Complete Guide to the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program

Nov 24, 2018

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Due to the vast distances of the Australian Outback and continent’s remote location, Qantas has rich aviation heritage stretching back nearly 100 years. Qantas is part of the Oneworld Alliance, and it’s simply named Frequent Flyer program offers award travelers some interesting opportunities, even if you have no plans to visit Australia.

The Qantas Frequent Flyer program is also interesting because you can now transfer your Capital One miles to it.  In today’s post, I’ll present a comprehensive view of this program, with an eye on opportunities for Americans to acquire and redeem Qantas miles, whether or not they have the chance to visit the Land Down Under.

Earning Qantas Miles

As with many foreign carriers, Qantas still has a distance-based award chart, but the miles you earn are still subject to the fare class you booked. Unrestricted tickets earn the most miles and highly discounted tickets earn the least. You can also credit flights from American Airlines and other Oneworld partners to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.

In addition to its Oneworld partners, Qantas also has the following non-alliance partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Airnorth
  • Air Niugini
  • Air Vanuatu
  • Alaska Airlines
  • El Al
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • Jetstar
  • Jet Airways

But for most US travelers, the primary way to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer miles will be through reward transfers from credit card programs. Capital One miles now transfer to 12 airline partners including Qantas Frequent Flyer at a 2:1.5 ratio (and two other partners at a 2:1 ratio), meaning that two Capital One miles can be transferred to 1.5 Qantas Frequent Flyer miles (transfers are expected to start in December).

If you’re looking to boost your Qantas Frequent Flyer balance, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card currently offers 50,000 bonus miles one you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. This translates into 37,050 miles with Qantas Frequent Flyer or any of the program’s other 11 transfer partners with a 2:1.5 transfer ratio.

For small business owners, you also have a terrific sign-up offer available right now. The Capital One Spark Miles for Business card earns 50,000 miles after you meet the $4,500 spending requirement in the first 3 months

Qantas is also a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou points at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott Rewards at a 3:1 ratio.

Elite Status

The most frequent Qantas flyers will want to earn elite status, which are called Tier Benefits. To reach each level you have to earn a specific number of Status Credits from paid flights. The number of Status Credits you earn on each flight depends on where you fly, which airline and the fare purchased. You earn more points from purchasing flexible fares and seats in premium cabins. While this can be a little confusing, Qantas offers a calculator to help you determine the miles and status credits you’ll earn from a particular flight.

Tier Benefits:

  • Bronze is the entry level that all members start out at.
  • Silver requires 300 Status Credits (250 to keep). and offers a 50% points bonus, priority check-in, preferred seating, extra checked baggage, and priority waitlist and standby privileges. It also gives you OneWorld Ruby status.
  • Gold requires 700 Status Credits (600 to keep), and offers the benefits of Silver plus 75% points bonus plus premium security lanes, priority checked baggage and upgrades on domestic flights. You also receive access to Qantas, Oneworld and Emirates business lounges. It also gives you Oneworld Sapphire status.
  • Platinum requires 1,400 Status Credits (1,200 to keep), and offers the benefits of Gold plus a 100% points bonus, confirmed international upgrades, access to Qantas, OneWord and Emirates First Class lounges. It also gives you Oneworld Emerald status.
  • Platinum One requires 3,600 Status Credits (including 2,700 on Qantas marketed flights), and offers the benefits of Platinum plus a waiver of fare differentials on domestic flexible fares, and the highest priority for upgrades, additional award space, waived booking fees and other benefits.

Redeeming Miles

Qantas mile can be redeemed for award flights as far out as 353 days in advance, which is a bit farther than most airlines (about 330 days is the standard). Also, note that Qantas Frequent Flyer is one of the rare loyalty programs that only allows you to redeem miles for family members. Although it has a fairly generous definition of family, this could be a real problem for people traveling with a friend or significant other to whom they aren’t married or in a domestic partnership.

Qantas offers three different distance-based tables for redeeming their Classic Flight Rewards. The first and most favorable one covers award fights operated by the following carriers:

  • Qantas
  • Airnorth
  • Fiji Airways
  • Air Vanuatu
  • American Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Jetstar
  • QantasLink

The second, slightly less favorable chart covers the following carriers:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Niugini
  • Alaska Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific Airways
  • China Eastern
  • Dragonair
  • El Al
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

Finally, there’s a chart for Jetstar, Qantas’s low cost subsidiary, which has different mileage zones than Qantas flights.

The Best Uses for Qantas Frequent Flyer Miles

1. Short flights on American Airlines to Mexico or the Caribbean

As with other distance-based award charts, like British Airways Avios, the best uses for Qantas miles are when you are traveling relatively short distance, but crossing traditional airline’s zones. For example, award flights to Mexico and the Caribbean can be relatively short, but American Airlines will still require 15,000 miles each way. In contrast, flights under 600 miles are only 8,000 Qantas miles in economy, and flights 601-1,200 miles are just 12,000 miles, each way. For example, you could fly from Miami to Montego Bay Jamaica for just 8,000 miles each way or to San Juan Puerto Rico for 12,000 miles each way.

2. New York to London

Another way to extract value from distance-based award charts is to fly between two points that fall at the high end of the distance range. For example, awards that are 2,401-3,600 miles long cost just 22,500 Qantas miles, and the distance between New York and London happens to fall just within that range at 3,451 miles. This means that you could fly to London round-trip in economy class for just 45,000 miles. Business class is also reasonably priced at 100,000 miles, round-trip, 15,000 miles fewer than American’s MileSAAver level. Just be sure to avoid ticketing awards on British Airways, which imposes massive fuel surcharges that Qantas passes along.

3. Flights on El Al

El Al’s own Matmid frequent flyer program is not very highly regarded, and the transfer ratio from the American Express Membership Rewards program makes this option a poor value. But if you’re looking for awards on Israel’s flag carrier, Qantas is your best option. For example, flights between New York-JFK or Newark and Tel Aviv are just under 5,800 miles long, meaning that you can book an economy class award for 42,000 miles each way, 63,000 in premium economy and 78,000 miles in business. From LAX, you’re looking at spending 56,000 miles each way in economy and 104,000 in business. While these might not be super bargains, they are often your best options for these routes.

4. Short Hops Around Australia

Distance based awards are great for traveling around Australia, and of course Qantas has you covered, starting with one-way flights under 600 miles costing you 8,000 miles each. And while their distance-based chart isn’t as generous as British Airways Avios, they charge for the journey, not the leg. So if you have to change planes, Qantas just adds up the total miles, without making you redeem the equivalent of two awards like the British Airways program does.

5. Booking Qantas First Class

Qantas’s first class is renowned, but awards are extremely scarce. One reasons is that most partner’s frequent flyer programs, like American Airlines AAdvantage, only let you book Qantas award flights 331 days out. However, Qantas opens award seats to its own members 353 days in advance, giving you a valuable 24 day head start. No, these awards are not cheap (144,000 miles between LAX and Sydney, each way), but sometimes you have to splurge.

6. Flights to Fiji

Fiji Airways is a Qantas partner that’s included in their more generous award chart. Flights from LAX to Nadi are just 5,519 miles in distance, which falls just within the award zone for 35,000 miles each way in economy and 72,000 in business. You should even be able to add on a short inter-island flight for the same price.

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