If Hong Kong is on your travel agenda through to January next year, Qantas has a deal that’s worth looking into – provided you do your homework and think before you click!
The “Buy Business, Get First in one direction” promotion is fairly self-explanatory: book a return business class ticket from Sydney to Hong Kong for a free upgrade to Qantas’ superb first class on one leg of the journey.
The special fares are on sale now through September 30, although travel is permitted until the end of January next year.
It sounds appealing, but let’s flag a few caveats that could catch out unwary travellers.
Focus on the fine print
First of all, a footnote in the Qantas deal advises that the upgrade to first class is “subject to availability” – in other words, it’s not guaranteed.
If you’re flying on a day when the first class cabin is already booked out – and that includes other travellers who took up the “Buy Business, Get First in one direction” promotion ahead of you – you can forget about living it up in the pointy end.
And to make the most of this first class experience, you’ll want to be flying on Qantas’ Airbus A380 superjumbo, which runs between Sydney and Hong Kong only on Thursday through Sunday.
The other three days of the week see a Boeing 747-400 scheduled onto this route, and its dated first class cabin simply doesn’t compare.
With this in mind, if your timetable is sufficiently flexible, at least one leg of your trip should be booked for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Update: from 4 November 2013 Qantas will also run the A380 on Mondays, leaving only Tuesday and Wednesday as the route's 'Boeing 747 days'.
The biggest catch of all, however, is that the “Buy Business, Get First in one direction” deal applies only to certain types of Qantas business class fares – specifically, tickets in the C, D or J ‘buckets’.
Not all business class fares are equal
Qantas sets aside a certain number of business class seats for each booking class, with the most expensive fares belonging to J-grade tickets, followed in order by C and D.
These roughly correspond to the Business and Business Saver categories which appear when you search for Qantas flights.
The cheapest fares – Business Sale and Exclusive Business – fall into the smaller and more restrictive allocation of I-grade tickets, which don’t qualify for the free upgrade.
Click the image below to see the four categories of Qantas international business class fares
If you can land an affordable Business Saver or Business return fare for your trip to Hong Kong, consider the potential bump into first class as a bonus.
If you’re not fussed about flying in first class then stick to the cheaper Business Sale and Exclusive Business deals.
This offer isn’t available to those travelling on an award ticket, though if you choose to book one of the cheaper Business Sale or Exclusive Business fares, you can still follow the more traditional path and try your hand at a points upgrade.
Want to fly First? Then buy First!
It should be noted that Qantas also offer several categories of first class fares, including the discounted First Suite Saver.
Click the image below to see the three categories of Qantas international first class fares
A quick search on the Qantas website for a Sydney-Hong Kong jaunt – in this case, departing October 14 and returning October 20 – revealed the cheapest qualifying ticket for the “Buy Business, Get First in one direction” offer was $8,483 (a C-class Business Saver return fare).
But for the same dates, Qantas was offering a First Suite Saver return fare for $7,484.
That’s almost $1,000 cheaper than the business class ticket and you get first class on both legs of the trip – no need to worry about a ‘based on availability’ upgrade!
Cost and comfort aside, there are a few notable differences between the expensive business class and (relatively) cheap first class fares.
For instance, the discounted First Suite Saver fare doesn't permit a full refund and has a $50 change fee, though one could still apply the full value to a future booking by changing flights (as opposed to asking for a refund).
Nevertheless, if you can live with the tighter conditions of a First Suite Saver fare, then it’s the only way to fly!
Now that you’re all set for for Hong Kong, don’t miss our handy business travel guides to this vibrant city.
- How to get fast-lane access at Hong Kong airport
- The best prepaid SIM cards for Hong Kong
- Grab an Octopus Card for Hong Kong trains, buses and more
- First look: Cathay Pacific’s new Wing First Class Lounge, Hong Kong
- Reviewed: eight great Hong Kong restaurants for a business lunch
- Insider tip: a hidden Hong Kong gem for a great deal on glasses
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