Qantas' Frequent Flyer Updates: The Good And The Bad

Qantas announced a large number of adjustments to its Frequent Flyer scheme today. This is Lifehacker's take on the changes that will give you more options -- and those that won't.

We've already reported on plans by Optus to offer frequent flyer points for customers, but whether those changes will help the average customer won't become clear until we learn what the actual allocation of points to dollars spent is. However, for many of the other changes announced today, the benefits (or otherwise) are more obvious.

GOOD: Increased cabin bonuses. As of May 17, tickets in premium economy will attract a 25% points bonus (up from 10%), business get a 50% bonus (up from 25%), and first gets 100% (up from 50%). If you're a cheapskate flyer, you won't have ever flown in these classes, but if you (or your employer) are already coughing up, it's nice to get that extra bonus.

In the same way, increased points earnings for higher-tier fliers also help: Silver is up from 25% bonus to 50%, and Gold rises from50% to 75%.

BAD: new Platinum One tier. Anyone who scores more than 3,600 status credits in a year -- which is triple the level you need to be platinum -- will get unspecified "extra benefits", including a dedicated helper team. This is potentially good news if you're in that rarefied group, but given that this requires multiple business or first class trips a year, it's not going to help most of us (and I say that as someone who is currently on the Platinum tier.

GOOD: SMS notification for upgrade requests. Currently, if you request a class upgrade, you don't know if it has happened until you check in to the flight. That will be replaced with a system where upgrade requests will happen via SMS, though that won't be in place until Q4 2011, and won't work on partner airlines.

BAD: Changes to Jetstar eligibility. At first glance, being able to pay extra to earn points on a Jetstar flight for a Plus or Max bundle seems like an improvement. But in practice, it's not a major change from the current two-tier system where only JetFlex fares earn points, since you'll still have to pay extra on standard fares to have any chance of earning points.

GOOD: Improved loyalty bonuses. Right now, you get 5,000 extra points whenever you earn 500 status credits. From December, you'll get 8,000 extra points when you earn 450 status credits.

NEUTRAL: Increase in points needed for taxes. Currently, if you choose to use points to pay surcharges and taxes, you need to pay 3000 points per sector. From July, that will rise to 4500 per sector. That sounds bad, but the reality is that for most flights, paying taxes in cash is a better tactic than paying using points anyway.

Are you happy, unhappy or indifferent to the latest round of changes? Tell us in the comments.


Comments

    The Jetstar surcharge to get frequent flyer points looks like bad value at first glance Gus, but it's actually very good when you consider it converts the ticket to a flexible one without change fees.

    For example, a SYD-MEL flight on Jetstar WITH the $25 surcharge applied is still cheaper than a basic non-flexible fare with Qantas and Virgin.

    If you compare it to the cost of a flexible ticket with Qantas or Virgin, it's $200 cheaper.

    http://www.ausbt.com.au/jetstar-adds-qantas-frequent-flyer-points-cheap-flexible-fares

    They seem to be 'giving away' a lot more points. How long till the points needed for flights goes up?

    You've got the loyalty bonus change backwards. Current - 5000 per 450, new - 8000 per 500. Also in the new scheme, capped at 4 bonii per yer.

      Yep, I flipped the status totals --fixed now, thanks for the pointer. (I was under the impression that the current scheme was also limited at 4 per year though.)

    The changes in relation to Jetstar are both good and bed. Good for those flying in economy butif you fly in StarClass you are now paying for benefits you used to get as part of the fare

    Star Class Fare to Bangkok yesterday: $749
    Star Class Fare to Bangkok today: $718 + $174 for the bundle to get FF points and seat selection (which you get anyway in Star Class). NOT a good deal.

    Would this be a bit of a distraction for the incoming baggage 'piece' limitations coming into effect on June 1st?

    10 years ago this was a better scheme where you just booked and paid with points - no BS taxes and the like. Now you can never get the flight you want and have to put your hand in your pocket also

    What I don't like is that being a Silver Frequent Flyer who pays for lounge access we now don't have priority checkin. Restricted now to Gold/Platinum. Really upset by this.

    What for! the lifetime status of credit for silver!
    You need 7,000 lifetime status credit points!
    Get nothing! No priority checkin, no lounge access and you have to pay up to 800.00 dollars to be one year member.
    Suck!

Join the discussion!