Hidden detail in Qantas loyalty shake-up

Qantas has announced a major shake-up of its Frequent Flyer program. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

Qantas is overhauling its loyalty program to offer 20 million extra seats to frequent flyers – but at a much higher cost.

Frequent flyers will get access to more than 20 million seats on international flights as part of a $100m expansion of the loyalty program, the airline announced on Monday.

But there’s a catch. Flights booked under the new Classic Plus Flight Rewards system could cost up to three times more reward points than the current Classic Rewards system.

Qantas Loyalty chief executive Andrew Glance said the new type of reward seat will usually require more points than existing Classic seats, but will be available to all destinations on the Qantas international and domestic network, across First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.

Qantas has announced a huge shake up of its frequent flyers program. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
Qantas chief executive Vanessa Hudson said the program was the “biggest expansion” in the programs history. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Ascui

For example, a return business class flight from Sydney to London (during the peak period) would cost 638,900 points as a Classic Plus customer compared to just 289,200 on the Classic program.

Meanwhile, economy seats on the same return flight (during the peak period) would cost 191,800 points on the Classic Plus program.

The points required to book Classic Plus reward seats will vary like normal airfares, which means they’ll be lower during off-peak periods or when booking early, and higher during peak periods.

The program is designed to provide a mid-range option between the existing Classic and Points Pay Plus rewards options, with Qantas Group chief executive Vanessa Hudson saying the airline has no plan to abandon its other reward streams.

Ms Hudson said frequent flyers now have more ways than ever to earn points and Classic Plus will open up more value for frequent flyers who want to spend their growing points balance.

“We’ve spent a lot of time listening to members about how we can better reward them,” Ms Hudson said.

“We’re adding over 20 million new flight rewards with the launch of a new type of reward seat called Classic Plus. It’s one of the biggest expansions we’ve made to the Frequent Flyer program in its 35-year history.”

Classic Plus rewards will offer up 20 million more seats. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James Gourley
International flights from July are on sale now. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James Gourley

There are currently about 16 million Qantas frequent flyers – representing about 64 per cent of the national population.

The new loyalty seats will be available on international flights from July, while the program will roll out for domestic flights by the end of the year.

Qantas will continue to offer more than five million existing Classic rewards seats across Qantas, Jetstar and 45 partner airlines.

The Plus program seats will also be eligible for upgrades and can be booked exclusively via qantas.com from Monday for travel from 1 July.

The airline hopes the $100 million investment will help them achieve more than $500 million in earnings (before costs) in FY24.