What Qantas' latest frequent flyer changes mean for travellers

By Chris C., October 27 2015
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.

Status credits increase between Asia and Europe

Travellers en route to Europe but who prefer an Asian stopover in the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo rather than Dubai will reel in a higher number of status credits on the Asia-Europe leg than they do today.

On a one-way British Airways Singapore-London flight, a Cathay Pacific Hong Kong-Frankfurt service or even a Japan Airlines Tokyo-Paris leg in business class, that represents a 50% boost from 80 status credits today to an improved 120.

More Qantas status credits on selected Cathay Pacific flights
More Qantas status credits on selected Cathay Pacific flights

Sydney-Vancouver, Sydney-Dallas flights get fairer

An anomaly of the initial sweeping changes made to Qantas Frequent Flyer was that Sydney-Vancouver flights were longer in distance than Sydney-Los Angeles yet earned fewer points and status credits, while Sydney-Dallas was longer again but earned the same as Sydney-LA.

These refinements however see the ‘West Coast USA’ earning category amended to ‘West Coast USA/Canada’ to include Vancouver, serving to increase your tally from 24,000 points and 320 status credits to 27,000 points and 360 status credits on a Canadian business class round trip.

Similarly, Sydney-Dallas return in business class bumps up from 27,000 points and 360 status credits to 29,400 points and 400 status credits in a new category of its own.

Earn more points, status credits in Qantas business class to Dallas, Vancouver
Earn more points, status credits in Qantas business class to Dallas, Vancouver

Qantas/AA Dallas flight connections get a boost

Joining those improvements to the Sydney-Dallas leg, tweaks are also being made to onward flights from American Airlines’ home hub, generally increasing your haul on the shorter hops too.

Fly from Dallas to New York in American Airlines first class on an AA flight number and your earnings rise to 2,250 points and 120 status credits – up from 2,085 points and 90 status credits today – while Dallas-Washington also serves up a higher 1,760 points against the previous 1,650.

Qatar Airways: first class is business class, business class is economy

Take a business class flight from Australia to Doha with Qatar Airways – or indeed fly business class on any Qatar flight – and you’ll now earn at the ‘flexible economy’ rate, being 7,400 points and 40 status credits against the current 5,579 points and 80 status credits.

First class, which is available only on selected Qatar routes such as its A380s between Doha and London, are downgraded to earn at Qantas' business class rates.

Qatar's excellent business class now earns at Qantas economy rates
Qatar's excellent business class now earns at Qantas economy rates

Also read: Qatar Airways to fly to Sydney from March 2016 and Adelaide from May 2016

Alaska Airlines, Iberia: economy takes a hit

Today, both Alaska Airlines and Iberia award one Qantas Point per mile flown in economy, but this changes from December 1 with fares broken down into ‘discount economy’, ‘economy’ and ‘flexible economy’.

On the cheapest tickets, an Iberia round trip between London and Barcelona decreases from 1,426 points and 20 status credits to just 340 points with the same 20 status credits, while a return Alaska Airlines journey between Los Angeles and Seattle on the lowest fares earns 550 points: down from 1,908.

Adelaide-Hong Kong flights earn more

No longer will Adelaide be roped in with the likes of Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane as an 'east coast' city: instead, it gets its own category and means you'll earn more points and status credits on Cathay Pacific flights.

In business class, that's an increase from 5,335 points and 60 status credits to 5,400 and a noticeable 100 status credits in each direction, while in premium economy it's a similar improvement from 4,695 points and 30 status credits to 4,750 points and 50 status credits.

Japan Airlines Class J drops to ‘premium economy’

A favourite trick of Tokyo-bound business travellers is to upgrade from an often-cheap economy fare to ‘Class J’ business class on Japan Airlines’ onward domestic flights, with a mere ¥1,000 (A$11.50) payment awarding both points and status credits at the full business class rates.

Upgrade to Class J on JAL domestic flights for only ¥1,000...
Upgrade to Class J on JAL domestic flights for only ¥1,000...

That loophole is reined in with Japanese domestic flights in Class J topping out at ‘premium economy’ under the newly-revised scheme, halving your status credits from 40 to 20 on a one-way Tokyo-Osaka flight, for example.

Malaysia Airlines: business class, first class are ‘flexible economy’

Malaysia Airlines flights between Australia/New Zealand and either Malaysia, the UK or Europe; or between Malaysia and the UK, Europe or the Middle East have always earned at reduced rates via Qantas Frequent Flyer, yet business class and first class fares are now treated as ‘flexible economy’.

On a Sydney-Kuala Lumpur-London return, that represents a drop from 280 status credits to just 180, although there's a boost from 16,010 points to 21,000.

Ironically, full fare Y-class economy continues to earn as mere ‘discount economy’ on these routes, although elsewhere across Malaysia Airlines’ network business class and first class tickets earn as per their names, and full Y-fare economy earns as true flexible economy.

Malaysia Airlines business class: more points but fewer status credits
Malaysia Airlines business class: more points but fewer status credits

British Airways premium economy drops to ‘flexible economy’

With daily flights from Sydney to Singapore and London Heathrow, British Airways’ World Traveller Plus premium economy passengers will earn no more status credits than guests seated in economy with all premium economy fares categorised as ‘flexible economy’.

[Click the table above to enlarge it: fare types E, T and W represent premium economy.]

However, this change is more by name than nature for status earners: today’s premium economy flights notch up 21,172 points and 140 status credits on a return London trip, while the same after December 1 totals 21,000 points and the same 140 status credits.

Also read: Qantas continues frequent flyer rejig

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Feb 2015

Total posts 9

What will the impact be flying Finnair coded/issued ticket (AY) from Australia, via Asia and Helsinki to London?  Last time I earned 400 status points down from 680 status points a few years back.  Are we likely to even less!

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

To see the impact on specific airline and route combinations you can enter your journey into Qantas' points calculator tool to see what you'd earn under the current system, and then change the date in the tool to something beyond December 1 2015 to see what the future earn would be for the same.

The variability and caveats to earning sounds suspiciously like a well-engineered insurance policy designed to create confusion and ensure fewer people switch to a different programme because it is simply too hard and confusing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

It is definitely NOT Simpler

27 Oct 2015

Total posts 1

Why does Cathay Adel-HK, earn more status credits with QFF than Cathay Mel-HK? when the latter is further ...

04 May 2015

Total posts 268

As an educated guess, I'd say because Qantas flies its own aircraft between Melbourne and HK (and would prefer you flew with them instead of Cathay), but doesn't fly non-stop between Adelaide and HK so doesn't want to 'penalise' you as much for flying with its OneWorld partner.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

Qantas doesn't seem to like Qatar very much - they exclude domestic QF flights from QR earning also.

Write your own caption...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 26

:) indeed! Almost seems they hate them! Thank EK for that I guess

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Feb 2013

Total posts 45

The treatment of Qatar, where a business class fare is treated as 'flexible economy', and a first class fare treated as 'business' is ridiculous and setting a new low; irrespective of the route or weather QF files the route.

I see this, unfortunately, as a company gaming their customers.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

For the JL "Class J" thing, I can understand somewhat when someone buys it as a standalone thing. But when it is sold as a J seat as part of a international busness class ticket, it's crap.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 50

While I agree the finer details are confusing and complex,  the overall concept  is pretty simple, to earn the most Qantas points and status credits, be loyal, and fly with Qantas or on a Qantas code share.

I’ll be the first to admit, in the past, I  used the many loop holes to maximise status credits, but the looser in those situations was Qantas.  

I think these are all fair changes, even though in reality it will cost me more money, but that’s good for Qantas.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 2

Be loyal and fly with Qantas? I live in Perth, and the only Qantas tail at the international airport is a 5-times a week 737 to Singapore. Very hard to be loyal when you have little choice but to fly Qatar or Emirites to leave the country.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Aug 2014

Total posts 6

How much is the average punter expected to know?  Just got back from Phuket on all-QF flight no. segments, but no points or credits awared SIN-HKT.  When I queried it with them they explained it was not currently awarded on codeshare JetStar Asia flights - even though there was a QF flight no.  To make matters worse (for my timing) this will be rectified and points/credits will be awarded from early December !!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 685

Two other routes that Qantas needs to examine and rebalance are their OWN services from SYD, to AKL and ADL.

Don't you just love the QF 'zone' play-thing? Great, when it suits them.  :-(

Some of these First and Business downgrades are disgusting and not at all equitable.

And penalising JL domestic Business class pax, just to close a 'loophole' not known by many? Not fair (or even fare) for those pax paying the full rate on an Australian-booked ticket. Booooo !


16 Nov 2012

Total posts 57

It's near impossible to believe that Qantas really will treat ADL people decently after so long; I always use Cathay to Europe, Qantas not being available and not wishing to go via the Middle East anyway.


We expect more Chinese airlines to use ADL, maybe Qantas should consider a codeshare.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 26

I just found out a discrepancy between the tables and the point calculator using QR.

A MEL-DOH in J class should award 40 points each way based on the point calculator, however if you look up the route in the tables (https://www.qantas.com/fflyer/dyn/flying/airline-earning#partner-airline-earning-table)

you will notice that Between Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast and....Doha you get 80 points in Business.

I have asked clarification to QF FF but so far no replies...Chris, any clue?

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