This week's top news for frequent flyers

By Chris C., October 30 2015
This week's top news for frequent flyers

Whether you fly and earn frequent flyer points or miles with Qantas, Virgin Australia, Etihad, Emirates, British Airways, Alaska Airlines or American Airlines, there’s plenty happening this week to affect your points balance: either positively or negatively.

For starters, Qantas Frequent Flyer members will no longer earn points at Woolworths, Big W, BWS and Cellarmasters from 2016 and may earn either more or less points on flights taken from December 1 with Qantas and co., but can earn double points on online shopping until Christmas.

Across to Virgin Australia, travellers bound for Abu Dhabi with VA can earn up to triple Etihad Guest miles, while Etihad’s Gulf neighbour Emirates inks a new partnership with Alaska Airlines to include lounge access, priority check-in and priority boarding privileges for top flyers.

Also in the US: American Airlines’ AAdvantage members can pocket up to 90,000 bonus miles when flying to and from Australia, and British Airways tweaks the number of Avios (miles) you’ll need to book short flights in both the US and Canada.

Rounding things out for the week, it’s your last chance to earn frequent flyer points on tax payments made using personal Commonwealth Bank Awards credit cards, with just three days to go until the gravy train comes to a halt.

Woolworths ditches Qantas in new rewards scheme

Woolworths has axed its partnership with Qantas, with shoppers set to earn new 'Woolworths Dollars' instead of Qantas Frequent Flyer points.

Australia's biggest supermarket chain will stop issuing Qantas Points through its Everyday Rewards loyalty program as of December 31st.

Woolworths Dollars will be earned only at Woolworths and BWS stores – not Big W or Cellarmasters, where you can also currently earn Qantas Points.

Read more: Woolworths ditches Qantas in new rewards scheme

Also read: Qantas looks to new points deal with Woolworths

Etihad serves up double, triple miles on Virgin Australia

Etihad Guest members travelling with Virgin Australia to Abu Dhabi can earn double miles in economy and premium economy or triple miles in business class on flights until January 31 2016.

Simply register for the offer by November 15 2015 and fly with Virgin Australia to Abu Dhabi between November 15 2015 and January 31 2016 to earn double or triple points on flights VA29/VA30 and EY6450/EY6451: Etihad codeshares operated by Virgin Australia.

All other Virgin Australia and Etihad flights, including domestic Virgin Australia services, Etihad-operated flights between Australia and Abu Dhabi and Virgin Australia codeshares on the same, are excluded from this deal.

What Qantas' latest frequent flyer changes mean for travellers

Qantas’ latest raft of revamps to its frequent flyer scheme come as quite a mixed bag for travellers with a boost on flights to Vancouver, Dallas and between Asia and Europe, while other routes such as Sydney-Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne-Doha have their earning pared back.

We've crunched the numbers to reveal the top-line changes for your Qantas Frequent Flyer points and status credits.

Read more: What Qantas' latest changes mean for travellers

Also read: Qantas continues rejig of how you'll earn points

Last chance: CBA axes points on tax payments

It’s your last chance to earn frequent flyer points when paying the Australian Taxation Office with a Commonwealth Awards personal credit card as the bank moves to block these from November 2.

This includes payments made using CBA Awards Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards at the entry-level, Gold, Platinum and Diamond tiers, although Commonwealth’s line of business credit cards will continue to earn points on ATO payments after this date.

If your financial year saw a tax debt or you’re keen to make one last repayment on your HECS bill before the cut-off, credit card payments can be made on the ATO website.

Also read: CBA axes points on tax payments

Qantas Points Online Mall delivers double points

Qantas Frequent Flyer members stocking up on Christmas gifts early or merely doing their ordinary shopping can collect double points at a range of retailers including David Jones, the Apple Store, The Iconic and Macy’s until December 24 2015.

Simply visit the Qantas Points Online Mall website, click on a participating retailer and complete your purchase in the same session to earn up to 10 points per dollar spent.

Starting from November 3, weekly prize draws will also dish out a mix of $2,000 shopping vouchers or prizes of an impressive 300,000 Qantas Points each through December 21.

For more information or to shop now, visit the Qantas Points Online Mall.

Earn up to 90,000 bonus AA miles on USA flights

American Airlines AAdvantage members can collect up to 90,000 bonus AAdvantage miles when travelling between Australia and the United States from February 1 through May 31 2016.

For each return first class or business class trip booked on an AA flight number and operated by either Qantas or American Airlines you’ll collect 30,000 bonus miles; in premium economy or full fare economy (Y, B or H) you’ll net 15,000 bonus miles; or a smaller 5,000 miles on the cheaper economy tickets.

Members can earn bonus points on up to three trips – maxing out the deal at 90,000 miles for high-flyers or a still-reasonable 15,000 miles for economy passengers – but must register for the promotion before travel via the AA website.

British Airways tweaks USA Avios award rates

With flight awards available from just 4,500 miles, using British Airways’ Executive Club scheme to book short flights within North America has been a favourite trick of in-the-know travellers versus paying full fare for the same, but one that BA is moving to clamp down.

Come February 2 2016, the shortest flights in North America such as New York-Toronto and Chicago-Washington will increase to 7,500 ‘Avios’ (miles) in economy, 15,000 Avios in business class (where available) and 30,000 Avios in first class.

No changes are being made to longer routes such as Los Angeles-New York or to existing bookings made prior to February 2, nor will they affect the number of Avios needed to book shorter flights elsewhere across the globe including in Australia and the United Kingdom.

For more information, head to the British Airways website.

Emirates teams up with Alaska Airlines

Emirates’ Skywards Gold and Platinum frequent flyers will soon enjoy access to Alaska Airlines’ Boardroom lounges in Los Angeles, Seattle, Anchorage and Portland when connecting to or from an Emirates flight, along with priority check-in and boarding privileges with Alaska Airlines.

Similarly, Alaska Airlines’ MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K flyers will also receive access to the Emirates business class lounges in Dubai and the priority check-in and boarding lanes in Dubai, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles.

Growing on the initial frequent flyer tie-up between the two carriers in 2012 which allowed members of both loyalty schemes to earn and redeem miles on the other airline, Emirates will also begin codesharing on up to 300 Alaska Airlines flights each day to make connecting journeys more seamless.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

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