Qantas: business class upgrades on frequent flyer reward bookings

By Chris C., March 1 2016
Qantas: business class upgrades on frequent flyer reward bookings

Qantas travellers on domestic and international flights can now use their frequent flyer points to upgrade to premium economy and business class when booked on ‘Classic Flight Reward’ tickets bought using frequent flyer points.

('Classic Flight Rewards' bookings require a fixed and lower number of frequent flyer points compared to 'Points Plus Pay' bookings, which calculate the number of points you need based on the commercial cost of the flight, and already qualify for upgrades.)

It’s a great option to have up your sleeve when your travel dates are firm, such as for a business meeting or to align with your annual leave, but where only economy reward seats can be booked outright rather than something further forward on the aircraft.

The number of points needed to upgrade varies by route, but as a rule is always higher than what you’d need to upgrade on a ticket paid for with actual money.

Qantas domestic business class upgrades

On domestic flights, business class upgrades on Classic Reward tickets follow the same convention as all other fares – if an upgrade is available when you request it you can lock it in immediately, while if one isn’t available, you can ‘waitlist’ your request and find out closer to departure.

Short trips such as Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane can be upgraded with 12,000 Qantas Points for an all-out total of 20,000 Qantas Points for the journey, which includes the 8,000 points used to book your original flight.

That’s 4,000 more Qantas Points than needed for an outright business class Classic Reward booking on the same route – being 16,000 Qantas Points – so if that’s how you’d like to fly and a business class reward is available on your chosen flight, snap that up instead for the best value.

Longer flights such as Brisbane-Melbourne can be upgraded for 18,000 Qantas Points from a Classic Reward booking in economy, while 26,000 Qantas Points could find you in business class, or even in a Qantas Business Suite, on a cross-country Sydney-Perth trek.

AusBT review: Qantas A330 Business Suite, Sydney-Perth

Qantas international business class upgrades

When jetting abroad, upgrades on Classic Reward bookings are again processed just as any other international upgrade – being waitlisted and then processed in the days, and sometimes even hours, prior to departure.

From Sydney to Los Angeles, an economy Classic Award flight can now be upgraded to business class for 100,000 Qantas Points, but as the original booking would have already cost you 45,000 Qantas Points, that option proves more ‘pricey’ than an outright first class booking at 144,000 Qantas Points.

Premium economy is much the same, with a business class upgrade priced at 67,500 Qantas Points atop the 72,000 Qantas Points used to book the original flight (totalling 139,500 Qantas Points).

Of course, first class reward flights are difficult to come by across the Pacific while economy rewards are much more plentiful, so for travellers with a stockpile of points but no decent way to spend them, this new upgrade option merely provides a new way to do so.

Upgrades can also be requested from premium economy to business class and from economy to either premium economy or business class across Qantas’ range of international routes (as offered), although first class upgrades on business class Classic Reward bookings remain off the table.

For more information, head to the Qantas website.

Also read: These Black credit cards earn unlimited Qantas Points

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Chris C.

A former contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 572

This is excellent!

For those times you spontaneously grab a reward seat then when the journey gets closer, you wish you were flying business class. 

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 315

Great idea.  I assume the usual priorities of status would apply.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 168

does this apply to award bookings via qff but on other OW carriers?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 458

Assuming there is no change in the infamous "taxes and charges" on the classic flight reward, then the comparison needs to account for the $215 difference between a Y reward and J reward for SYD - LAX.    If you were to change the reward booking you pay the $215 plus a $60 fee (or points), plus 51,000 points.  So the extra 49,000 points for a points-only upgrade saves $275.  Close to 0.5 cents per point.

04 May 2014

Total posts 13

So an upgrade from economy award to business costs SYD-LAX costs 100k, (plus the 45k paid for the economy seat), meanwhile booking a business award would only be 96k.

That seems like incredibly poor value.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 444

As oppose to everything in QFF that is good value?!

24 Mar 2012

Total posts 2

It's not great value... but if there were no business award seats left at time of booking (they go quick, funnily enough) then isn't this the passenger's next best method of getting into business on their flight without having to pay for it?  Apart from the taxes, of course. 

I think it's a good benefit on appearance. Not sure I would personally use it, but may be great for others. 


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1451

“That seems like incredibly poor value.”

Yep, shocker.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 274

I am not sure why people would just not book the Business class award at the beginning. This method seems convoluted.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Dec 2011

Total posts 6

Fantastic, this is a concept that was missing and will be well received

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Aug 2014

Total posts 76

Nice try Qantas, get real with the points.......

16 Dec 2015

Total posts 5

There is absolutely nothing generous in Qantas now allowing members to upgrade from one award booking to another. They have downgraded the availability of business class classic award seats on long haul flights to a situation where little or none are made available, thu forcing people who want to travel into booling premium economy or economy. Now they are sayinge that if we business class seats available at the last minute we will allow you to upgrade but pay a penal;ty to do so. It is all their way - we will not make any seats available in the hope that we will be able to sell them but if we cannot then you can have them but only if you pay a premium. Of course, one would not expect anything else from Qantas who is always looking for a way to treat its loyal travellwers with distain!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2014

Total posts 10

when is this?  

I tried to go and do it for an existing but it says not allowed

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2577

It's live now Jeremy. Which route did you try it on, which class were you trying to upgrade from and to, how far ahead and what was the error message?

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 54

I think this is a positive step. Just because reward inventory is limited is basic supply and demand. There are always any seat options if you want to burn points on J. Airline are businesses, so having more options to get to the desired class is better then nothing. 

16 Dec 2015

Total posts 5

 /. . . . . . .yes but why should one have to use more points than if one had booked the particular class in the first place  . . . . yet another instance of QF exploitation!!!

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 54

That is a bit cheeky - but it still allows people to hedge their bets and go Y if J isnt available and then upgrade if it becomes available. I fly VA and still can get decent award inventory on EY and SQ for Long Haul in J.

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