Qantas lowers cost of international flight reward redemptions

Have you ever tossed up the prospect of booking a flight with frequent flyer points and found a cheap economy class sale fare offered better value?

After all, rewards tickets are often accompanied by taxes and fees, and unlike sale fares they don't earn any frequent flyer points and status credits. So why would you pay 50,000 points and $426 for a return Perth-Singapore fare when you could buy a discount ticket for $561 and save your points for a future flight or upgrade?

Qantas, aware that many customers were making the calculations and booking sales fares rather than using up frequent flyer points, is now lowering the number of points and accompanying fees needed to book flights to many of its international destinations.

The changes, which will reduce the number of points needed by up to 10 per cent and other charges by an average of 40 per cent on its economy class rewards, are effective immediately for destinations including Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa.

They will help ensure the cost of redemptions keeps pace with the sale fares in the market, meaning the Perth-Singapore flight will now cost 45,000 points and $246.

"We're always looking at new ways to help our members use their Qantas points and this is great news for our frequent flyer members, who will save up to 6000 points and around $190 on a [return] flight between Melbourne and Los Angeles," a Qantas spokesman said.

The Melbourne-Los Angeles trip in economy class will now require 90,000 points and $419 of other fees. For comparison, Virgin Australia charges 94,000 in Velocity points and $152 of fees for a return flight from Sydney to Los Angeles in economy class.

For a Sydney-London return flight, Qantas will now charge 120,000 points and $708 of fees versus the old rate of 128,000 points and $848 of fees.

The Qantas spokesman said the changes applied immediately, because January was a popular time of year for frequent flyers to book reward flights as  workers returning from their Christmas break started to think about their next holiday.


Qantas has not changed its business class redemption rates. On the Sydney-Los Angeles route, a return business class flight requires 192,000 points plus $862 in fees on Qantas versus 188,000 points and $182 in fees on Virgin.

The number of points required for economy flights on select Qantas partners, including American Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu and Air North will also fall because those partners are included in the classic rewards table.

This marks the third time in the last year that Qantas has reduced the cost of international flight redemptions, due in part to the lower oil price, amid scrutiny by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The airline last month said it expected to report a bumper first-half underlying profit before tax of around $900 million. All of its businesses, including the once-struggling international division, are expected to be profitable.

This article Qantas lowers cost of international flight reward redemptions was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.