upgrade101This week our members explain the ins & outs of using frequent flyer points to enjoy the luxury of Business Class. There are two different methods; the first being to buy an economy class seat and request a points upgrade to business class afterwards. The second method is to book a business reward seat outright using points. Both strategies provide great value for your points, but come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

For Qantas and Virgin domestic flights, upgrades are confirmed at the time of booking if a business class reward seat is available. However, upgrading on Qantas international flights is a different story entirely. To be eligible even to request an upgrade, you’ll need to ensure an “upgradable” fare is purchased – in other words, not a discounted sale ticket. There are a few more catches; Qantas points can only be used to upgrade on a Qantas-operated flight. And only Virgin flyers with Gold or Platinum status can upgrade on Virgin’s long-haul flights. Plus, upgrade requests are entirely subject to availability and never guaranteed.

Booking a reward seat outright guarantees that you’ll fly Business class. However, airlines release only a limited number of reward seats on each flight. Finding one can be like finding a needle in a haystack. On some airlines hefty “extra charges”, sometimes adding up to hundreds of dollars, are also payable on top of the points.

To maximise the chances of finding a reward seat, our members suggest a number of smart strategies. Although some forward-planning is required, booking a reward seat on the day it is released is a common tactic. Flying during off-peak travel periods can also improve your chances. Finally, don’t forget that Qantas points can also be used to book a seat on many partner airlines including Emirates, Cathay Pacific and British Airways. Virgin’s partners including Singapore Airlines and Etihad.

It may seem like a challenging game, but the hard work does pay off! Discover the rest of our members’ sage advice, or share your own upgrading 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]