How "marketed & operated" flights affect your frequent flyer points

By John Walton, January 30 2013

In this era of airline partnerships and alliances it can be tricky to work out which flights earn the most Qantas or Virgin Australia frequent flyer points and status credits, and even which ones get you into the airport lounge.

Much of the time it comes down to the difference between a "marketed", "operated" or "marketed and operated" flight: in other words, which airline you paid for the ticket and which airline is doing the actual flying.

We'll explain using Qantas and its partner airlines as an example, but the same principles apply to Virgin Australia and its affiliates.

First up, "Qantas marketed" means you or your travel agent has bought your ticket from Qantas and it carries a QF flight number.

"Qantas operated" means the flight you're on is a Qantas plane with Qantas crew and Qantas service, but the ticket has been bought through another airline, such as Emirates. You might hear this referred to as "Qantas metal" – it's to do with which airline is flying the aircraft.

Here's the catch: thanks to what airlines call 'codeshare' flights, those are not always the same thing.

Let's say you buy a ticket from Qantas to travel from Sydney to Los Angeles on QF11. That's the daily Qantas A380 service, so you're on a "Qantas marketed and operated" flight.

However, under the new Qantas-Emirates alliance you can buy a ticket from Qantas to fly from Brisbane to Milan. That'll actually be on Emirates aircraft (for both the Brisbane-Dubai and Dubai-Milan legs), even though those flights will carry a QF number (airline people sometimes refer to these as "QF code" flights).

That's a "Qantas marketed" flight: it's a not an actual Qantas aircraft — it belongs to one of the Red Roo's partner airlines — but it carries a Qantas flight number.

QF3875 from Singapore to Helsinki is another example of a "marketed" flight: Qantas is selling it, but Finnair is doing the flying.

The magic words: when (and why) "marketed" and "operated" are important

Why should you care who's doing the flying, provided you get from A to B?

One reason is to know which business class seat you'll get, as illustrated by this rundown of the differences between Qantas and Emirates business class on their various aircraft.

Another factor is lounge access, which depends on holding a ticket for a "marketed and operated" flight.

For example, if you're a Qantas Gold frequent flyer travelling on Qantas' daily A380 QF2 service out of London Heathrow Terminal 3 after April, you have a wide choice of lounges from Qantas along with oneworld partners such as American Airlines and Cathay Pacific due to reciprocal oneworld lounge privileges, and also with the Emirates lounge under the Qantas-Emirates alliance.

But if your ticket reads QF8002, you'll be travelling on the Emirates A380 flight to Dubai under a Qantas codeshare arrangement, and as such you won't be able to use the AA or CX lounges due to the oneworld rule that "you must be departing on a flight that is both marketed and operated by a oneworld member airline".

The difference? QF2 is "Qantas marketed and operated", but QF8002 is only a "Qantas marketed" flight.

And if your ticket says EK5102 — which means the Qantas A380 QF2 service to Dubai as an Emirates codeshare — it's the same story. EK5102 is only a Qantas operated flight, so once again, you can forget about oneworld lounge access.

Frequent flyer points and status credits are similarly tricky.

The general rule is you cannot earn on a partner airline's partner airline. (The key exception to that is when both are members of an alliance like oneworld — so ending up on an American Airlines plane as part of a Cathay Pacific ticket would net you Qantas points and status credits.)

Example: let's say you're a Qantas Frequent Flyer buying a Cathay Pacific ticket from Hong Kong to Beijing. Among all the flights Cathay sells, you have four combinations of marketing and operating airlines:

  • CX390 (Cathay marketed and operated) would earn you points and status credits
  • CX6872 (Cathay marketed, Dragonair operated) would earn you points and status credits, since Cathay subsidiary Dragonair is a oneworld affiliate
  • CX6102 (Cathay marketed, Air China operated) wouldn't earn you anything 
  • CX6112 (Cathay marketed, Air Macau operated) wouldn't earn you anything either

Another example: if you booked Sydney to Shanghai with Qantas in business class as a Qantas Gold, you have four combinations of marketing and operating airlines:

  • Qantas' own nonstop flight QF129 (Qantas marketed and operated) would earn you 11,006 points and 120 status credits.
  • If you're flying via Hong Kong on QF127 and then to Shanghai on Cathay Pacific's CX368, you'd earn 10,308 points and 120 status credits to Hong Kong (Qantas marketed and operated), plus 974 points and 60 status credits (oneworld partner marketed and operated) on Cathay's Shanghai leg. 
  • The same would apply for Dragonair connections with the KA flight code from Hong Kong to Shanghai, since Dragonair is a oneworld affiliate.
  • But if your onward leg to Shanghai were on Qantas' partner China Eastern (such as flight MU506), you'd earn 10,308 points but no status credits, because Qantas Frequent Flyer doesn't offer them on China Eastern flights — China Eastern isn't a oneworld airline.

You can appreciate how complex this can get, but also how easy it is to accidentally forego vital status credits which could make the difference between jumping from Silver to Gold or even Platinum.

So keep an eye out for which airline is marketing and operating the flight that you're being sold. Four digit flight codes (like QF8002 or CX6112) are often codeshares, so they're a hint you should take a second look!

For more real-world advice for the business traveller,  follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

Great article with good examples on what is for most of the passengers a world of mystery and as you said can turn in disappointment when you see (or rather do NOT see) credits and mileage of a flight credited to your frequent flyer account.

30 Jan 2013

Total posts 1

What about when you are on a oneworld marketed flight operated by a different oneworld arline? Does it earn by the marketing airline or operating airline table?                                          


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

As far as I know you will earn according to the marketed flight carrier. I have flown QF planes on a BA flight number and received limited cabin bonus (50 % as opposed to 100%). Status Credits and Status bonus were the same.

I believe you will earn according to the rate of the marketing airline. For example:

MEL/SIN on QF9 (QF Operated) but sold by BA as BA7309 (BA Marketed) and accruing on your Aadvantage account (AA). In this instance you earn 100% of miles irrespective of your booking inventory (i.e F,D,W, T, M, S etc etc).

By comparison for the same flight MEL/SIN on QF9 (QF Operated), sold by QF (QF Marketed) and accruing on AA, the rate of accrual is dependent on your booking inventory.

As such G, O, S, L, M & V booking inventory earn at a rate of 50% and all others at 100%, with the exception of N & Q, which earn 0% (these tend to be the Qantas Red eDeals).

So it does help to find out in advance if the special deal being offered is also being sold in a booking class that is mileage accruable. And that is also why I am waiting in anticipation for the publication of the MH accrual tables!

17 Nov 2011

Total posts 27

Agreed. It is quite hard to decifer sometimes, and will be interesting to the Qantas FF accrual rates if flying on MH.

I was disapointed to earn no status credits on an all oneworld booking (which I would think should QFF earn points and credits?!) - still not quite sure how it all works:

  • Booked SYD - NRT - HKG - SYD via the Qantas website.
  • The NRT - HKG leg was a CX flight number but on JAL plane.
  • Was notified after the flight that it was an "inegliable booking class".

Therefore, the "key exceptions" part of this article regarding flying on a partner's partner airline might need some clarification that it can also depending on the booking class of the other airline with respect to the QFF accrual tables.


Absolutely. I suggest confirming with the airline reservation agent of the booking class prior to purchasing.

If you found a fare on the airline's website but are unable to identify the booking class/inventory, call airline reservations and get them to price your selected itinerary, then confirm the booking class/inventory.

Most airlines these days will readily advise your booking class/inventory during the online sales process and PRIOR to the purchase. Some airlines (sadly Qantas) is still not doing so. My work around is to proceed with a sale online BUT do not submit your credit card details. Once you've done that, give Qantas a ring and provide them with your flight number and passenger name (you will not be issued with a PNR as yet). They will then be able to advise the booking class/inventory of your itinerary. You may then choose to pay for the flights or cancel it. Be prepared to stand your ground with the reservation agent and not let them bamboozle you with their Qantas specific terminology (i.e. "Supersaver" "Saver" etc.). That means nothing as far as accruals for non-QF FF programmes.

If push comes to shove, there is always Expedia. Expedia has in the past couple of months reflected booking class/inventory as part of the flight selection/booking process. Consequently one is fully aware of the booking class/invetory prior to purchase.

01 Jan 1970

Total posts 0

One notable exception is that QF marketed flights with QF flight numbers operated by Jetstar do not all attract status credits and frequent flyer points.  They do not really make that clear when you book though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 May 2012

Total posts 371

This interesting about marketed flights operated by a non Oneworld alliance airline.  In 2011 I travelled from San Francisco to Seattle and Seattle to Portland.  I purchased these flights through AA. These flights had an AA code (marketed by AA). These were operated by Alaskan Airlines (not Oneworld). I entered my QF number when booking, and received points and status credits.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

At which rate — the American Airlines rate or the Alaska Airlines rate? Both are Qantas partners.

I'd hazard a guess that SFO/SEA/PDX was accrued at AA rates, with respect to the QF programme. Assuming the rules are applied consistently.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 May 2012

Total posts 371

Received the points at AA rates.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

I would be curious to know whether a member of AAdvantage flying a QF code share operated by EK metal would also receive status mileage and redeemable mileage in their account.

01 Feb 2013

Total posts 13

John, in your Heathrow Qantas/Emirates example above, a Qantas Gold of EK5102 could forget about access to Oneworld lounges, with the exception of Qantas/BA right?



17 Dec 2013

Total posts 3

Thank you, John Walton, for your enlightened explanations regarding some of  the Codeshare intricacies. Yet, you dwelve too much on the 'Business' adavantages (or not) of this practice. I do not use these lounges, and couldn't care less about them. As a frequent flyer, I would rather use them to upgrade to business class (yes I am an economy pax) on one of the legs of the journey.

I do not believe that Codeshare offers any advantage whatsoever for the economy pax. As you rightly say it is really for the airline to be able to say that they fly to 120 destinations whereas they really only fly to 20!

You interestingly chose the QF/EK codeshare flights from Australia to Europe via Dubaï, exactly the flight I take at least twice a year.. Can you then explain to me why is it that if I fly on a QF000 (as per my reservation, for example) I am obliged to accept a dietary meal that I have not ordered, ie 'Halal'? I have not issue with Halal itself, but I expect any QF flights (operated by whoever) to provide a 'neutral' meal. If you fly to anweher without using the Middle East as a hub, 'Halal' is proposed as a religious choice in your dietary request, the same as 'Kosher' Vegetarian, Hindu, Salt free, etc etc..

As for on board service, if I fly on a QF machine to DXB, on my way to Europe, I would expect at least on arabic speaking person... but I wont bet on it.

And last, if it is so important for Airlines to be able to show off their 'pretend' network extent, do they not have the Codeshare contractual obligation to show which other company they also represent.  Here is an example on a PERDXBNCE by QF8421/QF8077, both on Emirate machines. Whereas I would expect a QF style service AND food, I will instead get an Emirate service.. As a passenger I have no benefit in the airlines Codeshare invention. It is only a lure for the airlines and confusion for the passengers.



07 May 2015

Total posts 2


I know I am late to this party but what would be actualy physical process for me to get a QF number for a Finnair flight.

The reason I ask is I am within 10 points of silver, living in the UK and won't have the opportunity to use the Red Kangarro before June 2015.

Thanks in advanced.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

QF and AY would have to have a codeshare agreement on the particular flioght you want to take. Often you can check if this is the case by going to the QF website, selecting your country of residence for the QF site and then typing in the flight you want to take, e.g. LHR-HEL. If it shows up on the QF website you can book it. Alternatively, try using any OTA (expedia, travelocity, cheaptickets), they often display code share flights. Good luck!

07 May 2015

Total posts 2

Thanks for the help.


I did a bit more research and cam accross these 2 useful qantas links below.

The first gives you maps.

An example is you select Europe and then hover your pointer over London (LHR).

Lines will spreadout to other locations. Red lines are Qantas and green I think are code shared routes

 With this 2nd page you select a 'From' and 'To' from page 1 above above. e.g. London\Edinburgh, the weekly timetable raido button and click go. This will display green squares for the days of travel and the QF number for the flight you can quote for points. Clicking on the green square will reveal the operator of the codeshared flight.

I hope this is helpful.

Cheers JohnD

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