Qantas Classic upgrades from Economy to Business - which are the most difficult international flights to redeem?

6 replies

Sir Michael

Member since 12 Aug 2018

Total posts 2

Hi ET Community,

I was on a Qantas overnight flight from Narita to Melbourne last month, and after booking the flight almost 5 months beforehand, I immediately requested an upgrade from Economy to Business via Classic rewards upgrades (I'm Qantas Gold). The upgrade didn't come through either 24 hours before the flight, or at the gate.

3 days before the flight I checked on expertflyer & saw 7 business class seats available out of 28 (A330-300), and 24 hours before the flight there were 3 business class seats available. I'm aware that although the seats are shown as available, there could be a business class passenger or two who hasn't selected their seat yet.

I do understand that flights to/from Japan have many more business travelers rather than just leisure travelers compared to destinations like Bali, but I was still a bit disappointed that I couldn't get an upgrade, despite requesting the upgrade 19 weeks beforehand.

On the flight from Melbourne to Narita, there was a Platinum (or above) Qantas member sitting next to me near the front of the economy cabin (row 24), and a colleague of his (also Platinum or above) sitting in the row in front of him (row 23), it seemed that neither could get business class flights or upgrades to business class - perhaps they booked at the last minute; they were travelling for business projects, and weren't Qantas staff travelling on standby travel fares. I didn't request an upgrade for this particular flight, as it was during the day & I had to get some work done on my computer anyway.

My questions are:

1) How common is it for Qantas business class upgrade requests to be declined to/from Narita or Haneda as a Qantas Gold member as compared to Qantas Platinum; is there a rough estimated period needed to request upgrades beforehand to have a better chance of an upgrade?

2) Which Qantas international flights are MORE likely to be granted upgrades from economy to business class? ie have more business class seat availability for upgrades

3) Which Qantas international flights are LESS LIKELY/UNLIKELY to be granted upgrades from economy to business class? ie have less business class seat availability for upgrades

Any insights into business class upgrade availability would be most welcome




Member since 19 Apr 2012

Total posts 731

This is an interesting set of questions, On 1 I have no idea but do take into account the day of the week. Mid week is easier. One way to check is to look at prices and business sale fares as that may be a reasonable proxy for availability. Whether there are platinums in economy (those that get greeted) is a function of if they requested an upgrade not whether there are seats for them (some save points for reward flights for holidays etc) On q.2 I find as a platinum I have a high success rate on SYD-DFW and vice versa even last Saturday when it was very full, and I got it three days out. Going via Melbourne (I'm in Canberra helps). On Q.3 Perth LHR less so but I have got one mid week. Also Syd Singapore was difficult a couple of years back prior to the A380 LAX, which I avoid, would also be tricky. When you request only comes into play after higher statuses are covered off. Japan being a business destination with a growing demand (more capacity is being added) would be tricky but do try mid week.


American Airlines - AAdvantage

Member since 13 Jul 2015

Total posts 58

I really hate the Qantas upgrade waitlist policy personally. But people will buy Qantas seats - so it's an unfortunate side effect of a very loyal customer base.



Member since 16 Nov 2012

Total posts 7

I've done OK (Gold FF) on QF1 and 2, which are pretty full, but I buy Premium Economy - the full jump from economy (which somehow is always discount economy) is a bridge too far, and in any case PE is not a bad fallback.


Member since 24 May 2018

Total posts 4

I fly QF9/10 about three times a year (flex economy) with a myriad of different results.

Here's my scorecard for the last 4 flights - I always fly a Wednesday or Thursday and not during school holidays

  • 1st time: Upgraded to business both legs as a qantas gold
  • 2nd time: no upgrade both ways as qantas gold
  • 3rd time: free upgrade to premium economy over (no points charged) at gate, points upgrade on the way back as qantas gold
  • 4th time: upgrade to business both legs as platinum.

I would say definitely easier as platinum, as they upgrade you more than 48 hours prior to the flight (usually a few hours before check in) you can use the chauffeur service if you jump online fast enough and manage booking. This is not available as a gold frequent flyer due to the time

anthony watts

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 29 Mar 2015

Total posts 15

I never had a problem with upgrades as Platinum. Usually it was PE to J. As gold, much more hit-and-miss. Still more hit than miss!

I agree that mid week works best. 380s seem easier than 787. No experience with 330 (international) but 330 domestic a few successes.


Member since 06 Jun 2017

Total posts 8

It's an unfortunate fact that Qantas staff will be put in business class even if regular pax request an upgrade using points. Have seen this as I actually knew the staff flying and had previously requested an upgrade for myself and family from premium economy.

Complained after getting back home but reply from Qantas was a generic “We try to do our best.....”

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