Qantas Shortchanging Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok FlyersMalaysia Airlines often has good value Business fares to destinations across Asia on flights departing Bangkok. All flights are via Malaysia Airlines’ hub of Kuala Lumpur. These deals are popular for Qantas status runs as it’s possible to earn large amounts of Qantas status credits relatively cheaply. But the deals would be even better if Qantas wasn’t short-changing its frequent flyers on the Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok route!

In the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, points for Malaysia Airlines flights within Asia are awarded based on the distance of the flight. This is also the case for many other partner airline flights.

Here are the Qantas points and status credits you’ll earn for Malaysia Airlines Business flights within Asia:

  • Up to 100 miles: 125 Qantas points and 20 status credits
  • 101-250 miles: 250 Qantas points and 20 status credits
  • 251-500 miles: 500 Qantas points and 40 status credits
  • 501-750 miles: 825 Qantas points and 40 status credits
  • 751 to 1,500 miles: 1,375 Qantas points and 60 status credits
  • 1501 to 2,500 miles: 2,500 Qantas points and 80 status credits

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok is 754 miles. So, Qantas Frequent Flyer members should earn 1,375 Qantas points and 60 status credits when flying this route.

Great Circle Mapper screenshot showing the distance from KUL to BKK.
Great Circle Mapper screenshot showing the distance from KUL to BKK.

But Qantas only awards 40 status credits and 825 Qantas points from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. For some reason, Qantas has calculated the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok as 747 miles – placing it in a lower mileage zone. We’re not sure how they arrived at this figure. Even if Qantas accidentally used Bangkok’s second airport to calculate the distance, it would still be greater than 750 miles.

According to section 9.3.3 of the Qantas Frequent Flyer terms and conditions, the distance is calculated “using the shortest distance on the surface of the globe between the origin and destination of the Flight Segment, regardless of any intermediate stops, at the mileage rates set by Qantas Loyalty.”

AFF members have tried several different methods of calculating the distance between Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. None yielded a distance under 750 miles.

Each airport has an ARP (Aerodrome Reference Point) which has a specific lat/lon used for flight navigation systems. They often put an actual metal disc on the airfield at the precise point. So using any flight planning system (such as skyvector.com), you can get the great circle distance between the two airports. The great circle route is the shortest distance between the two points in accordance with the definition above. It’s physically impossible to fly a shorter distance. For the record, the exact distance is 655.9 nautical miles (aviation use NM, not statue miles), which equates to 754.8 miles.

Another member adds…

Southern point of BKK boundary to northern point of KUL boundary is 753.7 miles. You can’t fly less miles unless you want a runway excursion.

One member believes Qantas may have conveniently forgotten to update its systems when new airports opened in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur more than a decade ago.

Well I guess Qantas are fudging this, conveniently forgetting that services have moved on from Don Muang (now DMK) and Subang (now SZB). These were the previous main airports of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur before new ones were built at Samut Prakan (Suvarnabhumi, BKK) and Sepang (KLIA, KUL). GC distance between DMK and SZB is 744 miles.

The error also affects Qantas Frequent Flyer members flying with Royal Jordanian Airlines between these two cities.

A Qantas spokesperson told Australian Frequent Flyer that the Qantas Frequent Flyer earn rates for the Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok route will be updated as soon as possible. Any retrospective points claims will be assessed under the standard terms & conditions.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Is the Distance between BKK & KUL being Deliberately misstated by QFF?

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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]