Qantas premium cabin frequent flyer bookings impossible - potential fraud

When Qantas first introduced points, flying was more expensive. I flew most weeks, and I was routinely upgraded from (often discount) economy to first class. By routinely, I mean almost every time, each way. After Qantas acquired Australian, James Strong ended that, such that I could only get upgraded in one direction. I only had one international upgrade from Bus to FC for one leg, so international was different. Now, you have to buy practically any upgrade, or use a wad of points.

In the 90s, booking “reward” flights was easy. I took my wife and kids around Australia Bus Class on points - Melbourne Cairns, Darwin, Alice Springs, Uluru, Perth, back to Melbourne. All four of us were upgraded from BC to FC (they still had three classes) from Melbourne to Cairns. 4 seats, less than 150,000 points - no extra fees.

IIRC, economy between MEL-SYD was $527 I used to pay around $3.5 K for BC to LA. Since then, airline prices became much more affordable, and services were gradually downgraded. Qantas club breakfast went from fresh fruit salad with yoghurt made in-house and barista coffee to tinned fruit salad and cheap stuff, with button-pressed auto coffee machine coffee, and all other options went the same way. Flight clubs went from small rooms for a few business people to barns with hundreds of people jostling for a seat.

Airlines run on seat loadings. In the 1980s, seat prices were based on the airline being profitable at ~70% loading. You could almost always get a seat on practically any flight. Points seats effectively cost the airlines nothing, and they actually rewarded their best customers. Now, with so many people who previously could not afford to fly more than very occasionally, and deals on points with credit card providers and other vendors who pay the airlines money for them, they’ve become a form of pseudo-currency, but like Bitcoin, it’s unregulated. Caveat emptor.

They’re factored into flight load forecasts. You’ll never get a seat on a popular route at a time in high demand, because they want to collect whatever revenue they can get for those seats. You need to be creative. Pick the less popular flight times. Accept stopovers. Try the partner airlines. Accept that it’s going to be harder now than it once was.

I’m still trying to run down my Qantas points from way back in the 90s. Like @mark_m, I also lost a hefty swag of Ansett points. I’ve taken international flights on Qantas partner airlines, and when the points didn’t come through, I didn’t bother to collect them. They’re not that valuable. You have to really work hard to use them now. If you do the work, you can still get value, but don’t expect the airlines to make it easy. It’s a fallacy to assume that other airline programs will be any better. They study each other intently.

Airlines watch their forward booking loads to allocate “reward” seats, and not necessarily as far ahead as you’d think. They want to see how the booking trends are heading, and offer more generous rewards on the least valuable (to them, given the forecast sales data) seats. Their goal is to offer rewards on seats they are otherwise less likely to sell, making the cost zero, with the perceived value high.

As @Sketchergirl said, points are basically a con. The airlines show you pictures of the finest silk jackets, but deliver you the off-cuts from the fabric used to make them. You have to piece it together.

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UA has a better program, reward seats are easier to get, and points do not expire but true that seats are easier on the less popular routes. Have many airlines followed? I think not.

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This blog post has the current situation for international bookings. Previously to get a Business class seat on QF to the US you needed to book 353 days out AND be ready to hit the book button at precisely 10 am AEST. And be aware that others are likely to be doing the same, at the same time, so it’s a race. Now you still need to do this. and be a Platinum or Gold member, and hope the seats are released at this time.

have I flown in premium cabins on QFF points? Yes, many times, but I’ve never bothered with booking flights on QF, but have booked flights with partner airlines with superior cabins and service. International upgrades are also a reasonable lottery an reasonable value but your chances of winning are slim unless you’re travelling alone and have status. I have heard of people with no status winning the lottery.

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I was looking at to UK in Feb. The bar at the top of the FF booking page may say a deal is available on a day but it is impossible to progress as the fare can not be found.
I screen shot 30+ of these and sent to ACCC - waste of time.
Suggested I took it to Fair Trading in NSW - would have wasted more time.
We did find a points+pay deal on Cathay and there were some on Finnair if you had an extra day to spare but on Qantas - ZERO AVAILABILTY.

In my experience, the availability of points reward seats is linked to your level of FF. I believe the OP gained most of the points through a credit card, rather than actually paying for flights.

I have spent more than my fair share of time on planes and as a Patinum Qantas FF, seemed to have far more choice and availability of rewards seats. Now I no longer fly as much and have slipped down the ladder to a Silver FF, I often find no seats available (especially the classic rewards seats). I know this may be due in part to changing times (I was Platinum pre COVID) but also wonder about impact of your FF status and how you gained the points?

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I suspect the same now that I’m no longer a paid Qantas Club member or hold equivalent FF status. As a less frequent passenger on Virgin pre Covid though I always seemed to have access to reasonable points value for flights and seat availability. I had no problem using Velocity points at a good value when we flew to a wedding last year.

No longer a routine (weekly flier) post Covid my status has slipped back. Aside from the amount of flying needed to keep a higher status, for personal travel we don’t favour Qantas any more than other choices. Most of the FF points now only dribble through from CC points. Where possible I keep the CC or loyalty points seperate to the airline FF program and transfer when needed or there is a bonus offer and we are intending to travel.

If I have an opportunity to use points with the supermarkets, Woolies or Coles, I’ll use them as they accrue to get $10 or $20 off the shop rather than save up for a flight.

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Yes same experience. I tried back in Nov 2022 to use my points to book for July this year, was already no premium rewards seats. Qantas know they can (and did) sell all those seats, so had no intention of making the available available.

Try again in around 2025.

Yes absolutely correct. My husband was platinum and I was gold pre Covid and my husband’s illness. We never had issues upgrading or getting whatever seats we wanted.

Now it’s just me and have fallen to permanent silver. Useless other than flights on Bris to Syd or Mel. Only useful in that you can check in quicker. Even have to pay for Q club now. I was going to drop Q Club and have only retained it due to every flight I have been on in past 3 months has been at least an hour delayed. So another glass of wine …….

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You’re half right. QF doesn’t only look after its shareholders. It also looks after the politicians who protect it from competition.

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And those politicians have indeed protected it.

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Actually a common trick of treaties as well as mere airline skulduggery that in the former originally had a noble cause, eg getting international air services into secondary airports, and for the latter was to protect their own revenue. This is a variation on what is called the ‘hidden destination flight’. It is explained in this page.

https://www.alternativeairlines.com/hidden-city-flight

Nothing to do with protection in this case, although there are others that accusation could stick.

Not being able to use points with QF is well known. To me it borders on fraud. Why folk choose to fly a high priced low service near monopolist is beyond my comprehension.

But at least frustrated pax have points with which to transact (ok, possibly, transact).
I found a different kind of fraud.
In July I flew Scoot (TR), which now sells its itself not a 'budget airline" but as “Singapore Airline’s (SQ) little sister”.
I wanted to have air miles flown credited to my FF a/c, so went through the rigmarole, which necessitated emailing SQ because SQ’s KrysFlyer handles, so I understand, TR’s FF membership.
I supplied SQ/KrysFlyer my boarding pass and itinerary as emailed to me by TR.

But SQ/KrysFlyer will not credit me without me sending them the e-Ticket.
Breaking News SQ’ your little sister doesn’t issue eTickets. It issues itineraries with QR codes only.
Back and forth we go with me trying to have points credited to me.
So far, SQ blames TR for the delay and vice versa.
Both no doubt are thrilled that the clock - depending on who you listen to is 3 mths or 6 mths - is running out for missing miles to be credited.

FWIW I have never bought tickets that did not come with both etickets and the itinerary, often in separate emails, sometimes only by manual download from the ‘manage booking’ on the web site. So TR do not?

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Me too. I asked TR about this and they confirmed they do not issue eTickets (with numbers as is commonplace). Odd.