Status credit surprise: many Qantas frequent flyers better off

By Chris Chamberlin, March 28 2014

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.

That's because the number of status credits earned on British Airways, Cathay Pacific and co has been slashed by as much as half compared to the current rate.

Here’s how the new status credit scheme shakes out across the Qantas network.

Domestic flights

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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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 582

Actually, the Sydney to Jakarta flight currently earns 25 status credits with a Discount Economy fare or 100 status credits with a Business Sale/Saver fare. From July 1, this will jump to 30 status credits and 120 status credits respectively.

Likewise, Jetstar Starter Plus/Max and Business Max fares from the East Coast to Denpasar will get a similar bump.

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

"Most QF frequent flyers better off", that is only if you are able to fly to a destination that QF services and in most cases if you are lucky enough that work pays for a flexible ticket (or you pony up the cash for a higher fare yourself). Yes, I understand that they want QFF to fly on QF planes, but as QF hardly services any routes (esp into Asia and beyond) it is hard to not fly on OW partners. To slash the earnings on partners is a bit of a disappointment. Luckily QF did give a fair 3 month notice, enough time to look for other programs and potentially start using AMEX membership rewards which are easily transferred (often with promo bonus) to an airline of choice (including QF), giving you flexibility as to whom you want to fly.

As for chasing status, in a more general view this is a thing of the past. Mileage runs have been dead, even in the USA and the only way to get status and keep it is to fly (easy if you fly for work, hard if you pay your airfares yourself). Still, getting status and earning a big stash of mileage AND redeeming these is easier on some programs than others and let's be honest, QF was always an "expensive" choice to redeem. I will miss the ability to fly on EK when moving away from QFF, but hey, SQ or EY is not too bad either.

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

Yeah.

Usually if QF doesn't fly to a destination, then the status credits are unchanged. i.e. Perth to HK on CX.

But then Sydney to KUL is one exception. MY are the only oneworld airline to fly direct, I don't know what SCs are halved on that route. 

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

BNE-HKG, ADL-HKG are also impacted when travelling on CX and flying QR to DOH and onwards is also impacted. My biggest gripe is that I would like to fly to Europe via Asia, on QF this is not possible (sure, on EK codeshare perhaps but you still have to fly ex Asia via DXB to Europe at high cost). If I want to fly OW then SC earning on CX, MH (was already abysmal) and BA has been slashed.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 246

QF wants you to fly on EK metal from MEL-KUL or SYD-SIN-KUL on QF/3K which usually charges more than SYD-KUL direct on MH.

QF is lacking international routes. Hence I disagree with the SC reduction on certain routes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

Sydney - Adelaide & Sydney - Hobart looks like losers.
It is like they picked the 0-750 mile bracket for exactly to make sure point earns on those routes were reduced.

The rest do look better.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 582

I've calculated a more comprehensive list of affected domestic Qantas routes (and also posted elsewhere).

The following Qantas domestic routes have dropped from "Zone 2" (15 base status credits) to a "Short-Range" (10 base status credits).

  • ADL-CBR
  • ADL-SYD
  • BNE-TSV
  • CBR-ADL
  • HBA-SYD
  • PBO-PER
  • PER-PBO
  • PER-ZNE
  • SYD-ADL
  • SYD-HBA
  • TSV-BNE
  • ZNE-PER

The following Qantas domestic routes have dropped from "Zone 3" (20 base status credits) to a "Mid-Range" (15 base status credits).

  • ADL-PER
  • ASP-SYD
  • CNS-MEL
  • CNS-SYD
  • MEL-CNS
  • PER-ADL
  • SYD-ASP
  • SYD-CNS

Nice work Peter!

30 Mar 2014

Total posts 11

I'm ADL-based with Silver status. Of the few routes that are still available to us, those to major destinations (i.e. State capitals) have an average reduction of approx 25% in Miles earned (with all routes showing a reduction) and 15% in Status Credits earned (3 of the 6 routes show a reduction). Hardly much of an incentive for anyone ADL-based to continue to fly with Qantas!

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

On a side note, whilst QF is discriminating you when you travel on OW partners, I just read that BA, AY and JL started a joint venture to bring customers better connections and service when travelling accross the three airlines. Good to see that there are actually airlines that embrace alliance partners!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Yes, OW is an alliance of multiple warring factions. All it needs is a corruption scandal and it's the next NSW Labor.

01 Nov 2012

Total posts 3

Why didn't Qantas get you to explain it. You've done a better job than them!

Thanks Ben, I try! :)

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

What a load of rubbish. Check out the thread on this subject at flyertalk (I'd provide a link but then it would take forever for this comment to be approved) for a nice table showing just how few routes get an increase in SC earn. If you're flying on flexi-business fares as "most flyers" most definitely don't you'll see a mild increase. Alternatively, if you're flying in the 3501-3600 mile window you'll get more. Everybody else gets less.

Especially anyone who dares to circumvent the QF/EK partnership by flying via a less ethically objectional city than Dubai.

And of course most routes also plummet in redeemable miles earned in most classes.

I dunno if you got paid or pressured to write this article, but it's BS.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 457

So Hugo,

Are you suggesting that Chris is wrong? Has he deliberately not included some information? 

Given I'm one of those heavy travellers who 'have' to take cheapest airfare available and I felt Chris's analysis was balanced.

mark

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Mark: the headline used to say "most flyers better off", which was what was BS. 

Between my comment and yours, Chris changed it to say "many flyers better off", which is, I suppose, true.

Hi Hugo,

When I considered the size and complexity of Qantas' new earning tables and structures, a choice was made to narrow the focus to the biggest and most popular routes, which would represent a large percentage of frequent flyer travel.

The results of my research indicated that on the most popular routes, travellers were largely unaffected, with some seeing an improvement.

Of course, not every traveller is better off, which is why we flagged some negative examples on the more popular routes.

In terms of route selection, Sydney-Melbourne was an obvious choice with nearly seven million passengers carried in 2012 (albeit across all airlines), and other biggies like Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Brisbane also rate quite highly for Australian travellers.

Sure, some domestic travellers are indeed worse off under the changes, but that was flagged in the article along with a couple of examples. It's not up to us to calculate every route in the Red Roo's global 'metal' and codeshare network (let's face it, I'd be here until Monday if that were the case), but when examples are made, I try to choose ones that are relevant to the most people.

While the article was run this morning, it was the result of a number of complex calculations based on both the previous and new earning tables on these key routes.

Later in the day, we felt that "many" was a better fit, as David has answered below.

We'd already flagged in the article that some domestic routes were changing (and provided examples), although the biggest routes see either no change or an improvement – making most flyers largely better off in terms of status credits (in fairness, it's not all frequent flyers, thus the original "most").

There are always travellers that are going to be burned by "enhancements" – that's the reality of the game. Here, it's flyers on smaller routes, and as I mentioned earlier up in the piece, frequent travellers on Qantas' Oneworld partners.

Ultimately, a large chunk of Aussie travellers are better off overall (especially internationally), so that's the coverage I provided.

Oh, just on your last point – I actually brought these SC changes to David's attention with the comment "wait, there are genuine improvements buried here...", and we chose to run an article on it, given that most frequent flyers might not even have noticed where things are getting better.

(No 'pressure', no 'cash for comment' (you used 'payment', but I suspect that's what you meant – I'm obviously paid by Australian Business Traveller for my work, which is independent of any airline.))

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Haha, you changed the headline from "most" to "many", making some of these comments obsolete. Nice work, I guess.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2341

Hi Hugo – I actually attached the original heading of 'most' but then revised it after an update of the article because I felt 'many' was more accurate. I didn't see your comments here, nor anyone else's, it was just a quick heading edit, tweak of some sub-headings and a paragraph-shuffle before I moved onto something else.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jun 2013

Total posts 37

For me - the problem with this changes isn't the earn rate of status credits. It's the massive drop of frequent flyer points that I currently use to cross subsidise my status.

I regularly use a mix of Points & Pay in order to level out QF and VA prices. If I'm no longer going to earn as many points then I can't afford to fly QF any more.

FYI - I actually called VA today and asked them if they would consider matching my current QF Plat status and they told me that they have received a lot of calls from angry FF members today - I'm not really surprised after the complete brain fart that QF had last night.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Mar 2014

Total posts 73

ryanpst

Great point! So much talk about status and few on the loss of points for the many folks either starting out in the QFF program or the many flying on cheaper fares. I wouldn't pay $350 BNE SYD (econ flex) to get 20 SC instead of 10. If I wanted the lounge I would buy QC membership and then buy discount economy for $89 and ignore the status system. But the huge loss on the earning rate with discount economy (BNE LAX - 7171 drops to 4500) is massive. Who would bother joining now as they will never see a reward.

"QANTAS, you're the reason we fly." - circa 2012ish

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

"as long as they fly with Qantas rather than any of its Oneworld partners."

That's a massive caveat. Thanks QF.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 66

Great work Chris and David, always a good idea to read the detail before making a shoot from the hip judgement as often can occurr.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

Oh no! More Platinums in the First Class Lounges and even more Golds in the (often already crowded) Business Class Lounges! Perhaps QF needs to open separate Qantas Club lounges in destinations where they don't have separate First and Business lounges to keep the hordes in order. 

Virgin Australia - Platinum

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 90

Thanks Chris, good article. As usual, Adelaide lucks out again, the old phrase: Qantas the airline of Sydney and Melbourne is too true.

Trouble is, Virgin doesnt offer a viable alternative for Adelaide based FF's wanting international J or F redemption either....


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