Qantas mulls launching its own mobile phone service

The proposed Qantas Mobile plans would run on the Optus network and let customers earn points as they talk, text and stream.

By David Flynn, February 3 2021
Qantas mulls launching its own mobile phone service

Qantas could add a mobile phone service to its raft of loyalty programs, with the airline reselling capacity on the Optus network and customers incentivised by earning frequent flyer points.

There'd also be an option to pay the monthly bill using points instead of cash, according to a survey run by the airline's Red Planet market research arm and shared by an Executive Traveller reader.

The survey floated a sign-up bonus of between 20,000 and 40,000 Qantas Points – enough for at one to two Sydney-Melbourne return trips – which could be coupled with, or offered as an alternative to, a monthly earn of between 1,000 and 3,000 Qantas Points per month depending on the plan chosen.

Survey respondents were also asked to rate the appeal of possible perks such as vouchers for airport lounge access, Qantas Wine, Qantas Hotel stays and discounts of 10% against points-based flight bookings.

Also raised: the ability to pay your Qantas Mobile bill with Qantas Points, although a suggested rate of 2,000 points for $10 vastly undervalues those points compared to using them to purchase a ticket or upgrade from economy to business class.

Approached for comment by Executive Traveller, a Qantas spokesperson said "we’re always exploring new opportunities to reward members on their everyday expenses. It has seen us form a range of successful partnerships from grocery and fuel to insurance providers."

Qantas partnered with Vodafone to offers Qantas Points on selected plans from 2016 to 2019.

The airline was previously an Optus partner from September 2011 to June 2015, with the telco's customers earning up to two Qantas Frequent Flyer Points spent on phones, plans and additional services, until Optus charted a "a new direction" for its Optus Yes Rewards scheme.

Can Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth turn frequent flyers into frequent diallers?
Can Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth turn frequent flyers into frequent diallers?

Qantas' new ploy would see it join the ranks of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) which resell the capacity of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

These generally provide attractive deals without the full telco overhead, although they lack access to the full network of their parent, such as excluding 5G coverage.

Beyond frequent flyers

While the airline's frequent flyer scheme remains the best-known backbone of the Qantas Loyalty division, with some 13.4 million members signed up, recent initiatives have included health, car and home insurance, and its own Qantas-branded credit cards.

Two-thirds of Qantas Points are now earned on the ground, which includes credit card spending – reflecting the dominance of frequent buyers over frequent flyers.

"Obviously at the core of our business, we have a Qantas Frequent Flyer programme, which is all about engaging our members," Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth noted at a recent CAPA Centre for Aviation event.

"However, we had quite a diversified earnings strategy which is all about making sure that we can engage our members beyond flying, and so that gives us diverse revenue streams."

This mobile phone foray reflects that desire to broaden the group's footprintinto the mainstream, where Qantas Points are already considered Australia's second de facto currency.

Qantas Loyalty was the powerhouse of the airline's COVID-hammered 2020 financial year, contributing $341 million in pre-tax earnings – as much as all domestic and international flying combined.

The growth-hungry group is now targetting $500-600 million in earnings by mid-2024.

Power up your Qantas Points balance with our roundup of Australia's best Qantas Frequent Flyer credit card sign-up offers, beginning at a hefty 150,000 points.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 168

My 2c, not being a marketing expert or anything, is that Qantas might be better off making its plan appeal to the frequent flyers with great roaming and also ensuring it has access to the whole Optus network including 5G, rather than making it just another mainstream 'earn Qantas points!' exercise.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Nov 2020

Total posts 2

I agree: great roaming is the key. 

Vodafone offers roaming for $5 a day using your mobile plan.  This is super convenient if you're country hoping.  
I suspect Vodafone can offer this because they're a global company. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 928

After the rip-off pricing of Qantas' forays into health and car insurances, I can't say I'm too excited about their prospective mobile offerings.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 98

I found the health insurance way off the mark, and the car insurance was ballpark similar to current provider. The House Insurance was however compelling and I switched over for much cheaper premium and good coverage, with the resultant serving of QFF points. Will be interesting to see if it was just special discounts for the first year, or whether they dial up premiums in year 2 renewals, hoping for customer apathy in not being bothered to move away.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 238

If you use a Qantas phone service, will your waiting time when calling Qantas reduce from ten hours to seven hours? Six hours if you sign up to the premium plan?

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 628

I was thinking the same thing

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 348

Maybe Qantas should just concentrate on its core business - being an airline.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 116

There really isn’t much for airlines to do right now.... Smart to diversify 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1262

Nothing wrong with diversifying but perhaps make sure you get your core business down pat first before slapping your name and logo on everything else.

Qantas has been smart over the years with their loyalty business. It is likely to be the airline's biggest earner this FY. 

I can see this being very much aimed at the mainstream market who like the idea of earning Qantas points every way they can, on things they'd usually pay for anyway, so that eventually they'll have enough points for that family holiday or whatever. This is the reality of the 'aspirational' side of a frequent flyer program, because most members, certainly well more than 50%, tend to be 'less frequent flyers' or 'infrequent flyers'. I wonder who will actually run the Qantas Mobile program in terms of support etc?

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 603

There would definitely have to be a sweetener such as that mentioned by Gold4life. Having free global roaming would make up for the, also stated, premium Qantas would surely charge. If they did that I'd join in a flash. Credit card with no foreign currency exchange fees and a phone plan with global roaming.

01 Oct 2020

Total posts 4

As a shareholder in Rex, I'm really hoping they focus on their Rewards program as much as Qantas does

One of the rare Australian shareholders?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 216

Completely lost interest at the word “Optus”

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 98

Agree - in both metro or regional areas, friends always drop calls or no coverage with Optus, but the Telstra network keeps giving service. There are cheaper options out there than Tel$tra, but I would rather pay a bit more and know that it works.

30 May 2014

Total posts 4

QUANTAS would be better working on buying the correct planes and fuel at the right price other than selling Insurance, wine, phone services, apples, after hours entertainment etc We've seen them lose/write-off $2Billion, ground the airline and cost their customers millions of dollars, sack the majority of their workforce, trash their brand, get billions of dollars from the Australian taxpayers to keep going, make demands on government and public to keep flying. We all remember Ansett, Compass, Air Lingus etc

My advice: Get your own backyard in order before looking outside.


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