Qantas hikes domestic, international frequent flyer upgrade rates

By Chris C., November 16 2016
Qantas hikes domestic, international frequent flyer upgrade rates

Qantas Frequent Flyer members will soon part with more points when upgrading to premium economy, business class and first class from many paid tickets, with some journeys commanding almost 50,000 more Qantas Points for a return upgrade than required today.

The new rates apply to upgrades processed from February 20 2017, including from lower-priced domestic economy tickets and on mid-range economy and business class fares when jetting abroad, but with a few exceptions, detailed below.

Explaining the changes to Australian Business Traveller, a Qantas spokesperson said that “when it comes to requesting upgrades on bookings, it makes sense that more Qantas Points would be required to upgrade on cheaper fares.”

“We haven’t changed upgrade rates on international bookings in 11 years and during that time we’ve given members more opportunities to earn points and expanded our number of partners, while demand for upgrades has grown,” the spokesperson added.

Wherever your travels take you, here’s what you need to know about Qantas’ new frequent flyer upgrade rates.

Changes to domestic business class upgrades

Passengers travelling on domestic Red e-Deal economy fares will need more points for a bump-up to business class, except on the shortest domestic routes like Sydney-Melbourne, Brisbane-Sydney and Sydney-Canberra where there’s no change.

Marginally longer flights like Melbourne-Brisbane and Sydney-Adelaide will command 17,500 Qantas Points for a business class upgrade, up from 15,000 Qantas Points at present on Red e-Deal tickets.

Cross-country flights such as Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Perth see the asking price for upgrades increased from 20,000 to 25,000 Qantas Points from those same fares.

There’s no change to the number of points needed to upgrade from flexible domestic (Flex) fares, or from flights which had already been booked using frequent flyer points (Classic Flight Rewards).

New rates for international Qantas premium economy upgrades

Swapping your economy ticket for a premium economy seat on international flights will also require more points from Economy Saver tickets.

On the popular Sydney-Hong Kong route, the premium increases from 25,000 to 31,500 Qantas Points, while on Sydney-Tokyo, there’s a similar jump from 30,000 to 37,500 Qantas Points.

The bulk of Qantas’ long-haul flights including from Australia to Dubai, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santiago and Vancouver all move from needing 45,000 Qantas Points to 56,500 Qantas Points, while Sydney-Johannesburg flights are also affected with these premium economy upgrades rising from 35,000 to 44,000 Qantas Points.

Moving up to premium economy from Economy Saver tickets will also need more points on Sydney-Dallas flights – creeping from 50,000 to 62,500 Qantas Points – while an upgrade on the 24-hour trek to London or New York will now command 75,000 Qantas Points, up from 60,000 Qantas Points.

Again, there’s no change to upgrade rates for travellers booked on flexible (Economy Flex) fares, nor for travellers upgrading from Classic Flight Reward bookings.

New Qantas international business class upgrade rates

Across the board to all destinations, travellers will need 25% more Qantas Points to upgrade from international Economy Saver fares to business class than they do today, or 10% more Qantas Points to upgrade from Economy Flex and Premium Economy Sale tickets.

On those popular routes to Dubai, Los Angeles, Santiago, San Francisco and Vancouver, that marks an increase from 72,000 to 90,000 Qantas Points from Economy Saver tickets and from 45,000 to 49,500 from Economy Flex/Premium Economy Sale fares.

Travellers journeying from Australia to New York or taking the Kangaroo Route to London will instead need 120,000 Qantas Points for a one-way upgrade from Economy Saver (currently 96,000 points), or 66,000 Qantas Points from Economy Flex/PE Sale (now 60,000 points).

Closer to home, upgrade rates on flights to many Asian destinations including Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Manila increase from 40,000 to 50,000 Qantas Points for Economy Saver travellers and from 25,000 to 27,500 Qantas Points when booked on an Economy Flex or Premium Economy Sale fare.

Trans-Tasman flights including Sydney-Auckland are similarly affected, rising from 16,000 to 20,000 Qantas Points from Economy Saver tickets and from 10,000 to 11,000 Qantas Points from Economy Flex.

However, there's no change to the number of points required for a business class upgrade from Premium Economy Saver or Premium Economy Flex fares, or from Classic Flight Reward bookings made in economy or premium economy.

Changes to Qantas first class flight upgrades

Following the trend, switching your Qantas business class seat for first class ticket will also require more points from both Business Sale and Business Saver fares, although upgrades from flexible business (‘Business’) fares retain the current rates.

On flights from either Sydney or Melbourne to Los Angeles and Dubai, you’ll now need 56,500 Qantas Points to upgrade from those more affordable business class fares, increased from 45,000 Qantas Points.

From Sydney to Dallas, there’s a similar jump from 50,000 to 62,500 Qantas Points for Business Sale and Business Saver travellers, while from Sydney to London via Dubai, the rate increases from 60,000 to 75,000 Qantas Points.

Moving from business class to first class only on the Dubai-London leg of your UK sojourn will instead need 18,500 Qantas Points from these same business class tickets, up from 15,000 Qantas Points.

Upgrades from economy and premium economy to first class remain unavailable, as are upgrades from Classic Flight Reward bookings in business class.

Will my Qantas booking be affected by these new upgrade rates?

In short, if your upgrade request is processed (confirmed, with points deducted) on or after February 20 2017, these new rates will apply, including if you requested that upgrade from November 16 2016 onwards.

There’s an exception for travellers who filed their upgrade request prior to November 16 2016, in which case, Qantas will honour the rate you were quoted at the time of the request, even if your flight departs after February next year.

Any upgrades successfully processed prior to February 20 2017, including for travel after that date, will also be charged at the current rates.

Also read: These Black credit cards earn unlimited Qantas frequent flyer points

Connect with other business travellers in our Qantas discussion group

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.


18 Oct 2012

Total posts 68

Another example of QFF being one of the poorest value programs out there!

14 Apr 2014

Total posts 47

Well you clearly haven't used Airpoints from across the ditch. It's miles behind QFF in terms of redemption value.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 710


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 307

i don't mind these point increases as with anything, inflation was bound to happen... I only wish you would get the points and status credits of your upgraded fare, not your original booking class. 

The inflation you speak of is already taken into account by fare increases. This is no justification for changes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1260

Those are some hefty hikes on the Asian routes.  I guess someone needs to pay for the refurbished business class seat.

As always, the customer loses. We pay increased fares for flights whilst still earning the same number of points.  Take for example a Trans Tasman return flight in business.  The "earn" rate for this has not changed significantly in 15 years. The fares have tripled and the cost of a "freebee" has doubled in that time.  Show me where in that calculation where the member is benefitting. How about doing a proper assessment of what has happened in the time since QFF changed from being a loyalty program for frequent travellers to simply a program for selling flights to banks and supermarkets.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1257

Have fares really tripled across the ditch? 


02 Nov 2012

Total posts 43

no, they've been fairly static.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2015

Total posts 22

On the majority of Asia routes: 50k points on top of paying extra for an upgradable fare and then playing the upgrade lottery vs 60k for an outright guaranteed business seat. Pretty easy choice.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1260

That assumes you can snag a business seat award on the days you need to travel.

15 Nov 2016

Total posts 18

So true, why would you bother. Every time I think it is time to perhaps go back to QF from VA something like this happens and reminds me where I get the best value for money. The only reason I even stay with QF at all is those very nice EK F class suites :-)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 214

Qantas win both directions (which is to be expected really). They have reduced the earn rate when you fly using any form of 'sale' fare and now increased the burn rate. Lose/Lose for customers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1260

I guess that's why Qantas Loyalty is one of the more profitable divisions of the Qantas Group.

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 213

25% hike for biz to first upgrade is pretty chunky

05 May 2016

Total posts 630

Agreed. At 60,000 points I was tempted to apply for a J to F upgrade sometime but never have as yet. 60,000 points was already pretty steep. After the hike it'll be much harder to justify.


03 May 2013

Total posts 657

Awesome - less chance now of a family with kids requesting last min upgrades destroying a business class experience on a long haul flight!

05 May 2016

Total posts 630

Worked my way up to WP to get an increased upgrade chance to be able to use points and now overnight the points I've worked hard to save have dropped in value. I am disappointed.

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 89

So typical of QF, all take no give.


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 185

The transcon upgrades from cheap Y fares were a great bargain, so it was expected that QF would increase these one day. Now wondering if we will see similar increases to award flights soon.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jul 2016

Total posts 12

They say they haven't increased upgrade rates in 11 years, but they reduced how many points you earn, especially on partner flights....when are QF going to do something positive for its frequent flyers, not just themselves

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2014

Total posts 101

Qantas might not have changed the points upgrade system for 11 years but they have sure changed a lot of other things with the program

Its ironic to say the least when Sri Lankan are running a promotion for their members offering a 30% miles  discount on

all Sri Lankan  destinations and British Airways   are requiring less points to be redeemed  on American I believe 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Jan 2016

Total posts 9

Interesting 'enhancement' to the QFFF. 

They say that they haven't increased the number of points needed for 11 years. However, it's anyone's guess how many times they have increased the number and value of 'fees, levies, charges and taxes' in that time.

interesting to hear too that the number of people using points to upgrade has increased. That's probably because they've worked out that it's more or less impossible to get business class award seats.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 268

Supply v demand.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2016

Total posts 25

Somehow I've collected 260,000 points this year (it has become an obsession), but have spent all on family members. Now I'm travelling Economy to HKG - mum is already in Business, I want to upgrade so we can sit together. Qantas quotes "You do not have enough points to qualify for any of your international upgrade requests", nevertheless, the request was made before 16th Nov. 2016 (today). Now all I need is to apply for another unwanted credit card and pray for some luck

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 54

As frequent flyer bases grow and point balances grow it isn't sustainable to keep upgrade prices the same. All these credit card offers and bonus point offers are just adding fuel to the fire. One can only hope award and upgrade inventory stays the same or grows as a result. For those who don't have enough points for an upgrade they still have their bid system which is cash + points.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 214

let's not forget that those points are  not given to those partners by Qantas.   

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 168

Unless there is a noticeable defection in business to VA and others, QF can do this.  It knows it has the majority of loyalty in Australia sewn up and it wont lose noticeable business as a result.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Aug 2012

Total posts 75

another lose for the loyal customer.

I remember when points were in kilometres then thay changed to Miles. to give an example I once flew in Y return to LHR including domestic sector for 100,000 Kilometre points...and no cash contribution. This was also from a discounted Y fare.

What a difference now.
1/ have pay extra for a seat that can be upgraded with no guarantee that it will be.
2/ Hugely more points [miles] required to redeem
3/ less chance of getting an upgrade
4/ Have to make cash contribution to upgrade
5/ Less earning power for miles flown [earn rate]
6/ I earned my points when the redemption rate was lower which is the equivalant of buying a fare in advance, and now that I have paid for the fare I am told that I have to pay extra...grossly unfair. I wonder what consumer affairs would say if this was a cash transaction?

On top of these 'enhancements'
  • The benefits of being platinum have been can no longer use lounges when seeing a non FF off. 
  • Platinum status reduced by introducing platinum plus.
  • cant put through luggage if on separate tickets [even though thats the only way some tickets can be bought online]
  • increased targets for status benefits

Etc. etc.
Im sure that other members can think of more. This is just off the top of my head in 30 seconds.

Not happy QF....again

17 Jun 2011

Total posts 66

When profit is up 57% you then out your foot on the neck of your customers and squeeze even more.

Any update on dropping the outrageous fuel surcharges for an oil price that has long gone?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2015

Total posts 90

I am a perennial buy PE/upgrade to business type flier. To date thi upgrade has been 45k  ffp's lax/mel, from what i read above is there any change? 

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2575

Hi Anthony, the original version of this article noted that there were no changes for passengers booked on premium economy fares, although we've since been alerted that Qantas sells some lower-priced premium economy tickets under the 'Flexible Economy' banner rather than 'Premium Economy' or 'Flexible Premium Economy', so those tickets will require more points in the same way as Economy Flex fares.

We've updated the article above to reflect this.

06 Sep 2015

Total posts 26

sale premium economy fares are classed as "flexible economy" so in the case of LAX-MEL that will increase from 45K to 49.5K.

05 May 2016

Total posts 630

Yes. That is disappointing. I would expect most people flying PE would look for the sale fares.

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