Qantas to spend $80m on more frequent flyer seats, upgraded meals

The airline will roll out a raft of changes to reset its flight path and win back travellers.

By David Flynn, September 25 2023
Qantas to spend $80m on more frequent flyer seats, upgraded meals

Qantas says it will funnel $80 million into reducing the most noticeable customer ‘pain points’ through to June 2024 as the airline looks to reset its trajectory under newly-minted CEO Vanessa Hudson.

This will come on top of a previously-allocated $150m, with the $80m booster being funded from the airline’s own profits.

According to Qantas, priorities for this traveller-centric top-up will include

  • better contact centre resourcing and training
  • an increase in the number seats that can be redeemed with frequent flyer points
  • more generous recovery support when operational issues arise
  • a review of longstanding policies for fairness, and
  • improvements to the quality of inflight catering

Several of these steps were last week tipped by Executive Traveller and no doubt all of them will be welcomed by passengers.

As previously noted, the airline is now looking at reducing its reliance on offshore call centres and beefing up its Australian telephone support operation.

One example of the ‘focus on fairness’ is likely to see the $60 fee for changing a passenger’s name on a ticket wound back.

In a market update provided this morning, Qantas flagged a 30% increase in fuel  prices since May 2023, “including a 10% spike since August... driven by a combination of higher oil prices, higher refiner margins and a lower Australian dollar.”

While this could add $200m to the Qantas Group’s fuel bill across the 2023-2024 financial year, pushing it up to $2.8 billion, the airline said it would seek to “continue to absorb these higher costs” rather than pass them on to the public as higher airfares.

However, a continued increase in fuel costs could cause the airline to revisit that plan, although “any changes would look to balance the recovery of higher costs with the importance of affordable travel in an environment where fares are already elevated.”

Hudson last week reached out to the public in a short video message saying “I know that we have let you down in many ways, and for that, I'm sorry.”

“We want to get back to the national carrier that Australians can be proud of, that's known for going above and beyond. We understand we need to earn your trust back, not with what we say, but what we do and how we behave.”

“This is going to take time and I ask for your patience,” Hudson said, promising that “the work is already underway.”

In addition to “reviewing all of our customer policies to make sure they're fair,” Hudson pledged the airline would give its frontline teams “more flexibility to better help you when things don't go to plan.”

This is already seeing airport staff once again able to provide vouchers to passengers impacted by delayed flights.

Hudson has tasked her executive team with delivering quick wins which make a tangible difference to travellers and how they feel about the airline.

And there’s certainly no shortage of ideas: our own article on What’s next for Qantas in the post-Alan Joyce era? resulted in over one hundred constructive comments from Executive Traveller readers on how Hudson could help get Qantas back to its best.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 371

Every journey starts with the first step and Venessa has one big journey ahead of her.

Little things like the removal of these petty fees will certainly help. They also need to fly with competitors so they get a dose of reality that their business class is just not up to the standards of service of the other majors.

I wish her luck, she will need it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 366

Vanessa and indeed the whole Board should be made to sit in economy once in a while too, to see how far behind Qantas is compared to its competitors - particularly international.

Qantas execs need to go back to the article linked above and just read the comments, there are so many ways the airline can get back to the Qantas it used to be and what we all want it to be again. A lot of them are small changes too, not major undertakings. Good to hear that Hudson wants to 'empower' the front line staff to fix things for passengers too. This is all a good start and I wish her and the team well.

what about not suspending accounts for family transfers - then asking to prove a relationship (anyone in receipt of a document that says this person is your cousin)?.  The 'suspend first, ask questions, waste your time later' part is criminal.

Just remove the family transfer rules or cap it!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 315

Business Class Catering really needs a review.  It is definitely an area that can make or break a good trip.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2023

Total posts 1

At least Business Class gets real food.  What is served in Economy is not even edible.  Family holidays for us is in economy and it is an embarrassment to Qantas what is served.   

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 89

With what is charged for Business Class tickets, Qantas needs to review the offering.  Regular passengers are better off paying a lower price for economy and upgrading with points, which means the real yield per aircraft is less.  Oh yeah, that's why in the past award seats were limited.  Now there will be more, wonder how they'll cut costs: less cleaning, less maintenance, worse catering?  My bet someone will be balancing the books.

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 89

Of course the FF program is profitable.  It is full of non-flying members who earn points through non-flying activities and swap them for seats (if they can) on already full flights.  In the mean time, regular fare paying Business Class passengers are treated poorly.

17 Feb 2020

Total posts 14

I admire her for taking ownership of the numerous issues, given the total mess she's inherited from Alan Joyce. The proof will be actually seeing and experiencing these changes. That's the massive challenge ahead for her, and all the Qantas team.

07 Dec 2012

Total posts 6

There is so much they need to do - I think from a passenger perspective - first cab off the rank is to fix their call centres.

Also I think they should look at Qantaslink as their staff offer a far better level of service than the "main" Qantas (both in the air and at the regional airports). They actually appear to be enjoying their work.

And that is nationally whether it's SA , NSW or QLD Qantaslink are so much better it's sometimes hard to believe they are the same airline.



15 Feb 2023

Total posts 2

Not only should the board be made to travel in QF economy once in a while, but also on overseas travel, a seat in QR business to experience what the front end in-flight experience should be.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 22

I know that there are many bigger issues but its extraordinary how sometimes the smallest things make the biggest differences. I remember being able to check in your baggage at the Valet parking in Sydney and then someone monitoring access for the platinum and gold passengers at the priority security line. That just doesn't exist anymore but that seems like a quick fix to me and surely not cost a lot of money

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 149

Please replace ‘even more’ with ‘some’ in the title of this article!

I’m hoping this is a step in the right direction and not just some nice words. Time will tell but I’m hopeful.

30 Aug 2022

Total posts 3

I havent got a compaint. Ignoring domestic and based on economy Qantas do deliver. Points redemption has never been better and reward eats easiest even seen. I dont understand some complaints. Just booked rewards seats Syd-Lax return short notice inc partner us flights. Offerred PE on points or upgrade on top. Comp lounge tick. Chose upgrade on points and that had no issue.  Bronze. Never so essy. Have found same last 18mth domestic snd intl.  No vompaint. I think too many are Karens

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 469

Qantas has been releasing frequent flyer award seats as "events" rather than following an understood process (ie the 350- somwething-day rule)  While this creates some good will, I don't plan travel at short notice and can't particapate.  I expect there are many that feel the same way.  Before Covid I could reliably get business class awards to Europe and the US.  My one success since Covid haa been to abandon leaving Oz on an classic award and pick up a BA business class award flight from Singaopre onwards.


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 100

Little thing…can I buy a beer or wine onboard after 12md please. Of course keeping the post 4pm complementary offer is as important. 

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 163

Strange how one can buy a beer or bourbon on Jetstar for breakfast but good luck on Qantas. Surely QF knows some international transfers are on their "home time zone" and appreciate a quiet drink before their final destination. A lesson to learn from for the flying Kangaroo!

05 Jan 2021

Total posts 24

look forward to a review of business class catering - the offerings on long distance domestic services and international ones is still pretty crook!

Great to see lovers of vegetarian meals , plant based offerings and the over spicy Asian food looked after by Qantas but what about those of us who enjoy a decent steak , or pasta apart from Mac and Cheese  or something like a Caesar Salad.

I now fill up in the lounge or at home prior to domestic J flights as I am just sick of sausage rolls or some dilute soup !

Vanessa should maybe fly with the opposition just to see how far behind Qantas J cabins are falling behind!

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 89

Totally agree that many now fill up in the lounge pre-flight rather than partake of the poor in-flight offerings.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1501

More award seats? I wish to believe!!! Currently QF is MOST difficult company to acquire classic award seat using QF points!!!

now available to USA in school holidays in dec-jan from 41,900 plus a big pile of cash. Demand has certainly plummeted. Talk of high demand is history. Reports of forward bookings being awful. 


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1501

I am not interested in economy classic reward where I have to pay 50% or even more in cash comparing to commercial tickets. And in return one restricted with almost everything. Generally I am not interested in economy fly to USA (Europe, South America and even Asia) at all - I rather go to Red Center. Or North Queensland.


06 Feb 2015

Total posts 1

Example of small and easily fixed issues in long haul flights - bigger socks as they use to be. Too small for size 11 feet. Sealed toothpicks with meals. AirLink in South Africa does for economy flights.

Senior executives should see a summary of top 20 daily complaints and who is doing what to fix.

Improvements to Inflight Catering.

Not before time.
Travelled to Melbourne back in late May.
What a cheap and nasty mess the food was.
For what is supposed to be a full service airline, this was absolutley the pits.
Finger food that just all fell apart and not a serviette in sight at all to clean ap.
What a joke.

28 Apr 2021

Total posts 8

Bravo Executive Traveller by outlining that significant improvements will no doubt will be welcomed by "Passengers" who have been loyal and tolerant for a long period of time in having to put up with well below standard and unacceptable meals particularly in the QF Business Class. 

It is well beyond time for Neil Perry 'to say a goodbye'. 

Over the next few months, many "Passengers" will be watching a number of spaces to see if the 'Talk is in fact Walked'.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Aug 2016

Total posts 64

But will it be too little, too late. Us disaffected pax have been saying for a while "enough is enough" and Virgin have been raking in the bookings. I've only flown 4 sectors on QF since May 2022 (when I felt enough was enough) - versus 42 sectors on VA.

No wonder Velocity had it's highest new FF memberships in the week that Alan Joyce left.  Has the exodus begun?

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 276

When are they planning to actually add more award seats? The last time they did a big release, their website crashed - Australians who relied on the Qantas website got stuffed,  people living overseas used partner airlines to book everything out, and Qantas execs walked away patting themselves on the back for a job well done even when Australians lost out. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2021

Total posts 12

$80M doesnt seem enough when underlying profit was $2.47bn. The proof will be in the pudding when seeking upgrades and or Busines Class award flights to LHR in the next 12-24mths. USA is not a desired destination at this time.

The continual boast is how profitable the QFF program is, which is understandable when redemptions are limited to beads and trinkets.

I want to believe it, I have to believe it, with more than 1M points accrued over a very long period of loyalty. I hope to get a Business Class seat to London before I die.


05 Sep 2017

Total posts 11

For me the first priority to address would be "fly your planes on time".  30 something flights this year to date and on time is a rare luxury whether it be Sydney to Melbourne or long haul international.


25 Aug 2017

Total posts 21

does this mean they're getting rid of the inedible Neil Perry 'inspired' meals?


31 Aug 2022

Total posts 1

Just returned from RTW trip in BC with One World and the Qantas leg to the US was very disappointing. The service was just ok and the food was disgraceful. The heads need to try out Qatar and Emirates and look and learn.  Suites are now looking to become the norm for BC travel and Qantas need to consider this also. They also need to make FF rewards in BC within Australia more accessible as they’ve REALLY been minimised as far as I’m concerned. I’ve moved to Virgin for interstate as their BC prices are basically half of Qantas. Not good Qantas!! Looking for alternatives for One World for next years trip. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jan 2017

Total posts 27

Doesn't Qantas - like many other international carriers, purchase it's fuel on 5-year "futures" contracts?

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 89

Great for all of those with lots of points earned through non-travel activities, but this will create even more upgrade demand for the J and F seats, because while people will grab the extra FF seats, they don't want to travel in the cramped economy seats so will bid for upgrades.   Qantas seems to be focused on the relationships where people shop with partners and partners give them points towards award flights.

Funny thing is; awards for what?  The loyal long-time travelers again get nothing.  Seems Qantas has forgotten them and is only pandering to those who generate points through partnerships.  We've seen this with handouts to help non-flyers maintain status, but nothing for the loyal fliers.  Seems they are taken for granted as remaining loyal, whatever gets served to them.  

Those flying J you will get the same rubbish food, the same faulty seats, more QFF members insisting on equal rights; basically nothing in recognition of the loyalty and $$$ spent on flights.  Maybe the new Qantas CEO with a bean-counter background knows how to fly aircraft profitably without fare paying passengers, but I doubt it.  As very loyal passengers once more see they have been passed over, I suspect many will take their proven loyalty and switch.  Loyalty only goes so far before you tire of being everyone's subsidy.  Other airlines will find it easy to do status match with this new model and can even add icing to the offers, especially as they will be courting real revenue generating passengers who have shown their loyalty to an airline.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Feb 2020

Total posts 11

Email received this afternoon with more Classic Reward seats:
- Economy only
- Asia Pacific and USA only (although not Singapore/Bangkok/Santiago)
- flights February to June 2024

11 May 2018

Total posts 17

They need to look at their award chart and bring it in line with aeroplan, AA and alaska mileage plan. Too expensive currently. Also are they planning to release more J awards or Y awards? There’s a difference there.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 14

Would be great if there was some kind of additional benefit for LT Gold, perhaps better access to Classic Reward flights, a couple of passes to the BC Lounges . It took SO much flying to get to 14000 SCs, there should be some reward for long term loyalty!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2018

Total posts 4

Vanessa does have a big job ahead of her and she needs to do a lot to earn back good will of loyal members. Let's not forget she was CFO during the Joyce years so she was either complicit with the choices made that have left Qantas in the state it is in today, or she was a silent objector which doesn't give me too much confidence. Time will tell.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 24

I am a LTG member with a bucket load of points but like most have commented next to no J class redemptions out of Australia. Now that my rusted on hand cuffs are off I am crediting my points on International long haul to BA Avios,  which I hope to transfer to QR and then also top up via Amex. No brainer really QR points to Europe significantly less and better availability for preium cabins. 

I also noticed some inconsistencies where AA/Alaskan get better availability. For instance Syd to HNL in J class. I was playing round on and AA/Alaskan gave the option of non stop service ex Syd at around 55K Qantas  option via Lax at over 100K points for redemtion. 

I am running down my points held in QF FF and with my Amex they will go to anything but QF! I think our Loyalty has been taken for a good ride over the last 15 years. I dont see much long term change as new CEO was partly responsible for the last 15!

I see Vanessa has promised more FF award seats but as some have already mentioned nothing in premium cabins. (There was always seats in Y) so this is really puffery!

A game changer would be if VA/Velocity joings many other non alliance mebers have.  Given it being an excellent program the option to redeem on SA without being SA member would tip the play in VA's court. Also the points need for redemption and is quite reasonable and the ability to have stop overs another bonus. VA would have to work with Aeropplan/Credit card issues to make it a transfer partner. On a side note  in my opinion the Velocity program has greatly improved over the last 18 months or so.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Aug 2015

Total posts 7

Removal of petty fees sounds good, example - if you are going to keep the rewards booking, then change fee from “per person” to “per booking”.

Hopefully investment in a better functioning website/app so more changes can be made online negating the need to engage with call centres.

Or perhaps complicated changes you initiate communication via live chat of what you are looking to do and then you receive phone call from suitably skilled call centre staffer to make the change.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2019

Total posts 10

It’s good to see so many supportive comments here.  

I too welcome these efforts to improve what has become a mediocre flying experience in business and economy classes.  On a recent trip from Adelaide to Brisbane my points upgrade to business did not go as planned.  After I requested my upgrade the plane was changed to a smaller type (from 3+3 to 2+2) meaning my business class experience was not what I expected.  There was no adjustment of the upgrade points required for this lesser offering.    

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 97

My pet peeve is the food - in any class. Neil Perry and his Rockpool need to go, and fast. Would what's served on planes be served in his restaurant(s)? Doubt it, otherwise customers would be out the door quick smart. Can't do that 35,000 feet in the air so there's waste.

Over the last 15 years what's been served on all QF routes is appalling and no passenger should gripe to the cabin staff. It's not their fault. They get the same stuff.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 70

PLEASE get rid of those 'garnish' quality 'salads'. They are embarrassing to look at.

04 Sep 2022

Total posts 2

I always suspected that Qantas' focus on 'lighter' and 'healthier' meal options was just spin on their cost cutting in onboard catering.  Given that Emirates and Qantas'  (and Qatar, if you are lucky enough to be able to get a flight) prices for first and biz classes are somewhat comparable, Qantas should be embarrassed by its obscenely underwhelming offerings.  

22 Jul 2022

Total posts 2

With the sensible changes coming in under Vanessa Hudson, it we be great if Qantas considered starting Lifetime Gold FF’s with 700 status credits each year. This would give incentive to actually fly QF after reaching this milestone. At the moment, lifetime golds start with zero status credits each year, it makes no sense - and actually makes me less loyal to the airline.

29 Sep 2023

Total posts 2

They may wish to start by upgrading domestic meals.  Providing a semi-packaged  meal in business flying across the continent is gross, similar to some LCC carriers.

It would also be of some interest to be advised which airline QF execs fly on, I suspect it is not always  their own.

I remain unconvinced of a return to the quality airline it was 40 years ago.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

26 Sep 2018

Total posts 7

In the last 10 years I would have flown over 500 International sectors........and only one of them on Qantas.  The reason: with a few exceptions, the staff are the rudest people I have probably ever met.   Compare their attitude to that of Thai or SQ.  If they fixed the ATTITUDE of their staff towards their customers, they would go a long way towards fixing the airline.

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