For all users of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program (QFF), the one question on everyone’s mind is how can we take advantage of all the points we have accumulated in our account?
Qantas is very generous to their program users, offering many different ways to utilise your hard-earned points, whether that be through accommodation, the Qantas Store or simply on flights.
There are two main ways that QFF points can be utilised to their full potential. That being flight upgrades and Classic Flight Rewards. Whilst upgrades are pretty self-explanatory (they allow you to use points to upgrade from economy – business class etc.), it’s understanding how the Qantas Classic Flight Awards system works and how you can take advantage of this to maximise your point redemption.
What Are Classic Flight Rewards?
Classic Flight Rewards is a fixed priced fare redeemable via QFF points which is available to all QFF holders. The number of points required to book an airfare under Classic Flight Rewards is calculated based on how far you are flying. The best thing about Classic Flight Rewards is not only does this include Qantas flights, but it includes a lot of One World partner Airlines and also Jetstar. As seen in the table below, if you roughly know how far you are travelling, you can work out how many points it will cost you. A helpful website to calculate your total air mileage is http://gcmap.com/
However, in many situations many travellers will not know how far that will be travelling, so Qantas has made it easy for us to use an online calculator which allows you to work out how many points it will cost you to fly to a particular destination.
Qantas Partner Airlines
Qantas Classic Rewards can be booked with all One World partner airlines which are:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Qantas also has a great list of non One World airlines which it has partnerships with those are:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Niugini
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Air Vanuatu
- Alaska Airlines
- China Eastern
- EL AL
- Fiji Airways
- Jet Airways
Qantas Class Reward Taxes
Another important thing to keep in mind is that all fares redeemed under the classic rewards program exclude all fees and taxes. This means that you will still be out of pocket for this part of the fare. Unfortunately, Qantas does not offer a way to view how much fares and taxes are for each route, so the only way you are able to view this is by going through the booking procedure, which we will cover below.
A general rule of thumb I apply is that anything domestic, no matter the distance, you are looking at approximately $30-40 and a lot higher on international redemptions.
I often take advantage of this when booking international flights, as I am based in SA, I usually have to fly my international leg out of Sydney or Melbourne, and so it’s good to get a low cost connection.
How to book a Classic Award Flight
So we have approached the point where we have worked out where we want to fly and we have enough points, we just need to check availability and then progress to book in the flight.
It’s important to know that whilst availability is usually pretty good with Qantas, they do grant additional seats to those who are in a higher frequent flyer class (Gold, Silver etc).
Firstly, you want to login to your QFF account and get to the home screen and then click the Make a Reward Booking button as seen below.
Once you click this link, you will be taken to the screen where you book a flight. However make sure the “Use money, points or both” option is not selected. This is a common mistake amongst beginners but the Qantas website will highlight it by default. Using this option is the worst possible way to use Qantas frequent flyer points; always go for Classic Flight Awards!
From here you are then able to select the origin and destination of where you want to go. I will run through an example to demonstrate how this works.
As seen below, I have chosen a simple route of Adelaide – Melbourne. A handy tip on the next screen is to tip “flexible with dates”. This comes in exceptionally handy when booking overseas flights or busy routes as you can see what days flights are available. By default Qantas will always select Economy so make sure you select the class you actually want and click the “Go” button again.
As you will then see in, you can then see what dates are available for the type of airfare you are booking (economy, business etc). You then simply select the date you want and you will be taken to the next screen to confirm your time of departure/arrival. A tip here is to try and stick with direct routes so you do not spend time in transit.
As seen in my example, I have selected Adelaide – Melbourne as a direct flight, the total of the Qantas points will then be shown at the bottom of the screen before you confirm your flights. In this example, it comes out to be 8,000 points.
On the next screen is where you will confirm all the details of passengers etc. and finally you will also be presented with the total cost of taxes. As explained previously, this will roughly be $30-40 for all domestic flights and will increase dramatically on international routes.
So there we have it. That is the quickest way to not only find out how much a trip costs in QFF points, but how to check the availabilities of dates and associated taxes. I encourage everyone that is unfamiliar with Classic Flight Rewards to simply play around with the above and to find something that suits you.
Other important things to know about Classic Flight Rewards
I have also compiled the following details which outline some other useful information to consider when booking a Classic Reward flight.
Which Airlines Can I book Classic Rewards For?
As mentioned earlier, you are able to book Classic Rewards flights for most One World Partner Airlines. A full list can be found here. It’s important to keep in mind that all flights are subject to availability and you will likely find fewer options on partnered airlines.
Other ways to search for flights?
Above I discussed how you can book flights directly through the Qantas website and also take advantage of using the flexible date option. Well on top of this, the user has some other options that are available, which can be very handy when trying to find the best route. These include:
Multi City Tool Searcher – This allows you to search each leg individually, instead of making a booking as a direct flight. This can be handy when you also want to have a stopover. This option can be located on the homepage of the Qantas website.
British Airways Website – This is by far the most comprehensive way to find flights for One World Reward Flights. It uses a system that will show you award seats on every One World Carrier. This is an absolute must when booking international and you are trying to book the perfect route. Once you find the perfect route, you will then need to ring Qantas directly on 13 11 31 and give them the flight number/dates etc and book it in accordingly.
Best time to book reward flights?
As with anything in life, the more time you allow yourself, the easier you will find the flights you are looking for! Qantas release their Classic Rewards flights 353 in advance to its top tier frequent flyers (11 am Sydney time during daylight savings), for lowly silver and bronze members this is reduced to 297 days (in premium cabins) before departure for some long haul international flight in the premium cabins so if you are planning to fly on a popular route (A380 to LA in business class) I would recommend making sure you give yourself plenty of time!
For partner awards such as Emirates, flights become available 353 days prior to departure for everyone.
Domestic however can be a lot easier and you will often find flights are still available on weekends and public holidays within a few weeks of booking.
If you want to track award space like a pro, you can subscribe to Expert Flyer and create notifications. The tool will then monitor the flights you are looking for and alert you as soon as an award seat becomes available.
How much will it cost me if I want to change or cancel a reward booking?
The good thing about booking a rewards flight is that if you want to cancel, you don’t have to forfeit your entire booking. Qantas are very flexible in this regard and allow all users who cancel a flight with more than 24 hours’ notice, a fee of 5,000 points. Also remember this is applied to each ticket, so if you have two people on a booking, you will be charged 10,000 QFF points in total. This option also serves a great way to book a flight where you are not 100% certain if you will travel as you know you will only have to cop a 5,000 point fee, opposed to paying the full fare and losing your money.
Finally, I have summarised the positives and negatives below for using Classic Flight Rewards.
QF Classic Rewards Positives:
- Fixed price in QFF points for all routes (prices never change)
- Able to book 353 days in advance for all flights
- A great way to redeem points you have earned from various deals and offers
- Able to redeem points on partnered airlines. Taxes are usually lower as well.
- Offers a great way to fly domestically with lots of availabilities, all at a low cost.
- Fares can be cancelled for 5,000 points, which is good if you do need to change your plans.
- Access to sales when fares can go on sale a couple of times a year at 20-30% off. Always a great time to book flights if you are planning a holiday etc.
- The ability to also upgrade to business class subject to availability.
QF Classic Rewards Negatives
- Popular routes are often hard to book and require to be booked very far in advance. (For example, A380 from Sydney – LAX in business class is very difficult to find).
- High taxes on international flights.
- You do not earn status points on Classic Reward Bookings.
- No way to check prices of taxes unless you go through the booking process.
- As a lower tier QFF Holder, you will have less flights available than those at a higher status.
- You do not earn QFF Points on Classic Reward Bookings.