Introducing ‘Classic Plus’: Qantas Frequent Flyer changes now live

A new way to leverage Qantas Points is finally here – but how does it stack up?

Qantas has today commenced the roll out of a brand new way to use points with the introduction of Classic Plus Rewards.

Available to book from today on flights departing from July 1, 2024, Classic Plus offers redemptions at a fixed rate tied to commercial fare buckets, while providing increased availability of reward seats.

How does Classic Plus work?

This new tier of reward seats is a ‘supply and demand’ model. Rolled out with a not insubstantial investment of $100 million, it offers a redemption rate directly tied to the cash price of the airfare.

From today, Classic Plus redemptions are available on international flights departing Australia. Over multiple stages, availability will be switched on to other international flights and then across domestic routes by the end of this year.

We’re told that for now, Classic Plus will be offered on Qantas seats only – partner airline redemptions are not included.

Here’s a look at the approximate fixed value on offer with these redemptions, and how they compare with Classic Flight Rewards and Points plus Pay:

Flight Redemption Type:Value per point (approx)
Classic Plus – Economy redemption1 cent
Classic Plus – Premium Economy, Business or First redemption1.5 cents
Classic Flight Reward – all classes1 – 6 cents (varies, excludes carrier charges)
Points plus Pay0.59 cent

Unlocking greater flexibility

Like Points plus Pay bookings, Classic Plus redemptions are tied to commercial fare buckets. That means, they’ll be available as soon as cash airfares are loaded onto the Qantas website, and pricing will fluctuate in line with supply and demand.

Unlike ‘Points plus Pay’ bookings, Classic Plus redemptions will share the same change and cancellation fees as Classic Flight Rewards. This is a compelling value add, because it means that bookings can be changed or cancelled at relatively low cost. This flexibility could allow frequent flyers, for example, to book a Classic Plus reward, before snapping up a last minute, cheaper Classic Flight Reward if it becomes available.

It’s also possible to combine Classic and Classic Plus reward bookings, and to upgrade from Classic Plus bookings to a premium cabin.

Similar to Classic Flight Rewards, members of Qantas Points Club who fly on Classic Plus redemptions will be able to earn status credits.

How to book Classic Plus via the Qantas website

International Classic Plus redemptions originating in Australia are now available to book via the Qantas website, for flights departing from 1 July 2024. International flights departing from other ports are expected to be added in the next few months, with domestic flights rolled out towards the end of the year.

To lock in your flight, simply search on the Qantas website as you normally would and select the ‘Rewards’ option. Handily, you can view both Classic and Classic Plus redemption availability on the drop down calendar when inputting travel dates:

Where available, results for both reward types will show up on the same screen, with availability for the cheapest reward flight to be shown as the default. The Classic Flight Reward will continue to show a red ribbon icon, while Classic Plus displays blue:

Will the launch of Classic Plus result in fewer Classic Reward seats?

When it comes to using Qantas Points for maximum value, Classic Flight Rewards remain the redemption goal to aim for.

Qantas has committed to releasing 5 million Classic Flight Reward seats annually, a commitment that is expected to remain in place, even with the inclusion of the new Classic Plus tier. Having said that, it’s unclear how many of the 5 million reward seats over the next 12 months will be offered on international routes in premium cabins of travel, as opposed to less desirable domestic economy seats.

With Classic Plus in the mix, it’s possible that Qantas may choose to release less seats on popular routes, or to pull back on their popular, ad-hoc ‘points planes’ promotions. Without public access to a transparent inventory breakdown of the 5 million seats on offer, it’s difficult to know.

In conclusion

The initiative announced by Qantas today has been in the works for some time, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. In real terms, the Qantas Frequent Flyer program hasn’t undergone a significant overhaul since 2019.

Over the past five years, the Qantas Frequent Flyer has experienced substantial growth in membership, with points earning opportunities expanding. As a result, many Australians have accumulated substantial frequent flyer balances, yet they are struggling to find ways to effectively redeem them for high-value.

Members who are able to snap up a Classic Flight Reward should continue to do so, as this continues to offer the best way to leverage Qantas Points.

But with a current Qantas Frequent Flyer membership base of approximately 15 million, only about one-third of members are in a position to secure a single Classic Flight Reward each year, and competition for these seats will continue to grow.

With significant flexibility on offer, the new Classic Plus award is likely to hold broad appeal to a range of travellers, especially when enhanced availability is available.

It’s important to consider that the increased investment by Qantas in Classic Plus redemptions will come at a significant cost. That cost could be passed onto consumers and business owners in the form of less generous points earning, as Qantas Loyalty’s large stable of partners may be forced to pay more for points. Time will tell.

The author has travelled to Sydney at her own cost to attend today’s Qantas Loyalty media briefing as a guest of Qantas

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1 thought on “Introducing ‘Classic Plus’: Qantas Frequent Flyer changes now live”

  1. Avatar for Dave Mansfield

    All this does is reduce the value of the points. = save Qantas money.
    15 million members now in The FF club. Tooo many
    Just booked return flights to Japan , Qantas was substantially more expensive. Look for the best deal don’t stay with Qantas.

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