Qantas frequent flyers: earn and burn points on US Airways

By Chris C., April 2 2014
Qantas frequent flyers: earn and burn points on US Airways

With US Airways now part of the Oneworld alliance, Australian travellers are set to earn and burn Qantas Frequent Flyer points on US Airways flights.

Status credits are also part of the deal, as is the 'cabin bonus' which sees travellers in business and first class earn extra points over economy.

In welcome news for frequent travellers, the Qantas earning rates closely mirror that of US Airways' sibling American Airlines, which is one of the few Oneworld partners to pay Qantas' Silver, Gold and Platinum flyers a 'status bonus'.

In addition, all passengers earn at least 500 points by way of the 'minimum points guarantee'.

Qantas frequent flyers can now earn points for travel on US-coded domestic and international flights at the following rates:

Those rates will change as part of the Qantas Frequent Flyer overhaul to kick in from on July 1 2014, although Qantas has yet to release the points-earning details for Oneworld partner airlines.

How many points and status credits could I earn?

As you'd expect, the most generous earning rates apply to the more expensive fares while the cheaper tickets earn points at a lower rate.

Using Los Angeles to Phoenix as an example, an approximate flight length of 370 miles would see a base earn of 92 points in the cheapest seats.

Even with a 100% bonus for Platinum flyers, the points haul wouldn't come close 500 – therefore, the 'minimum points guarantee' kicks in to offer 500 points to all travellers.

At the 'discount economy' rate, you'd also earn 10 status credits from this relatively short hop.

On that same flight, a Platinum-grade flyer in first class would see a base earn of 370 points (at one point per mile), plus a 50% cabin bonus (185 points), plus a 100% status bonus on the base rate (370 points). All up, you're looking at 925 points and 60 status credits if flying on or before June 30 2014.

From July 1, that flight would reel in only 40 status credits in first, given Qantas' cuts to status credits on partner airlines. In discount economy, the earning rate of 10 remains unchanged on short USA flights.

In the table above, you'll also notice a new 'economy upgrades' column. That earning rate applies if you've purchased an upgrade to business or first class (except from X class, which isn't eligible to earn points), and earns status credits at the 'economy' rate.

On our example flight, you'd earn 20 status credits instead of 10, but don't earn a cabin bonus on your upgrade.

Booking a Qantas points-earning fare on US Air

The US Airways website makes it incredibly easy to spot your booking class or 'fare bucket'.

In this example, we've searched for that flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix, and have selected the cheapest fare available:

To see which booking class this fare maps to, just click on the flight number (which we've highlighted for you). Once it's loaded, you'll get something like this:

As pointed out by our arrow, this particular fare falls into the 'R' category. Looking at the Qantas table (above), you'd earn 0.25 Qantas points per mile, plus any status bonus from your Silver, Gold or Platinum membership.

The bottom line: If you can match the fare letter from the US Air website against the Qantas earning table, you'll earn points and status credits. If you can't find that letter in the Qantas table, the fare won't earn anything with Qantas.

Burning Qantas points on US Airways flights

Flight redemptions with US Airways are now available through Qantas Frequent Flyer, with the airline attracting the same (lower) redemption rates as a Qantas or American Airlines flight.

A quick hop from Boston to New York can be had for 24,000 points in first class or 8,000 points in economy, while longer flights like Los Angeles to Charlotte are available for 54,000 in first class and 18,000 points in economy (all plus taxes and surcharges).

Given that 'first class' in North America is a closer representation of 'business class' as we Aussies know it, consider checking the cost of a paid fare before you burn your hard-earned points.

As you can see in our image above, a couple of hundred dollars is all that's needed to secure a seat at the pointy end, so think before you click!

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

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