Here's what has to be the best value for your Qantas frequent flyer points: upgrading from premium economy seat to a Qantas first class suite for a little over 17,000 points.
Yes, it comes with a few caveats – and this works best if you're a Platinum or Platinum One frequent flyer – but it's a brilliant bump-up all the same, so here's the deal.
The route: Sydney-Hong Kong
Qantas has two daily flights between Sydney and Hong Kong, and through until March 1, one of those flights features the airline's flagship Airbus A380 – replete with its 14 spacious first class suites – to help cater with high seasonal demand.
The flight: QF117/QF118
The A380 is being rostered onto the daily QF117/QF118 service, although it's not going to appear every day – on some days of the week, when there's less demand, QF117/QF118 will be on a Boeing 747.
So if you want to take advantage of this amazing upgrade deal, check the schedule when you're booking and make sure your flights are on the superjumbo.
The initial booking: premium economy
Premium economy is often considered a sweet spot in value – more affordable than business class but more comfortable than economy – and indeed, the corporate travel policy of many Australian companies doesn't permit business class on flights of less than ten hours (a deliberate demarkation intended to exclude most of Asia).
And as premium economy goes, Qantas does pretty well with wide seats, ample legroom and decent meals.
The upgrade: business class
On Qantas flights between Sydney and Hong Kong, an upgrade from premium economy to business class will set you back just 27,500 frequent flyer points if you book a premium economy discount or 'sale' fare.
Assuming you're a Qantas Platinum-grade frequent flyer, this fare will earn you 10,400 points on the one-way trip – pegging the actual cost of the upgrade (the difference between those two figures) at 17,100 Qantas Points.
You must have 27,500 Qantas Points in your account in order to get the upgrade, of course, but the net cost based on the total earn-and-burn is 17,100 points.
(Gold frequent flyers are looking at 9,100 points earned, so the net upgrade cost nudges north to 18,400 points.)
If you book a more expensive 'standard' premium economy fare the earning rates will also be slightly higher but the cost of an upgrade somewhat lower – in the case of a Platinum frequent flyer, you're looking at 11,700 points earnt on the flight and 25,000 points burnt on the upgrade, for an all-in difference of 13,300 points.
Either way, you've now scored yourself one of these seats on the upper deck of the A380.
But there's an even better way to spend those nine-odd hours above the clouds – in one of the superjumbo's well-appointed first class suites.
Of course, if you're already booked into business class you won't need to bother about the upgrade process and can proceed straight to obtaining a free bump into the first class cabin.
The seat selection trick: hello, first class!
Qantas' regular Sydney-Hong Kong flights on the Airbus A330 and Boeing 747 don't have first class – they top out with business class - so when the Airbus A380 is on this route, Qantas doesn't sell first class as, well, first class.
But rather than leave the first class cabin empty, Qantas treats those suites as if they're just part of business class.
Passengers in those 14 luxe cribs enjoy the same meals, wine and service as their business class counterparts upstairs, but of course that's all done in a much more comfortable environment.
Once your request for an upgrade from premium economy to business class has come through, it's then a matter of choosing one of the 14 first class suites from the seat selection screen in the Qantas app or website, rather than the picking one of the usual business class pews.
Top-tier travellers get first dibs at the suites: this includes Platinum One and Platinum frequent flyers, along with Chairman's Lounge members. Simply click anywhere between row 1 and row 5 and you're set.
Everybody else can see only the standard business class cabin (rows 11-22) when it comes to selecting their seat.
Roughly three days before the flight, any unoccupied first class suites can also be assigned to other passengers based on what Qantas terms their 'PCV' value – a secret, internal-only Perceived Commercial Value rating assigned to all travellers.
Much closer to the day of travel the first class cabin can 'open up' to all business class passengers regardless of status – so even if you don't have Platinum or above status, there's no harm in checking closer to the date of departure in case the first class cabin is now at your fingertips, so you can change your seat to a suite.
If you really want to make the most of this, check out our guide to choosing the best first class suites on the Qantas A380.
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