Qantas is considering an overhaul to its Classic Flight Rewards to “better address the needs of customers”. The enhancements would involve increasing the number of points required for some Qantas award flights. But award availability on some routes would increase to compensate for this. There would also be changes to the Qantas-imposed carrier charges that are added to the cost of reward flights.
Some of the proposed changes appear to be quite positive. However, this may be a case of “be careful what you wish for”. While improved award availability is a good thing, you’ll likely end up paying more to redeem Qantas points for flights as a result.
Proposed Qantas Classic Flight Reward changes
In a survey sent to Qantas Frequent Flyer members, the airline gave some specific examples of the proposed changes. On domestic routes such as Sydney-Melbourne, for example, there would be no changes to the number of Qantas points required for an Economy reward seat, while the carrier charges would be reduced slightly. But the cost of a Business reward seat would increase, both in terms of points and the required co-payment.
On long-haul routes, the number of points needed to book an Economy reward would decrease. But award seats in premium cabins would become even more expensive. Qantas claims that an “up to 10x” increase in award availability would compensate for the price increase. Qantas also states that the carrier-imposed charges in both Economy and Business Class would decrease.
Under the new system, a Qantas Business Class reward from Sydney to London could cost 146,000 Qantas points and around $416 in taxes and Qantas-imposed charges. The same flight would currently cost 128,000 Qantas points + $631.73. (For what it’s worth, genuine government and airport taxes make up only $91.73 of this amount.) However, Qantas currently releases virtually no award availability on its flights to London anyway. So in this example, the proposed change could be beneficial – but only if award availability increases commensurately, and the full reduction in carrier charges is passed on.
Could these changes improve the Qantas Frequent Flyer program?
If the proposed Qantas Classic Flight Reward charges are implemented, they would address some of the key issues with the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. Earlier this year, Australian Frequent Flyer exposed the excessive carrier charges applied to Qantas award flights. We also revealed that Qantas was not releasing any Business or First Class award seats on key routes, including Perth-London, Singapore-London and Sydney-Johannesburg.
But will these changes fix this? The proof will be in the pudding. You can be sure that we’ll keep a close eye on any changes that are announced in due course.
Many AFF members are sceptical that the changes would benefit anyone other than Qantas.
All they need is positive feedback to the ’10x more’ and they’ll use that as the excuse to introduce the changes. Then the ‘up to’ will come in to play and we’ll see little to nothing in terms of actual seats.
But some members are keeping an open mind…
I think this is positive for long haul J if there really is a big increase in award seat availability.
Qantas Frequent Flyer already has some of the highest award flight prices in the industry. So any significant devaluation would be a free kick for the airline’s competitors.
If there are changes to Qantas award flight pricing, we’re concerned that the higher pricing may also apply to partner airline awards – without any increase in award availability or a decrease in carrier charges to compensate for this.
Other than to slightly reduce the cost of some Economy awards a few years ago, Qantas has not made major changes to its Classic Flight Reward pricing since 2005. That said, Qantas has steadily increased fuel surcharges (later renamed “carrier charges”) since then. The airline also reduced the number of points earned on most flights with the infamous “simpler and fairer” changes back in 2014.
What do you think of the proposed Qantas Classic Flight Reward changes? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Potential changes to QF awards – amount of points and cash needed, & number of award seats released