How to fly around the world using Qantas frequent flyer points

By Chris Chamberlin, December 28 2017
How to fly around the world using Qantas frequent flyer points

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.

A round-the-world trip in business class or even first class is the dream of many travellers, yet it's surprisingly within reach.

Not only can you book a round-the-world journey with Qantas frequent flyer points, but it costs only a few thousand points more than a straightforward return trip to Europe.

For instance, you could fly Cathay Pacific business class from Australia to London and back for 278,000 Qantas Points; or set out on a round-the-world business class journey for only 2,000 points more, at 280,000 Qantas Points.

Similarly in first class, using your Qantas Points to book a return British Airways trip from Sydney to London requires 406,000 Qantas Points – yet a round-the-world sojourn in first class is just 14,000 points extra, at 420,000 Qantas Points.

Here’s how you can book a multi-city trip of your very own, including the rules you need to follow, the airlines you can travel with and how to secure your booking.

Flying round-the-world with Qantas Points: the basics

These types of bookings are known as a ‘Oneworld Classic Flight Reward’ in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program – they’re not your typical one-way or return ticket, nor are they as simple.

For starters, you can only book a Oneworld Classic Flight Reward when all of the airlines you’ll be flying with on that journey are members of the Oneworld airline alliance.

You can’t mix and match Oneworld flights with those on non-Oneworld airlines like China Eastern, Emirates, Fiji Airways or Jetstar. Even though these airlines are Qantas partners, they’re not part of Oneworld – and this is a ‘Oneworld’ booking, after all.

That means you’re able to fly with Qantas, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific (and Cathay Dragon), Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM (formerly LAN and TAM), Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.

In fact, your ticket must include travel with at least two of these Oneworld airlines other than Qantas.

You can certainly include Qantas among the mix, so long as you also fly with at least two other Oneworld airlines as part of the trip.

Flying round-the-world with Qantas Points: how far you can fly

Your round-the-world journey can cover a maximum distance of 35,000 miles from the time you begin your trip until you return back home.

That tally obviously includes the distance of the flights you take, but it also factors in the distance of any ‘surface sectors’ – so if you fly into London, catch the train to Paris and board your next flight from there instead, the distance between London and Paris is added to that tally as well.

If your trip finishes in a different city than where it started, the distance from that city to your first departure point is also factored in. Begin in Sydney but conclude in Melbourne, for example, and the distance between Melbourne and Sydney is assessed too.

Provided the total distance of your trip is 35,000 miles or less – including flights taken, ‘surface sectors’ not flown and any distance from the end point to your origin – your itinerary passes the ‘distance test’.

Within that distance cap, you’re allowed a maximum of five ‘stopovers’, being where you remain in one place for more than 24 hours, including for several days or weeks, but can't enjoy a 'stopover' more than once in the same city.

You're also allowed up to two 'transfers' per city, which are shorter stays of under 24 hours – whether you leave the airport for a look around or just jump straight onto your next flight.

Flying round-the-world with Qantas Points: a sample itinerary

The rules for these bookings are far more complicated than your average frequent flyer ticket, but once you get your head around it all, putting an itinerary together isn’t too stressful.

Being mindful of the ‘two airlines other than Qantas’ rule, the maximum travel distance of 35,000 miles and the limit of five stopovers in total and two transfers per city, we’ve put together the following sample itinerary for a Sydney-based flyer keen to visit the Middle East, Europe/UK, North America, South America and New Zealand.

  • Sydney-Dubai flying with Qantas (remember, Emirates is not an option)
  • Dubai-London with Qantas or British Airways
  • London-Madrid on British Airways or Iberia
  • Madrid-New York aboard American Airlines or Iberia
  • New York-Sao Paulo with American Airlines or LATAM
  • Sao Paulo-Santiago on LATAM
  • Santiago-Sydney with Qantas or Santiago-Auckland-Sydney with LATAM

All up, that measures at 28,890 miles with the non-stop flight home from Santiago or a still-acceptable 29,186 miles with the Auckland detour: both well within the 35,000-mile limit.

We’ve used our five ‘stopovers’ as London, Madrid, New York, Sao Paulo and Santiago, with ‘transfers’ in Dubai, and in Auckland if flying home with LATAM.

(When the map was drawn above, we'd used Berlin as a stopover being Airberlin's hub, but our new Madrid routing on Iberia follows the same concept.)

Transiting Dubai or any other destination doesn’t mean you have to rush from one flight to the next: you could arrive on QF1 at 12:25am, head to an in-town hotel, catch some sleep, spend the morning touring in the city and return to the airport in time for a British Airways flight at 1:15pm later that day.

Provided the total time spent in one place is less than 24 hours from the time your first flight touches down until the next flight takes off, you can use that as an opportunity to 'transfer' through a destination without burning one of your five precious ‘stopovers’, which are the destinations you'll want to spend some time in.

Booking a round-the-world flight with Qantas Points: key numbers

To recap, these bookings cost 280,000 Qantas Points per person for a round-the-world trip in business class and 420,000 Qantas Points per person for the same in first class. Premium economy is also an option at 210,000 Qantas Points while regular economy is 140,000 Qantas Points.

Be aware that the number of points required is based on the highest class of service flown as part of your trip: so if you book a first class ticket but have to take a few flights in business class because first class isn’t available, the first class rate still applies to the entire booking.

Similarly, if you’re taking a premium economy journey and have to choose between a flight in economy or business class because premium economy isn’t offered or available for booking, choosing economy keeps the price the same while opting for business class increases the points price from 210,000 to 280,000 points.

(At which point, you may as well fly business class all the way because the cost is the same!)

We should also flag that simply having enough points in your account doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to book the exact flights you want at the most suitable times – like all bookings made using frequent flyer points, whether or not you can use points on a particular flight is at the discretion of the airline.

That’s why you should plan and then book these trips well in advance to give yourself the best chances of securing your desired flights. It also helps to be flexible, particularly with your dates and destinations.

A payment on the side of at least $767.50 is also required to cover any relevant taxes, fees and airline surcharges – although the exact amount varies based on your chosen route, airlines and class of service, but is made known during the booking process.

Booking a round-the-world flight with Qantas Points: securing your seat

You can either reserve your round-the-world ticket via the Qantas website by using the multi-city tool, or by calling Qantas on 13 13 13 and asking the agent to help you with a Oneworld Classic Flight Reward.

Because reward flights on some Oneworld airlines can only be secured over the phone – including with Japan Airlines, among others – we’d suggest calling is the better option, particularly if you haven’t booked a round-the-world trip before.

The agent may also be able to help with finding reward availability to the destinations you want to visit or might even suggest other options if there’s nothing available, although Qantas’ usual Reward Assistance Fee of 6,000 Qantas Points or $70 still applies per passenger to all bookings made over the phone.

Still, when flying round-the-world only costs a few thousand points more than a return trip to Europe, that amount on top is a relatively small price to pay to circle the globe!

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 361

It's certainly great value, but good luck doing one in F. In theory yes it's possible, but availability will be impossible, particularly when linking with a RTW.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2015

Total posts 76

I find it to be one of the best uses for QFF points, but takes a *lot* of upfront planning to find availability for the flights you want.

I booked one last November in J for SYD/HKG/HND/DOH/FCO,BCN/GIG/JFK,DFW-SYD which was just short of the 35K mile limit, and that took almost 4 months of research, and even then by the time you come to book it some of your planned flights might no longer have availability.

Flexibility and planning is key here but very worthwhile.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1272

Fuel surcharges and other fees charged by each airline on the itinerary are still applicable, right?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2015

Total posts 76

Yeah it does, for mine it calculated to be $1420 in taxes and surcharges in addition to the 280K points.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 138

Chris, can I check one thing. You say to use the "Multi-city" tool on the Qantas Website.  I notice there is also a "Round the World" tool.  Wuld it not be better to select the RTW tool?

No - the RTW tool is for booking paid tickets, not frequent flyer reward travel.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 May 2017

Total posts 13

Hi ,

Can i transfer QF FF points to my card from a mate that has 4 million of them ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 138

Thanks Chris. I see now.

24 Dec 2013

Total posts 100

I once worked out that you could visit all 7 of the new wonders of the world in one trip using this ticket. 

Now that would be an amazing trip!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 30

I am a lifetime Gold QFF member and now have more than 1m QFF points in my acccount. I have found it very difficult in the past to redeem the points for J or F flights during the period I usually travel for leisure (Dec / Jan). So I tend to use the points now (when possible) for upgrades on QF when I travel on business. This, of course, is not the best way of using the points. 

On the other hand it has been very easy for me to get J or F redemption tickets on SQ during the same period - and I have been doing so for the last 4 years for flights to Europe in Dec.. SQ and other Star Alliance airlines are now getting most of my business.

11 Dec 2014

Total posts 10

When booking a OneWorld award over the phone the phone booking assistance fee is usually waived by agents if the itinerary cannot be booked online, either because the booking engine gives you an error or because your itinerary includes sectors on Malaysian and/or JAL. The reason is that the booking cannot be online and doing it over the phone is the only way therefore you should not be punished for something Qantas does not let you do in the first place.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2015

Total posts 76

Not sure how strictly this fee is enforced because as you say a lot of oneworld carriers' reward seats don't show up on the website. When I booked I didn't get charged the fee.


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 179

Another advantage is that you can back-track anywhere. There is nothing stopping you from adding EK award flights to the mix - just requires more points above 280k. In my case I substituted EK award flights for the last part of the 280k award trip, thus costing me about 300k. QF will also change the trip later, costing 3k points per change.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jun 2016

Total posts 9

Can I just say that is a great explanation of the use of points for Oneworld (I worked for the airline in Res).  I would recommend calling and paying the dollars to a consultant once you have done your research on where you want to go. There are so many routes you can go to get to your destination.  The biggest issue when you know you have to book so far in advance to get those higher cabin seats, is that some of the airlines do not release their seats at the same time as QF ..i.e. AA can be only 10mths in advance sometimes.  So you either book what you can and then keep checking and calling for the other airlines you are waiting on, but in doing that you will incur the points penalty for reissuing the tkt to include the new flts.....Having travelled FCL using pts, I would only ever now opt for J because to be honest, a bed is the main thing you are looking for plus the perks...cheers

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 165

As a Platinum FF I've never been charged the fee for bookings over the phone. They also can request seats to be released on flights where there is no availability - I've asked for this on my last 3 international trips and have been able to secure the exact dates I wanted in either F or J apart from one where I have to fly out a day early, for 2 passengers where there was not even availability for one person online.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

OT, but Cathay Dragon is OW? I wonder what that costs / benefits it provides relative to JQ not being a member?

Cathay Dragon as a full-service airline is a 'Oneworld affiliate' in the same way that QantasLink is a 'Oneworld affiliate', so you can include travel with both airlines as part of a Oneworld (RTW) Classic Flight Reward. Jetstar does not qualify as an affiliate as it's a low-cost airline - and while Oneworld allows Jetstar flights to be booked as part of a paid Global Explorer RTW fare, this doesn't apply to RTW reward travel. Complicated, huh!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 47

Could you not include Emirates if you book the flights as 2 multi city one ways say BNE-DXB-MXP and then another multi city one way say MXP-JFK-LAX-BNE or something like that. I am not sure if the miles would be more or not?

It'd end up costing you many more points, particularly if you stopover anywhere as it would be multiple one-way awards added together (Australia-Europe + Europe-East USA, USA transcon + US-Australia).

12 Nov 2015

Total posts 2

Hi Chris,  so if I've got this right. I could fly Business Class Perth to Singapore on QF, then to London via BA. Then BA to Cologne. Travel to Frankfurt on my own steam. Fly CX Frankfurt to Hong Kong, then fly CX from Hong Kong to Perth. 

cheers Craig. 

Hi Craig, we can't provide advice on specific itineraries but in any case, you'd need to check the distance of your trip and ensure it meets the various requirements as detailed above. You don't necessarily need to travel in a circle RTW, but what you've detailed is more of an open jaw return trip from Australia to Europe, so your best bet is to contact Qantas to confirm how many points you would need.

Qantas - Platinum

04 Jun 2014

Total posts 16

Should the QF website come to the 280,000 point quote if all the conditions are met? Or is the multi-city option only useful to check availability and we still need to call to book?
I have a trip here that seems to meet conditions but is quoting 450k in points.

Check that you've met all of the rules (including distance, direction, airlines, regions, etc.), and if you believe those rules have all been met but you're being quoted the wrong price, call Qantas for assistance.

(If the system believes you've met all of the rules, it will indeed price as 280,000 Qantas Points online.)

Qantas - Platinum

04 Jun 2014

Total posts 16

Thanks Chris - Sounds like I'm doing something wrong then! Haha

Best of luck: it's certainly not the easiest type of reward to book, but if you can make it work it's definitely worth the hassle!

17 Feb 2015

Total posts 3

Chris i have an urgent question - im on my qantas around the world award journey and have started travel. i saw some seats from econ to bus (i booked the whole trip in bus) but called qantas told me i can't chnge class once travel has started. is this true?

02 Feb 2018

Total posts 2

It is ture. if the ticked has been booked, you can't change the seat level.

02 Feb 2018

Total posts 2

Just have one question, "if you fly into London, catch the train to Paris and board your next flight from there instead", both London and Paris are stopovers, or just London is stopover?~ this is very important to me.....

09 Sep 2019

Total posts 7

If you make your own way from London to Paris, i.e do not fly on the RTW ticket, then that counts as just one stopover. So it's easy to see 2 or more cities using just one stopover, if you make sure there are good connections between those cities. Other good tourist examples are flying into Beijing PEK, out of Shanghai PVG, then you can do a China highlights tour via Xi'an in between using just one stopover; or into Milan MXP, and out of Rome FCO, and visit Lake Como, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Pisa, Naples (if willing to backtrack) in between using the high speed Italian rail system and the whole thing counts as just one stopover.

09 Sep 2019

Total posts 7

"You can't mix and match Oneworld flights with those on non-Oneworld airlines like ... [snip] ... Fiji Airways .. [snip] .. Even though these airlines are Qantas partners, they're not part of Oneworld – and this is a ‘Oneworld' booking, after all."

Since this article was written, Fiji Airways has joined Oneworld, as a "Oneworld Connect" member.

So does anyone know if we can now book an Oneworld RTW ticket using Fiji Airways? Or is it only full members? I've tried searching, but cannot find the answer to this.

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