For many, using points to upgrade a long-haul international flight is the “holy grail” of Qantas Frequent Flyer redemptions.

But with so many frequent flyers competing for a limited number of Premium Economy, Business and First class seats, a successful points upgrade is never guaranteed. The chances can be especially slim for flyers with Bronze (base level) Qantas status, as priority is given in the upgrade lottery to flyers with higher status.

Hey guys just wondering if anyone that is Bronze status has ever been successful in gaining an upgrade to business on an LAX flight. I tried last year with no luck and know that there were still available seats. I even purchase points to make sure I had enough to upgrade myself and my wife.

This doesn’t mean that upgrading is impossible. Even Bronze members can get lucky.

Two NB friends won the Y>J upgrade lottery to LAX in December a couple of years ago.

To maximise your chances of getting a points upgrade, our members have a few tips. Firstly, try to avoid flying on weekends and during peak travel periods such as school holidays. Flying off-peak, and during the middle of the week (i.e. between Tuesday and Thursday) is often a good strategy as the premium cabins are less likely to be full of paying passengers.

If I was trying to max the chances I’d pick a NON peak J travel time, so a Tue/Wed/Thu(maybe Monday) departure from either end (not a Mon ex-AU to LA) during a non peak travel period.

Purchasing a ticket in Premium Economy can increase your chances of upgrading to Business class. Premium Economy passengers will usually have priority for Business upgrades over Economy-ticketed flyers. Travelling solo also boosts the likelihood of getting the upgrade.

With upgrades they would consider things like status, the fare you booked etc. Single passengers get upgraded ahead of bookings with more than one person. So a couple at the Bronze level may well be bottom of the upgrade queue.

Qantas will always keep a few seats available for paying passengers on the day of departure. For international flights, these final remaining seats will be allocated to passengers with an upgrade requested if they haven’t been sold by the time boarding commences. So you don’t miss out on the chance for a last-minute upgrade, be sure to tick the “upgrade at the airport” box when requesting the upgrade online.

If there were seats available in J and you had opted in to upgrade at the airport you would have got them provided any WP, SG etc had their upgrades already cleared first. It’s quite likely that there were not enough seats for all people who had opted in for upgrades on the day. Those seats would still be available for sale until the flight closed at which time they are allocated to the people on the upgrade list in order of frequent flyer tier status.

A lot of people don’t tick the box to opt in to upgrade at the airport (during the upgrade request process) but think they have so miss out as you can’t request an international points upgrade at the airport.

Have you been successful in the Qantas upgrade lottery? Share your experience HERE.


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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]