August 2022 could go down in history as The Great Frequent Flyer Frenzy, with Qantas loyalists spending a staggering 1.2 billion points across just two days.
Those 48 hours followed the unlocking at 12 noon Monday of a flood of Classic Reward seats – bargains which can be booked for the lowest number of Qantas points – on domestic and international routes as part of the airline’s ‘apology package’ to appease disgruntled customers impacted by months of service disruptions.
Qantas promised to release “up to 50 per cent more Classic Reward seats” across its network, and travellers were quick to pounce.
London, Singapore, Bangkok, Los Angeles were the most popular international destinations, along with Tokyo – and while Japan has yet to fully reopen to tourists, it’s clear that many people were planning well ahead into 2023.
Executive Traveller understands one frequent flyer redeemed a staggering 1.5 million points for a round-the-world itinerary which included visits to San Francisco, London and Bengaluru, one of Qantas’ newest destinations.
Return trips between Sydney and London were flying off the proverbial shelf at 290,000 points in business class – in fact, Qantas says the surge as flyers burned through stockpiled points set new records for the most international classic reward seats ever booked in first, business and premium economy in a single day.
“The response from frequent flyers to the latest release of extra seats has been huge,” recounts Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth, adding that the airline was “very focused on listening to our frequent flyers and delivering on what they want.”
And despite those record redemptions, Wirth says “there are still millions of reward seats available across domestic and international routes for the next year on Qantas, Jetstar and our partner airlines.”
Qantas’ commitment to increasing the availability of Classic Reward seats on flights through to the end of June 2023 came as part of an impassioned apology from Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
Pledging to restore the airline “back to its best”, Joyce said frequent flyers would see their current status extended by 12 months along with free lounge passes and for Platinum and Platinum One members, up to 30,000 free Qantas Points.
The one-off $50 flight voucher proved so popular, the Qantas website was unable to handle the demand, causing a temporary system outage as members lined up to claim the stipend.
Since October last year, Qantas Frequent Flyers have cashed in more than 80 billion points, with one in every 11 travellers flying on a Classic Reward seat – a jump increase from the pre-pandemic rate of one in every 16.
The best time to book with points
One reason that now is when you should swoop on booking flights with Qantas Points is that while Classic Flight Reward seats are made available for the lowest number of frequent flyer points, there’s typically only a small number of such seats allocated on any given flight.
Once they're gone, you can still buy any other seat with points, but the number of points reflects the actual cash price for each seat, so you’ll end up spending a lot more points – easily three times as many as a Classic Flight Reward booking.
More Classic Flight Reward seats being opened up means your 'point budget' can stretch a lot further.
Additional reporting by Matt Lennon