Qantas has quietly axed some of its most sought-after frequent flyer seats in a sudden overhaul of its loyalty scheme, citing financial pressures as the airline struggles to turn back a rising tide of red ink.
Frequent flyers have long been able to exploit a loophole in the Qantas booking system which let them trade their points on premium seats – typically in business and first class – via an Any Seat Award booking made at the same rate as the cheaper Classic Award seats.
However, those bookings provided benefits such as frequent flyer points and status credits which were not available under Classic Award deals.
This proved especially popular with savvy flyers who used those relatively low-cost seats to gain sufficient status credits to gain or retain Gold or Platinum membership in the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme.
Qantas will close that loophole from July 1, removing what it terms as ‘Marginal Any Seat Awards’ from the system.
A Qantas spokesperson said that these award seats "represent a short cut to tier status and add a significant cost without the revenue in return," adding that "the financial realities of our business have been well publicised."
"The option to book Any Seat Awards in Classic Award fare classes (X, Z, U and P) will be removed from 1 July 2014."
Qantas last year removed the ability to book these special seats online, so that they could be booked only over the telephone by through the Qantas call centre.
This move was widely interpreted as the beginning of the end for MASA seats, with Qantas at the time confirming those specific award classes were being reviewed.
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