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How to fly to Europe with points and beat price rises

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Dreaming of a Europe trip? Here's how to fly for free with points.

Flight prices are rising as more people travel, fuel costs increase and airlines navigate pandemic-related challenges.

Earlier this year, Finder reported on some domestic routes rising as much as 96%.

Qantas has also said it would pass on price rises of up to 20% for international flights.

This makes reward seats even more valuable, especially for long-haul flights to destinations like Europe.

The new Virgin Australia and Qatar Airways partnership means there are now more possibilities for reward flights to Europe. Here's how to get them.

How many points do you need to fly to Europe?

The points you'll need depend on factors including the distance flown, the flight class (economy or business) and the airline.

There are lots of frequent flyer programs that offer reward flights to Europe, but we'll focus on the 2 biggest ones in Australia: Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer.

Qantas Points for a one-way Classic Flight Reward to London or Paris

Departure cityQantas Points for a one-way flight to London (LHR)Qantas Points for a one-way flight to Paris (CDG)
AdelaideEconomy: 55,200

Business: 144,600

Economy: 69,200

Business: 174,600

BrisbaneEconomy: 55,200
Business: 144,600
Economy: 79,700

Business: 172,900

CanberraEconomy: 55,200

Business: 144,600

Economy: 69,200

Business: 172,900

DarwinEconomy: 55,200

Business: 144,600

Economy: 69,200

Business: 174,600

HobartEconomy: 55,200

Business: 144,600

Economy: 65,200

Business: 174,600

MelbourneEconomy: 55,200

Business: 144,600

Economy: 65,200

Business: 164,600

PerthEconomy: 51,200

Business: 126,500

Economy: 61,200

Business: 146,500

SydneyEconomy: 55,200

Business: 144,600

Economy: 69,200

Business: 174,600

What you need to know about these Reward flights

These details are based on calculations from the Qantas Frequent Flyer website on 13 September 2022.

  • Qantas Points Reward flights were made up of a mix of flights with Qantas, Air France and Emirates. Most had QF (Qantas) flight numbers.
  • Transit locations included Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Los Angeles, London and Rome. There were more stops for flights to Paris.
  • The actual points needed for a Classic Rewards flight can be different when you're booking, but these are the base rates available on the Qantas website.
  • For a return flight, double the point values in this table (as they are one-way).

Want more Qantas Points? Check out the latest Qantas credit card sign-up offers.

Velocity Points for a one-way Reward Seat to London or Paris

Departure cityVelocity Points for a one-way flight to London (LHR)Velocity Points for a one-way flight to Paris (CDG)
AdelaideEconomy: 90,800

Business: 176,500

Economy: 90,800

Business: 176,500

BrisbaneEconomy: 83,000
Business: 161,000
Economy: 94,800
Business: 184,500
CanberraEconomy: 90,800

Business: 176,500

Economy: 90,800

Business: 176,500

DarwinEconomy: Not available

Business: Not available

Economy: 100,800

Business: 196,500

HobartEconomy: 90,800

Business: 176,500

Economy: 90,800

Business: 176,500

MelbourneEconomy: 83,000

Business: 161,000

Economy: 83,000

Business: 161,000

PerthEconomy: 69,000

Business: 135,000

Economy: 69,000

Business: 135,000

SydneyEconomy: 83,000

Business: 161,000

Economy: 90,800

Business: 176,500

What you need to know about these Reward flights

These details are based on calculations from the Virgin Australia website on 13 September 2022.

  • Virgin Australia only flies on a few international routes, so these Reward Seats were based on a mix of flights with Virgin Australia and new partner Qatar Airways. It has direct flights from Doha to both London (LHR) and Paris (CDG) airports.
  • We checked available commercial flights and then used the mileage calculator and Points for flights tables to get point details (based on bookings made from 5 October 2022).
  • The actual points needed for a Velocity Reward Seat can be different when you're booking.
  • For a return flight, double the point values in this table (as they are one-way).

Check out the latest Velocity credit card sign-up offers.

A woman with long grey hair is smiling as she talks on the phone in a beautiful laneway.

You'll see the total number of points and other costs for a frequent flyer reward flight when you book online, but checking before that gives you an idea of what to expect. Image: Getty Images

Reward flight costs: Taxes, fees and carrier charges

Frequent flyer points cover the cost of your seat on the plane.

But you still need to pay a mix of airport taxes, fees and carrier charges for each leg of your trip.

These fees depend on the airports you travel through, airlines and other factors, typically costing a few hundred dollars for overseas reward flights.

As an example, the extra costs were $242–$435 for 2 different one-way Qantas Classic Reward flights from Sydney to London in economy when we looked for this article.

Velocity Frequent Flyer lists a carrier charge of $11 for domestic economy or business class flights with Virgin Australia, per person and flight segment.

Most of the Velocity Reward Seat examples we've looked at for Europe would add between US$115 and US$430 in carrier charges with Qatar Airways.

Both the point values and these costs can also change based on flights, demand and other factors.

So it helps to have money (and extra points) set aside when you're ready to book.

Is it still worth it if you pay fees for reward flights?

You'll still save on the bulk of the airfare cost, so if you have points it's usually worth it for a long-haul flight to Europe (or anywhere else).

As an example, here's a screenshot of a Qantas flight with a Saver fare for $1,383 or a Classic Reward flight for 55,200 plus $242 in fees.

A screenshot showing Qantas flights from Sydney to London (LHR), with both a Saver fare and a Classic Reward Seat.

Points get you a free seat on the plane but taxes, fees and carrier charges are an extra cost. Image: Finder

Even paying those fees on the reward flight, you'd save $1,141 compared to paying for the flight.

That means you're getting $20.67 value for every 1,000 points redeemed.

Check out Finder's guide to how much Qantas Points are worth for more examples of how to get value from them.

A man and woman sitting on the floor with a world map and a tablet.

Even with fees and taxes, redeeming frequent flyer points for flights to Europe can save you thousands of dollars compared to paying for them. Image: Getty Images

4 tips to book your reward flight to Europe

1. Book early

Frequent flyer reward seats can typically be booked up to 11 months in advance. The earlier you look, the better your chances of getting the ones you want.

2. Call the frequent flyer membership centre

You can book reward seats online but sometimes speaking to the frequent flyer team will give you more options. There's usually a fee to book over the phone, so just check online first and then factor that in as needed.

3. Have your points ready to go

The point values we've looked at here are basically the minimum amount you need for flights. Sometimes they will be more based on demand or if it's a flight with a partner airline. Aim to have some extra points as a buffer or look at buying points when you're ready to book.

4. Check flight sales

You'll get less value from frequent flyer points if there's a great sale on flights to Europe.

Checking flight deals before you redeem your points means you can choose to pay for the trip (and earn more points) or save on cash costs by using points. It's a win-win.

Want to keep your frequent flyer points balance growing? Check out the latest credit card sign-up deals.

Images: Finder, Getty Images

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