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Despite the outcry over sweeping changes to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, this cloud has a silver lining – or, to be more correct, a gold and platinum lining.
The number of status credits earned on Qantas flights will in many cases increase under the new zone-and-fare-based system.
The majority of route/ticket combinations which don't get a bump in status credits remain the same as today.
Relatively few frequent flyers will come off worse in the status credits stake after the new system kicks in on July 1 and business travellers making long-distance international trips on flexible fares will find it much quicker to climb up the status ladder – as long as they fly with Qantas rather than any of its Oneworld partners.
Here’s how the new status credit scheme shakes out across the Qantas network.
Sydney-Melbourne: The number of status credit earned on Australia's most popular route remains the same for most travellers, but flexible business class fares (in the J and C categories) will earn 45 status credits as opposed to the current going rate of 40. Sure, that's only five more status credits in the hand, but those weekly return trips will quickly add up!
Sydney-Perth: Again, travellers at the pointy end are rewarded the most, with a jump from 80 to 95 status credits on a one way flexible business ticket. Status credits on all other tickets remain unchanged.
Melbourne-Brisbane: Likewise, the most expensive tickets will jump from earning 60 to 70 status credits, with no changes to other fares.
But not all domestic routes fall into the 'same or better' bucket, due to changes in the mileage zones on which status credits are based.
The current zones applicable within Australia are under 600 miles; 601 to 1,200 miles; and 1,201 to 2,400 miles.
But from July 1 the goalposts are moved further apart as the zones changing to under 750 miles, 751-1,500 miles and over 1,500 miles.
Several Qantas routes are caught in this 'mileage shift' and, as a result, will earn fewer status credits under the new scheme.
One casualty is Sydney-Adelaide, a 725 mile run which slides into the lowest (sub-750 mile) status credit zone with a resultant drop in status credits earnings from 15/30/60 (based on discount economy / flexible economy / business) to 10/20/40, with only fully flexible business class fares raking in the old rate of 60 status credits.
Another 'gotcha' route is Sydney-Cairns, which drops from the current 20/40/80 haul (discount economy / flexible economy / business) to 15/30/60.
Flagship routes: Sydney to New York, London
Sydney to New York and London: If you’re booked on a single flight number (such as QF1 for London or QF107 for New York) for the entire journey the status credits earning increases, regardless of your fare type.
Under the new system, all travellers will see an increase as follows:
- Discount economy: from 60 to 70 SCs
- Economy: from 60 to 95 SCs
- Flexible economy and premium economy: from 120 to 140 SCs
- Flexible premium economy: from 120 to 160 SCs
- Business: from 240 to 280 SCs
- Flexible business: from 240 to 310 SCs
- First: from 360 to 420 SCs (London only)
Those are one-way figures, so a return trip with a flexible business class ticket jumps from earning 480 SCs to 610 SCs - more than enough to retain Gold status for an entire year, provided that you’ve taken at least two other Qantas flights (Sydney-New York or Sydney-London counts as one flight).
Other Qantas flights to America
Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Los Angeles: Minor changes see the basic earn rates for economy, premium economy and business class remain the same, although economy travellers on mid-range rates will earn an improved 60 status credits instead of 45 at present.
Flexible premium economy rises from 90 to 115 status credits, while flexible business fares are boosted to 200 SCs from the current 180 SC earn.
Los Angeles-New York: There's some bad news for Qantas travellers heading from Brisbane or Melbourne to New York.
The necessary change of flight number from QF15 or QF93 (which gets you to Los Angeles) to QF107 (from LAX to New York) means the trip is counted as two status-earning legs, with the LA-NY leg picking up far fewer points than if it was considered part of the entire Sydney-New York flight.
Travellers in the cheapest economy seats will now earn only 20 status credits (down from 25) while full economy/premium economy rates dip from 50 to 40 SCs. Flexible premium economy keeps the old earning rate, but business class drops from 100 to 80 SCs, or 90 SCs on a flexible ticket.
Business class travellers would earn a total of 260 status credits flying Brisbane/Melbourne-Los Angeles-New York, or 290 on a flexible ticket.
Our tip: If you don’t mind an extra-early start, have your Qantas booking go via Sydney and jump onto QF107 from there.
On a one-way journey your earn would catapult to 320 status credits on a regular business class ticket or 355 on a flexible fare – with that flexible return journey seeing a shiny new Gold card headed your way, with no need to take any further flights.
Qantas flights to Asia
Currently, the number of status credits you earn across Asia varies by destination – flights from Sydney to Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila currently earn 30 SCs in discount economy, 60 in full economy/premium economy, 120 in business and 180 in first (Hong Kong only).
Those rates don't change under the new system.
However, flights from Sydney to Tokyo and Shanghai – which currently earn a few more status credits because they sit in the next distance-based status credit bracket up from Hong Kong – will be grouped into the same 'Asia' category as Hong Kong et al from July 2.
This reduces the number of status credits you'll get flying Sydney-Shanghai and Sydney-Tokyo. Business class falls from 140 to 120 SCs (or 135 on a more expensive fare) while economy drops slightly from 35 to 30 status credits if you're in the cheap seats.
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