Frequent flyer revamp a good thing?

Qantas’ recent overhaul of its frequent flyer program has been met with both praise and criticism, and a healthy dose of sarcasm from its number one rival, Virgin.

Qantas claims its revamp will mean 13 million members will pay fewer fees, have access to more seats and the ability to earn extra points while on the ground.

The biggest change will be access to more seats for members, with more than one million extra seats allocated annually to Frequent Flyers heading to London, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Singapore.

There will also be fewer fees and carrier charges when redeeming points.

Those flying overseas in economy will need to use fewer points for a Classic Reward seat.

However, those wanting to redeem points in first class, business and premium economy will be stung with a 15 per cent fee increase. Upgrades to premium cabins will face a nine per cent increase.

“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,” said Mr Joyce.

The new ‘Points Club’ program will also reward members without having to earn points in the sky. Once a member passes an annual criteria they will be placed in one of two tiers. Flight and travel benefits for non-flying members in the entry level Points Club will include lounge access and bonus status credit as well as offers and discounts with Qantas partners. ‘Points Club Plus’ member, which require a higher annual threshold for entry, will enjoy ‘richer’ member benefits.

Qantas Loyalty allows customers to earn redeemable points by booking flights, shopping at partnering retail stores such as Woolworths or by using linked credit cards.

War for loyalty
Within days of the big overhaul, Virgin capitalised on the Qantas revamp by posting this billboard outside Sydney Airport’s domestic terminal.

With Qantas saying its frequent flyer revamp was the biggest overhaul in the program’s 32-year history, Virgin Velocity responded with “Huge news. Nothing’s changed”, to highlight its own loyalty program’s consistency and highlight the uncertainty around Qantas.

According to Mumbrella, a Virgin Velocity spokesperson said that Velocity “continues to be the best-value airline loyalty program in Australia”, with no joining fee, the best reward seat availability, the most points earned per dollar spent, the lowest number of points required for flight redemption and seat upgrades, and lower related fees and charges.

A Qantas hit back at the dig saying: “Fair point. Some things haven’t changed. Qantas still has the number one frequent flyer program. We still have the biggest and best ways to earn. And we are still the only Australian airline that flies to Europe, Africa, South America and half of Asia (or most of the globe). But the changes we have made have certainly been huge news for our members.”

New routes announced
In other Qantas news, the airline is set to grow its US network, after announcing new direct routes from Brisbane to San Francisco and Chicago.

The Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft is expected to launch by the end of April 2020. Qantas will operate the flights four times per week between Brisbane and Chicago, giving Qantas customers access to 30 additional unique one-stop destinations from Australia and the ability to connect to more than 200 onward destinations from Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.

The direct service from Brisbane will save customers more than six hours of travel time on a Chicago return trip.

Qantas will now also fly three times per week between Brisbane and San Francisco.

“This is fantastic news for Queensland. It demonstrates the confidence that we have in the local tourism industry and our commitment to the Sunshine State,” said Mr Joyce.

“This will give Qantas and American Airlines customers unprecedented access. These flights will make it one stop from Chicago to Hamilton Island or San Francisco to Townsville.

“I’d like to acknowledge the support of the Queensland Government, Brisbane Airport Corporation and Tourism Australia for helping to make these new Dreamliner routes a step closer to reality, and we will work together on joint marketing to showcase the state and boost tourism,” he added.

Will you benefit from the overhaul? What do you think of Virgin’s response? Which airline has the best loyalty program? Will you take advantage of the new routes?

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