Qantas cuts points, status; hikes upgrades on some domestic fares

Some domestic flyers will soon net fewer Qantas Points and status credits, with more points needed for some flight upgrades.

By Chris Chamberlin, October 20 2020
Qantas cuts points, status; hikes upgrades on some domestic fares

Qantas Frequent Flyer members will soon earn fewer Qantas Points and status credits on some domestic flights, while also requiring more Qantas Points for selected business class upgrades.

On affected fares, those upgrades will cost more than twice as many Qantas Points as they do today, with status credits similarly slashed in half for impacted travellers.

As the changes centre on a tweak to the airline’s domestic ‘fare families’ – as opposed to a revamp of Qantas Frequent Flyer itself – here’s what you need to know.

Qantas domestic fares: what’s changing?

For flights booked or ticketed from November 4 2020 – at 12:01am AEDT, to be precise – some fares that had previously been sold under the Flex (flexible economy) banner will instead move to the Red eDeal (discount economy) category.

This applies to all ‘M’ class fares sold across the Qantas domestic network, covering all routes long and short.

M class is currently Qantas’ lead-in flexible economy fare, providing travellers with some wiggle room in the event of flight changes or cancellations, as well as a serve of Qantas Points and status credits at the higher ‘flexible economy’ rates, and with fewer Qantas Points needed for an upgrade.

From November 4, however, these tickets are instead being rezoned as ‘discount economy’ for new bookings and changed flights, which triggers the reduction in rewards and the increase in the Qantas Points required to upgrade.

In a memo distributed to travel agents, Qantas says the rejig “better reflects changed market conditions as the airline delivers on its three year recovery plan.”

Qantas domestic fare changes: who they'll impact?

In recognising that its new M class fare will differ from the current offering, “M class will move to the Red eDeal family, which means it will no longer be a flexible fare, with fewer benefits so it will cost less,” a Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Executive Traveller.

The airline's lead-in flexible economy airfare will instead become a 'K' class ticket, which Qantas advises will be priced at the same level as M class is today, in almost all cases.

This means passengers purchasing a 'Flex' airfare from Qantas after November 4 will still be assured all benefits of that fare, including earning Qantas Points and status credits at flexible economy rates, and with upgrades to business class requiring fewer Qantas Points than from discount economy tickets.

“There has been no change to the number of status credits or points earned booking on any of our domestic fare families,” the Qantas spokesperson reiterates.

“Passengers who book a flexible ticket will still earn the same amount of status credits and points and will not require more points to upgrade to Business.”

As only advanced frequent flyers generally notice their ticket's specific fare letter – and can't see this by default on the Qantas website, except by using third-party software, or booking via a travel agen't website instead – this will help ensure that travellers' expectations are met, as to their rewards and upgrade costs, when buying a new flight.

“Individual customers can’t book specific fare classes, they can only book Red eDeals, Flex, or Business” on the Qantas website, the airline's spokesperson highlights, with M class to be sold under that 'Red eDeal' category from November 4.

Cuts to Qantas Points, status credits on M class economy

With Qantas Points and status credits earned based upon a traveller’s fare type and the distance of their flight – rather than specifically being based on the price of their ticket – there are some changes to the points and status credits earned by travellers who book M class tickets.

Here's how those changes an entry-level Bronze frequent flyer member across a variety of routes, when booking an M class airfare today (as flexible economy), versus booking an M class airfare from November 4 (after the change to discount economy):

Route vs Bronze reward

Current reward
(M class)

New reward
(M class bookings made 4/11-)

Short flights
E.g. Sydney-Melbourne

1,200 Qantas Points
+ 20 status credits

800 Qantas Points
+ 10 status credits

Mid-length flights
E.g. Melbourne-Brisbane and Brisbane-Cairns

1,200 Qantas Points
+ 30 status credits

800 Qantas Points
+ 15 status credits

Long flights
E.g. Sydney-Perth

2,200 Qantas Points
+ 40 status credits

1,450 Qantas Points
+ 20 status credits

For Platinum members – who normally earn double Qantas Points when the reward exceeds Qantas’ ‘minimum points guarantee’, here’s how the same change plays out on M class bookings before and after November 4:

Route vs Platinum reward

Current reward
(M class)

New reward
(M class bookings made 4/11-)

Short flights
E.g. Sydney-Melbourne

1,200 Qantas Points
+ 20 status credits

800 Qantas Points
+ 10 status credits

Mid-length flights
E.g. Melbourne-Brisbane and Brisbane-Cairns

2,200 Qantas Points
+ 30 status credits

1,400 Qantas Points
+ 15 status credits

Long flights
E.g. Sydney-Perth

4,400 Qantas Points
+ 40 status credits

2,900 Qantas Points
+ 20 status credits

All figures are for one-way flights, so for example, a Qantas Platinum member would earn 1,500 fewer Qantas Points per one-way Sydney-Perth flight on an M class fare booked from November 4, versus an M class fare booked prior to that date.

Of course, at the time of publishing, many of the routes above are subject to travel restrictions or quarantine requirements: but such restrictions are only temporary, whereas Qantas changes are not tied to travel restrictions.

More Qantas Points needed for business class upgrades

Once M class fares are moved from ‘flexible economy’ to the ‘discount economy’ camp, upgrading to business class on these tickets will command significantly more Qantas Points than required today.

Here’s how that looks across various domestic routes, for Qantas Frequent Flyer members of all tiers booking an M class airfare today, versus booking M class from November 4, when the fare letter moves to the Red eDeal/discount economy category.

Route

Upgrade cost
(today, from M class)

Upgrade cost
(M class bookings made 4/11-)

Short flights
E.g. Sydney-Melbourne

5,400 Qantas Points

10,900 Qantas Points

Mid-length flights
E.g. Melbourne-Brisbane and Brisbane-Cairns

8,100 Qantas Points

19,000 Qantas Points

Long flights
E.g. Sydney-Perth

10,900 Qantas Points

27,200 Qantas Points

Qantas has confirmed to Executive Traveller that M class fares purchased prior to November 4 will continue to be treated as 'flexible economy' even after that date: including when it comes to earning points and status credits, and upgrading flights.

However, M class fares purchased from November 4 will be treated as 'discount economy' for the same – thus, these changes in earning and upgrade rates.

For clarity, there’s no change to the number of Qantas Points required for an upgrade from any other fare types or fare letters, including all other tickets currently sold as flexible economy (that’s Y, B, H and K fares, for advanced frequent flyers), which will continue to be treated as flexible economy.

Similarly, the number of Qantas Points and status credits earned on the remaining flexible economy fares (again, Y, B, H and K) will remain as-is: as will earning rates for current discount economy tickets, to which M class fares will be aligned and priced.

As a reminder, the changes above are triggered by Qantas’ decision to move what is currently a type of flexible economy fare into the ‘discount economy’ basket, which affects earning rates and upgrade costs – as opposed to any changes to the ‘earning tables’ or ‘reward tables’ themselves.

What does an M class economy fare cost on Qantas?

On Qantas domestic flights, M class economy fares are sold at a range of fare prices on each route, and those ranges vary from one route to the next.

On what’s now Australia’s most popular domestic route, Brisbane-Cairns, pre-tax pricing of M class economy currently sits between $305 and $341 one-way, while from Sydney to Melbourne – what’s normally Australia’s busiest domestic route – pricing before tax is instead between $459 and $522.

Looking at longer flights like Brisbane-Melbourne, M class economy fares are normally sold for between $518 and $580 one-way, while on Sydney-Perth, base M class costs from $695 to $765 (all plus taxes, fees and charges).

Qantas advises that the price of M class economy will reduce from November 4, to better-align with its new place in the 'discount economy' category.

As such, today's next-highest flexible economy fare letter, K, will become the airline's lead-in Flex fare, and in most cases, will be sold at a price point currently attached to M class.

Given economy travellers select either 'Red eDeal' or 'Flex' when booking a ticket on the Qantas website, this change will maintain travellers' expectations as to how many points and status credits they can earn given the 'fare family' of their ticket, even when booking M class.

However, as more advanced frequent flyers often seek to book specific fare letters to maximise their rewards, those seeking the lowest-cost flexible fare to effectively double their status credits will need to hunt for those 'K' fares after November 4.

Book M class from November 4 and the rewards earned will instead be the same as the cheapest fares on the Qantas network, as outlined above.

Also read: Best Qantas Frequent Flyer credit card sign-up offers

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and 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

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 203

The below comment doesn't necessarily relate to above article but I want to point out the first thing that came to mind for me after reading this and seeing no comments...

Few days ago ET released article on virgin cutting FF benefits such as no point upgrades on Delta (no other airline did this FYI) amongst losing benefits when flying on Intl airlines (given current climate). People posted crying foul and that their making the switch over to Qantas..I was thinking how often have people used an Alitalia lounge or upgraded on Delta but anyway maybe those people did all the time...

Qantas now make changes that affect domestic frequent flyers rate at which they will earn status etc which is/or now will be the majority of your flying now and for next couple years...and yet I'm the first to comment.

I'd just like to understand the disparity here between frequent flyers and why people with a preference for Qantas go out of their way to hate on virgin - it's been prevelant on here for the last 4 months or so. Just my initial thoughts and observations.

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 15

Because one is a change in available benefits, whilst this is literally just reclassing a fare from Flex->Discount. Nothing changes from the majority of people's appearance. Flex still earns the same, Discount still earns the same

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 279

@Dan22

Essentially QF is increasing the number of seats available under discount economy banner (and associated lesser reward) sold at prices previously available as lead-in fares of Flexi tickets.

The question is how many here will be buying Flexi fare rather the business seats, which may very well reflect the indifference to this announcement, although there may be trepidation on what other changes AJ may come up with using this golden opportunity of an excuse to make changes (which would have been impossible particularly with the revelation that transport workers union was planning a Fight 2020 rolling strike action all over Australia)

As they say the Chinese world for crisis is composed of 2 characters one for “danger”, the other “opportunity”. With the public in no great mood for strike action and transport infrastructure under pressure to maintain supply, it is possible the year 2020 is one which resulted in lowering of service standard to airlines pax, and weakening of union membership through increasing outsourcing contractors due to both uncertainties from the pandemic and reduced competition between QF and VA (REx will not offer products which will seriously challenge the premium end for many years)

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 154

Unsurprising myopic approach from Qantas, putting forward customer cuts in a downturn instead of trying to reengage customers (US Carriers have improved benefits the last few months by comparison).

I remember last time Qantas had record losses they did the whole nonsense of "simpler and fairer" in their Frequent Flyer that created a points table with more sections than the Australian Constitution. Little wonder it is a company that over the past decade has not generated a net profit. 

Qantas

03 Mar 2015

Total posts 14

Its a bit of a joke IMO.  So they reduce Status points to encourage flying and keep status.  Yet they half the status points that are earnt from each flight.  Am I missing something is there any benefit in doing this?

Why didn't they just keep it the way it was?

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 54

I wonder if there is a silver lining here that there will be a major overhaul of their fare brands and pricing. Bringing an extra fare bucket into Red-e-deal might suggest they are looking to have more discounted fares to compete with VA or REX?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

I suggest that were that to happen it would be the downgrading of Red-E deals so that they attract zero points and no SCs.  I don't know how that would constitute a silver lining though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1243

I fear this is a bellwether of worse things to come.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 532

Competition in the airline industry is dead, and looks like chit chat is happening to me even if words aren't spoken.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Mar 2014

Total posts 221

Glad I have lifetime gold with QF

Probably cancel that 

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

Oh well LTG just got pushed out by 5 years!

Then again, my guess is my employer will be putting us all on Rex soon enough so maybe make that indefinite!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 281

Yep, I always thought I would be LTG before I retire, don’t think I will get there now and really don’t care, and I don’t think QF do either, like most I am looking at a drop in status this year anyway despite QF giving that 50% annual status bonus a few months ago, and then another drop next year.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 29

The simple truth still remains.

REWARD Programs are just a scam to suck people into being loyal.  The FF Programs are a Profit Centre for the Airline. Have a look at what Qantas makes out of FF program each year. Virgin disclosed the same, - that the FF program was making more money than the airline.  

Selling points to Hire Car Companies, Super markets and Banks, brings in $$$$$$$$$. They show all the benefits you CAN GET, and then when I try to get Reward Business Seats to LAX, - they are hard to find and dates don't suit.  BUT YES - you can get them, so the truth is still in their somewhere.

An then, like my wife did, when Woolworths dropped QFF, she fialed to get any points - and WAM - they were gone and QFF simply smiled as they had already been paid by Woolworths. 

YOU TELL ME - who is me Who is really making money here?  Not the Flyer.

Its the same with the Credit Cards. I pay $395 per year, and after spending $400,000, I could get a Flight Centre Voucher for about $1500 (That's my best memory), which is a return of 0.38%.

Year after year I seek rewards cut. I have lost interest.

So when I get to the Lounge, I am hungry and thirsty, and so are the people I bring ( If I can). I take what I can get then and there.

My best advise if you are seeking Loyalty, is to go and buy a Labrador. He will be unconditionally loyal to you, because you wont get much Loyalty out of any programs I have been in over 30 years.

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 15

I feel someone is hurt by frequent flyer programs, and yes ultimately they are profit makers for the airlines. It is not at all a surprise. 

Firstly, yes rewards are harder to find, though if you're happy to fly other airlines/ be flexible with dates/ book early you can get those seats.

Secondly, that is totally on your wife. She had 18 months to earn/use a single (1) point to keep it active. Even something as small as a Qantas health rewards (or whatever it is) to get walking points once a month, or even the Qantas cash card and buy a coffee with it once a month. Both $0 extra being spent. Also woolworths hasn't dropped Qantas, you can still earn Qantas points from the everyday rewards program.

Thirdly, don't ever buy a voucher with frequent flyer points. Very bad value. Assuming you spend the same amount per month to total 400,000 a year = 33,333 per month, using the Qantas Premier Platinum Credit card ($200 a year) you would earn 260,000 points a year. Given that's essentially free points (minus the $200 you spend and assuming you use none of the benefits) then its a pretty good deal. A 0.05% cashback is what other credit cards could offer, both are equivalent in that sense. A voucher for those points = $1400-1500 or a flight upgrade or reward flight could easily be $8000+.

Presuming you have access to the lounge you are not a Bronze frequent flyer and so you are above others in the upgrade queue too

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 29

Hi Camel,  I agree that my wife loosing the points is on her. However she stays home most of the time, and is not across the rules. (However she can cook and do things like that better than me) Yes she could have done something, to earn 1 point, if that was in her mind, but like a lot of people who earn points, don't read the rule book. I just wonder how many dollars FF Reward program "get back" from the majority of people ( unlike you and I and people on this forum, who listen to others and don't fall down the holes) who simple Time Out on points.

Yes I travel  internationally a few times per year with my business, so I Am GOLD - not really that hard, and then I still find it impossible sometimes to get lounge access, went there is QF number on a Partner Airline that is Non One World.

What does annoy me is that when I sign up for Loyalty Programs the Hype in the introduction sounds great. Until you actually try to get something. I think booking Business SYD to LAX in Business 3 months out, is a reasonable expectation, however I agree with what you say booking 1 year out is more chance, but I cannot do that.  If I cannot get what I seek, I feel for the bronze people who come last, by a long way.

So I just take what I can when I can. "That's LIFE"   Cheers

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

 Its the same with the Credit Cards. I pay $395 per year, and after spending $400,000, I could get a Flight Centre Voucher for about $1500 (That's my best memory), which is a return of 0.38%.”

I don’t follow your logic. You spent $395 and got $1500 back. Unless you spent the $400k with the express intent being to achieve a gift voucher of course, but surely not.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 29

Hi Steve, It frustrates me that once a post is made there is No Edit option, so I'd better check spelling and grammar more carefully before pressing SEND :). I have also rechecked the exact numbers

I pay $395 per year for the Credit CARD Package, and over 4 years spent 270K on the Credit Card, for normal purchases.

SO that's $395 * 4 = $1580, just to have the card.

Then I spent the 270K on purchases, and at 1.5 points per dollar, I now have 405,000 points, and I receive an email saying I can now trade the points for a   $1650 Travel Centre Voucher

I run a small business and see the Monthly fee and the % take each month, on what my customers spend with me. SO I can see what the Banks are making.

With these numbers I was trying to express an opinion that The Reward programs that SOLD to us with all the glamour, don't really add from where I am looking.

I have children working in the USA, and was trying to get to SFO earlier in 2020, on a QFF Business Reward that was (from memory) 100k approx each way. I looked just now and its now  144,600 points each way. That's a serious reduction in points value. And the rules are very clear - in that Qantas can change the rules at any time, and even cease the program.

My point is that Loyalty Programs really don't seem to offer very much to me. Maybe you have better story to tell and make me me feel differntly.

All the Best.

24 May 2018

Total posts 2

In some ways, I agree and sympathise with your post as benefits have eroded but can't agree that FF schemes are just a scam.

Flights are out there but you do have to be flexible, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it and the whole game would not exist. You state that your wife lost her points because WOW dropped QFF. It takes 18 months of no activity for those points to be lost, if they were your wife's sole point earning method then clearly she has not shown any type of loyalty to Qantas either, why would they want to keep her on the books.

You admit you paid $395 for your credit card and got $1500 in value. That's a 400% return on your money, the 400K you spent (i can guess as a business) to buy things is irrelevant other than the fact that with interest free periods, you were using the Banks money earning or saving interest on your own money/loans

And you enjoy your lounge access to the hilt and try and maximise the benefit bringing people in as well. That must have a monetary benefit in your mind as well on top of the other benefits you are getting.

Seems like you are doing OK out of QFF 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 29

Thanks for you comments, but over the years, i have continued to see points devalued. Yet I see the Loyalty programs as large source of revenue for the company.

If any other business offered schemes like this where you purchase "Credits" from them, which is what you are really doing with Hire cars / Hotels etc, and they offered benefits like free flights, most consumers would expect to be able to get them.

I hold GOLD, and I did try 9 months out to get a Return SYD/LAX Business class, ticket, and it just did not work for me at that time. I felt like I had brought a Gift Card, and could then only use it on certain dates. Really if the Customer has the points they should be able to redeem. Yes I know you you can pick "any flight", but the number of points you need compared to Classic Rewards, is ridiculously high. I sense that Classic Rewards are slowly being removed.

The money I spent was my personal spend. My message above said that spend was over 4 years meaning the card cost me $1580, and with the spend I was able to redeem $1650. (Easy mistake to miss that it took years at $395)

I do fly International business, so the Ticket price includes Lounge Access.

When I fly Domestically and regionally I normally fly economy, as very few Regional center's have QC. So my benefits of the scheme allow lounge access a few times per year in major cities, which is time limited.

Therefore I humbly suggest that QFF is doing better out of me than I am of them.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

Worst case you are getting a premium credit card for free (voucher value offsets cost of annual membership), best case you get seats on flights worth significantly more.

I have had to be flexible on my classic reward flight choices to access them (fly day earlier, fly indirectly, fly with other one world carriers at a slightly higher point price), but I’ve typically been able to find something to suit my wants/needs, both domestically and internationally.

Of course Qantas and the credit provider are trying to profit off your use, they aren’t charities. If you feel like the relationship is too far skewed in their favour though then there are plenty of free credit card options out there that you could choose from.

21 Oct 2020

Total posts 1

This is to be expected from Mr Joyce.  Try to keep customers on board particularly Platinum members by cutting the points you earn on flights and doubling up on the points you need to upgrade to Business is just shocking. I will probably run down million plus points buying the Qantas wine and I here and now vow never to fly with Qantas again. What a way to treat loyalty in Customers. Shame on you. There are other avenues for travel for me apart from Qantas. Good bye Kangaroo.

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 15

You do realise it’s not cutting anything. It’s a fare class moving from Flexi to Discount. You pay the same and get the same. Nothing has changed except more fare classes available in the discount end. Everything still aligns as normal 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 29

I feel  your frustration. The reason I still try to fly QF, is that at least some jobs remain in Australia. Its not that I think Qantas cares about its customers. I know that a lot of maintenance now gets done off shore, but some is still done here, and the Cabin Crew etc appear to be Aussies.

Flying with Emirates / Cathay / Singapore is good, but all that does is drain even more $ from Australia.

Guess I am one of the few "old School" trying to keep something of what we has back in the 70"s, before the accountants sent everything off shore.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 279

I see what you meant about trying to keep some jobs in Oz by going with QF BUT I wonder if QF would move their heavy maintenance in MEL overseas if they are allowed to

Sure, they would do that for wide body planes used in international route but the profit making part of their operations is mostly domestic route and they cannot afford send the smaller planes overseas for servicing (logistically it meant at least an additional 48 hours extra to send planes to Singapore or US hub, that’s another 2 days they can’t use the plane)

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Mar 2018

Total posts 29

You are correct.

All I can do is to try and send my spending to something that MAY help Australia 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Mar 2014

Total posts 18

This is a very dishonest article. Qantas is not changing its status earning or other fare conditions for any of its marketed fare types. It has simply moved a fare bucket into the discount economy category so its systems can offer an additional price point. The consumer will notice no difference.

Hi turner773, the article clearly explains that change and the impact of it, including its scope (being limited to M class only). The article also makes clear that the rates aren't changing on other fare types (such as other flexible fares, and those that are currently discount economy). Qantas' choice to 'market' M class as a discount fare from next month, rather than as a flexible fare as it is today, is what's driving the change – and, as we've reported on other similar changes in the past (such as when Qantas moved more fares into 'flexible economy' on international routes, which increased the points and status credits earned and decreased upgrade costs on those tickets), it's only appropriate that we report the same when the reverse happens.

People don't only book flights via the Qantas website where those marketed fare names are shown: they also book through OTAs and other travel agents, where the fare letter has more prominence – and, as M is currently the lead-in flexible fare type, and these typically earn many more points and status credits than any of the discount tickets, many savvy travellers seek out M class tickets to balance price, flexibility and rewards - so for these people, the same approach next month would cut their rewards and increase their upgrade rates (as to keep things the same, they'll instead need to book K).

12 Aug 2020

Total posts 2

I might have this wrong but on a fare Sydney to Adelaide after 4 November, I am seeing under a Flex fare the points earned reduced from 1200 to 800 and the Status Credits from 20 to 10, compared to a fare booked for before 4 November. That means you earn points and status credits the same as for a Red e-Deal. If that is the case, then this is more than just a re-arrangement of fare buckets. It is an actual devaluation which contradicts the statement from the Qantas spokesperson. Your thoughts?

22 Aug 2016

Total posts 3

I've seen this too @2paxfly, and was hunting around to see what was going on since I have booked a number of M fares for after 4 November before hearing about this. However, it seems like it might just be an issue with the website's pre-loading of what you get as status credits and points, rather than a devaluation, as the number of points showing as being required for an upgrade are still showing as the numbers required as if the fare is Flexi economy. 

So it might just be that the website is presently coding any M fare after 4 November as earning discount points and status credits... or I may just being hopeful.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qantas cuts points, status; hikes upgrades on some domestic fares