Qantas mulls points upgrades on American Airlines flights

By Chris Chamberlin, February 2 2016

With Qantas cosying up to American Airlines through the duo’s latest joint venture partnership, one question on the minds of business travellers is whether they’ll be able to use their Qantas points to upgrade to business class or even first class on American Airlines flights between Sydney and Los Angeles.

Qantas Frequent Flyer members headed to the US can currently book a points-based upgrade only the Qantas-operated Airbus A380 or Boeing 747 flights.

But that could change, with Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce telling Australian Business Traveller at a joint Qantas/American Airlines briefing that he is “absolutely looking at that (upgrades on American Airlines flights)”.

Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans had more to say: “We’ll continue to investigate all of these opportunities to better align the product offering (between Qantas and American), so when American Airlines passengers travel on Qantas and vice versa, they'll have the same experience.”

American’s own Senior Vice President for International Strategic Alliances, Kurt Stache, continued by highlighting that “these policies evolve over time, so we'll start with this one (being no reciprocal frequent flyer upgrades), and go from there.”

Qantas members may one day upgrade to first class on AA's Sydney-LA flights...
Qantas members may one day upgrade to first class on AA's Sydney-LA flights...

Traditionally, Qantas Frequent Flyer members have been unable to use their points to upgrade on any Qantas partner airlines, including Emirates, China Eastern and the vast array of Oneworld members.

That policy was relaxed slightly in April 2015 with passengers on LAN’s daily Sydney-Auckland-Santiago flights allowed to use Qantas Points to upgrade from economy to business class provided they booked on a Qantas QF codeshare flight number, although not on LAN’s own LA flight numbers.

Qantas Frequent Flyer members can continue to earn frequent flyer points and status credits when travelling with American Airlines, or with Qantas when booked on an AA flight number, and can still use their points to book Classic Reward flights with American Airlines.

Also read:

FolloAustralian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

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

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 23

This is indeed good news. Hopefully this can be the start of the rest of OW doing the same (and EK)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 246

With so many ways to earn QF points, more flight options to burn the points are great too!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Sep 2014

Total posts 84

Of course the downside to this is you would assume AA would want the same rights on QF flights which would result in a reduction of available upgrades for those with QF points.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1381

Yes, I suspect this is a downside.

And if you look at the only other example of this - the BA/AA upgrades - the upgradeable classes are only the near full fare classes..

eg. an AA member can only upgrade on BA if booked in Y,B  ;  W  ;  C,J,D,R 

and some of the points required are not much different to a full award.

I'm being cynical but I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that AA loads have been a bit poor on the SYD/LAX vv sector...

21 Oct 2015

Total posts 27

Personally, this seems like a bad use of QF points. AA isn't close to the same quality product.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1137

I'd rather the ability to use QF points to upgrade on EK operated flights.

05 Aug 2011

Total posts 16

And a million QFF points later ??????


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