If you’ve ever tried to redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points for an international flight, you’ve probably discovered that Classic Flight Reward availability can be very limited. But if you want to use your Qantas points to book a long-haul flight in a premium cabin, having Qantas Frequent Flyer status can be a big help… in more ways than one!
Priority access to popular Classic Flight Rewards for frequent flyers
Qantas gives its frequent flyers with Gold or higher status priority access to Classic Flight Reward seats in Premium Economy, Business and First Class on international long-haul flights.
Qantas initially releases Classic Flight Reward seats on most flights exactly 353 days before departure (at 10am Brisbane time, to be exact). But on long-haul international routes like Sydney-Los Angeles or Melbourne-Singapore, Classic Flight Reward seats are typically only made available to Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers from this time.
There are no such restrictions for domestic, trans-Tasman and long-haul Economy flights, although some flights might not have any seats available to anyone.
A month later, around 323 days until departure, Qantas then makes any remaining premium seats on long-haul flights available to Silver frequent flyers. Finally, if there are still any seats remaining with 297 days (around 10 months) to go, they are made available to everyone else.
Sometimes, Qantas will also make additional Classic Flight Reward seats available closer to the departure date (including on domestic routes) for frequent flyers with Gold status or higher. So, when searching for award availability on the Qantas website, it’s a good idea to be logged into your Qantas Frequent Flyer account!
If you have a family member with Qantas status, you could also ask them to book a seat for you. In addition to transferring points to eligible family members, Qantas Frequent Flyer members can use their points to book reward seats for family members.
Qantas also gives upgrade priority on international flights to frequent flyers with the highest status.
But that’s not all…
Qantas Platinum members can request additional reward seats
If you have Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum or Platinum One status, there’s another unpublished benefit that could be hugely beneficial. Qantas Platinum and Platinum One members can request the release of additional Classic Flight Reward seats!
If you’re having trouble finding Qantas award availability on the route or date you want to travel, and there’s no suitable award availability on Qantas partner airlines either, this is another option at your disposal. Requests for the release of extra Qantas reward seats can be submitted by calling the Qantas contact centre (or VIP Service Team, if you’re a Platinum One member).
You won’t necessarily be able to request the release of additional Qantas Classic Flight Reward seats on every flight. And even if you are able to submit a request, Qantas’ revenue management team has full discretion over whether to accept or decline your request.
That said, there is some method to the madness! According to the Qantas protocol, call centre agents can submit an award seat release request if there is real-time availability in certain Reservation Booking Designators (RBDs, also known as fare classes or fare buckets) on a given flight.
(Read more: What is a Fare Class and Why Does it Matter?)
For domestic Qantas flights, seats need to be available for sale at the time of the request in either of the following fare classes:
- Economy – N class
- Business – D class
If you’re a Platinum member, sufficient seats must be available for sale in the following fare classes for your request to be considered:
- Economy – Q class
- Premium Economy – T class
- Business – I class
- First – A class
And if you’re a Platinum One member, you are able to submit Classic Reward release requests on international routes if seats are available in these fare classes:
- Economy – L class
- Premium Economy – R class
- Business – D class
- First – F class
Anecdotally, it is not possible to request additional reward seats on the Sydney-Lord Howe Island route. But other Qantas marketed and operated flights are fair game.
If your request is rejected, you could also try requesting a seat on another Qantas route or date.
How to check fare class availability
This is where a subscription to Expert Flyer can come in handy! By conducting a “flight availability” search on Expert Flyer, you can check real-time seat availability in each of the relevant fare classes on any flight. (If you know how to fully interpret this data, it can also give you a good overall picture of how full the flight may be in each class of travel, and how likely an upgrade request is of being successful.)
As an example, below is a screenshot from an Expert Flyer search for fare class availability on a Qantas flight from Sydney to San Francisco:
On this flight, it would be possible for a Platinum One member to request the release of additional Classic Reward seats in Economy, Premium Economy or Business.
As there are four Business seats available for sale in “I” class, a Qantas Platinum member could also request the release of up to four reward seats in Business Class. But as there are no seats available for sale in T or Q classes, respectively, it would not be possible for a Platinum frequent flyer to submit a request for the release of extra Premium Economy or Economy Classic Flight Rewards on this flight.
If you don’t have an Expert Flyer subscription, you can ask an AFF member who does have a subscription to check flight loading availability on the relevant AFF Help Desk thread. Alternatively, AFF GOLD Supporters can get 15% off annual premium subscriptions to Expert Flyer.
So if you’re a Qantas Platinum or Platinum One frequent flyer member, and you’re struggling to find award availability on a flight you want, why not give this unpublished benefit a try?
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QFF Platinum requesting release of extra Classic award seats?