Flights on Qantas' new flexible fares begin today, with travellers enjoying lower costs and higher status credits for attaining silver, gold or platinum Frequent Flyer status, plus greater availability of business class upgrades across the board.
It's all part of the increasing battle between the incumbent Qantas and the challenger Virgin Australia, as the airline born as the cut-price which began life as Virgin Blue chases a larger share of the business travel market.
New flexible fares
There's been a massive price drop in the 'flexi saver' ticket category, which provide business travellers with more flexible travel arrangements to cater for extended meetings, unexpected opportunities and unavoidable delays.
'Flexi saver' fares from Sydney to Melbourne have dropped from $369 to $200, bringing them in line with Virgin Australia's 'flexible fare' pricing.
However, despite being the same price, Qantas' flexi saver fare isn't as good as Virgin Australia's flexible fares. The latter allows cash refunds -- even up to 24 hours after a flight departed, provided you didn't check in for the flight.
Faster to silver and gold
The two flexible fares attract twice the number of status credits, even with the cheapest flexible fare, as they are now classed as ‘full economy’ for earning Qantas Frequent Flyer status credits.
For example, you'll earn 40 status credits instead of 20 for a Sydney-Melbourne return flight. The result? A faster and more affordable path to silver, gold and even platinum status with Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Until these changes it has been difficult to achieve any status in Qantas Frequent Flyer solely through domestic flights, unless flying business class, or expensive full economy tickets.
Upgrades now available to any ticket
Another welcome change: all Qantas domestic economy fares are now eligible for upgrade awards to business class using Qantas Frequent Flyer points -- even if they were booked as a Classic Award ticket or Red e-Deal ticket.
This means that any Frequent Flyer member can trade points to sit at the front of the plane on domestic flights. This gives even more value to Qantas Frequent Flyer members who now have a way to burn their points balances in exchange for comfort more easily than before.