This week's wrap for Qantas, Oneworld, Star Alliance frequent flyers

This week's wrap for Qantas, Oneworld, Star Alliance frequent flyers

Want to fly from Australia to Bangkok in Thai Airways' first class cabin for $1,400? How about business class to Singapore with Singapore Airlines for around $1,000, or Sydney to New York in business class for less than $2,500?

Those are some of the amazing deals you can line up courtesy of United Airlines' latest promotional sale of MileagePlus frequent flyer miles – and speaking of miles, CBA’s credit card customers can soon be covered by the bank’s free travel insurance policies when using points to fly, rather than cash.

Also in this week’s wrap, Qantas frequent flyers are treated to a new lounge in Bangkok with the opening of Cathay Pacific’s latest facility, while Malaysia Airlines toys with the idea of selling business class tickets that don’t provide access to its business class lounges.

Winding things up: United Club cardholders will now pay more to renew their lounge membership or to establish a new one, and Oneworld says it won’t rush to sign up an Indian airline partner after the insolvency of member-to-be Kingfisher Airlines.

New Bangkok lounge opens for Qantas frequent flyers

Cathay Pacific's new lounge at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport is now open – and it'll be a welcome sight for Qantas travellers, who enjoy access to the lounge courtesy of both airlines' membership in the Oneworld group.

Yes, Qantas has its own lounge at Bangkok, but it's a rather tired space compared to the new Cathay Pacific lounge, handily located just around the corner on the same Concourse G.

And with room for some 140 passengers the new Cathay Pacific lounge is almost twice the size of the old one, as the airline has also taken over lounge space vacated by British Airways (and subsequently shuttered its old Concourse D shoebox).

Take a look inside: Cathay Pacific’s new Bangkok Airport lounge

Malaysia Airlines mulls business class without points

Malaysia Airlines could let business class passengers reduce their fare by opting out of lounge access and frequent flyer miles.

Also on the cards: easier ways to book a single itinerary with mixed travel classes, such as business and economy on different flights.

"Customers might book a business-class seat, but opt out of the miles or lounge access," said Malaysia Airlines CEO Christoph Mueller.

Read more: Malaysia Airlines mulls business class without points

CBA travel insurance: more ‘frequent flyer friendly’

The Commonwealth Bank is tweaking the complimentary international travel insurance offered with its range of Gold, Platinum and Diamond Awards credit cards from July 1 2015 to become more friendly towards frequent flyers.

For starters, cardholders will no longer need to pre-pay at least A$1,000 worth of travel expenses such as airfares and hotel nights using their CBA cards to qualify for cover.

That allows travellers who book their journey using frequent flyer points – or are travelling on tickets booked by their employer – to be covered under the bank’s free insurance deal, which may not have been possible or achievable under the previous insurance policy.

Read more: CBA shakes up free credit card travel insurance

Buying United miles for cheap business class flights

United is back with its latest ‘buying miles’ promotion, offering discounts of up to 30% on MileagePlus purchases which can then be swapped for flights with Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, Asiana, EVA Air, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, United and more.

At the top end of the spectrum, splurging on 150,000 miles costs US$3,950, or around $5,099 using today’s exchange rate.

Redeem your United miles for business class flights on Thai Airways

That's more than enough for seven one-way trips to Asia in a business class, or five trips in first class.

Here’s our step-by-step guide: Buying United miles to save on travel

Oneworld in no rush to sign up Indian airline partner

Oneworld isn't rushing to put an Indian airline on its books following the induction of neighbouring SriLankan Airlines, according to group CEO Bruce Ashby.

While Air India is soon to celebrate its first year as a member of the competing Star Alliance, Ashby – speaking with media at this week's International Air Transport Association meeting in Miami – says he doesn't feel pressured to rush into a hasty hook-up. 

"We think India is very important and we will keep our eye on that... but I will not go so far as to say that we feel great pressure to do anything [in terms of finding a partner]."

Continue reading: Oneworld not rushed to find Indian partner

United Club lounge membership prices rise

The cost of United Club lounge membership has risen this week with prices increasing by $50/year across the board.

Top-tier United Premier 1K members will now pay US$450 a year – up from US$400, while non-MileagePlus members or those without status will now pay US$550 each year atop an unchanged ‘initiation fee’ of US$50:

[Click the table above to expand it.]

The previous membership discounts available to partners of United Club cardholders have also been quashed, with supplementary membership now priced in line with the cost of two ordinary memberships.

Prices will rise a second time for new memberships and renewals from August 18 2015, removing any discounts for Premier Silver and Gold members and increasing the yearly cost to US$550 – the same as base-level members – while Premier Platinum elites will pay US$500. Costs for Premier 1K members will then remain at US$450/year.

For more information, head to the United Club website.

Also read: How to buy Star Alliance business class lounge access

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

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!
 

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22 May, 2019 03:35 pm

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