Touting the biggest overhaul of its loyalty programme, Qantas has unveiled changes including reduced fees for reward flights, access to more seats and more rewards for those who spend on-the-ground.
While the changes come at a US$25 million investment, the airline expects this to be offset within the first year by increased programme engagement.
Rewarding on-the-ground transactions
Qantas will also recognise members who earn points through non-flying related transactions through the new Points Club.
The club will unlock flight and travel benefits including lounge access and bonus status credits – as well as member-exclusive offers and discounts across Qantas Frequent Flyer and partners.
The entry-level Points Club tier will be accessed through earning 150,000 points on the ground while the exclusive ‘Points Club Plus’ tier, with richer member benefits, will have a higher annual threshold. Points Club will be launched in late 2019.
Changes to fees and number of points required
The number of points required for international economy Classic Reward seats will decrease by up to 10 per cent effective immediately.
For premium cabins, the number of points required will increase by up to 15 per cent effective September 18, 2019. Points required for upgrades will also increase by up to nine per cent.
Carrier charges will be slashed by up to 50 per cent on international redemption bookings, saving members on average A$200 (US$139) per return journey, halving the out of pocket expenses associated with reward travel.
A return Classic Reward flight from Sydney or Melbourne to London will see carrier charges reduced from A$1,080 to A$700 in business class while a return economy flight from Sydney to New York will see carrier charges reduced from A$360 to A$180.
The reduction in charges on international economy flights is already in effect, while premium cabin bookings charges will be decreased from September 18, 2019.
More reward seats
Frequent Flyers will have access to more than a million extra reward seats annually on Qantas and a growing list of partner airlines including during peak leisure travel periods to popular destinations such as London, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Singapore.
Overall, the airline estimates members will enjoy up to 30 per cent increase in high-demand reward seats in Qantas International premium cabins over the next 12 months.
Members will also enjoy greater choice when travelling to destinations across Europe, New Zealand and South-east Asia through new frequent flyer agreements with Air New Zealand, China Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
Qantas Frequent Flyer will be the first Australian loyalty programme to offer Lifetime Platinum status. Entry to Lifetime Platinum will be reached by a member accruing 75,000 status credits, and adds to the existing Lifetime Gold and Lifetime Silver frequent flyer tiers. The new Lifetime tier will be introduced in September.
Changes to the search functionality will make finding reward seats quicker and easier – displaying 12 months of reward seats in under five seconds and letting members see the next available redemption flight for popular destinations every time you log into your account.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce commented: “We know the majority of our members want to use their points to take a dream trip overseas, so we are adding more reward seats as well as slashing carrier charges.
“While the points required for business class seats on international and domestic flights will increase slightly, it is the first increase in 15 years and the product has improved a lot in that time.”
Since its inception in 1987, the frequent flyer programme has grown from 50,000 members who could only earn points on travel to almost 13 million members who can earn points with more than 300 partners.
Qantas loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth said the changes take into consideration “extensive research into the habits and behaviours of frequent flyers”.
“While frequent travellers have always been at the centre of what we do, the growth of our programme and its hundreds of partners has provided opportunities for many members to now earn most of their points on the ground,” she said.
Further details on each of these changes will be provided to members as they are introduced.