of $250-500 return in business class: marginally more points than the alternative, but cutting the cash cost in half.
Booking journeys with Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong), Japan Airlines (via Tokyo) and SriLankan Airlines (from Melbourne to London via Colombo) are some of the best-value examples, as these airlines levy only minimal additional fees on reward bookings beyond the taxes and charges incurred by all travellers.
For example, I’ve previously used my own Qantas Points to book Cathay Pacific business class from Paris to Brisbane via Hong Kong – and in addition to the 139,000 Qantas Points required, I only had to pay $169 in fees and charges (one-way) for what was over 24 hours of travel.
Another strategy to keep costs at bay when including London in your trip is to fly into London on a long international flight, but to fly home from (or via) another European city.
That’s because the UK Government levies hefty Air Passenger Duty charges on flights departing the UK – the longer your flight, the higher the tax, which gets higher again if you’re flying in anything better than economy – so logically, short flights to Europe have the lowest tax: and you don’t pay APD at all on inbound flights.
Option 3: Spend more points and more fees to help secure your ticket
Airlines like British Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways are also Qantas partners and can take you from Australia’s east coast to Europe for the same 139,000 Qantas Points in business class as above: but with significantly high ‘carrier charges’ or fuel surcharges also tacked onto the ticket.
That gets even costlier given that from Australia, both British Airways and Malaysia Airlines only fly to London (via Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, respectively), which means that on your return leg, you’ll be slugged even more in UK APD taxes, as UK-Asia flights are taxed at the highest rates and again, even more so in business class.
The trade-off is that Malaysia Airlines can be much easier to book using Qantas Points than many of the other options, given Malaysia Airlines tends to release more seats to points-based travellers, and also flies to most major Australian cities.
British Airways also regularly releases reward seats within a few days of departure, making it a contender for any last-minute trips, where using points – even with high fees attached – can still make more sense than purchasing a high-priced, last-minute airfare.
And then, there’s Qatar Airways, which connects a number of cities across Australia to points all over Europe via the airline’s Doha hub.
Provided you can find availability, you may even be able to use your points to book Qatar’s business class Qsuites, rated by Australian Business Traveller editor David Flynn as the world’s best business class.
In that respect, paying the highest number of points aside significant cash-based fees and charges could again be worth it, given the right circumstances.
Or, fly round-the-world for only 2,000 points more!
If you’re already planning to spend 139,000 Qantas Points for a one-way business class flight to Europe – 278,000 Qantas Points for a return ticket – keep in mind that for just 2,000 Qantas Points more, you could turn that European adventure into a business class round-the world trip instead!
You read that correctly: a round-the-world business class jaunt can be yours for 280,000 Qantas Points, whereas a simple return business class flight from Australia to Europe costs 278,000 Qantas Points on most partner airlines.