Using Qantas Points for great value BA business class flights

Using Qantas Points for great value BA business class flights

Qantas Points can be used to book flights not only with Qantas, but also with its web of airline partners, including Oneworld alliance member British Airways in its ‘Club Europe’ business class cabin.

While BA has only one flight per day into Australia, its hubs at London Heathrow and Gatwick link passengers to a range of destinations near and far – and if you’re already visiting London, such as on a business trip with some time to spare, using your Qantas Points to book short BA flights can be a particularly good-value way to explore Europe.

For example, I recently found myself in London on St. Patrick’s Day at short notice, so decided to dart over to Dublin as a day trip.

A quick search of flights showed one-way business class fares around the £400 (A$731) mark, and economy flights not terribly cheaper, given this was a last-minute booking for travel on a busy Saturday morning.

That’s where my frequent flyer points came in handy: 18,000 Qantas Points, to be precise.

Paired with a payment of £45.30 (A$83), I snapped up a one-way business class ticket on the exact flight I wanted, returning a reasonable value of 3.6 cents for every point burned: costing me significantly less in actual money than purchasing an economy ticket, but for a flight in business class.

BA ‘Club Europe’ business class: what’s included?

Given I was only going for the day without a checked bag, that $83 layout still provided for access to Heathrow’s Fast Track channel to skip the morning queues, along with a visit to the British Airways lounge on departure – the same lounge used by business class passengers on longer flights, including to Singapore and Sydney.

AusBT review: British Airways’ Galleries South business class lounge, Heathrow T5

Naturally, priority boarding was also part of the parcel, along with an inflight lunch service offering Champagne, so that I could make the most of my limited time in Ireland and hit the ground running.

Now, it’s fair to say that the seats in BA’s ‘Club Europe’ business class aren’t much better than economy – well, they literally are economy seats with legroom to match, except with a cocktail table next to you instead of another person:

AusBT review: British Airways' Club Europe business class

Accordingly, if you’re a Qantas Gold or Platinum frequent flyer, which already entitles you to business class perks like fast-track security, lounge access and priority boarding, you may decide that using 10,000 points to book the same flight in economy is better value, keeping 8,000 points up your sleeve for another day.

BA ‘Club Europe’ business class: booking tips and tricks

The value of this approach comes from booking last-minute flights, when paid fares in both business class and economy can be pricey – because the number of points needed, and the amount to be paid on the side, remain the same.

The hard part is finding flights that can be booked using points in the first place, but a trick to keep in your back pocket for British Airways is that extra frequent flyer reward seats are often made available within a few days of each flight, which applies not only on BA’s European legs, but also on other routes like Sydney to Singapore and London.

If you’d previously tried to book a reward flight – and were unsuccessful – that means you may have better luck by trying again closer to departure.

With my Dublin flight, for example, I originally couldn’t find any reward flights at a suitable time on the day I wanted to travel, but three days before departure, I logged in again, and several peak-time British Airways flights popped up, so I booked the best fit.

The other aspect to consider is what you’ll pay in taxes and fees on the side, as British Airways usually applies very hefty ‘carrier surcharges’ on reward bookings, including flights purchased using Qantas Points, which can significantly add to the cost.

On top, the UK Government levies Air Passenger Duty (APD) on most flights departing UK airports, increasing with the distance of your flight and if you’re travelling in business class – so naturally, using your points to book shorter flights out of London keeps these costs to a minimum, even if you do fly up front.

Finally, don’t forget to check the price of paid tickets, too: I found that on my flight home (on a quiet St. Patrick’s Day night from Dublin Airport), I was able to get a low-priced fare on Qantas partner Aer Lingus, so it made more sense to buy a ticket back to London and keep my remaining points for a future trip.

Also read: How do you spend your downtime on business trips?

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!


  • Jason Bird


    22 Mar, 2018 10:31 pm

    While BA continues its race to the bottom.. I’ll steer well clear thank you
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  • Matt


    23 Mar, 2018 07:22 am

    I will never willingly fly BA business would be alright if the fact that their 8-abreast international business meant that the tickets were cheaper, but they’re the same price point as much less densely packed business class cabins. It’s crazy!
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  • Chris Radbone


    23 Mar, 2018 04:21 pm

    Having flown long haul BA in Business and Premium Economy out of HK and Bangkok, as well as short haul Economy and Business with BA in Europe, depending on the Staff's care and attention (which I do admit can be variable) the overall service and product is nothing to complain about. I'm disappointed the BA sniping appears to be endemic, when the experience of flying with them is comparable to Qantas and other tier one carriers.
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  • MrBRo


    23 Mar, 2018 07:39 am

    I would have liked to see a Ryanair review for your return trip to London
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  • Chris Chamberlin


    23 Mar, 2018 10:23 am

    Ha! Not something you'll read on this website (we don't review economy, which means no Ryanair), although my Aer Lingus flight into Heathrow was comfortable enough, even if the cabin did look like it could use a bit of a refresh. :)
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  • Bahram Boghraty


    23 Mar, 2018 08:57 am

    Yeah I did this for an upcoming trip in July. FRA-LCY and LCY-ZRH. First time flying in and out of London City Airport. ~18000 each way. But yes, BA shorthaul is very disappointing, if my last flight from Cape Town- Johannesburg was anything to go by.

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  • traveller99


    23 Mar, 2018 08:59 am

    It might be good value, but Club Europe (BA's European business class) is a total dive. The seats are identical, and I mean literally identical, to that of Economy. There is no extra pitch or width. The only difference is that the middle seat is blocked off.

    A paid BA business class fare though is a good status run for retaining your Qantas status. For example, London Gatwick to Seville (Spain) return BA business class can be bought for just under $500AUD and gives you a total of 120 status credits.
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  • Chris Chamberlin


    23 Mar, 2018 10:12 am

    We certainly are spoiled in Australia as far as short-haul business class is concerned, although unfortunately in Europe, BA is one of the better ones, as many don't even have a central cocktail table between their 'economy' business class seats, ha!
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  • Jason


    23 Mar, 2018 10:49 am

    It's not just BA. ALL the european carriers use the same set up in business class for intra european flights. Lufthansa, Air France, Alitalia, Aer Lingus, SAS, Finnair, Iberia, Swiss, KLM, TAP...the lot. Economy seat with the middle seat blocked out (many of which - like LH - do not even make a little table out of the middle seat).

    Air Serbia was the only european carrier to deck out their short haul aircraft with 'proper' business class seats. And guess what? After a few years they ripped them out and followed the rest.

    The only other exceptions are Turkish and Aeroflot (although whether they are 'european' airlines is up for debate), Finnair runs one of their daily frequencies with a long haul aircraft ex LHR as does IB. TAP have a couple A319's fitted with proper business class seats that they predominantly use on flights to north africa but occasionally pop up on other european routes. And BA has several A321's fitted with flat beds that are used mainly for mid haul destinations (CAI/TLV/AMM/BEY) but also pop up on other routes sometimes.

    The locos rule the air in the euro shorthaul market. Ryanair is the second biggest airline in europe and easyjet is fourth. Norwegian is 8th and Wizz 10th Bearing in mind #1 and #3 (LH and IAG) figures include their non european operations it's obvious who the real leaders in the short haul market are.

    I don't know ANYONE that pays outright for european short haul business class anymore. Most european companies have ruled out business class travel on short haul flights for all staff. And the airlines constantly offer 'upgrades' from the cheapest Y fares to J for around £90 each way. I think the main purpose of maintaining a business class cabin for the legacy carriers is for connecting longhaul business class passengers so they can have a business class ticketed flight for their entire journey.
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  • Teejay Cal


    23 Mar, 2018 10:53 am

    Beyond a minimal points earn, are there any other tangible benefits for a QFF flying on EI?
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  • Chris Chamberlin


    23 Mar, 2018 11:11 am

    If you book Aer Lingus flights through the British Airways website (as I did) instead of the Aer Lingus website, you can book them on a BA flight number which earns Qantas status credits in addition to points and the fares are often quite similar (in my case, it was actually a little cheaper to book via BA and earn status credits, than to pay more and book direct with Aer Lingus, earning points only, so a win-win).

    While Qantas normally requires codeshare flights booked through other Oneworld airlines to be operated by a Oneworld airline to earn status credits, that requirement doesn't apply to BA-coded flights, so you can earn status credits at the BA rates, as long as you book a points-earning fare letter.

    No other benefits as such for Qantas members flying Aer Lingus, although Priority Pass takes care of lounge access, at least.

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  • Teejay Cal


    23 Mar, 2018 11:18 am

    Thanks for that information!
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  • Simon Coveney


    23 Mar, 2018 03:30 pm

    I agree with the others that there simply isn’t any value in their woeful short-haul J.

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  • grov


    23 Mar, 2018 07:40 pm

    Flew from Toronto to Stockholm via LHR last year. Apart from the lousy Toronto lounge food, the J seats were OK - slept well. Seems easy to obtain BA J flights using QF points.
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  • Rav


    24 Mar, 2018 12:27 am

    I have some size at about 120k and 6'3" and I caught a BA flight out of Milan last year economy and the seat was wide and had good leg room on an embraer. I expected the jetstar size squash but no, more in line with Qantas Mel/Per size, Staff were good into LCY. From that experience I would give BA another go.
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21 Jul, 2018 08:00 am

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyers will enjoy have access to Qantas Clubs around Australia under the newly-forged alliance between the two airlines.

As of October 28, 2018, Airpoints Elite and Gold members booked on a codeshare flight with Qantas will find the doors swing open for them at the two dozen Qantas Club lounges in Australia's capital cities and regional centres. They'll also be permitted to bring in one guest.

But it won't be as easy as flashing your shiny Airpoints card, as the following conditions apply:

  1. you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
  2. it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
  3. and this must be booked as part of a trans-Tasman booking

This arrangement replaces Airpoints access to Virgin Australia lounges following the dramatic bust-up between the two former allies.

However, there appears to be no Qantas Club lounge access for Koru Club members, nor can AirNZ frequent flyers cool their heels in the more upmarket Qantas Business lounges.

The Qantas / Air New Zealand alliance covers selected flights on the domestic network of each airline, however trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement.

Read more: Qantas, Air New Zealand alliance will take on Virgin Australia

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

1 Comment

  • henrus


    20 Jul, 2018 05:31 pm

    Doesn't it seem a bit odd that Koru club won't get access (something that the VA deal provided) . I guess there will be no access for QF Club cardholders in NZ either?
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21 Jul, 2018 08:00 am

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

Cathay Pacific will roll out its new 'business class dining concept' this month, with the meal service taking a step closer to a first class experience.

Meals will be individually plated and delivered to passengers by hand rather than by trolley, as the airline adopts more personalised and upmarket approach.

Cathay also expects this will result in a "quieter and calmer cabin environment", especially on late night flights.

Passengers will have a choice between three appetisers and "up to six main course choices" on flights over ten hours in the initial launch of the service to the likes of Chicago (on July 30), London/Gatwick (in August) followed by Frankfurt, Manchester and Washington DC (September); Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg (October), Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona (November) and London/Heathrow (December). 

And, being very much on trend, light and healthy 'wellbeing options' feature in every main course.

On flights from Hong Kong the menu will be changed every month, with a quarterly menu refresh for flights to Hong Kong.

Fights from Hong Kong (but not, for now, the return leg) will also see a new range of Hong Kong Favourites inspired by local dishes, such as

  • Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, seasoned soy sauce, spring onion and ginger (shown below)
  • Wok fried seafood in lobster soup with ginger, spring onion, crispy and steamed rice
  • Beef brisket with flat rice noodle soup
  • Mango with pomelo and sago

But before all that eatings starts, business class passengers will notice the new-look menus.

Printed as eight pages on quality paper, they not only detail the meals and drinks available on that flight but include foodie-friendly articles such as 'Anatomy of a Laksa' and feature a local chef revealing their favourite eateries both in Hong Kong and around thr world.

There will also be a breakfast menu card which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.

However, these are set menus rather than allowing travellers to pick-and-mix from a wide selection of items.

In addition to what's described as 'traditional' Chinese and Western breakfasts, there's also a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.

Refreshments will be revamped as a selection of 'most loved dishes' available throughout the flight as a snack between meals on services to North America and Europe, including the airline's signature burger and popular soup noodles. These will also appear on the main meal menu.

Next year will see Cathay's 'new business class dining concept' extend to medium-distance routes, with plans to include Sydney and Auckland in February 2019 and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth in May 2019.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Skipp


    20 Jul, 2018 12:48 pm

    Look forward to the new meal service in business class coming within the next 12 months - it will make a nice change.
    I just hope (for the future) that Cathay Pacific will stop serving the exact same economy class meals in "Premium" economy class.
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  • MissBasset


    20 Jul, 2018 01:34 pm

    Why bother with the white linen tablecloth if they are serving it on a plastic cafeteria tray? The promo pictures show all set up to eat off the tray. Euww.. I will take it all off the tray and set it up like other airlines J class. FAIL for presentation, CX.
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  • mrj


    20 Jul, 2018 02:42 pm

    I recently suggested to Cathay that their business classs food is amongst the worst of all airlines. Interestingly their response failed to mention this planned revamp.
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    20 Jul, 2018 02:57 pm

    I'm really glad they're going back to classy, glossy paper stock for the menus versus the uncoated groundwood paper they switched to a few years back. Now if they would only bring back that trademark chocolate box at the end of the meal...
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  • David Flynn


    20 Jul, 2018 03:25 pm

    I was on CX a few weeks back and the chocolates made an appearance on every flight...
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  • Manjit Sadhwani

    Manjit Sadhwani

    20 Jul, 2018 03:19 pm

    It's about time
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  • HKAus


    20 Jul, 2018 03:41 pm

    CX Catering is bar far the most outdated and leaves an overall cheap and poor guest experience of most International airliners. CX have unfortunately chosen over the last decade to reduce their overheads where guests can see and feel the difference. Personally after 5 years as a Diamond CX member I have moved to competitors; poor catering, moody crew members, consistently delayed flights (due to over use of planes with no margin for delays) and ridiculous pricing have enabled me to now enjoy such operators as KLM, Virgin Australia, Qantas & Lufthansa; all with an overall better "J"Class experience. Interestingly as a result of my change in travel I was dropped to Gold and this year even though I should have dropped another tier, they obviously are trying to get pax like myself back because they extended my gold status.
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  • Rkwm


    20 Jul, 2018 04:39 pm

    It was taken CX far too long to make changes to the atrocious F&B that has annoyed their long term supporters . The plastic cafeteria tray certainly brings the enhancements down a few levels can’t, understsnd who approved this inclusion . Totally agree with HKAus, supported CX for over two decades but over the last two years the deterioration in service , punctuality and value has been palpable.

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  • Tony OBERON


    20 Jul, 2018 04:48 pm

    Looks marginally better - but CX are you seriously going to use a plastic tray? At least put a cloth on the tray - if for no other reasons than hygiene! I’m a germophobe and I cringe to see cutlery sitting on a plastic tray, which cannot be washed at the same high temps as crockery. Lysteria et al here we come.
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21 Jul, 2018 08:00 am

 Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Very few watches can claim true originality, and the Cartier Santos is among those few.

The Santos made its debut way back in 1904 as a personal timepiece for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, making it both the first pilot’s watch and one of the earliest known men’s wristwatches.

The story

As we've previously detailed, the Santos was borne from a request by Brazilian flyer Santos-Dumont, who told his friend Louis Cartier – then a Parisian watchmaker – of the challenge of timing flights using the then-conventional pocket watch, as pilots needed to keep both hands on the aircraft controls.

In response, Cartier designed a large square-faced watch and fitted it to a strap so it could be worn on the wrist – quite a revolutionary concept at the time.

The first commercial Cartier Santos watches went on sale to the public in 1911 with solid gold cases and ultra-thin mechanical movements designed by French clockmaker Edmond Jaeger.

(In order to produce this movement for Cartier, Jaeger worked with Swiss movement manufacturer Jacques-David LeCoultre, a partnership that would lead to the birth of storied brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.)

The enduring design of the Cartier Santos was reimagined in the late 1970s as a luxury steel sports watch, later adding two-tone steel and gold and the now-iconic screwed bezel with exposed gold screws along the bracelet for a modern, industrial aesthetic.

The style

For 2018, Cartier has once again re-invented the Santos.

The distinctive screw-set bezel now tapers at both ends towards the bracelet to create an organic, integrated look.

The satin-brushed case features a wide mirror-polished bevel along its length, extending all the way to the gracefully curved crown guards at 3 o’clock. A square watch the Santos may be, but there’s hardly a sharp edge or straight line to be found.

The case has been slimmed dramatically from previous incarnations of the Santos, allowing this watch to disappear easily under a shirt cuff when needed.

The bracelet is fitted with a new 'QuickSwitch' system allowing for easy swapping with the included tan calfskin strap or Cartier’s alternative crocodile straps, providing some style versatility.

Adding or removing bracelet links has also been made easier with a new 'SmartLink' design which allows the wearer to expand the bracelet during a hot summer’s day without requiring a tool.

While the bezel, case and bracelet have all been modernised, the dial remains classic Cartier. With Roman numerals, a railroad minute-track and heat-blued hands, it’s hard to imagine a more traditional look.

The 2018 Cartier Santos can serve dress-watch and sports-watch duties equally well, and boasts a history that few timepieces can match.

The details

• In-house mechanical movement with automatic winding
• Seven-sided crown set with a faceted synthetic spinel
• Silvered opaline dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 10 bar (approximately 100 metres)
• Medium version case width: 35.1 mm, thickness: 8.83 mm
• Large version case width: 39.8 mm, thickness: 9.08 mm
• Pricing from A$8,750 for the Cartier Santos Medium in steel, to A$52,500 for the Cartier Santos Large in solid pink gold with matching pink gold bracelet. For stockists, visit

Jason Swire

Jason Swire (Jason Swire)

[email protected] /

Jason Swire is a Sydney-based writer, watch collector and author of 'Timely Advice', a beginner's guide to fine timepieces. His non-watch passions include hi-fi and whiskey, in that order.

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21 Jul, 2018 08:00 am

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair will launch inflight Internet on its European flights this week, with travellers able to enjoy the high-speed satellite service free of charge during a two-month trial period running through to the end of September.

The Oneworld airline has already outfitted six of its single-aisle Airbus jets with technology provided through partner Viasat, which also provided the backbone for Qantas' Australia-wide WiFi system.

By the end of northern summer some 20 aircraft will be upgraded, with Finnair's entire single-aisle Airbus fleet slated for WiFi by mid-2019.

The system will be available on a gate-to-gate basis, so passengers won't even need to wait for their jet to reach level flight – which will maximise time online for many of Finnair's relatively short European hops.

However, parts of some European routes will present black spots to the satellite network, including above the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, while some restrictions also apply over Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Belarus and Russia.

Over the two-month testing period Finnair intends to "gather information on system functionality and feedback on the overall customer experience."

"In entering the passenger testing phase, we’ll be gaining the critical insights needed to further optimise our service to ensure Finnair customers get a unique experience built around their needs, interests and usage behaviours," explains Viasat vice-president Don Buchman.

The airline has yet to reveal what pricing it will charge for its sky-high WiFi once the trial period ends, although frequent flyers will no doubt hope that some sort of monthly pass is available as an alternative to paying on a per-flight basis.

Finnair already offers WiFi on its long-range 'intercontinental' jets, with the first hour free for business class and Finnair Plus Gold members, then €3 (A$4.70) for three hours or €20 (A$31) for the entire flight. Finnair Plus Platinum frequent flyers are provided with free Internet access for the whole flight.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • eight10man


    20 Jul, 2018 06:19 pm

    Not sure how you can have black spots when using satellite internet.. especially when those black spots happen to be above the sea. Could it be this system is actually and ground-to-ground system maybe?
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  • readosunnycoast


    20 Jul, 2018 10:35 pm

    Just flew BKK>>>HEL, A350 with wifi. Couldnt get a connection of any sort. Just kept message, don’t close the browser. I do hope it gets better for the next lot of passengers
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21 Jul, 2018 08:00 am


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