Back in June 2019, Qantas Frequent Flyer announced that it would increase the number of points required for reward flight bookings in any premium cabin. In return, there would be a modest reduction in award booking carrier charges and Qantas would release “more than 1 million extra reward seats available annually on Qantas and new partner airlines”.
Well, the changes to Classic Flight Reward pricing took effect last Wednesday. But where are the extra reward seats?
There has been a lively discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum about this since Wednesday. Many AFF members are disappointed to see little evidence of any increase in award availability.
AFF member Duffa said:
1 million extra award seats, MY AR5E. Just spent the last half hour looking for Joyce’s promised changes. Not ONE J flight to London in the next 12 months. Nothing. Oh, there’s the same old MU and Emirates availability here and there but they’ve gone UP by 20,000 points and no reduction in taxes. Why am I surprised??
Another member, kamchatsky, wrote:
Looking at end of January HKG-SYD route ….. No extra seats, not even Economy …….. I am a QF Gold so I should be able to see more inventories.
However I can only see all the additional QFF costs for J and F ….. at off peak times.
Yeah right million extra seats. Great marketing spin.
On the other hand, some Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers say they are pleasantly surprised by the level of award flight inventory available to them. It seems that more seats may currently be offered to those with status.
That said, there have also been some recent reports of the Qantas website showing phantom award availability. In other words, some seats that appear online to be available may not actually exist or are unavailable to some people. In these cases, you would receive an error message if you tried to make a booking.
Where are the one million extra Qantas reward seats coming from?
In the June 2019 announcement, Qantas promised more than a million extra Classic Flight Reward seats would be made available annually. In addition, there would be “up to” 30% more premium cabin award seats on Qantas international flights over the next 12 months. Considering how little availability there was on some routes to begin with – and that it’s only “up to” 30% more seats, that is a low benchmark.
It is likely that most of Qantas’ extra reward seats will come from the new five new Qantas Frequent Flyer partner airlines: China Airlines, Air New Zealand, Air France, KLM and Bangkok Airways. It is already possible to redeem Qantas points for China Airlines flights to Taipei, and you can also now use Qantas points to book domestic Air New Zealand flights. But Qantas has not yet indicated when award seats on selected KLM, Air France and Bangkok Airways routes will come online.
Realistically, there is no way for frequent flyers to verify the claim of a million extra seats. We just have to trust that Qantas will deliver what they promised.
There did appear to be a modest increase of award seats on some Qantas routes following the 20 June announcement, but since then there hasn’t been a noticeable change just yet. For many frequent flyers, award availability is still frustratingly limited on key routes like Perth-London and Sydney-Bangkok, especially in premium cabins and at times that they actually want to fly, such as school holidays.
Will the 297-day rule continue?
There is currently an unwritten rule that Qantas won’t release Premium Economy, Business or First Class award seats on Qantas long-haul flights to Bronze or Silver members until 297 days before departure. That’s 56 days after the seats are made available to Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers, who get first pick of the seats.
However, we have recently found long-haul award seats that were only being made available to Gold and higher members around 220 days out from departure. So, it is possible that this rule has been or will be changed.
As if it wasn’t already confusing enough…
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Pathetic [Where are the advertised extra award seats? ]