Best Ways to Use Qantas Frequent Flyer Miles - Part 1: Domestic Upgrades


You’re not alone in being unsure of the best ways to use your QANTAS points! For most Australians accruing points is a hobby, for many it's even an obsession. Credit cards, health insurance, shopping, running, flights... the list of ways we accrue miles goes on and on! So when it comes to using the points you’ve worked so hard for, you need to make sure you're getting the maximum value for all your effort.

Through this series, our Airfare Geeks will go over the most important dos and don’ts for redeeming your QANTAS Frequent Flyer points. 

 A QANTAS Business Class lounge (photo from QANTAS website)

A QANTAS Business Class lounge (photo from QANTAS website)

To be able to quantify the value for each redemption, we're going to put things in terms of cents per mile (CPM). So, as an example, if you were to use points to upgrade a domestic flight you'd already bought for $100 to business class for 10,000 miles and the price of purchasing a business class seat on the same flight was $700, it's pretty easy to calculate the value you're getting from your points. In this example, the upgrade from Sydney to Melbourne would give you a value of 6 cents for every one point, or 6 CPM, which is fantastic!

 

Upgrading Domestic Flights 

Upgrading a domestic flight is a great way to use a relatively small amount of points for great rewards. For example, on a flight between Melbourne & Sydney or Sydney & Brisbane, it’s only 10,000 points to upgrade yourself into a business class seat and into the lounge. If you can spend your points on upgrading flights between Sydney & Melbourne, or between Melbourne or Sydney and Perth, these are usually great redemptions for the reasons below.

 QANTAS 737 Business Class (photo from QANTAS website)

QANTAS 737 Business Class (photo from QANTAS website)

1. Why Melbourne/Sydney & Perth? Most flights that QANTAS operate around Australia are operated by their 737-800 aircraft. These planes are great but the business class is not going to blow you away. 

However, on some flights between Melbourne/Sydney & Perth, QANTAS operate an Airbus A330 with fully flatbed business class suites. This is an international style business class and it costs no extra points to upgrade to compared to Boeing 737-800 flights. 

 QANTAS A330 Business Class (photo from QANTAS website)

QANTAS A330 Business Class (photo from QANTAS website)

It’s often also easier to upgrade on the A330 flights because it has 28 business class seats compared to the 12 seats on the 737-800.

2. Booking and confirming your upgrade at the same time. If you’ve ever upgraded an international flight with QANTAS, you’ll know that it won’t be confirmed or declined until 48 hours before departure (unless you have elite status). Luckily the same rules don’t apply when flying domestically. The following advice should work the vast majority of the time. The only time I've seen it fail is for large groups of people trying to upgrade on the same flight. It has never failed me, but then I generally fly alone.

Firstly, before you book your ticket through Airfare Geeks, log into your frequent flyer account and attempt to book a reward seat. Booking a “reward seat” is just using points to book the ticket outright.  

Find an A330 flight that has a reward seat available (see reward seats below with black arrow). If there's a reward seat available, it means that it’s likely an upgradable seat is also available. Once your airfare is booked you log back into your frequent flyer account and go to “manage bookings”. Click on “upgrade me” and follow the prompts.  It’s really that easy. 

3. Cents Per Mile (CPM) Value
As previously mentioned, when spending your QANTAS Frequent Flyer miles you're going to want to maximise the CPM value in your redemptions. QANTAS point redemptions can vary wildly in value and you need to figure out what value you place on your miles so you know when you're better off cashing in miles or just paying for your ticket or upgrade outright. As a very general rule, I would say anything over about 3 CPM and it's a good use of your points. The value in redemptions  usually varies between 0.5 CPM and 6 CPM but there are definitely redemptions with significantly higher and lower returns. The worst use of your miles will usually be buying goods on the QANTAS store and the best is generally travel in business or first class.

Upgrading domestic flights with QANTAS, you'll often get 6 CPM or more in value. On the transcontinental flights mentioned above, between Sydney or Melbourne and Perth, the value can be as high as 8 CPM which is absolutely incredible.

If you ever have any questions or concerns, ask your Airfare Geeks consultant for a hand when booking your flight.