Ugh. From 1 July, Qantas is changing the way customers earn frequent flyer points. In simple terms? If you buy a discounted and non-flexible fare, you'll earn fewer points than before, especially on longer flights.
Here's how Qantas explained the changes in an email to frequent flyers:
Effective for travel from 1 July 2014, the number of Qantas Points and Status credits you earn will change when you fly with Qantas and Jetstar Airlines. Put simply, these changes will mean that you'll earn more Qantas Points and Status credits when you choose more flexible fares. At the same time, we're reducing the Qantas Points you'll earn on our lower fares to reflect your spend.
Existing bookings made prior to 27 March that date aren't affected and will earn points at the old rate (though these may take up to four weeks to appear). The number of points you need to redeem flights hasn't changed; nor has the number of status credits you need to earn to qualify to move to a higher tier. But you will have to spend far more money to earn the same number of points in many instances.
I'm going to focus the discussion on changes on what happens if you buy discount economy fares, since those are the cheapest options and the ones we'll tend to aim for, especially when paying for ourselves.
Lower minimum points Previously, Qantas guaranteed a minimum earn of 1000 points for any fare on any Qantas flight. That has now been reduced to 800 points. Customers on flexible economy or premium economy fares now are guaranteed a minimum of 1200 (up from 1000), while business flights are guaranteed 1400 (up from 1250).
A new set of fares and earning rates Qantas is now grouping its fares into eight tiers, ranked in order of expensiveness: Discount Economy, Economy, Flexible Economy, Premium Economy, Flexible Premium Economy, Business, Flexible Business, First. The category your ticket is in will determine the number of points and status credits you can earn.
For discount economy flights, here are the number of points and status credits you'll earn on various typical journeys, before and after the change. This doesn't include any bonuses you earn as a higher-status flyer. Qantas' full table is here, but only shows the new rates. There are some big shrinkages in the number of points you earn for some longer routes:
|Flight||Old points||Old status||New points||New status|
|Short domestic (e.g. SYD-MEL)||1000||10||800||10|
|Medium domestic (e.g. SYD-ADL)||1000||15||800||15|
|Long domestic (e.g. SYD-PER)||2041||20||1450||20|
|Australia-US West Coast or Dubai||7491||45||4500||45|
Changes to status credits As you can see in the table above, you can actually earn status credits slightly faster with the new scheme on really long flights, while our other examples haven't changed. In a few cases, however, Qantas says status credit totals will be lower. On more expensive fares, the number of status credits has generally gone up.
Qantas says the scheme is "fairer"; despite the changes to status credits, we say it's stingier.
The change comes a few days before Qantas launches its new Aqire scheme for businesses to earn points on business expenditure. We had expected some changes as a result of this.
Given Qantas' recent financial woes and slashing of flights, this isn't altogether surprising. For people with big business expense accounts — the most profitable customers — it won't make much difference. For the rest of us hoping to fly as cheaply as possible, it makes life a little tougher.