Flights you can easily afford with your frequent flyer points

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Have you accumulated a significant amount of frequent flyer points, but haven’t been able to find an available award flight? One of Australia’s leading frequent flyer experts has done the research and found popular flights that will maximise your chances of finding a seat when redeeming your points.

Point Hacks, an independent platform with one of Australia’s biggest communities of airline rewards experts, has found the award flights we are most likely to get across Qantas and Virgin Australia’s economy and business classes on eight popular routes. Point Hacks analysed flight availability both for early bird bookings (specifically, eight months out) and last-minute bookings (two days out).

“Generally, you will find more reward seats on airlines the further in advance you start looking, especially when their award calendar opens up. Most programs allow you to book award flights around 350 days before departure,” says frequent flyer expert Daniel Sciberras.

“When looking for either economy or business redemptions eight months out, Qantas appears to offer better availability for both domestic and international flights. For those spontaneous travellers, Virgin has the edge on business redemptions.”

plane taking off from denpasar airport

Route: Melbourne or Perth to Denpasar
Airline: Qantas
Class: Economy
Booking date: Early bird

Airline: Virgin
Class: Business class
Booking date: Last minute

Dreaming of jetting to Bali? Qantas has plenty of available seats in economy when booking eight months out, whether you’re departing from Perth or Melbourne. If you are booking at the last minute, you’re more likely to get an award seat on Virgin business class than Qantas economy and business.

Route: Melbourne to Tokyo (Haneda and Narita Airport)
Airline: Qantas (preferred) or Virgin Australia
Class: Economy or business
Booking date: Early bird

The Melbourne-Tokyo route has the greatest number of available reward seats across both airlines for those planning their trips ahead of time. Whether you’re looking to travel on economy or business class, Qantas reigns over Virgin in terms of seat availability eight months out.

Route: Sydney to Brisbane
Airline: Qantas or Virgin Australia
Class: Economy (Qantas preferred for last minute) or business (Virgin preferred for last minute)
Booking date: Early bird or last minute

Across both airlines, timeframes and classes, flying from Sydney to Brisbane is the easiest reward seat to get. If you’re looking to fly two days out, Qantas has more availability in economy, while Virgin has more in business by a small margin.

Route: Sydney to Perth
Airline: Qantas or Virgin Australia
Class: Economy or business
Booking date: Early bird

Airline: Virgin Australia
Class: Business
Booking date: Last minute

Interestingly, there are a small number of reward seats available when flying from the east coast to the west coast. Both airlines have fairly equal availability for an economy redemption, while Virgin has more availability for a business redemption for a flight two days out. If you’re planning for a flight eight months out, Qantas has more availability in both classes.

Route: Brisbane to Los Angeles
Airline: Qantas
Class: Economy
Booking date: Early bird and last minute

Airline: Virgin Australia
Class: Business
Booking date: Early bird and last minute

For an economy reward flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles, Qantas has more availability overall. When it comes to business class redemptions, Virgin is the one for both last-minute and planned flights, as it’s rare to find availability on Qantas.

Route: Sydney to Singapore
Airline: Virgin Australia
Class: Business
Booking date: Early bird and last minute

Airline: Qantas
Class: Economy
Booking date: Last minute

The eight-hour flight to the Lion City may call for the comforts of a business class seat, and Virgin has more availability over Qantas regardless of when you book – both two days or eight months in advance. There are also a good number of economy seats available, however your best bet for last-minute flights is with Qantas on economy. 

Route: Melbourne to London (Heathrow Airport)
Airline: Virgin Australia
Class: Economy
Booking date: Early bird

Airline: Qantas
Class: Economy
Booking date: Last minute

For early bird bookings from Melbourne to London, Point Hacks recommends Virgin for the volume of available economy award flights. Qantas has more availability on economy when booking two days in advance.

Route: Sydney to New York (JFK Airport)
Airline: Qantas or Virgin Australia
Class: Economy
When you can book: Early bird

Redeeming a flight with your points to the Big Apple is not an easy feat due to the limited number of award seats available – but it is possible. Qantas and Virgin have similar seat availability when booking eight months out on economy. Finding a business class reward seat may prove to be more challenging with Qantas, whether you’re looking to book two days or eight months out.

“There are several factors that can increase the number of available reward seats, such as an increase in flight schedules, using larger planes to service a route, more reward seats being made available by partner airlines and whether the destination is classified as business or leisure. For instance, the Sydney-Singapore route has more available seats, because both Qantas and Virgin Australia – via codeshare with Singapore Airlines – fly the large Airbus A380. Point Hacks regularly updates its website with information like this, as well as guides on reward flights – including how to search for seats and redeem your points,” says Mr Sciberra.

Have you ever used your points to book flights? Was it good value?

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Written by Point Hacks

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