Over the Christmas / New Year break, Australian Business Traveller will be revisiting some of our most popular articles of 2017. We’re still around to report on any breaking news during this time, otherwise our regular publishing schedule will resume on Monday January 8, 2018.
Upgrading from economy to business class is one of the best ways you can spend your Qantas frequent flyer points: and when travelling within Australia, there’s an easy way to check if upgrades are available on any given flight before booking your ticket.
It’s a great strategy for business travellers to keep in their back pocket – particularly those stuck reserving economy flights under their company’s frugal travel policy – as you can choose which economy flight to book based on whether you’re guaranteed a business class upgrade using your points.
Also read: Qantas business class upgrade guide
While this doesn’t work for international flights where all Qantas upgrades are simply ‘requested’ and confirmed closer to departure day, this trick can help you snare a confirmed business class upgrade on any Qantas domestic route: here’s how!
Step 1: Search for a frequent flyer upgrade
Even if you’re required to book and pay for your flights through a special online portal or corporate travel agent, head to the main Qantas website and search for flights on the day you need to travel, ensuring that you are not logged in to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account.
For instance, if planning to jet from Sydney to Perth on May 24, plug that information into the search box, ensuring you select the “Use money, points or both” option at the top:
On the next page, you’ll see flights listed for sale as usual – but for now, ignore the cash prices and glance over to the Business Classic Reward column.
Flights that show a ribbon in this column (highlighted in blue) can be booked outright using Qantas Points: but the presence of that ribbon also means that you can upgrade from economy using points on the same flight:
Conversely, flights which have no confirmed business class upgrades available will display ‘No seats’ in the same column.
Using the above as an example, a business traveller stuck buying economy but hoping to fly in business class could choose to book flight QF565 rather than QF575 or QF581 in these circumstances, because only QF565 has a business class upgrade available.
If booking a Flex fare, just 10,000 Qantas Points would land that business class upgrade from Sydney to Perth, while from a less-expensive Red e-Deal ticket, 25,000 Qantas Points can deliver the same.
(This page on Qantas’ website doesn’t show how many points your upgrade will cost – you can instead find that out by using the Qantas upgrade calculator, with domestic Flex fares corresponding to ‘flexible economy’ and domestic Red e-Deal tickets being ‘discount economy’:
Now that you know which flight will guarantee your upgrade, you can proceed book your journey in the normal way – such as through your company’s travel portal or by requesting that your corporate travel agent book a specific flight.
If you’re clear to book online yourself, just click on the desired paid fare for your flight and complete your payment.
Step 2: Upgrade to business class
Once your booking has been made and your frequent flyer number is attached, just head to the ‘Your Account’ page of the Qantas website, find that booking in the list to your left, select it, and then click ‘Upgrade’.
(If your frequent flyer number hasn’t been linked to the booking, use Qantas’ regular ‘manage my booking’ tool to join the two, and then return to the ‘Your Account’ page as above.)
The next screen will confirm how many frequent flyer points are needed to lock-in your upgrade, and if you’re happy to go ahead, just follow the prompts and voila – what was an economy ticket is now a business class seat!
Also included with your business class ticket is priority check-in, security screening and boarding (where available), along with access to the Qantas domestic business class lounge before your flight in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra or Perth, or the Qantas Club in other cities.
Again, this works on all Qantas domestic routes, but remember that timing is key – the upgrades you discover during the search phase are available right now.
Take your time booking a ticket and return later that day or week to request your upgrade and there’s a chance somebody else may have beaten you to it!
Also realise that upgrading on a flexible ticket may actually limit your flexibility if needing to change or cancel your flight, so this process is best-used by business travellers planning trips in the not too distant future.