Qantas Upgrades in Exchange for FlexibilityThere’s not much worse than being bumped from a flight at the airport! Luckily for Qantas passengers, the airline is proactively working to avoid this. It’s now offering free upgrades to passengers willing to give up their seats on oversold Qantas flights.

An AFF member recently received a phone call from Qantas the day before they were booked to fly from Melbourne to Hong Kong. As the flight was overbooked, Qantas offered this member a free upgrade to Business class if they were prepared to travel the following day instead.

I had an interesting call from QF yesterday for a flight I am taking today – MEL-BNE-HKG all in Y.

The QF agent advised me that they had overbooked the flight and were looking for volunteers to give up their seat and take the same flights the following day with an upgrade to J for the HKG leg. Unfortunately I couldn’t take up the opportunity since I had to be in HKG first thing Monday for other commitments it would’ve loved the bump to J

In this case, our member was unable to take up the offer. But the gesture was appreciated.

It’s great to see Qantas being proactive by contacting customers before the day of the flight. It’s a win-win for both Qantas and its customers. Removing passengers from an overbooked flight minimises the potential disruption to passengers with inflexible travel plans. And those passengers that are willing to change their travel plans are compensated with a free upgrade.

Interestingly, it would appear that Qantas is offering the free upgrades to Bronze frequent flyers first. No airline wants to inconvenience its most valuable customers by asking them to move to a later flight. So it is unlikely you’ll ever receive such an offer if you have Platinum status.

Almost every airline in the world overbooks its flights. Most of the time, enough passengers fail to show up – or miss their connections – that the plane will still leave with empty seats. But in cases where passengers do need to be bumped, the way this is handled can make a huge difference. United Airlines made headlines last year for forcibly dragging a passenger from an oversold flight.

Qantas recently invested in Volantio, a start-up specialising in managing situations such as oversold flights. The company’s Yana platform uses artificial intelligence to identify passengers that might be willing to change their flights in return for upgrades. It looks like the investment has already started to pay off.

QANTAS has been looking into using Volantio.This system can be mutually beneficial for the airline (avoiding negative publicity of involuntarily bumping a passenger off a flight, earning additional revenue from selling seats on high demand flights) and the customer (e.g. free upgrade to J or other benefit for a flexible passenger).

Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll be offered a free upgrade just because you’re booked on an oversold Qantas flight. But it’s good to know that Qantas is working to minimise the disruption caused by overbooking – and compensating passengers that voluntarily move flights appropriately.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QF Offer to Move Flights

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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]