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 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!
 

15 comments

  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    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

    SydneyTravels

    23 Mar, 2018 07:22 am

    I will never willingly fly BA business anywhere...it 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!
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Radbone

    crambo

    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

    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

    ChrisCh

    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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  • B B

    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

    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

    ChrisCh

    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

    cooper81

    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.
    Member who gave thanks

    Frank

  • Teejay Cal

    Theresnormissin

    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

    ChrisCh

    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.

    Member who gave thanks

    Gilflyer

  • Teejay Cal

    Theresnormissin

    23 Mar, 2018 11:18 am

    Thanks for that information!
    No member give thanks

  • Simon Coveney

    Covvers

    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

    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

    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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Guest

12 Dec, 2018 05:37 am

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