The last few years have been tough for Qantas; no flying has meant they doubled down on promoting their frequent flyer program. And with people not travelling, that means the liability of points has grown significantly.
While the majority of Qantas Frequent Flyers redeem their points for trivial stuff like toasters and iPhones, people like you and I redeem our points for experiences. Experiences like business and first-class specifically!
With borders opening up, everyone and their dog are attempting to book reward flights out of Australia. And everyone is raising the same complaint: why is it so damn hard to find reward seats?? My friend Matt from AFF posted a great article about this issue, but I wanted to further elaborate on what I think is going on.
You see, Qantas’s developers aren’t stupid. If you make redeeming points for premium experiences too easy: everyone would do it. But, on the other hand, if you make it too hard, everyone will complain. So they have to find the middle ground.
However, I’ve noticed a new “feature”, which is an attempt to cheat Australians out of their points. And I’m not saying this in a bad way; to be honest, I LOVE it when frequent flyer programs make it hard for users to redeem their miles. It just means there is more for those in the know. Simple!
Anyway, I digress.
Here’s what’s going on
To prove my point, you can do this experiment for yourself and see.
Step 1: go to qantas.com, select LAX-SYD, select flexible dates and select book with points.
Step 2: see what happens to your search result. Wow, a beautiful calendar view! Just what I ordered, thank you Qantas!
Step 3: Now, do the reverse. Select SYD-LAX, select flexible dates and select book with points.
Step 4: Did you see what they did there? Instead of going directly to the flexible calendar view, we get served this…
For those not playing along, let me give you my interpretation.
When people are searching for reward seats, the single most powerful feature is the calendar view. This way, you can quickly see which dates have availability and in which class.
While previously this showed up when clicking “flexible dates”, it now only shows for flights departing outside of Australia.
Those looking to book flights departing Australia will be greeted with a 7-day view, classic rewards DISABLED by default, and points+pay as the most prominent feature.
Someone new to Qantas Classic Rewards might think it’s normal to pay 1.1 million points to fly from Sydney to LA in business. This is great for Qantas as it takes the liability of classic rewards of their books when people redeem flights with points + pay.
I think it’s smart but also a bit cheeky, considering it’s purposely implemented for Australians trying to fly out of Australia. The biggest points balances would be accounts located in Australia so it makes sense to design the system in a way to extract more points of those not paying attention.
How to get around it?
The only way to get around this is by doing a multi-city search. Even if you only want to fly from point A to B, you will still see a much better calendar view.