Qantas has quietly lifted the number of frequent flyer points required to snare a reward ticket on partner Emirates. As of Tuesday 1 September 2020, you'll need up to 20% more points to book the same seat as before.
However, Qantas claims that a recent reduction in Emirates' carrier charges will mean that some frequent flyers will see more value, not less, from a points-based Emirates booking even when the higher redemption rates are taken into account.
More Qantas Points needed for Emirates flight rewards
From September 1, Emirates joins the likes of Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific and British Airways on the more-expensive Partner Classic Flight Reward table – leaving just Qantas, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu and American Airlines on the lower-rate Qantas Classic Flight Reward table.
Here's what that means for some popular Emirates routes:
|Route (one-way)||Qantas Points (before 31 Aug 2020)||Qantas Points (after 1 Sept 2020)|
Longer routes see a more significant increase in the number of Qantas Points needed versus shorter routes, while economy class bookings are more heavily impacted than business or first class reservations.
For example, a one-way Sydney-London flight booking in economy is hit with a 20% increase in Qantas Points (55,200 to 66,200 points), while a cheeky one-way Sydney-Christchurch jaunt in Emirates first class sees a modest 3.7% uptick (62,200 to 64,500 points).
As long as you book before 31 August 2020, your future travel on Emirates beyond that date will still be charged the lower points amount. But any new bookings or changes after 1 September 2020 will likely be at the new, increased points rates.
Qantas and Emirates flights will be charged at different rates
Bouncing Emirates from the Qantas Classic Flight Reward table to the Partner Classic Flight Reward table will be problematic for travellers whose points-based booking involves connecting from a Qantas flight to an Emirates flight, or vice versa.
That's because Qantas Frequent Flyer allows you to mix and match flights from different airlines on the same rewards table, and use your points on a single 'through-fare' if the transits between each flight are less than 24 hours.
Under the current system, someone could fly from Cairns to Brisbane with Qantas, and then Brisbane to London (via Dubai) on Emirates for the same number of points as the Brisbane-London leg itself – i.e. 144,600 Qantas Points in business class all the way from Cairns.
However, this and other sweet spots will no longer be possible for new bookings made from 1 September 2020 onwards.
A Cairns resident will now need to fork out 27,600 Qantas Points to fly to Brisbane in Qantas business class, and then separately use 159,000 Qantas Points to fly Emirates to London – a total of 186,600 points.
It's still possible for that traveller to jet from Cairns to London in business class for 144,600 points, but it means their only feasible option will be to continue flying Qantas from Brisbane to Singapore and then onwards to London, as this keeps their whole ticket on the Qantas Classic Flight Rewards table.
Emirates reduces carrier charges
In related news, Emirates is also decreasing the carrier charges that are levied on bookings made by points. This is across most of the carrier's routes and does apply to new bookings made with Qantas Points.
The Gulf airline's carrier charges were amongst the highest in the industry previously, with almost $600 added to a one-way business class ticket from Australia to Europe using points, in addition to genuine fees and taxes.
Travellers will feel a bit of relief in their back pockets now with that charge dropping below $350 on the same routes, but the impending increase in Qantas Points needed for Emirates tickets will be sure to leave a lingering bittersweet taste.