Qantas offers ability to upgrade Reward flights


Qantas has announced that members will now be able to apply for a Flight Upgrade Reward if they have made a Classic Reward booking.  Unitl now,, the ability to apply for an upgrade has been limited to cash fares, with Classic Awards, purchased by using points, have been excluded from the Upgrade process.

The change, which came into effect on March 1, 2016, allows for upgrades to be made for the following:

  • Economy to Premium Economy
  • Economy to Business
  • Premium Economy to Business

This covers most of the options available, although it does exclude the ability to request an upgrade from Business to First.

In most other respects, an upgrade from an Reward ticket follow the rules and procedures of any other Upgrade Rewards. These processes vary between an Australian Domestc flight, and an International flight. The basic differences between the two are outlines below.

Upgrade a Domestic Flight

For a domestic flight, an Upgrade might be confirmed immediately – this will happen in the case that there was a Rewards seat avaliable in the Business cabin. If such a seat is not immediately available, you will enter a waitlist for the seat. This may, or may not, be confirmed in lead up to the flight.

Upgrade an International Flight

The process for an international flight operates somewhat differently. In particular, there is no immediate confirmation of the upgrade – all requests are basically put into a waitlise. For this reason, some Frequent Flyers refer to an international upgrade as entering a lottery. The result of the lottery becomes known in the days, or hours, before the flight

Is it worthwhile

Understanding if this provides good value, depends on the number of points required. To this end, Qantas have updated their Upgrade calculator. After this upgrade, it can now display the number of points needed to upgrade from a Classic Reward flight.

Using the tools available on the Qantas, we can compare various options. The obvious one is to compare the points required outright for a Reward versus the points required for a Reward one cabin down, then upgrading.

As an example, we can compare the cost of booking a Classic Reward from Melbourne to Los Angeles in Business, versus booking Melbourne to Los Angeles in Economy, and upgrading to Businss. What we find is:

  1. Straight out Business Reward: 96,000
  2. Economy Reward at  45,000  pt, _ Upgrade to Business 100,000 points – total: 145,000

This leaves us with the somewhat interesting position, that an upgrade reward is more expensive than buying the Reward outright. In fact, by going through the upgrade path, you would end up using more points than getting a First Reward (which comes in at 144,000 points).

On paper, then, this looks an expensive way of attaining a premium Reward, The calculation does assume, though, that the seats are available – when in fact, business reward seats between Melbourne and Los Angeles may be hard to come buy. This provides a route to getting an Economy seat, and trying your luck at an upgrade.






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