Moving to the UK – stick to Qantas or make the switch?

One of our members is planning a move to the UK and has a dilemma: pack the Qantas Frequent Flyer card or leave it behind and look at new options in the UK?

I’m an Australian moving to the UK, and a member of the Qantas FF scheme for a while now, although I do not fly as much as I would like.

Anyway, I’m set to be doing more travel for work throughout the UK and EU.

My question is whether I’m best to stick with Qantas, or whether I should join another airline? Would be great to accumulate enough points for lounge access, and get the best benefits.

As a member of oneworld, flyers with status in the Qantas program will have this recognised by all oneworld member airlines, including the UK’s own British Airways. Additionally, Qantas points and status credits can be earned on all oneworld airlines and Qantas points can be used to fly on oneworld and other partner airlines. This means that sticking with Qantas may be a viable option, but is it the best?

The first consideration is the minimum of four Qantas or Jetstar operated flights the member will need to take each year in order to re-qualify for elite status with the Aussie airline. This would not be possible without leaving Europe at least once per year as Qantas only fly to Dubai and onwards to Australia from the UK.

Another consideration is the earn and burn rate of Qantas points and status credits flying on partner airlines within Europe. Although status credits should be earned at the standard rate, points earn can be dismal at best on short economy routes. For example, just 0.25 Qantas points per mile are earned on most economy fares with British Airways. This means, for example, that a standard economy flight from London to Paris with British Airways will earn just 54 Qantas points. A classic award seat on the same flight would cost 10,000 points, plus taxes!

The general consensus among our members is that better value can be found in other oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programs, such as American Airlines or British Airways. American Airlines’ AAdvantage program has the advantage (pardon the pun) of more generous long haul redemptions that don’t include the fuel surcharges British Airways are notorious for charging. However, like Qantas, it would be necessary to take 4 AA-coded flights each year to retain status with the airline – again, a fairly impossible task without leaving Europe.

British Airways, the obvious choice, does seem to be the winner here in the eyes of our members. Living in the UK, our member would be at a home advantage, having many more opportunities to earn BA Avios miles. British Airways are also a little more generous with their short-haul point redemptions. Looking once again at the example of that flight from London to Paris, 500 miles would be earned crediting to BA and redeeming a seat on that flight would cost just 4,500 miles, including all taxes.

With the priorities you mentioned BA would almost certainly be the best bet. Status is easier to attain than AA (which would also require 4 AA flights). Economical short-haul redemptions. Plenty of points-earning opportunities with supermarket spend and credit cards (once you have enough residency to get approval for the most lucrative ones) Benefits of the home FF programme (eg upgrades). Potential for discounted premium fares by flying ex-EU.

AA does have the advantage of a more generous long-haul redemption table and much lower taxes than QF and BA but more difficult to rack up points in UK.

What would you do in this situation? Do you think it is worth making the switch? Add your thoughts 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]