So you’ve got the points – do you know what to do with them? Point Hacks, one of Australia’s biggest online communities of airline rewards experts, offers tips to ensure you successfully redeem your points for the flights you want.
According to frequent flyer expert and Point Hacks spokesperson Daniel Sciberras, “Securing award seats – also known as reward seats – takes patience, knowledge, and some creativity. It’s about getting in early, turning over every stone in your research, knowing the rewards programs to book through, and being a little flexible.”
Here are his eight tips for getting the award flight you want.
1. Know the airline partners your points can be redeemed with
If you have a Qantas Frequent Flyer membership, don’t limit your flight search to Qantas or Jetstar. Look into redemptions on partner airlines such as American Airlines, British Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates. Similarly, Velocity Frequent Flyers can redeem their points with airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Delta. When searching for Qantas or Velocity award flights using qantas.com or velocityfrequentflyer.com, partner flights show up automatically
2. Call your airline booking platform to access all options
When you search Qantas reward flights on the Qantas booking platform, or Velocity rewards flights on the Velocity booking platform, some partner airline flights won’t appear. If you aren’t happy with your flight search results, call Qantas or Velocity Frequent Flyer and ask if they can find additional flights. While this often comes at a small fee, it is worth it if you can find a suitable flight that is not otherwise available online.
3. Book early through the award calendar that opens first
The various airlines open their award seats around 300-355 days in advance. If you want to secure that award flight, it’s important to book as early as possible. This is particularly useful for routes with restricted availability, such as Australia to the US, and for premium-class seats. The Qantas award calendar opens 353 days in advance, Singapore Airlines 355 days and Velocity 330 days in advance. This means that those who book a Singapore Airlines flight with their KrisFlyer points will be able to book before a Velocity member.
4. Transfer your Velocity points to KrisFlyer or vice versa
Velocity and KrisFlyer are the only major programs that allow members to transfer points from one to the other. This is very handy if you find a flight on Singapore Airlines but only have enough Velocity points or find a flight on the Velocity site but only have enough KrisFlyer miles.
5. Sign up to independent award search platforms
ExpertFlyer.com, AwardNexus.com and KVSTool.com are independent platforms that can search for specific upgrades or award spaces on flights for you. You can set some of these platforms to alert you as soon as more reward flights are released.
Be flexible with flight routes. Be flexible with your calendar and the flight route you take. If a direct route reward flight is not available, be open to flying on connecting flights via another city. For instance, if you aren’t able to find a Sydney-LA direct flight on Qantas, consider going via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific – a Qantas Partner – and redeeming your Qantas Points.
Elite status can matter. Qantas makes more award seats available to those with a Gold or Platinum frequent flyer membership. If a family member has this level of membership – and enough points – they can even book on your behalf. Or consider doing a family transfer of points through both Qantas and Velocity for the amount of the reward booking. For those who have not reached frequent flyer royalty yet, Velocity Frequent Flyer may be the better option, as it does not discriminate by reserving its award seats for top-tiered flyers.
8. Keep checking up until the last minute
While it’s recommended you book early to increase your chances of finding award seats, don’t give up if you’re looking for an award redemption at the last minute. The likelihood of cancellations increase the closer you get to the flight, so it is worth checking the calendar regularly. For example, Velocity have been known to release a majority of their business class award seats to LA in the final week before departure.
Have you ever used your points to secure a flight? Did you get the flight you wanted or did you compromise?