Qantas Frequent Flyer Tips + Travel advice!

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Smoetyjim

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Hi guys,

Have always been a big fan of this site, and a constant viewer sitting on the outskirts reading all the invaluable advice posted. However, in recent times I've decided to take the plunge and start organising a once in a lifetime trip! As such, I have decided to put this thread together to get as much information from the experts (you guys) as I can in preparation!

To give you guys a bit of context, a friend and I have decided to take a sabbatical off work (having done the whole high school to uni to work approach), and have decided on a year long trip over to Europe for some backpacking to explore the culture, food, people, etc. We have both traveled around the country domestically for work (3-4 times a year) but have not being able to reach Gold status for Qantas (preferred airline with my company). However, we have managed to secure around 200,000 Qantas FFP each through flying and credit card offers. As we are looking to travel for a year we'd prefer to try and limit the cost prior to actually going over (i.e. travel insurance, flights). We did a bit of research, and noticed that we could get Business class return for 256k QFFP (we'll be looking to get the required points through credit card offers). I guess my questions for you guys include the following:

1) We are looking to leave around April 2015 - what is the likelihood of us being able to secure 2x classic seat awards for business from Sydney to London? Note that we either both go on business, or not at all. The alternative is to book economy, but given the once in a lifetime opportunity, we thought we'd take the plunge and try and get business!

2) How much in taxes would that cost us?

3) As we are looking to go for up to a year, there is no option to book a return for what is effectively 2 years away. What is the deal there? Do we book a return for a month after departure and then try and change closer to departure date? Are there fees involved?

4) Alternatively, is it better to book a one way business class ticket (pending visas) to London?

5) RTW business class in points is not much more than Sydney to London, is this a better option?

6) Any other tips on backpacking Europe and travel insurance for the year would be greatly appreciated!


I know this maybe a lengthy post, but I do appreciate any advice/answering of questions that you guys can provide. Having read so many posts, I'm so envious of all you travelers! I only hope I can do it right for my trip! Thanks!
 
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JohnM

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Whoa! - that's one BIG paragraph! Try hitting the ENTER key a couple of time after each idea to break into several paras.

I think one issue you'll face in trying to book a return trip for a year-long trip, as well as getting in early to have best chance of snaring an elusive J award, is that you can only book c. 11 months ahead. But the earlier you book, the better the chance of a redemption seat - especially J. You'll only find out by giving it a crack - or asking on the Flight availability thread (http://www.australianfrequentflyer....ility-loadings-upgrade-probability-25311.html) for someone to check availability on ExpertFlyer.

So, I'd suggest trying IMMEDIATELY to get a one-way to London and then get a one-way back c. 11 mo. out from planned return.
 

Smoetyjim

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Hi John,

Thanks for the reply. Yeh I originally had the post set out differently, then realised it posted as one big para! I've since edited it.

So, it's better (seems the only way) is to book the one way flight first and then worry about the return? Will taxes differ? (What are the taxes for Sydney to London?)

Cheers,

Simon
 

JohnM

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Hi John,

Thanks for the reply. Yeh I originally had the post set out differently, then realised it posted as one big para! I've since edited it.

So, it's better (seems the only way) is to book the one way flight first and then worry about the return? Will taxes differ? (What are the taxes for Sydney to London?)

Cheers,

Simon

I think the only way is to suck it and see. You can go as far as the payment page and back out if you get sticker-shock.

I haven't booked a Classic redemption in many a year but someone who has recently may be able to say what the tax was.
 

Princess Fiona

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I think the only way is to suck it and see. You can go as far as the payment page and back out if you get sticker-shock.

I haven't booked a Classic redemption in many a year but someone who has recently may be able to say what the tax was.

It will be $1- $1.5K pp. for the entire trip . I would agree with everything you have said JohnM
The OP should book the April 2015 flights now and be creative in the routing depending on what's available.
 

Mattg

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Hi guys,

Have always been a big fan of this site, and a constant viewer sitting on the outskirts reading all the invaluable advice posted. However, in recent times I've decided to take the plunge and start organising a once in a lifetime trip! As such, I have decided to put this thread together to get as much information from the experts (you guys) as I can in preparation!

To give you guys a bit of context, a friend and I have decided to take a sabbatical off work (having done the whole high school to uni to work approach), and have decided on a year long trip over to Europe for some backpacking to explore the culture, food, people, etc. We have both traveled around the country domestically for work (3-4 times a year) but have not being able to reach Gold status for Qantas (preferred airline with my company). However, we have managed to secure around 200,000 Qantas FFP each through flying and credit card offers. As we are looking to travel for a year we'd prefer to try and limit the cost prior to actually going over (i.e. travel insurance, flights). We did a bit of research, and noticed that we could get Business class return for 256k QFFP (we'll be looking to get the required points through credit card offers). I guess my questions for you guys include the following:

1) We are looking to leave around April 2015 - what is the likelihood of us being able to secure 2x classic seat awards for business from Sydney to London? Note that we either both go on business, or not at all. The alternative is to book economy, but given the once in a lifetime opportunity, we thought we'd take the plunge and try and get business!

2) How much in taxes would that cost us?

3) As we are looking to go for up to a year, there is no option to book a return for what is effectively 2 years away. What is the deal there? Do we book a return for a month after departure and then try and change closer to departure date? Are there fees involved?

4) Alternatively, is it better to book a one way business class ticket (pending visas) to London?

5) RTW business class in points is not much more than Sydney to London, is this a better option?

6) Any other tips on backpacking Europe and travel insurance for the year would be greatly appreciated!


I know this maybe a lengthy post, but I do appreciate any advice/answering of questions that you guys can provide. Having read so many posts, I'm so envious of all you travelers! I only hope I can do it right for my trip! Thanks!


Hi there! I'm in Europe at the moment doing something quite similar so might be able to help.

If you want to travel for one year, in my opinion a 280K point oneworld award in business class is much better value than 2 x direct SYD-LHR flights for 256K points. On a oneworld award, you may fly anywhere that oneworld airlines fly, with up to 5 stopovers (anything under 24 hours does not count as a stopover), a maximum of 35,000 miles and you must finish at the same place you start (i.e. Sydney in your case). So, purely as an example, you could fly Sydney - Hong Kong (stopover for a week) - London (stopover for 10-12 months) - Madrid (stopover one week) - New York (1 week) - Los Angeles (1 week) - Sydney. The only problem I see would be booking the return legs on the same ticket, unless you booked a few weeks before you left. There may be ways around that though. If this is something which interests you, have a look at the oneworld award planning thread.

In terms of travel insurance, I just picked one of the (but not the absolute) cheapest of the day. As far as I'm concerned they're all the same (I know others will disagree). One thing that's out of the question though is not having travel insurance at all - it's essential.

As far as backpacking Europe - where do I start? Well...
-hostels are your friend, not just because they're cheap but they're a great way to meet other travellers. In my opinion meeting other travellers is one of the best parts of travelling.
-Trains are a great way to get around, but if going longer distances planes are often cheap if booked well in advance.
-I would suggest that it's a good idea to have an idea of where you want to go and when before you set out, rather than just living day by day. That way you can book hostels in advance and take advantage of good deals.
-Free walking tours are also your friend.
-Try the local food wherever you go!
-Learn at least a small amount of the language (hello, how are you, thank you, numbers 1-10 etc.) for every country you visit
-Dont try to see a different city everyday - you'll end up exhausted and not remember anything
-The most important advice though - make sure you visit Berlin! Haha
 

grussellt

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WELCOME, Smoetyjim
One step at a time. If you are ready to go then at this stage booking a J award to LHR (for 2) won't be real easy. As Princess Fiona says be flexible with your itinerary. For example if you look for 2J SYD-LHR in April 2015 you will find zero availability. However if you use the multi-city search for SYD-DXB/DXB-LHR you will find 2J for April14/15 by selecting EK415 and EK29 with a free overnight stay in DXB. This will cost you 128000pts and $629 each and you will enjoy it! There are other choices via HKG/SIN/BKK/NRT but you will find additional points are required. Also you could try for destinations other than LHR depending on your onwards trip.
I could give you backpacking tips for Europe but it would cover London-Istanbul (return) c1967 so some of the comments may no longer be relevant! By the time you leave you will have plenty of tips but be prepared to look for new things on your travels..........and don't hurry.
 

Smoetyjim

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Thanks guys.

Mattg
I did think about it, but as you said we'd have to organise it as a last minute thing if we want to get all legs on the one ticket. I'd assume there would be a chance we might not get the availability. Also in terms of cost wise, it'll probably exceed our budget to be honest. We're looking at taking ~$20k over to Europe.

Grussellt
So to re-iterate, the best approach is to go an indirect path (i.e. stay overnight or a couple of days) using the multi-city option? Why are there more options for business using this method as opposed to direct? I note that I'm a bronze member, so am surprised that it shows so many options as my understanding is that the lower tiers only see limited spots.

Are we also able to call up and book it to make sure there are 2 seats together?

For my return leg, when I'm over in Europe, I'm assuming I can do a one way leg back to Australia? (i.e. business from LHR to SYD?). Would there potentially be any concerns with not having this locked in? In any case, what are the consequences of changing a classic award business seat if we decided we want to return on a different day?

To all
With regards to the travel, we're actually looking to base our travels on different events that happen across Europe (i.e. Tomatina, yacht week, oktoberfest, etc.) so we'll be in the relevant country at the time these events happen!
 

grussellt

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Thanks guys.

Mattg
I did think about it, but as you said we'd have to organise it as a last minute thing if we want to get all legs on the one ticket. I'd assume there would be a chance we might not get the availability. Also in terms of cost wise, it'll probably exceed our budget to be honest. We're looking at taking ~$20k over to Europe.


Grussellt
So to re-iterate, the best approach is to go an indirect path (i.e. stay overnight or a couple of days) using the multi-city option? Why are there more options for business using this method as opposed to direct? I note that I'm a bronze member, so am surprised that it shows so many options as my understanding is that the lower tiers only see limited spots.

Are we also able to call up and book it to make sure there are 2 seats together?

For my return leg, when I'm over in Europe, I'm assuming I can do a one way leg back to Australia? (i.e. business from LHR to SYD?). Would there potentially be any concerns with not having this locked in? In any case, what are the consequences of changing a classic award business seat if we decided we want to return on a different day?

To all
With regards to the travel, we're actually looking to base our travels on different events that happen across Europe (i.e. Tomatina, yacht week, oktoberfest, etc.) so we'll be in the relevant country at the time these events happen!

You can't have a stopover on a classic award but there is an allowable 24h connection time. A search for LHR-SYD will normally return routes with a connection of 2h or so. As a bronze member there are still lots of choices. You can also return via the US for 128000pts (eg LHR-DFW-SYD) but availability is limited and fees are higher. If you request 2 seats in your online booking it will only return seats where trhere is availability for both of you. Try a dummy booking and you will see how it works. QF will charge you for phone bookings and subsequent changes. See details online. For you return you'll have had such a great time you could even come back in Y. We'll all been there!
I don't know if the UK authorities will need to see return travel to Oz before they let you in but I'm sure a search on AFF will answer this for you.
 

BD1959

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Hi Simon,

Looking at the QF Classic Awards, there's very little availability however there are 2 J seats available on April 13, but ... they're via JNB (QF to JNB, 2:50 Connection on to BA) and as they're not entirely QF, they come in more expensive at 162k points each one-way ... which gets me thinking ...

Would it not be possible to follow Mattg's advice and book as a oneworld award booking, wit some internal European flights, with as much certainty as you can and then "dummy" booking your flights home knowing that you'll need to change them? Doesn't the 5,000 point change fee allow this? Doesn't the final part of the ticket have 12 months to run after the first flight is flown??

So, you could for example book SYD-JNB-LHR-ATH-LHR-MAD-EZE-LAX-SYD knowing your dates as far as ATH and dummy booking the rest against availability, then changing the booking at the beginning of next year once you have more certainty on your return dates?

Points: Can you borrow what you need from a family member to get where you need to be and then repay once you've earnt them (have a look at family transfers - hint, the surname doesn't have to be the same, you just have to be related). Alternatively, you can purchase Top-Up points to 15% of your required total, but with your current balance you'd need to have some boost at present.

Sorry this isn't more "definite" hopefully someone will along soon to verify the maximum you can "push out" the tail segments of a OWE Award.

Regards,

BD
 

Smoetyjim

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You can't have a stopover on a classic award but there is an allowable 24h connection time. A search for LHR-SYD will normally return routes with a connection of 2h or so. As a bronze member there are still lots of choices. You can also return via the US for 128000pts (eg LHR-DFW-SYD) but availability is limited and fees are higher. If you request 2 seats in your online booking it will only return seats where trhere is availability for both of you. Try a dummy booking and you will see how it works. QF will charge you for phone bookings and subsequent changes. See details online. For you return you'll have had such a great time you could even come back in Y. We'll all been there!
I don't know if the UK authorities will need to see return travel to Oz before they let you in but I'm sure a search on AFF will answer this for you.

Hey, what did you mean by you can't have a stop over on a classic? I thought I could book a multi-trip on classic award? And choose the dates on when to leave to the final destination (i.e. fly from SYD to Dubai, and 3 days later fly to London?)
 

grussellt

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A few terms need to be defined. On a classic award you can have a connection time of 24h or less. If you require a stopover on route (more than 24h) then your award will need to be booked as two awards. Even a multi-city award must comply with connection times of less than 24h for each pair of flights. Even so I managed to book an award of CDG-JFK-MIA (overnight for 23h 45min) -LAX-NAN-BNE-SYD as a classic award..........but I'm not sure I would do it again.
 
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AustraliaPoochie

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If you both have not yet reached 31, you could get the UK WHV as Aussies, yes?
This means that you can keep the approx Au$20k as spare while you work in the UK.
We have a lot of other travel forums with UK and other nationalities coming to Aust on WHV, so I am sure its reciprocal in that you can get WHV for most European countries.
If already over 31, then its probably too late.
 

Smoetyjim

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Hey guys,

so we're looking at booking business from Syd to Dubai, and then stay for a few days before heading to London. There is a stop over at Singapore prior to heading to Dubai. We decided to go premium eco from Dubai to London. Will we get access to any lounges on any of our legs? I'd assume we'd get business up until Dubai given we're flying business, albeit using points.

As another question for any of you guys out there, we're also looking at getting a working holiday visa in Germany. Will this effectively exclude us from any Schengen Zone restrictions?

Cheers in advance.
 

Mattg

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Hey guys,

so we're looking at booking business from Syd to Dubai, and then stay for a few days before heading to London. There is a stop over at Singapore prior to heading to Dubai. We decided to go premium eco from Dubai to London. Will we get access to any lounges on any of our legs? I'd assume we'd get business up until Dubai given we're flying business, albeit using points.

I presume that that means SYD-SIN on QF in business, then SIN-DXB on EK in business, followed by QF from DXB to LHR in PE. You will get J lounge access in SYD and SIN if flying business, on points or otherwise, but not in DXB unless you are a gold or platinum with QF.

As another question for any of you guys out there, we're also looking at getting a working holiday visa in Germany. Will this effectively exclude us from any Schengen Zone restrictions?

I currently have a working holiday visa in Germany. It is good for multiple entries into/out of the Schengen Zone for the duration of the visa (up to 12 months) and of course I can stay in the Schengen Zone for longer than 3 months if I want. But I am only allowed to work within Germany. I hope that answers your question. If you have any other specific questions about this visa let me know.
 

Smoetyjim

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I currently have a working holiday visa in Germany. It is good for multiple entries into/out of the Schengen Zone for the duration of the visa (up to 12 months) and of course I can stay in the Schengen Zone for longer than 3 months if I want. But I am only allowed to work within Germany. I hope that answers your question. If you have any other specific questions about this visa let me know.

Hey Matt,

I originally thought it was only UK and France that you could score a Visa with, but obviously have since done some research into this. We settled on Germany as we thought it might be the more logical choice out of a few of the other European countries (i.e. Italy, Denmark, France, etc.) primarily due to location, being quite central. Unless someone else can provide further insight as to a better place to work?

Out of the 1 year we’re looking at being in Europe, we’ll probably look at doing about 3 months worth of work. Any particular suggestions for Germany? We looked at Hostel work to take advantage of the free accommodation, etc. Other than that, pub work? The alternative is we can try and scab some work in the professional arena (banking and law).

Just to confirm, if we are provided with a German visa, there should be no issues if we decided to move around the Schengen zone for say 5 months? Should we be coming in and out of Germany? Or will it be okay to go from France to Croatia (after 5 months being in the zone).

Also, I’m assuming Travel insurance will cover off on medical insurance per the requirements of receiving a German Visa.
 

Mattg

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Hey Matt,

I originally thought it was only UK and France that you could score a Visa with, but obviously have since done some research into this. We settled on Germany as we thought it might be the more logical choice out of a few of the other European countries (i.e. Italy, Denmark, France, etc.) primarily due to location, being quite central. Unless someone else can provide further insight as to a better place to work?

Out of the 1 year we’re looking at being in Europe, we’ll probably look at doing about 3 months worth of work. Any particular suggestions for Germany? We looked at Hostel work to take advantage of the free accommodation, etc. Other than that, pub work? The alternative is we can try and scab some work in the professional arena (banking and law).

Just to confirm, if we are provided with a German visa, there should be no issues if we decided to move around the Schengen zone for say 5 months? Should we be coming in and out of Germany? Or will it be okay to go from France to Croatia (after 5 months being in the zone).

Also, I’m assuming Travel insurance will cover off on medical insurance per the requirements of receiving a German Visa.

Germany is certainly central, and more importantly, I like it here and hope you would as well. Do you speak any German? That could be a minor problem, but there are still jobs here for English speakers. There are a LOT of ex-pats and English speakers in both Berlin and Frankfurt, and to a lessor extent Munich, so you may be able to find work there as an English speaker. But be aware that unemployment in Berlin is relatively high compared to other German cities. I am personally finding it a challenge to find decent work here, even though I can speak German. I think if you can get a job in your area of expertise, that would be better but there's always bar work/hostel work etc. as a fallback.

You will have no issues moving around the Schengen Zone for the full duration of your visa, which can be up to 12 months. There is also no obligation to remain in Germany or keep checking back in... there are no passport checks when passing between Schengen countries so for all the authorities know you would be in Germany.. not that it matters, really. In your example, there would be no issue whatsoever in going directly from France to Croatia. There is also no obligation that you must work. However it provides you with an opportunity to work if you so choose.

It is a visa requirement that you have travel insurance which covers a certain amount for health cover and includes repatriation costs. Just make sure you read the PDS carefully before buying. You will need to highlight the relevant sections when you apply for a visa.
 

ozbeachbabe

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Also, I’m assuming Travel insurance will cover off on medical insurance per the requirements of receiving a German Visa.

Don't assume anything when it comes to travel insurance as many TI companies place a maximum on how many days you can be away on an annual policy which could be cheaper than a single trip policy.

Read any PDS conditions thoroughly before you commit.
 

Smoetyjim

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Germany is certainly central, and more importantly, I like it here and hope you would as well. Do you speak any German? That could be a minor problem, but there are still jobs here for English speakers. There are a LOT of ex-pats and English speakers in both Berlin and Frankfurt, and to a lessor extent Munich, so you may be able to find work there as an English speaker. But be aware that unemployment in Berlin is relatively high compared to other German cities. I am personally finding it a challenge to find decent work here, even though I can speak German. I think if you can get a job in your area of expertise, that would be better but there's always bar work/hostel work etc. as a fallback.

No, we don't know how to speak German, although willing to learn some basics in order to "get by"...We'd probably enjoy some hospitality work over an office job, so hopefully there are some hostel/bar jobs floating around.

How do I go about getting a bank account set up? Will I need additional information/requirements to get a job?

You will have no issues moving around the Schengen Zone for the full duration of your visa, which can be up to 12 months. There is also no obligation to remain in Germany or keep checking back in... there are no passport checks when passing between Schengen countries so for all the authorities know you would be in Germany.. not that it matters, really. In your example, there would be no issue whatsoever in going directly from France to Croatia. There is also no obligation that you must work. However it provides you with an opportunity to work if you so choose.

I've heard of stories where, even if you have a working visa for a Schengen Zone country, you'll need to leave and depart from that country. i.e. being in the Schengen Zone for 5 months and then leaving from, say Italy to a non Schengen zone country, would raise questions as to why we've overstayed. I guess my question is, will a German working visa satisfy the 'legal' requirements for being in the zone for more than the 180 day period?

It is a visa requirement that you have travel insurance which covers a certain amount for health cover and includes repatriation costs. Just make sure you read the PDS carefully before buying. You will need to highlight the relevant sections when you apply for a visa.

I've looked at covermore. It appears they've noted in its PDS that repatriation costs are decided by them where deemed necessary. I'm assuming this is enough proof? On another note, for a year in Europe, for a 26 year old, it comes to a total of $585...which is unusually cheap compared to others.
 
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