As part of last week’s Qantas Frequent Flyer changes, the airline has reduced the number of Qantas points required for Classic Flight Reward bookings in Economy class. Qantas also reduced the carrier charges payable on Economy award bookings. Although the changes to reward pricing in premium cabins will not take effect until 18 September 2019, the changes to Qantas Economy award pricing were effective immediately.
The reductions to the number of Qantas points required and carrier charges payable on Economy bookings do not apply to domestic flights, nor to shorter international flights under 2,400 miles in length (such as flights to New Zealand, Noumea and Papua New Guinea). But international long-haul award flights on Qantas are now cheaper.
If you already have an existing Classic Flight Reward booking in Economy class that was made prior to 20 June 2019, this creates an interesting situation.
Change or cancel your Qantas economy award booking for a partial refund
Qantas charges 5,000 points to change international award bookings. When you change an award booking, the airline will calculate any difference in points and taxes and either charge you – or refund – the difference. This means that if you were to change to another Qantas flight, and the difference between the old and new price is more than 5,000 points, you would actually get some points back. You might also get some of your carrier charges refunded if your flights are operated by Qantas.
Another option would be to cancel and re-book at the new award price level. Qantas charges 6,000 points to cancel international award bookings, and apart from that small penalty you’ll get a full refund of the rest of the points and all taxes/charges paid. In theory, this means you could cancel and re-book a seat on the same flight. If the seat now costs at least 6,000 points less, you’re better off.
Let’s look at an example. Say that you booked a round-trip Classic Flight Reward in Qantas Economy class from Sydney to London. Prior to 20 June 2019, you would have paid 120,000 Qantas points and around $730 in taxes and carrier charges. Now, the same ticket costs 110,400 Qantas points and around a co-payment of around $650 (of which $280 are Qantas-imposed carrier charges). If you cancelled your original ticket and re-booked at the new rates, you would save 3,600 Qantas points (after the cancellation penalty) and $80.
If you decide to cancel and rebook an existing Qantas economy award booking, make sure that there are still award seats available on your flight/s! There is a risk with this strategy that you might end up without a seat at all if you cancel and there is no longer any award availability.
Qantas’ change and cancellation fees are charged on a per-booking, per-passenger basis. This means that for return flight bookings, you only pay the fee once. But if you have three passengers on the booking, you’ll need to pay the fee three times.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: New Qantas International Carrier Charges