Flight cancelled? Qantas treats you based on 'customer value' formula

By Chris C., May 14 2015
Flight cancelled? Qantas treats you based on 'customer value' formula

It's the last thing you want to hear while sitting in the Qantas lounge: an announcement that your flight has been cancelled, triggering a rush on the service desk as your fellow passengers scramble to change their bookings.

But whether you'll be on the next flight depends largely on how Qantas rates your 'customer value', and the basic formula behind that ranking was detailed in a slide from this week's Qantas Investor Day 2015 presentation on how the airline deals with what it terms 'disrupted journeys'.

It's not all about status

This may come as a blow to some Platinum card-holding DYKWIA types, but frequent flyer status alone isn't the sole determinant in choosing who gets first dibs on the next available flight, and who's asked to wait or offered an alternative (such as a longer, indirect flight).

Qantas also weighs up the amount of revenue you’ve recently contributed to the Qantas Group as a whole, tracked via your frequent flyer account.

Other factors in the mix: if you work for a company with a negotiated Qantas travel contract or a small-to-medium enterprise (likely identified by having a Qantas Aquire number attached to your bookings); and also your recent ‘disruption history’ with the airline.

By way of example: a Gold frequent flyer travelling for work who typically books the more-expensive flexible economy or business class fares will trump a Gold frequent flyer who always opts for the cheapest flights available, and without an Aquire number or corporate code attached.

Let’s say Qantas cancels a flight from Melbourne to Coffs Harbour. That difference in ‘customer value’ could see the first Gold member offered a handy and similarly-timed non-stop flight, while that second Gold member could wind up leaving earlier and arriving later to fly via Sydney:

It's likely that a similar customer value formula is also used in determining who gets those elusive 'operational upgrades' to premium economy, business class or even first class when a flight is oversold.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 733

I was impressed by Virgin's cancelled flight handling the other day. When my 6:30 flight was cancelled around lunchtime, I got simultaneous email/SMS combo tellling me I was rebooked on the 7pm flight, and then a phone call from a real person ten minutes later to ask whether I'd prefer a different option. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Gold

04 Jul 2014

Total posts 130

Virgin does this very well for Golds+ Plats.. Always get a text message and phone call and usuaully an earlier or slightly later flight replacement. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 May 2015

Total posts 2

And here too. Have only had a single Virgin flight cancelled on me, but the texts an emails were very prompt. Basic but impressive.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 136

Sounds a bit like BA's 'CIV' score, which ranks their customers out of 100. This score takes into account status (Gold Guest List and Premier have set CIV scores of 97 and 100), fare bucket, total revenue spend etc. Its very interesting. This essentially determines the service on a flight, your handling during IRROPS etc.

Someone elaborated elsewhere 

97 is plain Vanilla GGL 9

98 key decision maker in corporation

99 is GGL + key decision maker in a corporation

100 GGL for life

105 Premier


Far too rich for my tastes! :p 

09 Jul 2014

Total posts 31

Interesting. I wonder if this is all handled robotically and if so, whether the formula always works...

I've had fully flex guys travelling for business and booked under a QF corporate deal bumped off flights or rebooked onto badly timed alternatives before. Lucky for them they have a travel agent who's happy to scramble up better options before they've even considered what to do next. :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 243

Does the algorithm above also determines if frequent flyer redemptions on seats are direct or via another stop?

E.g. SYD - LAX is the most direct, but they'll give options of SYD-BNE-LAX instead when attempt to redeem for flights?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jun 2011

Total posts 70

It sounds like it is based on the PCV concept within Altea. Not so much an absolute score, but a ranking of passengers against each other. Much the same rank list that determines what seats you can choose from for check-in.

See, this is reality people.

What sh*ts me is when the community gets narky about school league tables!

There is a value attached to oneself, which is a direct result of one's actions or the circumstances one finds oneself in (e.g. working for a tight arse organisation that only pays for discounted economy fare), that has an impact on one's future activities/circumstances.

Get with the programme! You cannot wrap your kids in cotton wool! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 121

Slighly different scenarios at play here... one has to do with a childs future and education, the other is based on the customer service you receive. By your summation, a child shouldn't have the opportunity to do something of their life as a result of their parents income. Pretty elitist on your behalf.

No not at all. On the contrary, it serves no one to have heads stuck in the sand. Visibility provides a reality check, which if heeded results in changes and improvements.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 148

You clearly then don't understand the systemic disadvantage that league tables entrench on those lower socio economic communities. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2199

I don't think that's the point.

The point, if I'm reading TRB correctly, is that we (as children and as passengers) are not created equally; that this is a harsh reality that we have to accept and work against or around.

Wrapping anyone in cotton wool is a disservice: for passengers, it renders them unable to cope with the reality that no, as a "valued customer" who flew Qantas to Frankfurt that one time in the late nineties they are not going to escape the fact QF81 is oversold and that they're going to have to get up at OMG o'clock to connect via BNE on QF51.

Likewise, for children it only does them a disservice if you hide from them the fact that yes, because of a grossly unfair postcode bias, they will need to work twice as hard at school (compared to, say, those rich kids up a certain group of hills facing the Tasman Sea) to realise their dreams.

The heads have to come out of the sand and have the cotton wool unwrapped. We are aware of the reality; it is imperative that we do something about it.

Bullseye Watson!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 148

As an educator, I certainly don't believe that children from poorer backgrounds should have to work harder than their better off peers. League tables exacerbate their disadvantage. It's clearly worked really well in the UK (not...). Getting preferential treatment from an airline shouldn't be placed in the same category as determining a students future.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2199

I'm an educator myself. I don't believe in this inequality either. But continuing to pull cotton wool over the eyes of the parents and children, to continue to hide from them the truth of having to work harder, only serves to further entrench this inequality.

Running away from the truth does nothing to address it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 121

At no point am I saying we should be telling them everything is great and they're as well off as anyone else. I am objecting however, to the comparison that like not paying a higher fare class on an airplane, they should get with the program because its their reality.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2438

Okay, I think this thread has gone far enough off course.

Please keep any further discussion directly relevant to the topic at hand, being how Qantas prioritises passengers when flights are disrupted.

Further off-topic posts will be deleted.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 20

Yay! Coffs habour

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Jun 2012

Total posts 6

Seems we lost the plot here i thought the point was what QANTAS was up to not who was a teacher.

Back to QANTAS, typical when this happens you are directed by Email or Text to go to Qantas.com.

What happened to being able to talk to a human being and working through you options.

Virgin murders them when these events occur. This happened to us recently when travelling to an important meeting. We spoke to human being and were offered options to fly later or to fly to a nearby airport a lot earlier.  We chose the later as we could fly to the sefcond airport, hire a car and still make our meeting.



04 Jun 2014

Total posts 3

Spoke to a person who gave me three options. Picked number two. Checked my bookings on the way homes rom the airport to see number one listed. Spent an hour on the phone getting us back onto our preferred flight. Arrived back at the airport 6am the next morning and what would you know? During the night some lovely helpful person moved us back to the 6am flight, which we'd obviously just missed. Being Gold didn't seem to count for much during the whole debacle...we were just lucky that a JQ agent managed to grab us the last two seats on the flight we'd chosen (twice!). 


21 Aug 2012

Total posts 14

Business is business, brand loyalty and expenditure should count for something and in the real world it does.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Flight cancelled? Qantas treats you based on 'customer value' formula