How much would you pay for a package deal of airport lounge access, a higher checked baggage allowance and priority check-in? Qantas believes anywhere from $500 to $700 per year, based on its Qantas Club membership fees.
Those fees were recently rejigged to slash the up-front joining cost from $399 to $99, while lifting annual and multi-year renewals by 8-11%.
But among the many things COVID has changed is the perceived value of Qantas Club membership, especially with most international travel – and access to those international lounges before flights and during transit stopovers – off the cards until the second half of 2022.
So, is Qantas Club membership worth the asking price?
The answer depends on how much you travel, and particularly, how much of that travel takes place in economy class – where those Qantas Club perks of priority check-in, extra checked baggage and airport lounge access aren’t included in your ticket.
Here’s our quick take:
- If you’re only making a handful of domestic flights per year, no: you can still get lounge access (the Qantas Club program’s main drawcard) through lounge invitations.
- If you’re making more than a dozen return trips per year, yes: the membership cost-per-flight breakdown starts to work in your favour, especially if you’re on low-cost economy fares which will make it hard for you to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold status.
- If you’re earning over 350,000 Qantas Points per year (mainly through spending with your credit card), no: those points qualify you for the Qantas Point Club Plus program, which comes with free Qantas Club membership.
Here’s a deeper dive into the Qantas Club benefits, and some savvy ways to access those airport lounges without holding Qantas Club membership.
Who is the Qantas Club for?
The Qantas Club is an adjunct to the broader Qantas Frequent Flyer loyalty program and aimed more at what you could consider infrequent flyers: people who don’t travel enough, and especially not on higher-priced airfares, to enjoy lounge access via their Gold or Platinum status.
It's also not for people who normally fly business class, as its key benefits of priority check-in, extra checked baggage and airport lounge access are already covered by those business class fares.
What does Qantas Club membership cost?
There’s an initial joining fee of $99 – think of this as similar to the joining fee charged by many organisations, such as gyms and fitness centres – that simply sets up your membership.
In addition to the joining fee, you’re charged an annual fee which Qantas offers in one-year, two-year and four-year packages:
- One year: $600
- Two years: $1,100
- Four years: $2,000
In other words, the total up-front cost of joining the Qantas Club as a new member (including that one-off $99 fee) comes out at:
- One year: $699
- Two years: $1,199
- Four years: $2,099
You can renew your Qantas Club membership (as long as your initial membership period hasn’t finished, to avoid being charged a fresh joining fee) by paying the same ongoing annual or multi-year fees – $600 for a single year, $1,100 for another two years or $2,000 for another four years.
Qantas Club lounge access
The core benefit of Qantas Club membership is lounge access ahead of Qantas and Jetstar flights, specifically:
- domestic Qantas Club airport lounges (there are currently 22 lounges in that batch, as the Port Hedland and Rockhampton lounges remain closed at the time of writing)
- international Qantas business class lounges (both in Australia and at the likes of Singapore and Los Angeles) and single-class 'premium' lounges (such as Hong Kong and London, shown below)
Note that with Qantas' international Business Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne currently closed, your Qantas Club card is valid for entry to the highly-regarded Qantas First Lounges.
This will revert to Business Lounge access in these locations, once travel volumes increase and the international Business Lounges reopen.
In New Zealand, Qantas Club members also have temporary access to Air New Zealand’s international lounges in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington, until Qantas returns to its own-brand lounges and contract spaces across these airports.
Ordinarily, Qantas Club members would have access to lounges further afield, but with Australia’s international travel restrictions preventing most people from heading abroad, the lounges above are the limit for most.
It's also worth noting that your Qantas Club membership includes one complimentary guest per visit, which is handy for those times you're travelling with your partner, a colleague or family member.
Further benefits of Qantas Club
While most see Qantas Club as purely an airport lounge scheme, those members have access to a broader suite of benefits than the lounge itself.
Qantas Club priority check-in
Holding a Qantas Club membership means never having to join the back of the economy queue at Qantas check-in.
Instead, make use of the domestic Premium Service Desks when assistance is required, or on international flights, the relevant priority queue, as signed.
Qantas Premium Lounge Entry
Exclusively at Brisbane Airport, Qantas Club members can use the Qantas Premium Lounge Entry facility for expedited security screening and direct access to the Qantas Club lounge.
Normally, domestic priority security is a perk for Gold and Platinum frequent flyers, but as Qantas Premium Lounge Entry is attached to the lounge, the airline extends this to Qantas Club members in Brisbane only.
Additional Qantas baggage allowance
When travelling with Qantas, Qantas Club cardholders may be able to pack a little heavier, bring an extra bag, or both: depending on their destination.
On domestic Qantas flights, the standard 1x23kg baggage allowance in economy is elevated to 1x32kg for Qantas Club members, being the same allowances as granted to Qantas Silver frequent flyers. There’s no change in business class, however.
Internationally, most flights – including those to New Zealand – use the ‘weight system’. Under this policy, Qantas Club travellers can pack an extra 12kg over and above their standard allowance.
That pushes the standard economy allowance from 30kg to 42kg, and the business class allowance from 40kg to 52kg, for example.
Where the ‘piece system’ is used instead (mainly to North and South America), Qantas Club members can pack a flat 3x32kg – that’s 96kg in total – being the same allowance normally afforded to most first class passengers, even if the Qantas Club member is booked in economy.
’On Departure Upgrades’ for Qantas Club members
Fancy an upgrade from domestic economy to business class on departure day using your Qantas Points?
Just ask at the service desk in the Qantas Club lounge, and you might have success – even if you’d previously tried to upgrade online and didn’t land that bump-up.
The number of points needed for your upgrade is the same as to upgrade online, although you may not be guaranteed full catering: so this is more of a backup plan or spur of the moment option, rather than ‘Plan A’.
Waitlist priority for Qantas Club members
On the rare chance you’re trying to change flights and your preferred departure is full, you may be able to ‘waitlist’ for that flight – and as a Qantas Club member, you’ll be ranked at a higher priority than entry-level Bronze frequent flyers for getting on that flight.
The same applies if you’re trying to purchase a ticket on a fully-booked flight at the airport. If a last-minute seat opens up, a Qantas Club member on the standby list would be offered the seat first, before a Bronze frequent flyer.
So is Qantas Club membership worth the cost?
When deciding whether Qantas Club membership is worth it for your travels, take a moment to review how many times you expect to fly each year, and compare that to yearly membership charge.
For example, a traveller taking 10 return trips (20 flights) per year could visit the lounge up to 20 times.
If you signed up for a single year of Qantas Club membership at $699 – that's a $99 joining fee plus $600 for 12 months – you get a ‘cost per visit’ of $35.
While this is more than you'd pay for a meal and drink or two at most airport cafés, you're also getting somewhere quieter and more comfortable to sit, with free Qantas Lounge WiFi and ideally AC/USB power outlets close at hand – and if you’re accompanied by a guest on any of those visits, the value gets even better.
(Of course, a two-year or four-year membership package lowers that 'cost per visit' even further.)
While lounge access isn't the only perk of Qantas Club, it's the one most people consider top of the list.
Add to this the value of other benefits such as an increased checked baggage allowance on Qantas – potentially avoiding the very real cost of excess baggage charges along the way – and Qantas Club membership could prove even more valuable.
Prospective members travelling far less frequently may find better value in skipping Qantas Club membership and enjoying a nice café or restaurant meal at the airport on the occasions where they do fly.
Won’t I reach Gold, if I’m flying enough to use the Qantas Club?
Not necessarily – and that’s exactly where Qantas Club provides the best value, when you’re travelling regularly enough to use it often, but not frequently enough to get Qantas Gold.
Qualifying for Qantas Gold status requires a hefty 700 status credits earned in a single membership year.
On Australia’s most popular domestic route, Sydney-Melbourne, each flight can earn as few as 10 status credits: requiring up to 70 one-way flights, or 35 round trips, to get over that line and progress to Gold, which then includes complimentary lounge access.
Anything less, and you’d need to rely on a Qantas Club membership for lounge access.
Still, there’s a slight shortcut to Qantas Gold, for those earning at least 500 of their status credits each year from Qantas or Jetstar flights.
Reach that threshold, and through the Qantas Loyalty Bonus, you can opt for a bonus 50 status credits – putting Gold within reach after a reduced 65 one-way Sydney-Melbourne flights on the lowest-priced fares, or taking 33 return trips.
If you do happen to reach Gold (or higher) as a Qantas Club member, your paid Qantas Club membership is then paused, and will automatically resume in the future when your status again drops below Gold.
Other ways to get Qantas Club lounge access
Qantas Club lounges aren’t only for Qantas Club members: there are other ways to get inside as well.
Travellers with Qantas Silver status receive one complimentary lounge entry per year, while those with selected Qantas co-brand credit cards receive two lounge passes annually.
These passes can be used for access to a Qantas Club lounge prior to a Qantas or Jetstar flight.
If travelling with a companion or colleague, and that person has their own Qantas Club membership or Qantas Gold (or above) frequent flyer status, you may instead be able to visit a lounge as their guest, free-of-charge.
Alternatively, Qantas Frequent Flyer members who earn at least 350,000 Qantas Points each year – of which, 330,000 must be earned from non-flying activities such as credit card spend – qualify for Points Club Plus, where full Qantas Club membership is a complimentary inclusion.