Qantas "Points Plane" Bookings Now OpenWanting to redeem your Qantas Frequent Flyer points to Japan, but struggling to find award availability? If you’re able to fly from Melbourne to Tokyo on 21 October, you’re in luck! Qantas has dedicated an entire Airbus A380 to frequent flyer redemption bookings as part of a new “Points Plane” initiative. And tickets for the flight have just gone on sale at 7am this morning.

Every seat on QF79 from Melbourne to Tokyo-Narita on 21 October 2019 will be made available for Classic Flight Reward bookings at the usual award seat prices. This flight is operated by an A380, so there are 371 Economy seats, 35 Premium Economy, 64 Business and 14 First Class seats up for grabs. This flight departs Melbourne at 10.30am, arriving at Tokyo’s Narita Airport at 6.30pm.

A return Qantas Points Plane from Narita to Melbourne is also running on 26 October, using an Airbus A330. Commercial tickets are not available for sale on the Qantas Points Plane flights.

All Qantas Frequent Flyer members will have equal access to these seats. This is in contrast to Qantas’ usual policy of restricting premium long-haul award availability to Gold and above members.

The on-board experience on these flights will also be a little different, with Qantas promising that the Melbourne-Tokyo flight “will also have a distinctive inflight service with special on-board experiences including a bespoke cocktail and meal service, signature pyjamas and inflight giveaways”.

This is clearly a publicity stunt from Qantas. The real reason they are operating an A380 from Melbourne to Tokyo is that they need to position the aircraft for a Moto GP charter flight back to Melbourne. This is a clever way to fill the seats and generate some good PR at the same time. In a media release, the airline said that “Qantas occasionally moves unscheduled aircraft around the network for a range of operational and commercial reasons – creating opportunities for initiatives like Points Planes.”

Despite what some media outlets have reported, the seats on these “Points Planes” are not entirely free. In addition to the Qantas Frequent Flyer points, taxes and Qantas carrier charges are still payable. On flights from Melbourne to Tokyo, the taxes are currently $85.14 per person, one-way. In addition, Qantas charges between $90 and $180 in additional airline-imposed surcharges to customers redeeming points. Here are the prices for a Classic Flight Reward seat from Melbourne to Tokyo (as of 15 May 2019):

Qantas Points required Taxes & carrier charges
Economy 35,000 $175.14
Premium Economy 54,000 $250.14
Business 72,000 $265.14
First 108,000 $265.14

While this is an interesting initiative, it doesn’t change the fact that Classic Flight Reward availability on most Qantas international flights is hard to find. And there are some Qantas routes where award availability in premium cabins is virtually non-existent.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: A380 operating QF79 MEL-NRT on 21/10/19 [as a “Points Plane”]

Update (7.30am on Thursday): The Business and First Class seats on these flights sold out within minutes. Economy and Premium Economy seats are still available.

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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]