Using Points for International Upgrades

I don’t consider using frequent flyer points for domestic flight upgrades as I can put up with an economy seat for 4 hours.

Long haul is a different matter and I have upgraded several times.

When Do You Get Upgraded?

Your request will only be processed in the day or two prior prior to the flight as they are hoping that there will be a late full fare booking to fill any vacant seats.

Often I have only found out I have been approved at check in.

Status Matters

Often there are more people wanting an upgrade with points than there are seats available.

Qantas along with every other airline gives first opportunity to higher status members.

So its first chance to Chairman’s Lounge members ; followed by Platinum One members, Platinum members, Gold members, then Silver and finally Bronze.

Other Factors

It is not really clear; but I believe that your fare class can influence your chances, with a budget fare booked months in advance being less likely to be allowed to upgraded than an expensive fare booked within a short time of the flight..

I’ve also found its often easier to get an upgrade for a single cabin level improvement so going from Economy to Premium Economy is easier than going from Economy to Business.

What Are Your Points Worth

As I know a fair bit about One World Awards, through QANTAS Frequent Flyer points I will concentrate on those.

Based on my experience from other airlines including Star Alliance and Sky Team however I have found most loyalty schemes are very similar.

The points value depends on what you want to buy.

N.B.Values updated to reflect announced changes in June 2019

Worst Value

Buying gifts or gift vouchers is the worst value.

I would get an email every week with offers from the Qantas gift shop to buy luggage, cameras, electrical goods,etc; using my points.

When I check the points against local discount store prices it looks like its around one cent (AU$0.01) for every 2 points.

About the only time I would look at buying something from an airline ‘shop’ would be if the points were set to expire, and I was unable to book a flight,

Better Value

Buying an economy flight with ‘Classic Awards’ is much better value.

Although you will still have to pay Taxes and ‘Carrier Charges’ each point is worth between 1.5 – 2 cents (AU$0.015 – 0.02)

N.B. The points value if using ‘Points plus Pay’ is generally around half the ‘Classic’ award rates (not much better that gifts) although there is better availability of flights.

Best Value

The best value on a strictly points for cash basis is either, buying Higher Class tickets, or asking for an upgrade after buying an economy fare.

The cash equivalent of a point when spent like this can be around 5 cents (AU$0.05)

The problem is that very few Business Class seats are released for Frequent Flyers which makes them fairly hard to get.

When I had higher (Gold Status) it was easier to get upgraded tickets.

Conclusion

Understanding the value of points means you can better compare collecting points compared with other discounts you may be offered.

Collecting Points

There are a huge range of ways of collecting frequent flyer points.

With flying a lot less now I am retired a very small proportion that I collect are actually earned flying.

Qantas

As Australians we find it more useful to concentrate on collecting Qantas points, as they more useful to us.

Here are the the ways my wife and I collected 217,453 Qantas Points in the past year:

  • Credit cards and banking 175,605 (81%) – Including changing credit card with a 100,000 bonus.
  • Flights 20,750 (9%) – Of the 29 flights we took only 6 earned us Qantas points.
  • Shopping 16,530 (7%) – Mainly Woolworth supermarket and fuel.
  • Surveys 4,568 (3%) – I am registered with a Qantas survey site which pays me in points to do marketing surveys.

Even though we are keen points collectors we didn’t earn anything on restaurant meals, car hire, hotels, travel money, or insurance.

To give you an idea of what those points are worth we used them, with some points previously collected, for 2 Business Class single tickets to London in May this year (128,000 points each)

Other Airlines

I also collected 14,125 Emirates points and 3,400 Lufthansa points from trips to Iran and Bangkok .

No Additional Spending

None of the points we have gained have resulted us in any additional expenditure over what we would otherwise have spent.

We did get a new premium credit card but I have previously explained there are offsetting savings with that card.

Why not look to finance some of your holidays with Frequent flyer points?

Disclaimer I haven’t been paid or received any benefit from this post.

Are Frequent Flyer Programs Worthwhile?

Well I am in four programs, Qantas, Lufthansa, Virgin, and have just joined Emirates Skywards so I find them worthwhile.

This year we will be flying business class to London from Melbourne using Qantas Points. (Sadly we will be paying to fly home)

We will also be taking 5 individual one way flights around Europe courtesy of Lufthansa points earned from a ’round the world’ trip in 2017.

Over the last ten years we have taken at least one overseas journey every year on points.

Some of the basics to understand, which will be covered in later posts are;