Is there anything more frustrating than having plenty of Qantas Frequent Flyer points "in the bank" but not being able to get a seat on a flight when you need one? Here's how to fix that!
As I outlined in Part 1 of this series Qantas Frequent Flyer Awards come in two flavours: the standard or 'Classic Award' which has very few seats set aside on each flight, and the 'Any Seat Award' which lets you use points (usually more points than for a Classic reward seat) to purchase any seat on the flight.
And if you have enough points the Any Seat option is actually quite a good one. I crunched the numbers on this in part two of the series.
But what if you don't have enough points to score an Any Seat Award ticket? Or maybe you want to keep some points in your account for another trip later?
In the final part of this series I'll show you how to book an Any Seat Award for the same number of points as a Classic Award, and use cash to make up the difference. It's also a top way to get maximum value from your points.
How to get a Frequent Flyer seat at "classic" prices, at any time.
This is a little-known part of the Any Seat Award booking process. But most people don't discover it because they give up on Any Seat Awards as soon as they see the high points required.
Let's take the example of flying Sydney to Perth business class. I want a flight from Sydney that doesn't leave at the crack of dawn, but all the Classic Award seats are gone for the more sensible times I want to fly.
Firstly, of course, I log in to Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Then I go to the award flight booking page.
Here I select "Qantas & Jetstar Any Seat Award" in the "Award type" area, then plug in Sydney to Perth and specify dates I want.
When I see the list of flights I select the flight times I want. 10:10am outbound from Sydney on Wednesday and a 10.05am return from Perth the following week suits my timetable pretty well.
Here's the flight out:
And here is the flight home:
The total points needed to book this itinerary is 88,864.
To do this as a Classic Award would cost 72,000 points plus $47.80 for surcharges, so the Any Seat Award will cost me 16,864 extra points.
At the 'review' screen there's a slider so which lets you reduce the number of points needed for the Any Seat Award in exchange for paying some cash.
Here's a closer look at that slider:
It lets me adjust the ratio of points-to-cash, and I can pull the slider all the way back to equal the basic cost of an Any Seat Award ticket -- 72,000 points -- and pay $240.29 in cash.
Considering you have to pay $47.80 in surcharges and taxes on a Classic Award return flight to Perth (which you don't have to pay with an Any Seat Award ticket), this means you're effectively only having to pay $192.49.
So now you are getting an Any Seat Award seat for the same number of points as a Classic Award -- and you're also earning frequent flyer points plus status credits, which you wouldn't get on a Classic Award (that's assuming there were any Classic Award seats available on that flight in the first place).
Where this trick doesn't work...
This booking option isn't going to work for every scenario. It only makes sense if you are able to find Any Seat Award seats that are reasonably close to the points required for a Classic Award.
One example where it doesn't work out well is a Sydney to Auckland return business class ticket. The cheapest Any Seat Awards I could find for that route amounted to 198,920 points, while a Classic Award would have cost 72,000 points.
Pulling the Any Seat points slider right back to 72,000 points resulted in a whopping additional cost of $1,152.37.
It wouldn't make any sense to pay this much: a business class return ticket on LAN Airways (which Qantas uses for codeshare flights across the Tasman anyway) only costs $793 to buy outright.
Like an Any Seat Award, buying this ticket with LAN would earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points and status credits as long as you provided your Qantas Frequent Flyer number in your LAN booking.
Overall, though, this trick is an excellent one to bear in mind for your award flight bookings -- especially if Classic Award seats are scarce for the dates you want to fly.
This is the final part of a series written for Australian Business Traveller by a professional travel manager on the Qantas' frequent flyer award system and how to make the most of it.
Gary Walter is a travel manager for a large Australian company, and in his spare time, an enthusiast of squeezing the most out of Frequent Flyer programs.
For the latest news and tips for business travellers and frequent flyers, follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT