Qantas Airways have announced some significant changes to their ten million member Frequent Flyer program to take effect 1 July, 2014. Like many other airlines in the world, Qantas will give more points to those who spend more money.
Domestic Points Earning Rates Change
On Australian domestic flights, points will be awarded at different rates depending on whether a flight is:
- Discount Economy
- Flexible Economy
- Flexible Business.
The losers: those flying discount economy short haul fares within Australia e.g. Sydney to Melbourne, Sydney to Canberra and Canberra to Melbourne. From July 1st, the guaranteed minimum number of points a passenger can earn on these will fall from 1,000 to 800 points. I probably fly on 20 of these flights on the Australian East Coast a year so I stand to lose 4000 points a year. Not worth losing sleep over for me.
The Winners: those flying Business Class on most routes
International Points Earning Rates Change
Qantas international fares for their four Fare classes will be split into nine different categories for earning purposes:
- Fares sold in Economy Class: Discount Economy, Economy and Flexible Economy
- Premium Economy Class: Flexible Economy, Premium Economy and Flexible Premium Economy (yes a discounted Premium Economy Seat will earn you the same points as the most expensive Economy seat)
- Business and Flexible Business Fares
- First Class Fares
This table shows the earning rate for a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles up to and including 30 June and from 1 July on:
Losers: Discount economy fliers on the very lowest fares will see their point earnings reduced by between a third and almost half. In this example a Sydney to Los Angeles Discount Economy passenger will earn 4500 points instead of 7491 points. On the Melbourne to Singapore sector, the cheapest ticket will see earnings drop to 2600 points from 3749 points.
Winners: Fliers on “Flexi fares”, Business and First class fliers. Would you pay a higher fare to earn more frequent flyer points?
Status Credit Zones in Australia Change
Qantas in addition to points/miles issues “status credits”. These add up to provide a flier with their “status” with Qantas either Platinum,Gold, Silver or Bronze for the following year. The more status credits, I accumulate, the more benefits I receive from Qantas. So anything that impacts my ability to earn status credits piques my concern. One key change involves the status credit earning zones in Australia:
- 600 miles and under will become 750 miles and under
- 601 to 1,200 miles will become 751 to 1500 miles
- 1,201 to 2,400 miles is altering to 1500 miles plus
So my regular Adelaide to Sydney flight which is a 725 miles flight currently earns me 15 status credits for a Discount Economy fare, 30 for full economy and 60 in Business will now earn me 10 (Discount), 20 (Full Economy), or 40 (Business). Four return flights to Adelaide a year will earn me a chunk less status credits. This means I either accept a lower status, fly more or switch to Virgin Australia.
This example from the Qantas website shows the reduction in Status Credits for flights between Sydney and Cairns:
Losers: Most travellers flying short and medium routes within Australia
Qantas Status Credit Zones Altered Internationally
These change route by route. Some examples are:
- Sydney to London- status credits increase in all categories if flown as one Qantas flight
- Sydney to New York- status credits increase in all categories if flown as one Qantas flight
- All other Australian destinations to New York – a reduction in status credits in all categories
- Brisbane or Melbourne or Sydney to Los Angeles- status credits increase in all categories except discount economy
- Sydney to Tokyo – reduced
- Sydney to Shanghai – reduced
Status Credit Earning – lower on partner carriers
This is the most significant change for me and it is disappointing. Currently, Qantas awards status credits based on cabin and distance irrespective of whether you are flying them or a One World partner airline.
From July 1, Qantas is reducing significantly the number of credits passengers can earn on a partner airline. For example Sydney to Hong Kong will earn me 30 status credits with Qantas in Discount Economy but only 15 with Cathay Pacific. Melbourne to London falls from 60 to 35 in Discount Economy. This annoys me because Qantas do not fly everywhere I want to go and I have to use a partner airline e.g. Frankfurt, Paris or Beijing.
For passengers flying out of Perth, Australia, the partner earn rates are higher than those that can be earned out of Sydney or Melbourne. This is despite the fact flights are a couple of hours shorter. This seems to reflect that there are now fewer Qantas international flights available from Perth. It may even be worth flying to Perth from Sydney and switching to an international flight from there if I can stand the extra time and hassle!
Losers: Every Qantas Frequent Flyer passenger flying a One World partner airline
Winners: Some fliers out of Perth, Australia
Good Bye Marginal Any Seat Awards
The other major change announced is the “marginal” Any Seat Award being phased. This was one of the best ways of redeeming points. On some routes, one could get a business class seat for a very low cost and earn more status credits to retain status.
Losers: Frequent fliers trying to get a quick short cut to status or a low cost way of travelling at the last minute
A Simpler and Fairer System?
This is the one claim that is not true. The zones, fare types and earning abilities are not simple. There are now twenty two different earning regions and nine different fare categories! The Qantas Frequent Flyer earnings chart has 176 different earning possibilities. Booking a ticket is now going to be more complicated. If one fare is slightly different to another but allows me more points, then I will want to know that. Will Qantas allow me the full information I need to make a booking? Or will I walk away to Emirates or Qatar that have more destinations and a simpler earnings program?
Losers: Most Qantas Frequent Fliers
Timing of the Announced Changes
With the string of bad news, Qantas has shared over the last two years (a grounding, declining quality, job losses, fewer ports, delayed and cancelled 787s and financial losses), I am not sure Qantas needs to give its travelling public any more doubt. Feedback on Social Media is not happy!
My Overall Rating: Overall 30%- Qantas needs to lift its game not reduce it.
My Overall rating of Qantas airways in 2013: 76%
Qantas has a 4 star Skytrax Star Ranking
Positives: Earn more in Full Economy, Business and First Class on more routes
Negatives: A move to an unnecessarily complicated Frequent Flyer program, the slashing in half of Status Credits earned on One World partner and the axing of Marginal Any Seat Awards.
Would I fly them again? Becoming more shaky