Qantas is launching a new business-centric frequent flyer program, Aquire, that will let you earn points for general business expenditures for your company and possibly share them with other employees. That might sound tempting, but with only some of the details disclosed, it's hard to know if the scheme is worth it.
Right now, Qantas is invited businesses (that is, anyone with an ABN number) to sign up for the scheme ahead of its official launch in March 2014. It is even promising '500 Aquire Points' for any Qantas flights you book and take between the beginning of December and the end of February.
Aquire points are separate to the frequent flyer points you earn as an individual: if you take a flight, you should score points for yourself and also for the business Aquire account. As well as earning directly through Qantas, the airline is promising points from "soon-to-be announced partners across financial services, professional services, vehicle and office related costs and other business expense categories". Whether that will be helpful depends on who those partners turn out to be; there's no point using someone purely to earn points if they're over-priced or unsuitable.
Aquire points will be able to be converted to conventional frequent flyer points and assigned to individuals at a 1:1 ratio. That offers a potential way of rewarding employees by assigning them additional points, though that might trigger fringe benefit implications — something that won't be clear until the full scheme launches.
My inner cynic also wonders if the number of individual points earned might also be tweaked come March. On the upside, for sole traders, signing up with Aquire would potentially increase the number of individual points you can earn.
We don't know, however, how many Aquire points each flight will earn. I'll personally be very surprised if it's the same level as individual points earnings. The membership fee will also be a consideration. Qantas is waiving the (unspecified) fee for companies that register in the first six months, but as it's an annual fee it will be an issue for everyone come 2015.
The other big catch? If your business has a corporate airfares agreement with Qantas, you're not eligible for Aquire in the first place.
Pre-registering doesn't cost anything right now, so it's arguably worth it if you qualify. But I wouldn't start dreaming of all those frequent flyer freebies just yet.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman wants more points. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.