Update: The full suite of changes has now been announced. Read a full analysis of the changes here: Qantas Frequent Flyer Changes (June 2019)
Qantas is expected to announce major changes to its Qantas Frequent Flyer loyalty program on Thursday.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth will hold a press conference at 10.30am (Sydney time) on Thursday 20 June to announce “the biggest overhaul to the airline’s loyalty program in its 32 year history”.
What do we know so far?
It is not yet known exactly what the changes will involve. But there will very likely be changes to frequent flyer point redemptions. Qantas signalled towards the end of last year that is was considering increasing the number of points required for a Classic Flight Reward seat. To compensate, the airline would increase award availability and reduce carrier charges. A lack of Qantas award availability and excessive so-called carrier charges imposed on reward flight bookings are two of the biggest complaints among Qantas Frequent Flyer members.
We already know that Qantas will reduce carrier charges on some Economy award bookings (the new rates have been posted on AFF).
We also know that Qantas is looking at opening up new opportunities to redeem points for flights on selected routes with Air New Zealand, Bangkok Airways, Air France and KLM.
Qantas could also make changes to the way that Qantas status is earned. A recent influx of Double Status Credits offers over recent years has made it far too easy for members to earn status. Qantas has already made some changes to the way these offers are sent out, now targeting them to specific members rather than leaving them open to the public. But more changes could still be on the cards to make it harder for people to earn status.
In addition, there is speculation that Qantas could introduce a new lifetime Platinum tier.
A program devaluation is inevitable
The Qantas Frequent Flyer program is one of the most profitable divisions of the Qantas Group. Qantas Loyalty has been expanding aggressively in recent years and almost 1 in 2 Australians is now a Qantas Frequent Flyer member. While this is good for the airline’s short-term profitability, there are only so many seats on flights available to members that wish to redeem their points. At some point, something has to give.
But it remains to be seen what these changes will bring. It is quite possible that some positive changes will come from Thursday’s announcement. The devil will be in the detail.
Qantas must provide 3 months’ notice of the changes
As I spoke about in Episode 9 of the AFF on Air podcast, Qantas is required to give at least 3 months of notice about these kinds of changes to its frequent flyer program. Therefore, any changes announced on Thursday will not take effect until at least mid-September 2019. So there’s no need to panic… just yet.
The last major change to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program was the infamous “simpler and fairer” devaluation of 2014. At that time, Qantas removed Any Seat Awards, changed the number of points earned for flying and drastically reduced the rates at which status credits are earned when flying on Oneworld partner airlines.
There is already lots of discussion about the upcoming Qantas Frequent Flyer changes on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qantas FF announcement 20 June – “biggest overhaul” in program history
We’ll bring you full details and analysis of the changes on Thursday afternoon.