In two weeks, significant changes to the Qantas frequent flyer program kick in — and the news isn't good for those looking to redeem for flights at the pointy end.
From September 18, Qantas and partner airline Classic Flight Reward bookings in premium economy, business and first class will cost up to 18 per cent more in Qantas points — with the increases varying by cabin and route.
When Qantas announced the changes to points redemption in June, it was met with a mixed response from customers, with many feeling they'd be worse off.
To appease loyal frequent flyers, Qantas will reduce the fees levied on award flights. However, these savings won't fully offset the increase in points cost for premium cabin award seats and upgrades.
But now for the good news: Currently, there is good availability of premium award redemptions across a number of routes — so there's still time to lock in your dream redemption with Qantas points before the award chart increases kick in.
If you want to make the most of your points at their current value before September 18, here are some clever ways to redeem them now.
Fly north the winter in 2020
Classic Reward seats into Europe and the United States are incredibly popular, and as a result, they can get snapped up quickly upon release.
However, Qantas releases reward seats between 10 to 11 months out, with the exact date depending on your frequent flyer status. So now is the time to nab a premium Classic Flight Reward into the northern hemisphere for the peak 2020 summer travel period.
Right now, a return Qantas premium economy Classic Flight Reward between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and San Francisco on the Qantas Dreamliner will set you back 144,000 Qantas points (plus fees). From September 18, you can expect to pay 162,600 Qantas points (plus fees) for this redemption — a points increase of 12.9 per cent.
Subject to availability, you could also redeem your Qantas points for a seat in business class. The Qantas Dreamliner features the latest version of the Qantas Business suite, and while it isn't quite "mini first class", it's still a very solid product. A return business class Classic Flight Reward on this route will set you back 192,000 Qantas points (plus fees). This is set to rise 12.6 per cent to 216,800 Qantas points (plus fees) from September 18.
If a trip to Europe is more your style, why not consider locking in a redemption on the flagship Qantas Kangaroo routes from Melbourne or Sydney to London? Right now, you can nab a one-way Classic Flight Reward flight on these routes for 96,000 Qantas points (premium economy), 128,000 Qantas points (business class) and 192,000 (in swoon-worthy Qantas first class) excluding fees. From September 18, the Qantas points cost on these routes will rise 12.9 per cent across all three classes of travel.
First class, good economy
If an Emirates A380 first class flight is on your bucket list, you might be surprised to learn that it's an experience you can redeem for a very low number of Qantas points.
Right now, you'll pay just 54,000 Qantas points (plus fees) for a short haul first class Classic Flight Reward between Sydney and Christchurch. From September 18, this rises to 62,200 Qantas points (an increase of 15.1 per cent), with a slight reduction in fees.
This short and sweet taste of the high life comes complete with bottomless vintage Dom Perignon, a decadent tasting menu and the chance to shower at 38,000 feet. And, if you're travelling from Sydney, you'll also score pre-flight access to the amazing Qantas International First Class Lounge.
At the time of writing, there are at least two first class Classic Flight Reward seats available most days from now the way through to August 2020, excluding a small blackout period over Christmas.
It's worth bearing in mind this service often flies with an empty first class cabin across the ditch. So, if you play your cards right, you might even score the pointy end of the Emirates A380 all to yourself — just as I did when I enjoyed this incredible redemption a few months back.
Round the world in a whirl with the classic points reward
Savvy frequent flyers extract maximum value from their Qantas points with the multisector oneworld Classic Flight Reward — considered by many to be the "holy grail" of Qantas redemptions.
It works like this: Travellers can fly up to 16 segments with Qantas and oneworld partner airlines to a cap of 35,000 miles (56,000 kilometres) for a fixed Qantas points cost (plus fees). From September 18, oneworld Classic Flight Rewards are rising a whopping 18.9 per cent for premium economy (up from 210,000 to 249,600 Qantas points), 13.5 per cent for business class (up from 280,000 to 318,000 Qantas points) and 8.9 per cent for first class (420,000 to 455,000 Qantas points). Fees are extra.
Upgrade now to lock away your points
If you're hoping to nab an upgrade to a Qantas flight from September 18, note that upgrades are rising by up to 9 per cent — and there are no corresponding carrier surcharge reductions to offset this cost.
So, travellers looking to upgrade a future Qantas flight should lock in requests as soon as possible before the increased points pricing kicks in. If you're flying after September 18, 2019, you'll still be able to access the lower rate provided you can get your upgrade request in beforehand.
While many travellers will be sad to see these award chart increases kick in, there's still time to lock in your dream redemption with Qantas points before September 18. So, it's time to get booking.