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.

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 Business Class tickets, or asking for an upgrade after buying an economy fare.

The cash equivalent of a point when spent like this can be 5-6 cents (AU$0.05 -0.06)

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 Window Seats Overrated?

Advantages

Its great to be able to get views like the one in the photo.

Some people like to lean against the side of the plane to sleep. (Although I have never found that much benefit)

You won’t have people asking you if they can get passed.

Disadvantages

On lots of trans ocean flights there is not a lot to see for the majority of the flight.

For long haul the flight attendants want the window blinds closed for the majority of the flight. (They say its so people can see the video screens better. . . . I think they just want everyone to either sleep, or be absorbed in the movies, so there is less for them to do)

If you want to go to the toilet, or just stretch your legs you have to get someone else to move.

My Travel Hacks

  • Well I always go for an aisle seat when travelling long haul, but aim for a window seat for flights less than about 3 hours.
  • If you want the clearest view its best to avoid the side of the airplane that will be in the sun.
  • Use Seat Guru to avoid a seat directly over the wing.

Lost Luggage

I hear that Airlines performance with checked luggage is getting better.

According to a SITA Baggage Report for 2017 about one bag for every 170 passengers fails to arrive at the carousel.

Only a small proportion of those cases are permanently lost, around 1 case per 2,500 customers.

Reason for loss

Almost half of all cases of lost checked in luggage is due to the case going missing when changing planes, particularly when there is a tight connection.

I would say my experience tends to back up the figures in the last ten years and a couple of hundred flights my checked in bags have got missing 3 times.

Twice with transfer times of much less than an hour.

The other time it got held up in immigration at Los Angeles even though the transfer time was 6 hours.

Every time the bags have turned up within 24 hours.

My Travel Hacks

After 3 occurrences I now rarely check in luggage, even if I am travelling for a couple of weeks.

Even when I check in luggage I still have my carry-on with 4-5 days of clothes.

Flying to the US I aim to stay at least one night at the place where I go through immigration.

Flight Booking Sites

All the flight booking websites tell you they find the cheapest flights.

What they really mean is that they find you the cheapest airline that pay them a booking fee.

Often there are cheaper options, but its knowing where to look.

Google Flights

One site I regularly use is Google Flights.

The reason I prefer their site is they do tell you if there are airlines that fly the route, even if they don’t pay a commision.

For example check this screen shot from a flight search from Chicago to Los Angeles.

You will see that there are a couple of flights listed by South West as ‘Price Unavailable’

Southwest is a large American budget airline that doesn’t pay commission to websites.

Unlike many budget airlines their standard fares booked on their own website include checked bags.

Disclaimer I haven’t been paid or received any other reward for this post

How do you find the cheapest flights

You Won’t Get A Free Upgrade

Almost every site that publishes Travellers Hacks has advice about getting free upgrades.

Well in something over 300 flights I have had 5 free upgrades to Business Class and around 7 free upgrades to Premium Economy . . . . . so here some reasons why you, and I, probably won’t get an upgrade on the next flight.

Spare Seats In Economy

The airlines don’t like paying for more expensive meals, wine and amenities so most upgrades are only when economy is overbooked.

A Cheap Ticket

There are an enormous range of ticket prices for the same plane.

Most of us go for a basic ticket non refundable ticket on a certain flight.

Business people although flying economy may have a refundable ticket that can be changed at any time.

Their ticket may cost 2-3 times as much as yours yours, so its no surprise they may be ahead of you in the queue for an upgrade.

Low Frequent Flyer Status

First to be considered for upgrades are high status, frequent flyers.

All but two of my free upgrades were several years ago, when I was a Qantas Gold Status frequent flyer.

You Aren’t Alone

During the time I was high status I was upgraded several times when travelling alone.

Travelling with my wife I was never upgraded.

That’s because it’s easier to upgrade individuals than couples.

You Created A Bad Impression

This one doesn’t apply to me as I always tried to be empathetic.

I do however see a lot of people who behave badly at check in.

What many don’t realise is the staff who check in a flight are also those who then go to the gate.

Upset them at check in, and your chance for a late upgrade at the gate are gone.

Why do you think you missed out on an upgrade?