Qantas to retire Q Card readers

By David Flynn, July 21 2016
Qantas to retire Q Card readers

Qantas will remove its automated Q Card readers from airports around Australia over the coming 12 months, in a move which the airline says reflects the changing habits of switched-on flyers using apps and mobile phones to check in for their flight.

The tap-and-go towers work with smartchipped Qantas Frequent Flyer cards to allow near-instant checkin for domestic flights, with passport-reading versions installed at selected international terminals for trans-Tasman flights.

They were introduced with much fanfare in 2010 and rolled out to all major Qantas terminals by late 2011 alongside the familiar Q Bag Tag 'coasters', self-service kiosks and bag drop points as part of the airline's Next Generation Checkin platform, which CEO Alan Joyce praised as "a truly ground-breaking Qantas innovation."

But just six years later, those towers are for the chop – both poster child and victim of the march of technology – which has seen travellers move to 'digital boarding passes' via their smartphone, mobile phone or after checking in online, as well as using the airport's self-service checkin kiosks.

A Qantas spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that "we are noticing that more customers are choosing to use digital check-in channels before they arrive."

"We know many of our customers prefer to spend more time in the lounge or head straight to the gate without needing to print a paper boarding pass."

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

05 Mar 2012

Total posts 12

They were a great idea, and I found them "cool", but would agree with the article - I've not used them recently since Qantas (dramatically) improved their iPhone app.

I do still love being able to board w/ my Qantas Card barcode - not sure why, but I find it easier to "not lose" my card vs a printed boarding pass, and pulling open my phone takes too long (though would be easier if Qantas would configure the app to show Wallet boarding passes on the home screen like other carriers).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 478

Actually never used this option - I almost solely use the app to check in and then my card to check bags or board the flight. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 569

I loved the idea but never used them. I agree with the article and love it how Qantas are being agile here, and adapting to their customer behaviour patterns and not persisting with a tech platform just because it was cutting edge when conveived 6, 7, 8 or however many years ago.

I'm sure not all will agree but many frequent fyers are early adopters in this area.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207


They were hot six years ago, but as David has already written, they are "both poster child and victim of the march of technology", and their time has come, with the three Q card beeps replaced by the one smartphone beep.

I did love using them, even though I usually would then use the kiosk to print things.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 124

Nooooooooo...... I so often find I get a free upgrade when using this method to check in, as all the other methods involve the user to choose a seat. When the computer does it for u there is a chance for an upgrade when you choose there is zero chance for an upgrade :(

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 549


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 124

Well in my experience it is correct

All my op-ups have occurred after selecting seats in the cabin paid for. They just ignore your existing selection when upgrading.

Cheers skip

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Mar 2016

Total posts 9

I wonder if they'd be willing to sell some of them as collectors items! :)

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 272

I seem to remember I avoided them as I could never choose my seat on them?

05 May 2016

Total posts 624

A boarding pass on the phone isn't much good when you need to supply an airline printed boarding pass for an expense claim.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 478

Why wouldn't you just submit the tax invoice for the booking? In all my years of corporate travel I've only ever been asked to submit the tax invoice...

27 Sep 2011

Total posts 37

Because the booking doesn't prove you flew. You could, theoretically, book flexible flights, refund them, and then do a fraudulent expense claim for the fare. If I was writing an expense claim policy I wouldn't allow that either.


However I don't see why you couldn't screen shot and print the boarding pass from your phone.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 478

Actually, good point...

Interestingly, the company I consult to out of the US use Concur (now an SAP company) and in the words of Concur:

Today’s finance leaders are turning to Concur to control costs and cash flow associated with expense, travel and invoices.

Maybe systems like Concur data match airfares with other expense items like hotel bills, taxi fares in a different city etc. 

As ScottB noted below, Qantas give you that little slip of paper when you scan your card/phone...

21 Apr 2016

Total posts 21

When boarding with the app, the staff print out a small docket on thermal paper with all the usual boarding pass details. I'd imagine this is an acceptable alternative. Otherwise just go to the check-in counter if you need a boarding pass on proper Qantas card stock..?

You get one. After 'post' checkin you show your QFF card at the gate and they print a pass with your seat number to show the cabin crew. IIRC its the same with phone checkin. I think the 'no boarding pass' is really hype. Cabin crew may need to know what seat you have been allocated.

Cheers skip

13 Nov 2013

Total posts 5

Who is this spokesperson? Because wasn't the whole point of the card reader that you didn't need to print, you just swiped the card?

Makes complete sense though now that smartphones and technology have progressed. 

I don't want anymore membership/loyalty/bank etc cards. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2016

Total posts 1

Queues in the business lane (domestic) take twice as long as phones are aligned to readers and the bits of paper are printed.  Find myself going to the normal economy lane as those who are not frequent flyers get there boarding pass before entering the security zone or print it out at home.  I am not convinced that the new system is better in this instance

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