High-flying members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program may have benefits they're not even aware of.
During an exclusive interview with Australian Business Traveller, Qantas confirmed that it deliberately keeps some advantages for top-tier Platinum members as "unpublished", or not listed on its website.
Qantas' head of airline loyalty, Stephanie Tully, detailed a specific Platinum benefit that's often been the subject of rumour (because it is an unpublished benefit it's spread by word-of-mouth): that the airline can make a Classic Award seat available for frequent flyer point redemption on flights even when those 'free' award seats are already sold out.
"It's an unpublished benefit" Tully explains. "At each tier level, we have unpublished benefits that we can add or take away at our discretion.
"I would say the published benefit in this case is that as a platinum you have access to a premium reservations desk dedicated to platinum members" she says. "They will try to help you out in any way they can, which may mean you might find a redemption seat available through them that isn't available online."
How the perk works
Classic Award seats are Qantas' original frequent flyer award: a relatively low number of points are needed, especially for international flights, but very few of these award seats are set aside on each flight and they're quickly snapped up.
(This means for most people, the only points-based option is Qantas' newer Any Seat Award, which lets you 'buy' any seat on a flight using Frequent Flyer points but with a much higher number of points needed -- see our full comparison of the two types of award tickets.)
Under this "unpublished benefit", Platinum cardholders in the Qantas Frequent Flyer hierarchy can sometimes have a reservations agent on the dedicated Platinum helpdesk release a seat allocated for paying passengers into the otherwise sold-out pool of Classic Award seats, and book it for the platinum member at the Classic Award points rate.
Based on a Sydney-Los Angeles flight in the middle of August, for example, this means an economy return ticket that would cost $1750 could be yours for just 96,000 Frequent Flyer points; a premium economy seat worth $4,875 would come in at 144,000 points; and a $9,000 business class fare becomes a 192,000 point award seat.
Once again, we point out this isn't a sure thing -- it's at the discretion of Qantas, which is why it remains an "unpublished" benefit. But it's a benefit all the same, and a largely unknown one that that, so we suggest that Platinum frequent flyers consider this option as part of their business travel plans.