I’m starting to plan a holiday to the US next year and thought I should use the backlog of points I’d accrued over the years (mostly via a credit card connected to my home loan). Since I have quite a few points I thought it would be nice to fly premium economy or even business. However, even in May 2024 there does not seem to be a single Qantas operated seat available from Melbourne or Sydney direct to any US destination in premium economy or business. Any seats that are available are with partner airlines and require stops in other countries that turn what should be a 14 hour direct flight into a 32+ hour odyssey.
If Qantas were honest and stated that they do not in fact offer premium cabin seats via frequent flyer point redemption then fair enough. But they clearly state that it is possible to do so on pages such as Qantas Points Calculators | Frequent Flyer.
I see that there is a note on this page stating “Classic Flight Rewards are subject to availability.” but if availability is in fact nil and is always nil, then this seems like fraud.
Perhaps this is a first world problem but lots of Australians like to travel and I’m sure plenty go out of their way to make purchases that maximise points earning.
I’m wondering if I should contact the ACCC as this seems to fall under the umbrella of ’ False or misleading claims’.
Has anyone here had recent success in booking direct flight, premium cabin seats with Qantas frequent flyer points?
Booking a flight with frequent flyer/velocity points is different to booking with cash.
An airline needs to release seats which can be booked using points. They might chose not to release seats for popular routes, as they know they can be sold…or might only release a very limited number of seats on each route.
This website explains it well…
As points are a cost to the airlines, they impose conditions on how they can be used. These conditions need to be accepted if one decides to participate in the program.
“I see that there is a note on this page stating “Classic Flight Rewards are subject to availability.” but if availability is in fact nil and is always nil, then this seems like fraud.”
You have indicated that there are seats available on flights which operated by partner airlines. So there is some availability, but these flights are unsuitable for you. As indicated above, not all routes and flights have points seats.
Also, do Qantas fly these routes or use code share partners? If Qantas operate their own planes, are there any economy seats available for point redemption?
It is also possible that Qantas hasn’t released any points seats yet, and are waiting to see how the flight filling goes before releasing points seats.
As you have indicated, you are at the mercy of Qantas to make point seats available.
Try one of their partner airlines
When I flew to the US semi-regularly, I often found that I could not get a business seat. I’d fly Air NZ, or less frequently, a US carrier. It might not be a direct flight, but it’s often better to break up a long flight with a short stopover. I used to like having a shower in Auckland at the airline lounge and putting on fresh clothes before breakfast over the ditch, arriving home feeling refreshed rather than grungy.
I’d rather not turn what should be a 14 hour direct flight into a 32+ hour odyssey
@phb have you had recent success in booking direct flight, premium cabin seats with Qantas frequent flyer points?
@CaptJack have you had recent success in booking direct flight, premium cabin seats with Qantas frequent flyer points?
No, but have used points to offset cost of paid flight. Coincidentally did it this afternoon when booking some Jetstar domestic economy seat flights. Using a small number of points we have left before they expire.
@sifra177 - the issue you raised is not unheard of. Many QF ffers have experienced the same frustration for years - millions of QFF points yet could not use them to redeem for premium international seats. Of course the airline said if you are points ‘rich’, you could redeem them for any flight - about 5 x or more as much as classic awards!
I understand that you have looked almost a year out and there should be something available. I have checked for the May 2024 there are actually a few Y+ (premium economy) available for classic award redemption on certain dates for 81,300 QFF points each way between SYD and LAX for both outgoing and incoming (direct QF11 and QF12). Not sure how many seats you searched? If anything more than 2 then it might show not be available.
At the moment QF has a 30% off on points plus pay (outrageous number of points are required), so I suspect why they don’t release classic J or F award seats. So, if you have 300K+ points then you can book a Y+ seat, or 700K+ a J seat between SYD and LAX for direct QF flights - not impossible, but you must have these points to use them.
The name of the game for savvy FFers is to plan well ahead (like you have done) but unfortunately you will need to keep checking the QF website for availability. Flying with QF partners is not that bad, eg AA.
We used to live in the UK and each year hubby went back to Oz to see his elderly mother at least once a year, normally around Christmas time - the holy grail time to find FF seats anywhere in the world. However, we often managed to get him J or F with one of these airlines such as BA, CX, AY, QR, EY, AA using a number of ff points we had with various airlines - because we searched and booked 11 months out, as soon as these airlines released their FF seats.
Recently we returned from 5 weeks trip to the Middle East, Europe, UK and Singapore using up most of our FF points flying F and J - 7 flights with 5 airlines (one including QF but we did not use QF points, we used another airline points). We booked all the flights 11 months out and it took us a month to actively checking availability for all the flights we wanted.
The main thing I want to say here, is plan well ahead (which you seemed to have done) and keep checking for availability. When you see what you want, then book it straightaway. Don’t wait until ‘tomorrow’ because sometimes airlines only release 2 J seats to all their partner airlines and if you hesitate then someone else grabs them.
If you want to learn more about how FFers manage to redeem their points at the pointy end of the planes, then check out the australianfrequentflyers forum. It is not impossible, just need to be flexible and plan ahead. I know some people have complained that they cannot find award seats for their whole family in J or F during the school holidays or major holidays like Easter and Christmas. Hello? what do expect when airlines only release a very limited number of award seats?
Thanks for your comments @whichchoice - it’s interesting that you could find some seats.
I tried quite a few dates and combinations, but I did get cheesed off after a while as I seem to get an error regularly when I do a number of multi city flights searches. I wonder if they think I’m a bot!
Do you have a recommended technique to find seats?
I’ll check the webiste you mentioned.
Here are screen shots of what I found for SYD - LAX, just some random dates in May 2024. See premium Y classic award seats cost 81,300 one way for 10/5, 13/5, 15/5 and 16/5. You should just search for city pairs and not multi city.
and for return flights, again random dates in May 2024 (19/5, 20/5, 21/5, 22/5 and 23/5):
See the points plus pay - exhorbitant points required
Good luck! I hope you find some Y+ award seats for May 2024 suitable for your timetable.
Just want to add that unless you are QFF points ‘rich’, it is not worthwhile to use them for points plus pay seats (crazy to waste points like that). Go for the classic reward seats - when you can find them. Else, just pay cash for the seats! There are no J or F award seats available. But you can easily check by clicking on Business and First. You will learn much from the AFF forums - tons of helpful information. Savvy FFers do not learn the tips and tricks overnight, it takes them years to refine their skills.
All the best.
Not since pre-pandemic. Last time I got bus-class seats from Hong Kong on Cathay using points was 2017 or '18. Haven’t been to “gun central” in 20 years…and never on holiday.
Qantas!! waste of time trying to fly with them. I have loads of points that once might have given me seats on international flights, now they would barely get to Brisbane. Points are a con pure and simple.
I suggest that many people contributing here operate under a misconception, and the misconception is that Qantas cares about what you think. Under its present administration it has demonstrated time after time that the only people who matter are the shareholders. The rights of frequent flyers, or ticket buyers, of people who hold points, do not matter. You will find that when you or a whole class of passengers complain the right sounds will be made but nothing will change. No tickets on any route, domestic (especially the real cash cow … the Melbourne Sydney route) or international (especially to English language destinations, UK, USA) will be available on flights or at times and dates that are important, will be available. And your various contributors are correct. It doesn’t matter how you modify your hopes or change your routes, unless you wish to travel via Kazahkstan or Yemen, forget it. The only answer is if all of us change not flights but airlines. The myth that Qantas is still an Australian airline has been untrue for more than a decade, and it intensifies every year that people continue to put up with it.
It’s not a myth. It’s an Australian registered business and must retain at least 51% Australian ownership. Notionally at least, considering several Australian asset/funds managers are significant shareholders. Who the funds ultimately benefit, they serve a mix of Australian and foreign clients.
When Qantas first introduced loyalty points reward seats were hard to come by. When Virgin brought real competition that changed and the options to use points plus available seats improved markedly. My observations, politely offered, are rewards points are an optional extra. If there is any entitlement it needs to be considered along side ones paid or otherwise club membership and accumulated personal status credits. Note that both deliver different tiers including greater rewards. Whether it seems fair or not the tiered system of recognition may also extend to the availability of rewards seats.
Not always an option! Best to take the best deal on the day, and use any rewards points as they accrue, points plus pay being one option, IMO. I’m slightly one eyed on not accruing points for some would be flight booking. Air NZ taught me through the loss of my significant hoard of Ansett points somethings are not assured.
The airline retains the right to how and when reward points can be used. It’s a gamble as to availability of discounted rewards seats. Fair or not?
I agree - there is never any availability in Business for direct flights to the US no matter how far ahead you look so it is really fraudulent to pretend otherwise. It’s also incredibly contemptuous of them to make us waste so much time fruitlessly.
While it’s even worse since Covid Qantas was always unreasonably mean with long haul Business Class seats with airmiles. We used to travel frequently to LA and used my mother’s American Airlines miles, with less surcharge than Qantas would have charged had a seat been available - and the flights were on a Qantas plane!
I will be cancelling my credit card that gives Qantas miles and will use another one that offers mileage accumulation on other airlines. And I won’t be flying Qantas when there is any choice.
It a well complained about issue with Qantas classic rewards seats on popular international routes.
See When does Qantas release reward seats? 
Essentially they can be released up to 353 days out from depature, but only Gold and above frequent flyers can access them at this point. Sliver members can access from 323 days, and Bronze from 297 days.
There are a very limited number of seats released, and they are generally snapped up by high status frequent flyers first. If you’re a regular Bronze frequent flyer you need to be pretty lucky, and be looking at the site at the right time when they batch of seats is released.
Ugrades by points are also pretty hard to come by as priority goes according to frequent flyer status. You can make a request 6 months out, but if a Platinum FF makes a request 3 days out they will trump you. Also, it depends on the individual flyer’s status. So if you are Platinum but your travel partner is Bronze, you may get the upgrade but your travel partner likely won’t.
The Qantas Frequent Flyer Program is actually quite profitable for the airline, but that’s primarily from the fees they charge companies to participate in the program.
It is not just premium seats with QF. Last year I must have logged in at ‘the moment of release’ and found a cross pond coach seat for a rellie at the classic reward level and grabbed it. A day later none to be found regardless of the window searched. Seats ‘costing’ 2x and most often more could still be found for a few weeks.
It seems the program serves its purpose of rewarding the most profitable regular flyers (platinum then gold) regardless it is ‘sold’ to the average punter who might take years to acquire enough miles for even a basic premium in their ‘Rewards store’.
A newer irritating feature to the QF program is the ability to bid miles for upgrades. Perhaps a leader from the real estate industry was hired into the leadership team?