What the Qantas frequent flyer changes mean for you


Qantas frequent flyers will be able to access five times as many rewards seats following a major facelift to the airline's loyalty program.

The Classic Plus Flight Rewards option, which was announced by the airline yesterday, will increase the pool of rewards seats available to frequent flyer members booking with Qantas Points by more than 20 million seats.

Classic Plus will complement Qantas' existing rewards seat options - Classic Rewards and Points Plus Pay - with the airline confirming that it will continue to offer more than five million rewards seats through Classic Rewards.

qantas classic plus frequent flyer rewards seat

Unlike the existing Classic option which allows passengers to book rewards seats through Jetstar and partner airlines, Classic Plus can only be used on Qantas-operated flights.

Andrew Glance, the chief executive of Qantas Loyalty, says that while rewards seats that are booked using Classic Plus will typically require more Qantas Points than Classic Rewards, there will be far more seats to choose from.

"The widespread availability of Classic Plus means that frequent flyers have more options to fly where they want, when they want and more often, using their points.

"The new type of reward seat will usually require more points than the highly sought after existing Classic seats, and will be available to all destinations on the Qantas international and domestic network, across First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins."

Frequent flyer members can already start booking seats via Classic Plus for select Qantas international flights that depart Australia from July onwards.

The full roll out across the airlines' international and domestic network is then set to be completed by the end of the year.

How many points will a Classic Plus Flight Rewards seat cost?

As Glance notes, frequent flyers will typically need to fork out more points to book a seat through the new Classic Plus option than they will through the Classic option.

Qantas uses the example of a return economy flight from Sydney to Nadi where a rewards seat booked using the Classic option would require 36,000 Qantas Points and $279 in taxes and other charges.

However, using the new Classic Plus option, a rewards seat would require 34,800 points (plus $279) for flights during an off-peak period, or 117,100 points (plus $279) for flights departing during peak period.

As the example shows, the points required for seats booked through the new Classic Plus option will fluctuate like the price of normal airfares, meaning that those willing to travel outside of peak periods may be able to snag a rewards seat for less points.

Qantas says that Classic Plus seats may also be better value than Classic seats on the same route during certain sales and promotions.

Is this a positive move for frequent flyers?

There's been plenty of questions raised about the value of frequent flyer points and the availability of rewards seats in recent years, so could Qantas' expanded program go some way to addressing these concerns?

Steve Hui, founder and chief executive of iFLYflat, believes that because of the higher points threshold required, the new option will naturally benefit frequent flyers with larger balances.

"I think it is positive for the points-rich, but not for the average punter. Because of the higher points needed for Classic Plus, in sheer practical terms you need to have the points to play," he says.

"In the case of a family looking for four Business Class round-trip seats to London, under Classic Rewards you'll need 1,156,800 plus taxes, which is already a lot of points in anyone's eyes.

"Under the new Classic Plus, taking the numbers provided by Qantas, that family now needs 2,555,600 points plus taxes. And perhaps even more due to the dynamic link to cash airfare prices."

Hui does believe that Classic Plus could provide a useful outlet for frequent flyers who have built up a stash of Qantas Points in recent years. But again, he questions whether most people will be able to easily build up the points required to regularly benefit from the new option.

He says it is pleasing that Qantas has committed to retaining the five million rewards seats available through the Classic option though.

"It's positive that they [Qantas] have reiterated they are not going to reduce the number of Classic Reward seats and that they are committed to the continuation of the Classic Rewards format. So for everyone who is still seeking Classic Rewards when they fly, it's a positive that this won't impact them."

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Tom Watson is a senior journalist at Money magazine. He's previously worked as a journalist covering everything from property and consumer banking to financial technology. Tom has a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Technology, Sydney. He tweets at @TomasAKWatson.