QANTAS: Redeeming points for flights is a bit of a disaster right now, according to Australian Frequent Flyer
Pre-pandemic, I have successfully redeemed Qantas FF points for 1st class on a Qantas A380 to London. Even after the pandemic struck, I have been able to regularly upgrade domestic economy to business on points and have even booked a fare from Uluru to Sydney in business using points.
However, trying to find anything besides an economy Classic Rewards ticket to London or anywhere on Qantas for the next 365 days is about as productive as looking for a needle in a haystack.
As an educated frequent flyer and reader, I am sure you already understand that redeeming frequent flyer points for anything other than flight upgrades and Classic Reward redemptions is akin to burning bank notes!
Not just my experience
I’m highlighting this because I can echo Australian Frequent Flyer’s (AFF) experience in trying to find premium seats on international flights. AFF and Editor Matt Graham have done the work, so I am not going to repeat the saga here.
I direct you to the article: Qantas Points ‘The Envy of the World”? Absolutely Not!‘ on the AFF website.
Set out below are the salient points Matt covers:
- Reward tickets, even if confirmed, are not safe – if any airline on your itinerary changes a flight
- Qantas Call Centres (except for the Tasmanian premium centre – only available to Platinum and above flyers) – often offered incorrect advice, inadvertently cancel bookings, or do not ticket correctly
- Classic Reward availability is very thin on the ground for anything but economy seats at the moment
- Qantas has higher charges, including tax and carrier fees than almost any other OneWorld alliance member or partner
- Qantas points are easy to earn and really hard to spend on Classic Rewards.
The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.
It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.
This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.
I know that things are tight for all airlines at the moment, and Qantas is not the only airline where redeeming points has become difficult. The thing that sticks in all of us frequent flyers’ throats about Qantas is that they big-note Points Planes, and boast about how many rewards they have flooded the market with, but the reality and users’ experience tends to contradict them.
I understand that in the layoffs Qantas made during the pandemic, they might have lost some call centre staff with extensive knowledge and that it will take time to restore that. But, tell us that, and introduce an escalation system where mistakes can be rectified and a timeline for when full pre-pandemic call centre service will be restored.
I would much prefer more honesty from Qantas. Let them admit they are restricting premium redemptions and that the compensation is Points Planes and more economy seat redemptions. Tell us when they hope to restore the number of redemptions in premium cabins to pre-pandemic numbers. Is that too much to ask from the ‘Spirit of Australia’?
And finally, fix your website. It’s a slow-burning unholy dumpster of a mess. It takes an eon to return redemption options, and you can no longer access the date grid showing classic reward availability for a month or so at a time. Or, maybe I’m just searching wrong. I’m sure someone decided to eliminate that for a reason – presumably so customers can’t see that there are no premium awards available. In reality what it does is make us all spend way more time on your site desperately searching for availability, multiple times. That adds to the work your dusty website servers have to do, and I am sure inhibits its efficiency even further!
Qantas, I love you, but I’m finding it more and more difficult to defend your actions.
What did you say?