Qantas is now allowing classic reward flights to be upgraded with points. This means that passengers using points to book reward flights in Economy or Premium Economy can enter the “upgrade lottery” for a bump-up to Premium Economy or Business class. (Business Class rewards remain ineligible for upgrades to First class.)

So… is this a great new way to use points, or a rip-off?

Some members have welcomed the new upgrade option. They see any new opportunities to upgrade on points as a step in the right direction.

I would say this is a great improvement. Probably 95% of international flights have a Y rewards seat but no J. At least you can get on the plane and enter the lottery. Another situation is if you don’t have the points now but will before the flight. At least you can guarantee your seat.

However, there is a catch. The number of points required to upgrade from a classic reward are significantly higher than an equivalent points upgrade from a regular, paid ticket. The cost of an economy reward, plus the cost of a points upgrade to Business class, is considerably higher than the cost of booking a Business class reward outright. In fact, in some cases, the number of points needed for the upgrade will be higher than a Business class reward seat. And that’s before the additional cost of the original Economy reward is taken into account!

Makes a SYD-HKG classic economy award one-way upgraded to business class costing a total of 82,000 QFF points where as a business class award booked initially is only 60,000 QFF points. Personally do not see this as an enhancement. In fact it’s a trap. Hope no one gets confused and thinks this is a good deal and wastes their points on an upgrade.

There are some circumstances where this new upgrade system may be of use. For example, if you’ve booked an Economy reward flight due to a lack of points or availability in other classes. However, some members point out that it would be cheaper to cancel the Economy reward and book a Business class reward outright – rather than upgrading from a classic reward – should an award seat become available at a later date.

I can see this being useful in two instances. Firstly, if you’ve booked a oneworld award in economy and just want to upgrade one or two of the Qantas flights. Secondly, if booking an international flight on points and only economy awards were available at the time of booking. At least this would give you a chance to try your luck for an upgrade closer to the flight. Otherwise, booking a business class award outright remains much better value.

Some members take a more neutral stance.

I can’t think of a single circumstance under which I’d use this, but I guess it doesn’t do much harm.

Would you upgrade from a classic reward? Add your views to the discussion 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]