How I’m setting my 2019 frequent flyer goals
These are the flights I've got my eye on. What are you planning?
Getting top value from your frequent flyer points doesn't just "happen". You need a detailed plan. Everyone's plans will be different. I'm sharing mine in the hope that it will inspire you to build out your own.
This is definitely a long-term play. Many of the goals I've set for myself won't result in me taking trips until at least 2020. 2019 is mostly about building up my points totals so I can score the rewards I want.
My main goal is around what to do with my Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Currently, I'm sitting on just over 160,000 Qantas Points. I want to get that total up to 280,000, which will give me enough to score a oneworld Classic Flight Reward round-the-world business class trip, including up to five stops.
That will give me the opportunity to experience multiple airlines in style, and visit places I'm overdue to return to or try out (Bangkok, San Francisco, Berlin and Noumea are all in the mix right now). The biggest challenge with this plan will be finding seat availability. I'm OK with one or two of the legs being economy if need be, but not if that flight is more than five hours. So I'm predicting a lot of mulling over possible booking options for May 2020 come the middle of the year.
Qantas remains my main airline for work trips, so I'm confident I'll get to that total, especially with some discount business class seats on Malaysian and Finnair already booked and a few Qantas Wine deals along the way. I'll also take advantage of as many Woolworths Rewards bonus deals as possible. In particular, I'll try to buy as many birthday and Christmas gifts through those kinds of deals as I can, on top of my existing practice of stocking up on most of my groceries while bonus points are on offer.
I can imagine myself taking a couple of small reward flights in the meantime. I'm perversely tempted by the notion of a Cairns-Port Moresby flight, since there aren't any other international options that only cost 8,000 Qantas Points. What else I'd connect that to is the major challenge.
While Qantas is my main game, I also have a decent stash of 60,000 Velocity Points, largely a consequence of flitting around Australia to visit every Virgin lounge and review it. (More of those reviews will go live in 2019, I promise). Those points aren't enough to score me a really long-haul flight, so I'm contemplating using them for a business-class jaunt to New Zealand. I don't see my Velocity Points total going up at anywhere near the same rate, so a shorter haul deal makes sense.
Scoring Virgin reward flights will soon become more expensive, since the airline is introducing carrier charges from 1 January 2019. However, since I'm only planning a trans-Tasman trip and the charge on a one-way business flight is just $5.50, I'm not going to race to make a booking. My 2019 calendar is already fairly full up until August.
For the return leg from New Zealand, I might use up a similar stash of Aegean Miles+Bonus points which I earned on a first-class jaunt to Canada a few years ago. Aegean points don't expire, but I'd rather make use of them than risk changes to the scheme. Again, I don't see myself building up many Star Alliance points in the near future.
As I've written before, it's tough to maintain status and earn points with multiple schemes. If by the end of 2019 I've happily spent my Virgin and Aegean stashes and have a clear vision of when my round-the-world flight happens, then I'll be happy. What are you planning?
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.com.au.