When to Book Qantas Reward Flights for Maximum Success

If you’ve ever tried to redeem Qantas points for a reward flight in Premium Economy, Business or First class, you’re probably aware of how difficult it can be. If you have Bronze or Silver status, finding Qantas reward flights is especially difficult. This is because Qantas gives priority for premium reward seats to Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members.

But if you have Bronze or Silver status, don’t despair! Our members have discovered a pattern in the times that reward seats are released to all Qantas Frequent Flyer members.

Qantas flights are made available for booking exactly 353 days in advance. The initial release occurs at midnight GMT. This is equal to 8am Perth time, 10am in Brisbane or 11am Sydney time (during daylight savings). At this time, all members have access to reward seats on most routes in Economy class. Some Business class seats on domestic and short international flights are also released to all members. But Premium Economy, Business and First class seats on a long-haul international flights are released only to frequent flyers with Gold or higher status. Premium international award seats are restricted and are not available to Bronze or Silver members at the 353-day mark.

If you’re a Bronze or Silver member, the magic number appears to be “297”. It seems access to Qantas reward flights in Business and First class that haven’t yet been booked is granted to all members exactly 297 days – around 9.5 months – before the flight’s departure. (It used to be 308 days but Qantas recently changed its award seat release time.) This effectively means that Gold and Platinum members get a 56-day head start to secure Qantas’ most highly sought-after reward flights. But many seats are still available 297 days out – even on popular routes to Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

This theory has been tested. Sure enough, Business seats were available to Bronze members on flights exactly 297 days away.

I just did some searches for J seats from MEL-SIN and BNE-SIN from a bronze account, and there are quite a few award seats available for flights up to 308 days in advance. Beyond the 308 day mark though, there are no J seats on any QF flights to SIN whatsoever.

Reward seats are not released on all Qantas routes, all the time – including to frequent flyers with top-tier status. Business class award seats on Qantas’ non-stop Perth-London flight are rare, as are seats to Johannesburg.

If you don’t have status but don’t want to risk waiting 56 days to secure a flight, there is one other trick. Qantas does allow its frequent flyers to make reward bookings for family members. So, if you have a family member with elite status, you could ask them to book for you. It is possible to transfer up to 600,000 Qantas points per year between family members.

I’m also bronze and also rarely see any J/F cabin awards on QF metal. This is where having some family Gold & Platinums has been invaluable for me.

The information in this article is applicable to flights on Qantas “metal” only. All Qantas members have equal access to reward flights on partner airlines, including on Emirates, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines.

Qantas reward flight availability is limited, and the few seats that Qantas does release often sell out quickly. But by booking at the right time, you’ll maximise your chances of scoring that elusive Business class seat with your Qantas points.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]