Where to start? [Award Trans Pacific Business - new to FF]

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bennygill

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I'm new to frequent flyer points - and I must say I am overwhelmed.

I've gone through the "Core Training" under the "Knowledge Center" link. But it just made my head hurt :p

I know that I want to fly to USA from Sydney sometime next year, and would love to do that in business class. And further to that, I want to keep racking up points so I can avoid economy class as much as I can in the future. That is about the extent of my forward planning so far.

Is it as simple as signing up for credit card bonuses until I reach the amount of points I need? Are there any good guides for complete newbies? What else should I lookout for or do?
 

smit0847

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Welcome to AFF!

The very best place to start is signing up to this site and having a very clear travel goal both of which you have done so you've taken a big step forward already. There's no point getting into this game if you don't have a goal at the end of it!

The next step I would recommend is deciding how you would like to pay for this goal. A few options:

1. Buy a revenue ticket;
2. Buy an upgradeable fare and use points to upgrade;
3. Use points you have earnt to book a seat; or
4. Buy points to use for booking a seat.

This will all come down to how many points you have now, how many you will have when you go to book (and then fly) and how much you are willing to spend (for options 1, 2 and 4).

Also have a think about which carrier/alliance you would like to fly with.
 

bennygill

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Hmmm ok, well the best option would obviously be 3 (use points to book a seat = free) so I'll aim for that and if I don't make it go with option 2 or 4. What does option 1 "buy a revenue ticket" mean? Just buying a regular ticket with no points involved?
 

smit0847

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Hmmm ok, well the best option would obviously be 3 (use points to book a seat = free) so I'll aim for that and if I don't make it go with option 2 or 4. What does option 1 "buy a revenue ticket" mean? Just buying a regular ticket with no points involved?

Revenue ticket means a normal (full-price) cash ticket - i.e. from a travel agent. This would earn normal points and status credits.

If going for Option 3, when do you plan to travel and how many points do you currently have (and in what program?)
 

sergeyvzn

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Hmmm ok, well the best option would obviously be 3 (use points to book a seat = free) so I'll aim for that and if I don't make it go with option 2 or 4. What does option 1 "buy a revenue ticket" mean? Just buying a regular ticket with no points involved?

option 1 - yes, paying cash for a ticket. You will earn points on it, which you will be able to later use towards your award ticket

I wouldn't be discounting option 4 as it can be very cost effective. You need to look into US Airways Dividend Miles program, for example - there is a whole section here on the forum. If you buy US DM points at a 100% bonus point sale, your business class ticket from Sydney to the US will cost you about $2100 AUD
 

bennygill

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Thats a darn good saving actually.

So should I start saving Qantas frequent flyer points? Or some other program?

Are points transferable between programs? For example, can I save up Qantas points, and then transfer them over to US DM, and buy more points at a 100% bonus point sale to make up the difference?

Is there any sort of guide out there that lays all this out a bit more clearly? Like which cards to sign up for, and which plan to start saving on, etc?
 

smit0847

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Thats a darn good saving actually.

So should I start saving Qantas frequent flyer points? Or some other program?

Are points transferable between programs? For example, can I save up Qantas points, and then transfer them over to US DM, and buy more points at a 100% bonus point sale to make up the difference?

Is there any sort of guide out there that lays all this out a bit more clearly? Like which cards to sign up for, and which plan to start saving on, etc?

No, points can't be transferred.

You'll need to give us more info about yourself before we can help you. There are some good guides but they're complex so rather than overwhelming you with info we need to know:

When do you plan to travel and how many points do you currently have (and in what program?)

Do you have any status with any airline program?
 

bennygill

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I'm brand new - no points at all. No status with any airlines.

Plan to travel mid to late next year... but nothing set in stone.

I run a business that imports goods from overseas. Is there anyway I can use that to my advantage? Most payments for stock are via TT (bank deposit). Does that count towards points?
 

smit0847

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I'm brand new - no points at all. No status with any airlines.

Plan to travel mid to late next year... but nothing set in stone.

I run a business that imports goods from overseas. Is there anyway I can use that to my advantage? Most payments for stock are via TT (bank deposit). Does that count towards points?

Okay, now we're getting somewhere.

And if you were able to buy Business Class seats at a significant discount by booking them long in advance whats the maximum amount you would be willing to pay? (i.e. $2000/$3000/$4000? etc)

(Remember normal revenue Economy Return is about $1200 on a good day and Business Class is about $6000 return on a good day)
 

bennygill

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Well I don't want to pay anything actually. But if that is unrealistic probably 1k maximum, anything more and I'd probably just fly economy for free instead.
 

smit0847

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Well I don't want to pay anything actually. But if that is unrealistic probably 1k maximum, anything more and I'd probably just fly economy for free instead.

When you say 'fly economy for free' what do you mean? How would you do that?
 

bennygill

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Well I thought the way it work was I save up points and then use those for flights. For example I save up 100,000 points but the business class flight is 150,000 and economy flight is 90,000. So I fly economy instead of business. Because I just use my points that I have already the flight is free.

Maybe thats not how it works? Or I am been unreasonable in my expectations? Sorry very new to all this!
 

smit0847

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Well I thought the way it work was I save up points and then use those for flights. For example I save up 100,000 points but the business class flight is 150,000 and economy flight is 90,000. So I fly economy instead of business. Because I just use my points that I have already the flight is free.

Maybe thats not how it works? Or I am been unreasonable in my expectations? Sorry very new to all this!

That's sort of right. None of the flights are free - if you are wanting to fly Qantas, even in economy you'll be looking at $800+ in taxes and surcharges.

Assuming you want to fly Qantas you will need to have your points earnt and ready to book exactly 12 months in advance of your trip as SYD-LAX is by far the hardest route to get Business Class seats on. It would be difficult to earn enough points in time (I think you need 190,000 pp return) if you are planning to fly mid to late next year.
 

bennygill

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Wow thats a lot in taxes! But I guess the discount is better than nothing.

Do I need to know exactly which airline, date, and destination airport at this point? Or should I focus on getting points as much as I can and figure out the details later (and maybe buy top up points if I dont have enough)?
 

smit0847

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Wow thats a lot in taxes! But I guess the discount is better than nothing.

Do I need to know exactly which airline, date, and destination airport at this point? Or should I focus on getting points as much as I can and figure out the details later (and maybe buy top up points if I dont have enough)?

Working out approximate dates, preferred carrier/route and how much you are willing to spend will help us suggest what you can/should do. There are some great deals/offers but also some nasty shocks (i.e. the taxes) that we can advise you on. Yours is a question we are asked very often.
 

bennygill

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Hmm ok. I think I might come back here once I have more certainty in my plans because right now its more of an idea than anything set in stone.

Thanks for the tips tho :) Will have to start planning it out more now.
 

RooFlyer

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If you are going to fly to the USA, before you start talking about points, you'll have to decide about now on what airline / airline alliance you'll be travelling on, right up front.

Flying direct:

Qantas: OneWorld (with American Airlines and US Air also BA, Cathay and others); has a partnership outside of OneWorld with Emirates
United: Star Alliance (with Thai, Singapore Air, Air NZ and others)
Virgin: No alliances, but has a Partnership with Delta
Delta: Sky Team alliance, partnership with Virgin

Indirect ):
Via Asia: Cathay, Singapore Air, Korean Air etc
Air NZ (via NZ - Star Alliance)
Fiji Air (via Fiji) - good deals!!

Different credit cards will allow crediting to different programs; in Australia usually Qantas and Virgin. So that may limit carrier options if you intend substantial points earns via credit cards.

Re your business: you can pay the ATO via credit card, and earn points if the card scheme allows it. There's a (long) thread here about that. Read it ALL :) Big point earns possible.

Big issue: 'Award seats' on Qantas especially come with substantial 'additional charges' payable by cash or many more points. Maybe close to $1,000 for trip to the USA. Don't redeem points for Y; go business; BUT business award seats are VERY HARD TO GET - you have to snap them up almost when they are released (about a year out, day by day). And people with 'status' (mostly QFF Platinum and above) get preference in upgrades. You can't rely on going that way, not having status.

Other airlines can be easier; United for instance charges much lower 'additional charges' its award seats AND you can make bookings on other Star Alliance airlines with such points. (eg I'm in the Air Canada scheme and can book with Thai, united etc). You can't do that with Qantas points.

Sorry to hit you with all the hurdles; you need to plan, and be determined; the airlines make it very hard to fly for 'free' (and Qantas, unfortunately is one of the worst).
 

RooFlyer

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ps: Keep reading and also asking questions. There are a lot of tips to be had. Many here have said "Never thought I would fly business, but thanks to AFF, just have!"
 

bennygill

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Thanks! Yes much to plan for.

Do points usually expire?

Since my main way to accumulate points was going to be via credit cards I'm thinking Qantas/OneWorld would be the best option as its the most popular with the credit card companies (more choice for bonus points). I'm assuming you mean I can also fly on American Airlines, US Air, BA, Cathay, Emirates with my Qantas points? That would seem to offer the most flexibility in terms of carriers and also available CC bonus point offers.
 
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casanovawa

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Qantas points will expire if there is no activity in the account for 18 months, but that should be easy to have a few points ticking over with credit cards or buying stuff at woolworths or other ways...

If you decided to go with booking awards seats (ie not paying cash for your ticket) then the sooner you get the info you need and the points required the better as with award seats airlines might only allocate a few seats each flight, especially in business class, and once they are gone they are gone, so best to be making bookings at least 6-9 months out or you end up with slim pickings or having to fly odd routes...

Qantas certainly doesn't offer free flights, you often pay to get the points and then you pay big time to use your points... With Qantas it is often cheaper of just as cost effective to pay cash for fares than to try to redeem points for economy awards (that is most of the time, a few exceptions), its one you start redeeming for business class fares that awards and points etc come into their own with big savings...

With a budget of $1000 that will be tought to get much value out of your points, you may as well go for a cash fare and maybe you can use some of your qantas points for flying around in the US as US airlines usually charge no fuel surcharges on their awards, just taxes that Governments require for any ticket... So redeeming an AA flight in the US might only require 10,000-25,000 Qantas points and like US$2.50 in taxes, which is much lower than the taxes and surcharges that Qantas (QF) usually attach to award seats....

I have now flown several business class awards with a stop in the US and then one in Europe for only around $1,700-1,800 or so with USDM but that was via very cheap share offers with their miles which you might have just missed out on as they recently increased the price a little...

But once again if you have questions then ask, or read some of the threads, but i wouldn't put it on the back burner for months and then come back...

PS at the moment there are some very good ANZ credit card offers where you can sign up and only have to spend $1500 in 3 months to receive 50,000 Qantas points for free, they don't really come any cheapeer than that...
 
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