Using your points for upgrades

Esme wonders if it’s worth using her frequent flyer points for business class, or if there’s a better way to get a seat near the pointy end of the plane. So, in Travel SOS, Leon offers his take on points for upgrades.

Q. Esme
I’ve been saving my Qantas frequent flyer points for years and I’m wondering if it’s best to use them to buy an economy flight or if I should buy my economy seat then use my points to upgrade to business class. I don’t want to waste them, so, is this the best use of my points?

A. It’s a great question, Esme. There are many ways to use your points, but if you ask me (which you have done), I’d say that using them for upgrades will give you the best value.

You can use your points to buy economy flights, but by the time you pay for taxes and other charges, often the cost of the flight will exceed what you’d pay in cash.

My tip is to pay for an economy seat, then either use your points outright on an upgrade. Say you were going with Qantas to Los Angeles from Melbourne, if you bought an economy ticket you would get a business class upgrade for around 45,000 points. You’d get a premium economy upgrade for around 18,000 points.

Qantas actually has an upgrade calculator to help you work out how many points you’ll need for an upgrade.

Qantas also has a program called Bid Now Upgrades that allows you to use a mixture of cash and points to ‘bid’ on an upgrade. This may be a way you can get your upgrade without ‘spending’ all your points. Sometimes you can pick up an international upgrade for as little as 5000 points.

I hope that helps, Esme!

Do you have any experience using your points to upgrade? Was it worth it?

Related articles:
How does upgrade bidding work?
How to get travel upgrades
Qantas upgrades by invitation

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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