Why Qantas economy flight rewards can make sense
Hanging around for business class may not be your best move, especially during a sale.
Qantas is running its annual rewards flight sale this week. If you book a Classic Flight Reward between now and 28 September, you'll score it for 25% fewer points than normal. The main catch? It only applies to economy flights.
For many frequent flyers, the ultimate goal of saving all those points is to score a business or first-class seat to somewhere exotic. I totally get that: it makes for a unique travel experience and it delivers much more value for point than most other alternatives. But you shouldn't automatically write off the notion of using some of your points for an economy flight. Here are three reasons why.
First, business and first-class rewards seats are much rarer. On some Qantas routes (such as Perth-London), they're essentially non-existent. In reality, if you're not a Gold frequent flyer or better, your chances of scoring those seats for international legs are very low. Economy seats are easier to find.
Second, while economy redemptions don't offer as much "value" as business class upgrades or seats, they do offer much better value than (for instance) spending points in the Qantas store. Our rule of thumb at Points Finder is to make sure you're getting at least $20 in value for every 1,000 points. That can definitely be achieved with economy flights, especially during peak hours or to regional destinations.
Third, there are destinations where economy is your only option anyway. Want to fly to Lord Howe Island or Coffs Harbour? Those reward seats are economy only. But a return flight from Sydney to Lord Howe typically runs to $900 at sale prices. As a rewards flight, that's just 16,000 points. During the sale, it's 12,000. That amounts to $75 of base value for each 1,000 points. Even after you've paid taxes and charges, it's a top-value deal.
To be clear: these kinds of fares won't just fall in your lap. You'll need to spend time checking availability, and you'll typically need to be looking 9-12 months out to find the best deals. But that's even truer if you only want business or first reward flights. Getting top value from your points takes planning and effort.
As I write this, Qantas's site is displaying a warning that "We're experiencing issues with our Classic Flight Rewards booking engine". That suggests that plenty of people want to take advantage of the sale. I'll certainly be one of them. My key current Qantas Points goal remains a business-class Europe flight, but I'll be investing some time to try and find a good regional deal this week.
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.