Qantas popular Points Plane returns…this time LA

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Before the wheels have even left the ground on the first Qantas Points Plane, the airline announced this week it would be doing another Points Plane…this time to Los Angeles!  What adds a bit more excitement to this announcement is that the B747 will be used, a rare appearance on the  Australian – American route hop! It’s a great opportunity for B747 lover like myself who wants to see the Queen of the Skies off in style by flying her one last time (naturally).

With Qantas set to retire all its beautiful B747 fleet by the end of 2020 I cannot stress how great of an opportunity this is. Flight QF99 will depart from SYD for LAX on Sunday 13 October 2019.

Here’s what you need (points wise and excluding those pesky taxes) that you’ll need to secure the seat of your dreams:

  • 96,000 Qantas Points for business class
  • 72,000 Qantas Points for premium economy
  • 41,900 Qantas Points for economy

Qantas as part of its transition fleet plan will gradually replace its 747-400s with the company’s favourite plane of late, the B787 Dreamliner (I’m still yet to be a fan like Mr Alan Joyce).

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Will you be booking an seat on the second Points Plane? Keen to hear your thoughts.

Qantas launches new Frequent Flyer Program changes

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Qantas a couple of days ago without notice announced cryptically that it would be overhauling its frequent flyer program. Like many I was in a bit of a sweat about it thinking the potential was endless for the airline to come in with the wrecking ball and make the program to be frank, a lot worse. Today, I am glad to report that it isn’t anywhere near the doom and gloom that was reported online. So what has been announced and how will it affect you?

First up Qantas has announced there’ll be more seats up for grabs, with those dreaded carrier charges on most international Qantas flights reduced by as much as half. This is a big win for many as the carrier charges for QF currently have a large sting to them compared to their rivals when redeeming. You” require fewer Qantas Points when booking an economy seat on international flights but here’s the sting. Those looking to book something with a bit more leg room will be hit with higher amount of points for seats in premium economy, business class and first class.

The next bit of news is something I was apart of in terms of research late last year by the airline and this is the Qantas Points Club. Details are still sketchy but basically the Qantas Points Club will operate adjunct to the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme, unlocking flight and travel benefits for non-flying members including lounge access and bonus status credits. I think this has a lot of potential and am keen to see how it is delivered when it is launched December 2019.

Thirdly Qantas has earmarked five million seats on Qantas domestic and international flights annually, with up to 30% more premium economy, business class and even first class seats to popular destinations such as Singapore, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo. This is on top of 3-5 million seats on partner airlines, including new partners such as Air New Zealand, KLM Bangkok Airways and Air France.

Finally Qantas has opened up a new level of lifetime status, the coveted Lifetime Platinum but the catch is, to achieve it, it’s an eye watering and almost impossible 75K status credits to achieve. The new Lifetime Platinum status will commence in September 2019.

So what do you think of the announcement? Anything that excites or annoys you? Keen to hear your thoughts…

 

Qantas offers first plane bookable with points only

One of the biggest complaints for many frequent flyers is the inability to redeem their points/ miles for reward seats on airlines. The frustation of lack of availabilty means in turn frequent flyers are having points simply sit in their accounts. Qantas has been pushing the envelope of late when it comes to passenger experience. When they made an announcement on their next venture, it came at no surprise it’d be equally compelling.

The Australian airline has announced they’ll offer a series of dedicated frequent flyer redemption flights across their network with seats only available to those redeeming Qantas points. The innovatively titled Points Plane initiative will see the first plane to be bookable only on points depart 21 October 2019 from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita.

Using my personal favourite Qantas aircraft the A380, Qantas Frequent Flyer members will have the chance to book all 484 seats on this flight (14 first class, 64 business class, 35 premium economy, and 371 economy seats) at the ‘classic’ award level.

Redemption costs for the flight are:

  • Economy seat – 35000 Qantas points
  • Premium economy seat – 54000 Qantas points
  • Business class seat – 72000 Qantas points
  • First class seat – 108000 points

The seats are available on a first come first served basis. Those fortunate to be successful in booking a flight on the Points Plane can expect to be treated to a special inflight service that includes a cocktail and meal service, pajamas for all passengers (not just those in the front end or in the A380s case the top end) and inflight giveaways.

A return leg is also on offer for 26 October 26 2019 but those hoping for an A380 experience again will be disappointed to find the aircraft is an A330. Qantas believes those returning may stay beyond the initial date as part of their trip and so the aircraft does not require the same patronage.

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What do you think of the Qantas announcement? Would you be keen to book a trip on the Points Plane? I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

Etihad and Flybuys partnership to end this month

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Etihad has been going down a very sad and slippery slope the last year or two. After so much gloss and grandeur, the shine is really taking a beating on the airline. Like I have stated in the past and continue to say, Etihad to me wowed as a new kid on the block. Their premium product I felt was one of the best out there in aviation market.  Fast forward and Etihad is cutting and slashing like crazy to get itself back in the black. The latest cut is the Flybuys and Etihad Guest partnership with the three year old relationship set to dissolve on 31 July 2018.

The news comes after cardholders who had experienced issues being unable to convert their Flybuys points into Etihad Guest miles since December 2017. At the time the two claims it was down to ‘technical issue’.

From July 31 2018 linked members will no longer be able to redeem their Flybuys points for Etihad Guest Miles, collect Flybuys points via the Flybuys-Etihad booking portal or link their Flybuys and Etihad Guest memberships.

All outstanding Tier Miles from Flybuys will be credited to a traveller’s Etihad Guest account by the end of August 2018.

I’m not sure this is one of the smartest moves by Etihad as it had the potential to reach out to new audiences but then again I am not across the logistics of the partnership and whether the cost was worth the reward for Etihad at the end of the day.

 

 

Qatar puts the downgrade in upgrade

If you have dreamed of upgrading to a better flight experience from that tight economy seat after standing around a crowded terminal to a champagne in the lounge before boarding business – forget it with Qatar!

The Qatar based airline has made a change to their lounge access policy and it hasn’t come without strong criticism from those that fly loyal with the airline. Effective immediately Qatar Airways tickets upgraded with Qmiles/ Qpoints will receive the baggage and lounge access entitlements based on the original ticket purchased, and not the upgraded class. This means that economy to business class upgrades will no longer receive access to the Al Mourjan Lounge in Doha whilst those upgrading business to first class won’t receive access to the Al Safwa Lounge in Doha.

As stated before only Qatar Airways passengers booked on award tickets will still be eligible for lounge access.

The latest tightening on Qatar’s top end is a strange and unwelcome policy by an airline that prides itself on being prestige and class leading. Having flown as a QR business class passenger last year I can see how the lounge has the potential to experience overcrowding and in turn the airline in part is addressing crowding concerns. That said this is the top end we are talking about; the loyal flyers who frequently give Qatar business. Remove the incentives to fly with them and what do you have? A pretty average program.

I think Qatar could find other ways to cut costs or deal with this issue. Restrictions on tickets like this isn’t one of them.