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Qantas cloaks international flights, pushes domestic options

July 15, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Qantas – which recently removed from its website mention of almost all its international flights through to the end of March 2021 (except for flights to New Zealand) – has now made it easier for its frequent flyers to use their points on domestic and trans-Tasman flights, by boosting reward seat availability.

As more travellers look closer to home for their next holiday, Qantas is concentrating on routes and markets more in demand, while the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic that has brought the aviation industry to its knees.

“Australia is home to world-class destinations and Qantas is making it easier for frequent flyers to visit them,” the airline’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, said.

Executive Traveller, and then several other publications, noted the Qantas move to pull most of its international flights from its website.

The flights themselves have not been cancelled and all existing bookings remain in place, but would-be flyers cannot make new bookings on any overseas Qantas route except for flights to New Zealand.

For instance, anyone searching for Qantas flights to points in Asia, North America or Europe before the onset of the Northern Summer schedules (28 March 2021) is being shown only flights operated by selected Qantas partner airlines, such as Emirates, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

In a parallel move, Qantas yesterday increased the incentive for its frequent flyers to fly domestically and, where possible, to New Zealand. Many international flights (including those to New Zealand) currently involve two weeks compulsory quarantine on arrival, a daunting prospect indeed – but that’s not the case with most domestic flights.

For the rest of 2020, Qantas will increase Classic Flight Reward seat availability by up to 50% per cent to the most popular destinations in Australia and New Zealand including Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Sydney, Queenstown and Auckland (when flights recommence).

Boeing 737-800. Source: Qantas

To help regular flyers maintain their travel benefits, Qantas Frequent Flyer will also be giving tiered members Silver and above a one-off Status Credits bonus to compensate for reduced flying activity.

Qantas said yesterday the increased availability and status support were part of a raft of initiatives from the loyalty program designed to give members more value from their upcoming holidays and the broader program.

Other program improvements include:

Extra Status Credits: To help our most frequent flyers maintain their benefits throughout travel restrictions, eligible Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members will automatically receive 50% of the Status Credits they need annually to keep their tier.  Members most impacted, such as those whose membership year started at the peak of travel restrictions, will also be eligible for additional monthly Status Credits support. Loyalty Bonus’ for members will now also count towards reaching or retaining Platinum One until 31 December 2021.

Better value on accommodation: The number of points required for Points Plus Pay Qantas Hotels bookings will decrease by 20 per cent effective immediately. For a limited time, members will also receive 5000 points back when they book a minimum of 3 nights and on selected Qantas Luxury offers earn up to 125 bonus Status Credits when they book before Monday 31 August 2020.

Greater flexibility: To enable members to plan their holidays with more confidence, bookings made using points on Qantas Group flights will have any change or cancellation fees waived until 31 October 2020.

More Points Planes: Qantas Frequent Flyer will launch more Points Planes – exclusive flights for frequent flyer redemptions – to meet the pent-up travel demand of members and boost Australian tourism. Timings and destinations of the flights will be released over the coming months.

Improved digital experience: Qantas Frequent Flyers will soon have a new way to plan their holidays with points. ‘Dream Planner’, launching on 28 July 2020, uses real time data and notifications to keep members informed on reward seat availability and special offers to their preferred destinations.

Joyce said the changes were good news for Qantas frequent flyers and for tourism.

“We’re adding more Points Planes and more reward seats to our most popular domestic destinations, because that’s where people will be holidaying for the rest of the year.

“We’re also helping our most loyal flyers maintain their travel benefits by giving them extra Status Credits in recognition of their long-term loyalty.”

Qantas Loyalty chief executive, Olivia Wirth, says Qantas Frequent Flyer is one of the most attractive loyalty programs in the world because it’s always evolving and innovating to meet the needs of its 13 million members.

“We’ve been listening to our Frequent Flyers closely over the last few months about how they feel about travel, where they want to go and how they want to use their points,” Wirth said.

“What emerged was that despite what’s going on around the world, the notion of the dream trip is well and truly alive, they’re just looking a little closer to home.

“Qantas Frequent Flyers are some of the country’s biggest advocates for travel and this has been reflected in the number of bookings we’re seeing as travel restrictions ease.

“That’s why we’re continuing to invest in making our members’ travel dreams a reality with more choice, better value and greater flexibility.”

Qantas mentioned a few encouraging facts:

  • Intention to travel for Frequent Flyers remains high at 90%.
  • Most Qantas Points in the program are earned on the ground; this hasn’t changed.
  • Qantas Frequent Flyers typically save points over a long period of time for a big dream trip – travel still remains the number one preference to redeem points.
  • Qantas’ latest nationwide sale shows that Sydney-Brisbane, Melbourne-Sydney, Perth-Broome, Sydney-Cairns, Brisbane-Cairns as the most popular routes.

Other recent program updates:

  • Launched additional earn partners including BP and Afterpay.
  • Increased Wellbeing incentives to keep members active.
  • Giving members the opportunity to earn bonus Status Credits on the ground through partners like BP and Woolworths.
  • Implemented a 12-month status extension for eligible members.

Edited by Peter Needham

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