Have all the Qantas business rewards seats gone already?
The points you'll need for frequent flyer flights go up next week, so what's left?
Next week, on 18 September, the number of points you'll need for the most desirable reward seats on Qantas will go up. As part of the changes announced back in June, points totals for Premium Economy, Business and First seats are all going up from that date, by as much as 15%.
For instance, a one-way Sydney to London Business flight will require 128,000 Qantas Points (plus carriers charges) this week, but 144,600 next week. That's a 13% increase. The table below shows the increases for Business (generally the most coveted redemption choice) across all 10 fare zones. As you can see, the biggest increases are on the shortest routes, but every single one is going up.
|Zone||Miles||Business (old)||Business (new)||% difference|
|1||0 - 600||16,000||18,400||15%|
|2||601 - 1,200||24,000||27,600||15%|
|3||1,201 - 2,400||36,000||41,500||15%|
|4||2,401 - 3,600||50,000||57,000||14%|
|5||3,601 - 4,800||60,000||68,400||14%|
|6||4,801 - 5,800||72,000||82,000||14%|
|7||5,801 - 7,000||84,000||94,900||13%|
|8||7,001 - 8,400||96,000||108,400||13%|
|9||8,401 - 9,600||112,000||126,500||13%|
|10||9,601 - 15,000||128,000||144,600||13%|
Unsurprisingly, that's led to a glut of frequent flyers racing in to make points redemptions prior to the cut-off. And that got me wondering: how hard is it to find those seats? So I've been keeping an eye on Business availability, especially for the popular Sydney to London route.
Remember that scoring Business seats on Qantas (and indeed on most airlines) has always been challenging, especially for international routes. Your chance of finding a reward seat on the direct Perth to London QF9 route, for instance, is practically non-existent.
Seats are generally snapped up as soon as they appear, which is typically 353 days in advance for Qantas. Higher status flyers (think Gold, Platinum and Platinum One) also get access to seats ahead of lower-ranked passengers. All of which means that last-minute points shopping can be a fraught affair.
On the upside, as part of the overhaul, Qantas has said one million extra seats will be made available this year. Of course, those are spread over four classes and numerous routes, so it doesn't necessarily mean you'll find the business seat of your dreams.
But that doesn't mean it's impossible. When I checked last week, I managed to find not only Business seats to London for an October 2019 trip, but even a single First seat on British Airways. (Don't go racing; it has since disappeared, unsurprisingly.) That's not what you'd expect just one month out.
Looking further out, availability is patchy, but not entirely non-existent. February is often a quiet month for travel to Europe (no surprise, the weather's lousy). I could find occasional seats from Sydney to London with Qantas partners but struggled to come up with a fare that didn't involve at least part of the journey being in Economy.
Surprisingly, I had rather more luck in August, with Business seats popping up on several dates. I hadn't expected that; the European summer is normally very competitive and seats disappear quickly.
Something to note: Hong Kong often popped up as a routing, suggesting passengers are worrying about further disruption there.
It's also worth noting that on almost every date I checked, there were plenty of Economy reward seats available. While Business redemptions are better value, in busy periods an Economy seat really can make sense.
Bottom line? I wouldn't want to claim that it's super-easy to find a Business rewards seat right now. It never is. But if you have a stash of Qantas Points and don't want to see them worth 15% less next week, it could be worth spending a little time investigating.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on Finder.