This week in frequent flyer news

By Chris Chamberlin, January 16 2015
This week in frequent flyer news

If you’ll be travelling with Emirates in the near future, forgetting to book on the Qantas codeshare could cost you some serious Qantas Frequent Flyer points – with the Gulf airline lowering its frequent flyer earning rates from February.

Or if you’re a Skywards loyalist, new base-level business class and economy fares are being introduced on the same date that won’t allow any frequent flyer upgrades at all, even those processed after you’ve boarded the aircraft.

Also in this week’s wrap, we’ll show how using a small mix of credits cards could do wonders for your frequent flyer balance and how you can now spend those points on business class upgrades via the Virgin Australia Velocity website.

To end the week, Garuda Indonesia will also withdraw its direct flights between Queensland and Indonesia, leaving Brisbane-based travellers to instead fly direct to Denpasar with either Virgin Australia or Jetstar.

Virgin Australia rolls out online points upgrades to business class

Virgin Australia Velocity members can now swap their frequent flyer points for an upgrade to premium economy or business class via the airline’s website.

Upgrades are available to all eligible travellers on both domestic flights and short international hops such as to New Zealand and Fiji, although upgrades on VA’s longer flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi still need to be requested over the phone.

Here’s how it’s done: Upgrade to Virgin Australia business class

Emirates cuts Qantas Frequent Flyer points on business class, economy flights

Qantas frequent flyers will earn fewer points on Emirates flights from next month, with some business class tickets downgraded to earn no more points than an economy airfare.

As of February 1 Emirates will reclassify its most affordable business class fares as a new Business Special package and drop the 25% premium cabin bonus, reducing their earning to the same one Qantas point per mile as Emirates' Economy Flex Plus fares.

Emirates' cheapest economy tickets will also see their earning rate halved under the revised fare structure, dropping from the current base of 0.5 Qantas points per mile to a mere 0.25 points per mile.

Read more: Emirates cuts Qantas Frequent Flyer points

Building a portfolio of credit cards for maximum frequent flyer points

Using credit cards responsibly is a great way of racking up frequent flyer points – but if that’s your ultimate goal, having several different cards in your wallet could get you there even faster.

For example, a common strategy is to use a high-yielding American Express card wherever it’s accepted, and to keep a backup Visa or MasterCard in your wallet for where it’s not.

Many credit cards also award bonus points on certain transactions, so once you’ve picked your preferred airline, here’s how to optimise the frequent flyer points you earn on credit card spend.

Read: Earning maximum frequent flyer points on your credit card spend

SkyTeam member Garuda axes Brisbane-Denpasar flights

Garuda’s Brisbane-Indonesia flights will cease as part of a network-wide restructure of the airline that will also reduce the frequency of its onward flights to Tokyo Haneda Airport.

From Denpasar, Brisbane-based passengers could connect onwards to Beijing, Dili, Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo, and domestically within Indonesia to cities such as Jakarta and Surabaya.

Garuda’s departure from Queensland gives SkyTeam-based frequent flyers only two remaining options from the state’s capital: Korean Air to Seoul and China Airlines to Guangzhou.

Read more: Garuda axes Brisbane-Denpasar (Bali) flights

Emirates blocks business, first class upgrades from cheap fares

Upgrading to Emirates business class and first class will soon be out of reach for members of Emirates’ Skywards frequent flyer scheme who are travelling on the cheapest tickets.

From February 1, the most affordable fares in business and economy will be categorised as Business Special and Economy Special tickets for which upgrades will not be permitted.

Read more: Emirates limits business, first class upgrades

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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 not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.


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