Frequent flyer points and perks news: our weekly wrap

By Chris C., June 26 2015
Frequent flyer points and perks news: our weekly wrap

Selected American Express customers will soon earn fewer frequent flyer points per dollar spent on a range of Blue, Gold and Affinity Gold credit cards, while all Virgin Australia Velocity members can amass double points with a range of retailers before the financial year ends.

Also in this week’s wrap, your Qantas Frequent Flyer points will become a touch more valuable come July 1 with a reduction to the fuel surcharges payable when redeeming points for flights in economy and premium economy.

Qantas Silver too gets a boost with access to Qantas’ international business class priority check-in desks from August 1, with invited frequent flyer members also able to bid both points and cash for an international upgrade to premium economy.

Winding things up for another week, Oneworld will roll out new ‘Oneworld Priority’ signs across the reach of its international network to make it easier for travellers to spot their appropriate priority queues, while Qantas cardholders can now also earn points on every Jetstar domestic flight in New Zealand.

Qantas cuts fuel surcharges on frequent flyer tickets

Qantas is moving to further reduce the fuel surcharge on tickets bought with frequent flyer points, following a similar cut earlier this year and continued low fuel prices.

The savings are estimated to range from 3% to 25%, with the average saving around 12% according to the airline.

The biggest winners will be economy travellers flying Australia to most destinations in North America and South America, where a cut of up to 25% on the fuel component of the frequent flyer booking means those add-on charges will drop by up to $140 per passenger. 

Read more: Qantas cuts fuel surcharges on frequent flyer tickets

Qantas auctions premium economy upgrades

Rather use your points for an upgrade than to book a ticket outright? That’s okay – you can now bid for a premium economy upgrade on international flights using a mix of money and frequent flyer points.

Expanding on the initial ‘Bid Now’ scheme launched in February for business class upgrades, it works in much the same way – if your booking is eligible, you’ll receive an email from Qantas roughly seven days before departure, inviting you to submit a bid.

Premium economy bids start at just 5,000 Qantas frequent flyer points, which are then paired with a cash component – such as 5,000 Qantas Points plus $1,000.

Read more: Qantas extends 'Bid Now' upgrades to premium economy

Virgin Australia: double points on online shopping

Buying the latest MacBook, Lenovo laptop or Microsoft Surface Pro could land you double Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flyer points – and just in time for the end of the financial year.

That’s an impressive four points for every dollar spent online at the Apple Store and with Lenovo and Microsoft, along with Samsung.

Double points are also up for grabs at Adairs, Booktopia, Charles Tyrwhitt, Deals Direct, Marks & Spencer, Neiman Marcus, Uni Qlo and Zanui, but only for purchases made until June 30.

Start your shopping expedition on the Virgin Australia Velocity website to ensure you earn points with every purchase.

Qantas Silvers get business class priority check-in

Qantas will allow travellers carrying a silver Qantas Frequent Flyer card to use business class check-in counters on all international flights from August 1.

'Silvers' headed overseas have traditionally been restricted to premium economy counters by default, with access to the business class lanes only when there's no premium economy counter.

Mindful of the increased traffic at business class check-in desks once Silvers join the queue, Qantas is looking to boost the number of business class counters and trim back those assigned to premium economy.

Read more: Qantas opens business class check-in for Silver members

AMEX reduces frequent flyer points on selected cards

The number of airline frequent flyer points earned by selected American Express credit card customers will reduce from November 1 2015 in conjunction with the launch of a Membership Rewards 'Gateway' scheme.

Under the new program, four MR points will buy three frequent flyer points with Virgin Australia, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways – down from 4:4 or 1:1 with most airlines – while 400 MR points will net three Air New Zealand Airpoints dollars.

Affected customers will be transitioned over to the new Membership Rewards Gateway program come November which utilises these lower conversion rates between Membership Rewards points and airline frequent flyer points or miles.

See if you’re affected: AMEX reduces credit card frequent flyer points

Oneworld Priority helps frequent flyers spot perks

Here's a quick quiz: what frequent flyer status do you hold with your favourite airline, what tier does that equate to in the global Oneworld alliance system and more importantly, what time-saving and headache-reducing benefits does this deliver at the airport?

The savviest travellers will be able to reel that off the top of their head, but the rest – which experience tells us is a vast majority compared to the clued-in minority – have surprisingly little idea of the worldwide perks which accrue from their status.

Oneworld's new Priority scheme is an attempt to change all that.

Read more: About the new Oneworld Priority scheme

Earn Qantas Points on Jetstar New Zealand flights

Jetstar New Zealand flights will now earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points, giving travellers – especially our Kiwi cousins – the chance to pocket more points across the pond.

The new deal applies to all domestic Jetstar NZ flights and starts at a minimum of 400 Qantas Points, extending to a minimum of 800 Qantas Points on Plus fares and at least 1,200 Qantas Points on Max tickets.

Points-earning on JQ NZ flights was previously restricted to passengers who booked a cost-extra Plus or Max bundle on top of the basic Starter fare.

Read more: Earn Qantas Points on Jetstar New Zealand flights

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

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