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Qantas Frequent Flyer Cheat Sheet: Make the Most of Your Qantas Miles

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Qantas Frequent Flyer isn’t well known for being a great program. Their miles aren’t the easiest to earn, award availability on Qantas’ own flights isn’t typically great, they pass on fuel surcharges, and they don’t offer great pricing on many routes.

With that in mind, you might not want to completely ignore Qantas Frequent Flyer. Qantas redemptions can offer good to great value on some Jetstar routes, especially at the last minute, and Qantas is one of the last programs that still offers a round-the-world booking option with up to five stopovers permitted. Here’s what you need to know about Qantas Frequent Flyer.

What airlines can you book with Qantas Frequent Flyer points?

Qantas Frequent Flyer points can be used to book award flights with all oneworld partners:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

In addition, Qantas partners with other airlines that are not part of their alliance including:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Jetstar
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Aer Niugini
  • Air Vanuatu
  • airnorth
  • China Eastern
  • El Al
  • Fiji Airways
  • Jet Airways
  • Westjet

Where to search for awards

Qantas offers one of the better award search engines for oneworld flights, but sometimes doesn’t do well with complicated itineraries. Most partners do show up on Qantas’ award search engine. The partners that you will need to call in to search for space are:

  • Aer Niugini
  • Air Vanatu
  • airnorth
  • Westjet

A few airlines require that you search for award space on other sites:

If you want to use Qantas points to book an award flight, we recommend first running your search on Qantas.com. If you don’t see flights that work for you, it is time to try searching for your flights segment-by-segment. For example, if you want to fly from New York (JFK) to Prague (PRG) via London (LHR), you can run one search for award flights from JFK-LHR and another search for flights from PRG to LHR. If you find flight options that work for both flights, you should be able to book them together as part of the same award. If you can’t find anything, it’s possible that flights are not available for your desired dates and airports.

If you need to search for space on a different website or call into Qantas to find out about award space, you will also ultimately need to call to book that award.

Award charts: How much do awards cost?

The easiest way to determine how much a Qantas award costs is by using their points calculator. Qantas offers four different award charts:

  • Qantas awards: For flights on Qantas and selected single individual partners
  • oneworld awards: For flights that combine multiple oneworld carriers, including Qantas. These awards cannot combine partners that aren’t in oneworld.
  • Partner awards: For awards on an individual partner.
  • Jetstar awards: For awards on the budget carrier Jetstar.

Here are a few sample one way prices for popular routes:

RouteEconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
Sydney-Los Angeles45,00072,00096,000144,000

Below are the full award charts. Note that the appropriate chart depends on the airline or airlines being flown.

ZoneOne-Way MileageEconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst

Jetstar Classic Flight Award Chart for bookings on Jetstar, Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Japan, and Jetstar Pacific (flights cannot be used with any airlines from the above chart).

ZoneOne-Way MileageEconomyBusiness

Partner Classic Flight Award Chart for flights on Aer Lingus, Air Niugini, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon, China Eastern, El Al, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, and Sri Lankan Airlines.

ZoneOne-Way MileageEconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst

Oneworld Classic Flight Award Chart — to use this chart you must travel on at least two different oneworldâ Alliance airlines other than Qantas or three different oneworldâ Alliance airlines including Qantas. This award chart is also applicable to round-the-world bookings.

ZoneOne-Way MileageEconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst

Fuel surcharges and how to avoid them

If you want to avoid paying fuel surcharges, it is best to focus on partners that do not charge fuel surcharges, like Jetstar and Alaska. Oneworld partners that have low or no fuel surcharges include American Airlines (except North America to Europe routes… sometimes), Finnair, Japan Airlines (JAL) and Cathay Pacific.

If you’re flying round trip between the U.S. and Australia, it could make sense to book your flights as two one-way tickets instead of a round trip, especially if you are flying American Airlines. This is because Qantas doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges for American Airlines flights that are departing from Australia. They fuel surcharges are still passed on on the flight to Australia, however, so it could make sense to book that direction with different miles. Unfortunately, if you prefer to fly Qantas, you will still be stuck paying fuel surcharges even if your flight departs from Australia.

To give you an idea, below are the approximate fuel surcharges for one-way Qantas flights between the U.S. and Australia, note that these will vary:

  • Economy – $285
  • Premium Economy – $285
  • Business – $335
  • First – $335

If you book a round-trip flight, you’ll get a discount of about $110 on these fuel surcharges, about 15%. Surcharges on other carriers departing Australia can be higher or lower than this, additionally, if you’re flying somewhere other than the U.S., the fuel surcharges will be different.

Qantas also allows the payment of fuel surcharges with points for domestic flights within Australia, but not for international flights. However, it isn’t a very good deal.

Award change and booking fees

Qantas is somewhat unique in that they quote fees in terms of points. However, it is also possible to pay fees in cash equivalent to AUD 0.01 per point. The following fees apply to award reservations:

Fee TypeFee
Reward Assistance Fee (Phone Bookings)International: 6,000 points per passenger
Other: 3,500 points per passenger
Cancellation Refund Fee6,000 points per passenger
Change fee5,000 points per passenger

Options when you can’t find award space

When Classic awards aren’t available, Qantas makes their own flights plus Jetstar flights available for booking with points using points and cash fares, so the only time a flight won’t be available for booking is if it is completely sold out. This option generally isn’t going to come cheap.

If you don’t want to spend the points for a points and cash fare, you can consider other partners that are available for the route you are interested in flying, or look into other mileage options to use instead.

Best award values: where to get the most from your miles

Overall, Qantas has a very expensive award chart without many sweet spots compared with other programs. If you don’t already have Qantas Frequent Flyer points, there are very few times when it would make sense to try to earn them for redemptions. The major exception is for JetStar awards. Some Jetstar flights are pretty expensive, especially at the last minute. Since Qantas charges by distance, not by cost, this is likely to offer maximum value.

If you do already have a number of Qantas points, it probably makes sense to use them – even if it’s not the most competitive price compared to other airlines. Particularly, premium cabin long haul seats are a decent option, but availability is sparse and the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges can really add up.

Here are a few of the relative sweet spots:

  • Fly from the U.S. East Coast to Dubai for 80,000 points round trip in economy or 168,000 points round trip in business class on Emirates.
  • Fly from the U.S. East Coast to Western Europe for 45,000 points round trip in economy or 100,000 points round trip in business class on American Airlines.
  • Fly from the U.S. East Coast to Australia for 90,000 points round trip in economy or 192,000 points round trip in business class on Qantas.
  • Fly from the Southern U.S. to Latin America with up to five stops for 85,000 points in economy or 170,000 points in business class (as long as the total flying distance is less than 9,600 miles, this pricing applies).
  • Fly short-haul flights (less than 600 miles) on American in economy for 16,000 points round trip.
  • Fly from the U.S. East Coast to Fiji on Fiji Airways for 70,000 points round trip in economy or 144,000 points round trip in business class.

Upgrades: How much do they cost

You can use your Qantas points to upgrade eligible Classic Flight Reward bookings to a higher class of service. Upgrades from economy to premium economy, upgrades from economy to business, and upgrades from premium economy to business are all permitted, if there is availability.

You can use the Upgrade Calculator to calculate the cost of the upgrade you are interested in. To give you an idea of the costs, here are the one-way upgrade prices to upgrade Classic Flight Rewards for a few popular routes:

RouteEconomy to Premium EconomyEconomy to BusinessPremium Economy to Business
Sydney-Los Angeles70,000100,00067,500

Stopover options

Stopovers aren’t allowed on Qantas awards, but since Qantas has a distance based award chart you can sometimes build in a stopover for only a few additional points. In order to do this, you would need to book your trip as two separate tickets: one ticket to the intermediate point and one ticket to the final destination.

For example, if you wanted to fly from Los Angeles to Singapore with a stop in Hong Kong, you could book one ticket from Los Angeles to Singapore and a separate ticket from Singapore to Hong Kong. In this example, the mileage cost would be quite a bit higher.

The sweet spot for building in a low-cost stopover is a Zone 3 plus Zone 2. Booked as a one-way ticket, it would cost 28,000 miles, but booked as two separate tickets it would cost 34,000 points. While this isn’t free, it is still a good deal.

Routing rules: how to piece together awards across continents

Qantas is one of the few airlines that still allows round-the-world bookings. Since Qantas’ award chart is distance based, using the RTW chart makes more sense than breaking up your trip into separate awards – as long as you follow the one major routing rule: backtracking is not allowed.

For example, you could not fly from New York to Moscow, Russia and then back to Barcelona, Spain. However, you could fly from New York to Barcelona and then to Moscow. Other than that, Qantas has pretty relaxed routing rules.

If you are planning to book a RTW ticket with Qantas, not that you cannot fly partners that are not part of oneworld (like Emirates). You can make up to five stopovers on your RTW booking. The pricing for RTW bookings is based off the pricing for the Oneworld Classic Flight Award chart (the forth chart listed above), and the price is best determined by using the Award Pricing Calculator. To give you an idea of pricing, you could fly from New York to London (stopover), to Hong Kong (stopover), to Sydney (stopover), to Santiago (stopover), to Miami, and finally back to New York using a combination of American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and LATAM for 140,000 miles in economy or 280,000 miles in business class, plus taxes and surcharges.

Holding awards: how to put on hold without paying

Qantas will not allow an award to be held.

Alternative miles to book Qantas flights

If your goal is to book a Qantas flight but you don’t have any Qantas Frequent Flyer miles, you’re still in luck. It’s possible to book Qantas flights with Alaska Airlines and all oneworld partners, including American Airlines and British Airways.

As a general rule, redeeming British Airways Avios for short haul flights on Qantas is a good bet, but you wouldn’t want to use them for long haul Qantas flights because British Airways charges significantly more Avios for long flights and they also pass on fuel surcharges.

Alaska Airlines will only allow you to redeem flights between the U.S. and Australia and New Zealand. If you want to fly long haul between Australia and another region like Asia, Europe, or Africa, American Airlines miles probably be a better bet.

Credit cards that earn Qantas points

If you want to book an award flight with Qantas miles but you don’t have all the miles you need, you can easily get more by transferring your Citi ThankYou® Points at a 1:1 ratio to Qantas. Transfers from Citi take 1-2 days.

Hotel points that you can convert to Qantas

If you have hotel points lying around, it could make sense to transfer them to Qantas. As a general rule, hotel points are more valuable if used for hotel nights, but depending on your needs, you could transfer them in order to top off towards an award. The following hotel programs offer transfers to Qantas.

  • Le Club Accorhotels
  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton
  • Hyatt
  • Marriott
  • IHG

Transferring miles to someone else

You can redeem awards for family members using your Qantas Frequent Flyer miles directly from your account. Family members are defined as:

  • husband/wife
  • parent/step-parent
  • domestic partner/de facto
  • child (including foster and step-child)
  • brother/sister
  • half- brother/sister
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • son/daughter-in-law
  • brother/sister-in-law
  • father/mother-in-law
  • uncle/aunt
  • nephew/niece
  • first cousin.

Similarly, you can only transfer miles to the same family members with a minimum of 5,000 miles transferred and a maximum of 600,000. It is free to do so online, while there is a charge of AUD 35 over the phone. If you transfer too many and need to transfer miles back, this is permitted as long as you are within the annual limits for mile transfers.

Expiring miles: how to avoid losing them

Miles expire in 18 months if there isn’t earning or redemption activity on the account. Point transfers to family members do not count as redemption or earning activity.

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