Hi Lifehacker, I've just scored myself a Qantas Frequent Flyer membership via my Woolworths Everyday Rewards card. What's the best way to earn points when booking Jetstar flights? I notice that the prices quoted for Jetstar flights via the Qantas site are often somewhat different to what Jetstar itself suggests. Any tips? Thanks, Points Planner
Dear Points Planner,
Ensuring you earn points and also don't pay more than you need to for a flight in the Qantas/Jetstar universe requires careful planning. Here are the main issues to bear in mind.
Firstly, while Qantas' own site will show pricing for Jetstar flights if they're available (complete with JQ flight number and Jetstar logo), that pricing isn't particularly accurate. It won't reflect any baggage charges for Jetstar, it won't always include the price of the Plus Bundle you need to pay for if you want to be able to earn points on a Jetstar flight, and it often won't reflect current Jetstar sales prices. If you do select a Jetstar flight on the Qantas site, you'll end up redirected to Jetstar to actually make the booking anyway.
If you're flying on a route that's Jetstar-only (such as Sydney-Sunshine Coast), then you might as well start on the Jetstar site in the first place. If you're flying on a route that's offered on both airlines (such as Sydney-Melbourne), then it's worth opening the Qantas and Jetstar flights in separate tabs and seeing what's on offer. Don't assume that Jetstar will always be cheaper — I flew to the Gold Coast from Sydney earlier this year on Qantas, and the Qantas price was lower than the Jetstar price.
You also need to compare apples with apples. The cheapest Qantas flight will include checked luggage and is automatically eligible to earn points. On Jetstar, you'll have to pay $22 per sector for the Plus Bundle purely to earn points, and then a minimum of $15.50 per sector for checked baggage, depending how much it weighs. Add those numbers in before making a decision.
The final question is whether it's worth paying that $22 to earn points if you are on a Jetstar flight. On a typical short-hop domestic flight, you'll earn around 1000 points. Can you get more than $22 worth of value from 1000 points? I'd say "yes", but you have to pick carefully.
A simple example: 1000 points is one-eighth of a Sydney-Melbourne flight. At its cheapest, you can pick that flight up for $79 one way, which would make 1000 points worth $8 — less than the $22 you paid. However, peak-rate bookings between those cities can cost $400 or more. At that point, your 1000 points are worth $50 — well above the extra you paid to earn them. The trick is to spend your points for maximum value.
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