Bridging a Frequent Flyer Points Gap

Many frequent flyer point collectors save up for years in order to redeem those points for Business class flights to Europe. But if you still don’t quite have enough points to cover the trip, what other options are available?

I’m a Gold FF with about 250k points. I’m going to Europe with the wife in July next year. Any advice on the best way to get an upgrade to business class? I don’t have anywhere near enough points to point BC directly. Am I best off booking a flexible ticket and hoping for an upgrade the week before?

Unfortunately, return Business class flights booked outright using points would cost over 500,000 Qantas points. If the number of extra points required for the redemption was relatively small, top-up points could be purchased. However, top-up Qantas points are not cheap and are only sold in small amounts. With a shortfall in this case of over 250,000 points, buying top-up points is not a realistic option.

Another possible solution is to book upgradeable tickets and request an upgrade using points. Upgrading from a flexible economy ticket to Business class costs 60,000 Qantas points on flights from Australia to London. Theoretically, our member would have sufficient points to upgrade on all flights. However, upgrades can never be guaranteed. If the Business cabin on a particular flight is full, then the upgrade requests will not be successful.

While not a guaranteed solution, travelling on less popular days could bolster the chances of a successful points upgrade.

If you want to try the upgrade approach, travel midweek if you can, and don’t travel in the Australian school holidays unless you need to.

Probably the best solution to this particular conundrum is to split the bookings. One member suggests using Qantas points to fly to Bangkok. From there, cheap Business class flights to Europe can be booked on the likes of Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines or Finnair.

You could get yourselves to BKK and back in J from SYD for 240k points and costing $1245.56 in fuel fines. That’s with EK, for which there’s limited availability in JUL/AUG. From there you could consider a cheap J return to Europe or – as grussellt has suggested – purchase AA miles. Would depend on where you’re looking to go in Europe with respect to costings etc.

From BKK, you could take Finnair to Helsinki, which is a very good airport to use as a European hub. Finnair J is relatively cheap, provides OneWorld benefits and they will be running the new A350’s by then.

Add your suggestions to the mix HERE.


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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]