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Sydneysiders and Melburnians can take advantage of these ultra-low fares with Jetstar to Honolulu.

I can see a good variety of dates for those departing from Sydney, but those in Melbourne will have slimmer pickings.

Note that these fares include only a 7kg carry-on bag for free—checked bags and food cost more.

It can be really hard to find Business Class award availability between Australia and Hawaii. That means that finding a cheap Economy Class fare might be your ticket to getting good value from your trip.

Depart: Sydney or Melbourne

Arrive: Honolulu

Dates: September 2019 to June 2020 (excluding school holidays)

Airline: Jetstar

Cost: from $308 return in Economy Class

Example from Sydney found:

Where to credit points: These Starter fares are not eligible for Qantas Points or Status Credits earn.

Lounge access: If you hold Qantas Gold or above status, are a Qantas Club member or have Qantas lounge passes with one of these credit cards, you will get access to the Qantas International Business Lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Honolulu; American Express Card Members get access to the Sydney and Melbourne Amex lounges; and Priority Pass members can gain access to lounges/eateries in Sydney and Melbourne (the lounge in Honolulu isn’t open in time for the flights back to Australia).

American Express Lounge Melbourne

Best credit card to use for purchase: Credit cards that offer bonus points for booking travel

Booking link: my advice would be to search by flexible dates through Google Flights first, then click through to the Jetstar website to book.

You can keep on top of these deals by setting up fare alerts with Jetstar.

Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. Fares may disappear quickly, so we suggest booking as soon as you are confident in your travel dates.

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Joining Qantas Frequent Flyer, Asia Miles and KrisFlyer in our series of the best uses of 100,000 points, in this guide, we outline our top nine recommendations for using your Velocity Points balance for maximum value.

With the American Express Velocity Platinum Card offering 100,000 Velocity Points for signing up, you’re already on your way to accessing some of the redemptions below.

One key thing to note is that the best-value redemptions are to be had by redeeming for Premium Economy, Business or First Class flights. To understand why, consider joining the Point Hacks ‘earning more points’ email course.

1. Perth to Sydney/Melbourne three times in a lie-flat seat for 106,500 points

Virgin Australia and Qantas are locked into battle on these highly-lucrative routes which carry a lot of Business traffic. That means they run some of their coast-to-coast services on Airbus A330s.

Virgin Australia A330 Business Class

This aircraft features flat-bed seats and direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration for the flight lasting 3½ to 5½ hours, depending on the airport and direction of travel.

The airline also employs this aircraft on a seasonal basis for Saturday flights between Sydney/Melbourne and Nadi. They cost 71,000 points return from Sydney (Zone 3) and 99,000 from Melbourne (which just creeps into Zone 4, unfortunately).

Read more: Virgin Australia A330 Business Class overview

2. Virgin Australia ‘The Business’ from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Los Angeles for 95,500 points one-way

Virgin Australia uses its Boeing 777 long-haul fleet on flights to the US, complete with an onboard bar. This is one of the best Business Class products currently flying nonstop between Australia and the US.

Virgin Australia 777 Business Class

Note that nonstop Australia – US flights are some of the hardest to find premium cabin award availability on due to high demand. If you do find an open seat, these flights to Los Angeles are a high-value redemption.

Read more: How to redeem Velocity Points for flights to the US

3. Virgin Australia Business Class from Sydney/Melbourne to Hong Kong for 59,500 points one-way

Virgin Australia launched its direct Melbourne – Hong Kong service in July 2017 and Sydney flights a year later, going head-to-head with rival Qantas and Cathay Pacific.

Hong Kong is a popular destination for travellers from Australia

Just like the two featured redemptions above, these flights feature its upgraded ‘The Business’ suites.

Read more: A guide to using points on Virgin Australia flights to Hong Kong

4. Etihad First Apartment from London/Paris to Abu Dhabi for 78,000 points one-way

Etihad’s First Apartment is one of the most luxurious First Class products in the world. It has a comfy bed, chef-prepared food, fine champagne and an onboard shower.

Etihad A380 First Apartments

It is only found select routes serviced by the Airbus A380 from Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub.

The cheapest one is the seven-hour flight London or Paris for 78,000 points, followed by Seoul and New York for 95,000 and 134,000 points, respectively. Sydney flights are the most expensive at 152,500 points.

It is also worth considering flying Etihad’s Business Studios from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Abu Dhabi for 104,000 points one-way. It is a fantastic product that is often overlooked.

Etihad A380 Business Studios

Do note that Etihad Business and First Class redemptions using Velocity Points attract a US$205 and 300 fee per segment, respectively (on top of taxes).

Read more: How to redeem your Velocity Points for Etihad’s A380 Business Studios and First Apartments

5. Singapore Airlines Suites Class from Sydney/Melbourne to Singapore for 95,000 points one-way

Singapore Airlines Suites Class is another of the best First Class products in the world. It’s available on routes serviced by the Airbus A380. There are two versions, with the newest one on some services to Sydney.

Singapore Airlines (new) Suites Class

Whilst not the latest version, you’ll find more availability on the older version, which also flies to Sydney and Melbourne.

On both products, you’ll enjoy excellent customer service, delicious food and a wide beverage selection, including Dom Pérignon and Krug. The lie-flat bed turn-down service is with Givenchy linens.

Read more: How to use your points to book Singapore Airlines Suites Class

6. Transfer your Velocity Points to KrisFlyer for better Singapore Airlines Business Class award availability

Singapore Airlines has some of the best Business Class products in the world, especially on their 787-10, A380 and A350 aircraft.

The two centre seats in Singapore Airlines (new) A380 Business Class can convert into a double bed

KrisFlyer does not apply fuel surcharges to Singapore Airlines redemptions and releases more award space in its premium cabins to its own members. That means the option to convert your Velocity Points into KrisFlyer miles is an attractive one.

Read more: How to transfer Velocity Points to KrisFlyer

7. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class between London to New York/Boston for 99,000 return

From its hubs at London Gatwick and Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic flies to a surprising number of destinations in the US. They include New York, Boston, Washington, Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as Caribbean countries like Cuba, Barbados and Mexico.

New York and Boston creep into Zone 4, offering the cheapest redemptions of these destinations. If you can get on an upcoming Airbus A350 flight to/from New York, then you’ll enjoy the latest-generation Business Class seat and one of the best onboard bars in the sky.

‘The Loft’ social space, accessible to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class passengers on its Airbus A350 aircraft

Plus, if you depart from New York JFK, you’ll have access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, known as one of the best airline lounges in the entire country.

Read more: How to use Velocity Points to book Virgin Atlantic flights

8. Fly three people on a short-haul domestic flight for 93,000 points return

On shorter domestic flights such as Melbourne – Adelaide, Sydney – Brisbane, and Hobart – Melbourne, peak-time

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Having a hot shower whilst flying 35,000 feet in the air surely has to be one of the most luxurious travel experiences possible. And arriving at your destination feeling more refreshed and ‘human’ is a huge plus.

In this guide, I take a look at which airlines and aircraft feature this perk and how to book an award flight using frequent flyer points.

Which planes have onboard showers?

The only commercial aircraft that features a shower onboard is the Airbus A380 superjumbo. Shower suites are located on the upper deck in front of the First Class cabin. The shower suites also include a toilet, sink and ample space to change clothes.

Emirates’ A380 planes feature two onboard showers Which airlines have onboard showers?

The two airlines that feature onboard showers are Emirates and Etihad, both carriers from the United Arab Emirates. Showers are found solely on their Airbus A380 aircraft. They are reserved for passengers travelling in First Class (on both Emirates and Etihad) and The Residence (on Etihad only).

Passengers travelling in Etihad’s A380 First Apartments get access to the onboard shower Emirates vs Etihad: which has the better onboard shower? 2nd Place – Etihad Airways

Abu Dhabi’s flag carrier has two showers on its Airbus A380 aircraft. One of them is exclusively reserved for passengers travelling in The Residence and, unfortunately, is not made available even if that cabin is empty.

That leaves the other (larger) shower suite to be shared by the nine passengers travelling in First Apartments. The shower is minimalist and darker than its Emirates counterpart.

Etihad A380 First Apartment shower suite sans water

Whilst you can adjust the angle of the faucet, it is built into the ceiling, meaning it cannot be detached.

Etihad A380 First Apartment faucet

Having said that, the water comes out hot and strong.

Hot-water bliss whilst flying in an Etihad A380 First Apartment 1st Place – Emirates

Dubai’s flag carrier also has two showers onboard its aircraft to be shared between up to 14 First Class passengers. This means that Emirates has a more generous ratio of 7 passengers to 1 shower than Etihad’s 9 to 1.

The shower facilities are decorated with lighter tones than Etihad’s. You can even control the temperature of the heated floors.

The Emirates A380 First Class shower suite with the Dubai skyline The door to the Emirates A380 First Class shower

The showerhead is detachable, meaning you can move it around as you wish.

The flexible showerhead in the Emirates A380 First Class shower is a plus

Upon returning to your seat, you’ll have a plate of fresh fruit drizzled with honey waiting for you.

What can I expect from the onboard showering experience?
  • The most popular time to shower is in the two hours prior to landing, so make sure to book your preferred shower appointment time with the cabin crew as soon as you board
  • If you don’t know when you want to shower, don’t stress—just go when it makes the most sense for your journey
  • The water will not run until you step inside and close the shower door—just be prepared for a potential initial burst of cold water
  • You’ll get five minutes of hot water in total, which is actually more than sufficient—however, if you would like to extend it, you can turn the tap on and off between latherings, i.e. the five minutes of water can be broken up into smaller segments
The Emirates A380 First Class shower timer
  • Passengers usually spend 20-30 minutes in the shower suite, between de-robing, showering and getting ready again—however, if the cabin is not full, you may be able to spend more time in there
  • You’ll get access to a hairdryer, fluffy towels and upscale bath products
Amenities in the Emirates A380 First Class shower suite
  • You can shower once per flight
  • Shower facilities are generally not available on flights under three hours in length
How can I use frequent flyer points to access the onboard shower? On Emirates

The cheapest way to use your points to fly on an Emirates A380 is between Dubai and Muscat. However, on this one-hour flight, you won’t have enough time to shower.

Therefore, for travellers in Australia, I would suggest using 54,000/62,200 Qantas Points (before/after 18 September 2019) to book a First Class flight from Sydney to Christchurch, which is one of Emirates’ fifth freedom routes.

Flying Emirates First Class from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide to Dubai will set you back between 108,000 and 162,800 Qantas Points depending on your departure airport.

If you already find yourself in the Middle East, then you can use as few as 36,000/41,500 Qantas Points to book a three-hour flight from Dubai to Mumbai or Jeddah. Both of these flights are serviced by the A380 and are long enough to have a shower.

Emirates First Class redemptions within this circle are available for 41,500 Qantas Points or less On Etihad

Etihad has a much smaller fleet of A380s than Emirates, which reduces the number of opportunities to experience a flight on one.

The cheapest way to experience Etihad First Apartments is to fly from Abu Dhabi to London or Paris. That will set you back 78,000 Velocity Points, ~86,000 Etihad Guest miles or only 62,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

You can also fly this product from Abu Dhabi to Seoul, New York and Sydney. The Sydney flight costs 152,500 Velocity Points, ~136,000 Etihad Guest miles or only 100,000 AAdvantage miles.

Etihad Airways’ A380 routes

Note that you must add on a US$300 Etihad Airways Carrier Charge to the cost of each Etihad First Class flight you take using Velocity Points.

Summing up

A hot shower is an amazing way to feel more human while inflight. It can be used to refresh yourself mid-flight or upon waking to spruce you up before landing at your destination.

Having a shower onboard your next trip is possible if you target your points redemption to a First Class flight on an Emirates or Etihad Airbus A380.

You can..

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This is a great deal and you’ll earn at least $150 worth of Qantas Points for your flight.

You’ll have to fly through Sydney to Johannesburg. Domestic connections from Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide on Qantas are included in the price. Flying from the Gold Coast adds ~$30, whilst flying from Canberra, Hobart, Darwin and Cairns adds hundreds.

Domestic South African connections on British Airways subsidiares Comair and kulula.com are not included.

For informational purposes, the only two nonstop services to South Africa are with Qantas from Sydney and South African Airways from Perth. You can probably expect Qantas to launch direct services to Cape Town on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the next couple of years.

Strike that pose!

The last time we saw Qantas flights to South Africa on sale was back in March for $50 cheaper than this time—and connections to Cape Town and Durban were included. Still, this is a great price and Johannesburg is a good place to start and end your journey.

I can also see flights to Cape Town via Doha with Qatar Airways pricing from $1,130 return, but that would add around 10 hours to your journey each way.

If you would like some inspiration for going to South Africa (and info on how to get there on points), check out our destination guide.

Depart: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide

Arrive: Johannesburg

Dates: now until mid-June 2020 (excluding September and December; these are the best times to go)

Airline: Qantas

Cost: a flat $1,149 return from all cities

Example found:

Where to credit points: Depending on where your existing points balances lie, you may choose to credit these flights to Qantas Frequent Flyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, British Airways Executive Club, American Airlines AAdvantage or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

For example, a return Economy Class ticket from Sydney to Johannesburg will net you 7,500 Qantas Points + 80 Status Credits. These points are worth $150, according to our valuations. You’ll earn more for any domestic connections.

Read more in our guide on how to choose which program to credit your frequent flyer points to.

Lounge access: If you hold Qantas Gold or above status, are a Qantas Club member or have Qantas lounge passes with one of these credit cards, you will get access to Qantas and associated partner lounges; American Express Card Members get access to the Sydney and Melbourne Amex lounges; and Priority Pass members can gain access to lounges/eateries in all airports listed above except Perth.

American Express Lounge Melbourne

Best credit card to use for purchase: Credit cards that offer bonus points for booking travel

Booking link: you can book directly through the Qantas website. Make sure you add your frequent flyer number to your booking. You can avoid the credit card booking fee by instead paying by BPAY or POLi. Sale ends 4 August or when fares sell out.

Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. Fares may disappear quickly, so we suggest booking as soon as you are confident in your travel dates.

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From October, Star Alliance member EVA Air from Taiwan will put its new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner on its only Australian route to Brisbane.

Unfortunately, I can’t see any Business Class award availability from when the new aircraft is introduced on 8 October 2019 right through to the end of the calendar.

However, read on to learn how to use your KrisFlyer, THAI Royal Orchid Plus, LifeMiles or MileagePlus miles if you do indeed find availability on this or another route to North Asia, Europe or North America.

Where does EVA Air fly?

Star Alliance member EVA Air flies from Brisbane to its hub in Taipei, Taiwan. This is its only Australian destination.

Australia-based travellers will most likely use the airline to fly onwards to North Asia (Japan, Mainland China and South Korea) or further afield to Europe or North America.

Popular EVA Air routes for Australia-based travellers

Strangely, EVA Air operates a focus city out of Bangkok, from which it flies to Taipei (not surprisingly) as well as Amsterdam, London and Vienna. This is in addition to nonstop flights from Taipei to Milan (from 18 February 2020), Paris and Vienna.

Given the multiple daily flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco, you’ll likely find the most award availability on these routes.

Why should I fly EVA Air? Business Class

EVA Air has a fantastic Business Class product (called ‘Royal Laurel Class’), often rated by bloggers within the world’s top five or ten. It scores highly on its:

  • excellent customer service
  • dining options (including pre-ordering meals)
  • pyjamas (only long-haul flights)
  • Rimowa amenities kits (on all flights departing Taipei)

For its flights to/from Brisbane, the current older Airbus A330 with angled-flat Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration:

EVA Air A330 Business Class

will be replaced by the airline’s newest aircraft, a Boeing 787-10, from 8 October 2019. This plane features lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, with the same design as Qantas’ Business Studios on its 787 and A330 aircraft.

EVA Air 787-10 Business Class EVA Air 787-10 Business Class EVA Air 787-10 Business Class EVA Air’s 787 product is similar to Qantas’ 787 Business Class

Long-haul flights to Europe and North America are serviced mainly by Boeing 777-300ERs, with lie-flat Business Class seats, this time in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 layout.

EVA Air 777-300ER Business Class

The only exception is Vienna flights, which are serviced by a Boeing 787-9, with the same seats as on the 787-10.

Premium Economy Class

On the 777-300ERs, you can also fly in Premium Economy Class. You’ll again get great service and good food, but the hard product is not as good as on its competitor China Airlines.

EVA Air’s Premium Economy cabin is set up in a 2-4-2 configuration… …whereas China Airlines’ layout has one less seat in the middle and includes hardback shells Lounge access

EVA Air has better-rated lounges at Taipei Taoyuan than China Airlines.

Plus, when departing from the US, you’ll get access to the excellent United Polaris Lounges.

United Polaris Lounge San Francisco Why should I visit Taiwan? The beautiful Taroko Gorge is a good day or overnight trip from Taipei How many frequent flyer points do I need to fly EVA Air?

Here is the pricing for four programs for a one-way Business Class flight departing from Taipei:

ProgramBrisbaneParisLos Angeles
Singapore Airlines Krisflyer74,000105,500115,000
Avianca LifeMiles40,00075,00075,000
United MileagePlus55,00075,00080,000
THAI Royal Orchid Plus *127,000192,000144,000
* Partner redemptions with THAI must be roundtrip; one-way travel is not permitted

*Partner redemptions with THAI must be roundtrip; one-way travel is not permitted

Citi Prestige cardholders can also transfer their points to EVA Air’s own frequent flyer program, Infinity MileageLands.

Taxes

Taxes departing Brisbane are AU$120-204, depending on the program you book through. Departing Taipei, they are $133-166.

Do you need to call to book or can I do it online?

The best place to search for award availability on EVA Air is through the United website. It’ll give you a monthly view.

You can then book online with all the programs above, except THAI Royal Orchid Plus, who you have to phone.

When does EVA Air award availability open up?

LifeMiles members get first dibs on EVA Air awards at 360 days before departure. KrisFlyer members follow at 355 days, with United at 338 days.

Using cash for EVA Air flights

If you can find a ticket for under $4,000/2,000 return for Business/Premium Economy Class from Australia to Europe or North America, then that is a great deal.

Alternatives to get to Asia, North America and Europe

If you want to use Star Alliance points to get to North or East Asia, flying Singapore Airlines to Singapore, THAI to Bangkok, ANA to Tokyo or Asiana Airlines to Seoul are good options.

For those wanting to jet to North America, United via Los Angeles, San Francisco or Houston, or Air Canada via Vancouver are alternatives.

And travellers to Europe might consider Singapore Airlines via Singapore or THAI via Bangkok.

Singapore Airlines offers a lot of frequencies to Australian airports Summing up

EVA Air offers an excellent Business Class product on its long-haul flights. However, given their limited footprint in Australia, award availability can be hard to come by.

Therefore, your Star Alliance points might be best used on EVA Air when you already find yourself in Taiwan and want to travel to North Asia, Europe or North America. Another option is when you can find a good-value cash fare.

Have you flown on EVA Air yet? What was your experience?

Supplementary images courtesy EVA Air.

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Using your points for a flight upgrade is one of the best ways to maximise their value.

The downside? Not every ticket can be upgraded. Even if you have the points you won’t be able to upgrade unless you’ve also purchased the right fare class, and there’s upgrade availability on your chosen flight.

You need to be particularly aware of this if you book your base flight through a travel agent since they will often place you in a discount class of fare that is not upgradeable.

In this guide we explain which fare classes you can and cannot upgrade for Qantas and Virgin Australia. This is one to reference if you’re making a booking which you’re planning to try and upgrade using your points.

Using Qantas points to upgrade

You can use Qantas points to book award tickets with a number of different partner airlines, including Jetstar and Emirates – but upgrades are only possible on Qantas-operated and marketed flights. You will need to have booked and paid for a ticket on a Qantas plane, with a QF flight number on your ticket, to be able to upgrade.

Qantas has two upgrade schemes, Classic Upgrade Rewards and Bid Now Upgrades.

Bid Now Upgrades are, in my opinion, not fantastic. No-one is eligible for a Bid Now upgrade until they have been invited to make an offer, and Qantas will invite people “in its sole discretion”.

So there is no guide as to which fare classes will or won’t get invited. But if you are eligible you will be told, and you should never bank on getting an invitation.

To be eligible for a Bid Now Upgrade you need to be invited.

As for Classic Upgrade Rewards, well they are much more available, but still not guaranteed. If you plan on upgrading, check out our article on how Classic Upgrades get given out.

Qantas Domestic Upgrades

Qantas in recent years changed their policy to allow passengers to upgrade from Reward flights (flights that you booked with points).

This change means that all Qantas domestic flights are now eligible for an upgrade to business class as long as they have a QF flight number.

The full list of fare classes can be found here.

Qantas will clearly show whether you can request a points upgrade at time of booking.

A green tick will tell you whether the fare can be upgraded.

Even though all fares are upgradeable, it will cost you double the points to upgrade from a discount fare as opposed to a flexible one. You can see how many points you need to upgrade here.

If your booking has both domestic and international flights on it, even if your international leg is not upgradeable, your domestic leg will be.

International Upgrades

Not all international fare classes can be upgraded.

Fares in the E, N, O, P, Q class cannot be upgraded using points. These are discount economy fares.

All international fare types can be found here.

As with domestic, if booking through the Qantas website, the green ticks will clearly show whether a fare is upgradeable or not.

The difference in price between the sale and saver fares shown here is only $35, so if you are keen to upgrade, pay a little extra

If you are booking through a travel agent and you want to be able to upgrade, you must double check your fare class since you are likely to be placed in one of these ineligible fare classes.

If you are in an eligible fare class, you can request the following upgrades.

Upgrade fromEligible upgrade classesUpgrade to
Classic Reward
Economy Saver
Economy Flex
X, G, K, L, M, S, V, B, H, YPremium Economy
Business
Classic Reward Premium Economy
Premium Economy Sale
Premium Economy Saver
Premium Economy Flex
Z, T, R, WBusiness
Business Sale
Business Saver
Business Flex
I, D, C, JFirst

You can see how many points you will need to upgrade to/from each class using the calculator here.

From time to time Qantas may allow upgrades from ineligible fare classes, but it’s up to them.

Using points to upgrade with Virgin Australia

If you’re thinking of using your Velocity points for an upgrade, be sure to check out our guide for Virgin Australia upgrades.

Virgin has three upgrade schemes, Upgrade Me PointsUpgrade Me Bid and Upgrade Me Pay Now.

You can check your eligibility for the latter two here.

For points upgrades, in addition to making sure your ticket is in the right fare class, your flight also needs to be operated by Virgin with a VA flight number to be upgradeable.

You will also need to make sure you have put your Velocity Frequent Flyer number on the booking to be able to request any upgrades.

Fare Structure

Virgin changed their fare structure at the start of September 2016. The ‘fare brands’ are Getaway, Elevate, Freedom, Premium Saver, Premium, Business Saver, and Business.

The ‘fare brands’ are easy to understand and do not require any fuss over specific fare classes (indicated by letters).

We’ve simplified your search for points tables in the categories below.

Domestic Flights

All domestic flights are upgradeable. See what it will cost you here.

Trans Tasman and International Short Haul Flights

All Trans-Tasman and short-haul flights are upgradeable. Short-haul flights are international flights departing to or arriving from countries within South East Asia and the Pacific.

From New Zealand, short-haul includes flights to Nuku’alofa and Rarotonga.

See what it will cost you here.

International Long Haul Flights

Virgin long haul international flights have the biggest restriction on upgrading with points. Unless you are a Gold or Platinum Velocity member, you will not be able to upgrade any flights with points.

Fare BrandUpgradeable?
GetawayNo
ElevateNo
FreedomGold and Platinum members only
Premium Economy
Summing Up

Using points to upgrade is a great way to make use of points, but if that is your plan you need to make sure your base ticket is in the right fare class.

Although most fares are upgradeable, many discount fares are not. If you book through a travel agent, it is likely that you might get placed in one of these fares unless you ask not to be.

Qantas and Virgin Australia are both generous with all domestic flights being upgradeable.

Virgin is also generous having made all international short-haul and Trans-Tasman bookings eligible to be upgraded with points.

Virgin long-haul flights have the most restrictive upgrade policy, only allowing Gold and Platinum members to upgrade some limited fares.

Have you scored yourself a points upgrade with Qantas or Virgin Australia? Let us know in the comments below.

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You’ve just spent the last couple of years of your life chasing points promotions and working out which card to buy what with. You’ve racked up the points and booked your dream trip.

You’ve booked a year out, because that’s what you have to do, right?

Then something unavoidable happens that’s not covered by your travel insurance. You have to change or even cancel your trip. What happens then? Well, you’ll be up to pay some fees.

Why knowing the cancellation policy for your points redemption flight is useful

My interest in this topic as I needed to change an award booking. The process was reasonably painless and inexpensive, which led me to wonder if all airlines are the same. As it turns out, no, they’re not.

Depending on the complexity and timing of your booking, you might be able to cancel or change it with a few clicks for nothing. In some cases though, you could be looking at fees upwards of US$150.

Sometimes you just have to change your plans to fly in Emirates First Class

If the change or cancellation is in the final 24 hours before departure, or you’re a no-show, you’ll likely forfeit all your points and money paid.

One very important thing to note is that you are bound by the terms and conditions of the airline you’ve booked with, not the airline you’re flying with.

In my case, I’d booked a return trip on Cathay Pacific using Qantas Points. I wanted to change one leg of the booking and so was bound by Qantas’ rules, not those of Cathay Pacific. I also had to do the change through Qantas’ call centre, not Cathay’s.

Comparing change fees of the primary frequent flyer programs for travellers in Australia

I have decided to focus on the airlines that most Australia-based travellers would likely have their points with. They are Qantas, Velocity, Asia Miles, KrisFlyer and Etihad Guest.

Also considering that buying miles from Alaska MileagePlan, American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, British Airways Executive Club, United MileagePlus and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club are popular among readers, I have elected to include them also.

ChangeCancel before 24 hoursCancel within 24 hoursNo-showSource & additional info
Qantas Frequent Flyer
5,000 points 6,000 pointsNo clear informationNo clear informationQantas Frequent Flyer Fee Schedule

Cancelling or changing an Reward flight booking
Velocity Frequent Flyer
4,500 points or $35 for domestic

7,500 points or $60 for international
4,500 points or $35 for domestic

7,500 points or $60 for international
All points forfeited unless Business ClassAll points forfeited unless Business ClassVelocity Reward seat conditions

Late cancellation/no-show information derived from call centre conversation
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
US$125US$125No clear informationNo clear informationFees waived for MVP Gold or 75K members and refundable First Class award tickets

Alaska Airlines Fees
American Airlines AAdvantage
US$150 for origin/destination or airline change (waived for Executive Platinum members)

$75 for date changes 'within 21 days of the original booking date' (waived for Executive Platinum, Platinum and Gold members)
$150 for the first award ticket + $25 per additional ticket cancelled at the same time (waived for Executive Platinum members)No clear informationNo clear informationChanging AAdvantage flight awards>/a>
Avianca LifeMiles
US$150$50/200 within/between regionsNo clear informationNo clear informationFlyerTalk forum
British Airways Executive Club
AU$63 AUD (+$25 service fee if over the phone)AU$63 AUD (+$25 service fee if over the phone)All Avios forfeitedAll Avios forfeitedDepends on your 'region of departure' (Australia is assumed in this table)

Change/cancellation fee waived for Gold Priority Reward bookings

Phone service fee waived for Gold members

British Airways reward flight booking and service fees

Executive Club terms and conditions
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
US$25 or 1,000 Asia Miles online

$40 or 4,000 Asia Miles over the phone
$120 or 12,000 Asia MilesNo clear informationNo clear informationAsia Miles FAQs
Emirates Skywards
US$25$75Depends on fare conditions of ticket purchasedDepends on fare conditions of ticket purchasedFigures are for Saver award tickets—more generous provisions for flexible tickets

Emirates FAQs
Etihad Guest
100 AED for date changeAU$115 contact center service fee
+ 10% of total miles
All miles forfeited All miles forfeited, taxes and carrier charges refundableEtihad Guest terms and conditions
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
US$25/free for Saver/Advantage for date change if travelling on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir

$25 for change of route, cabin class or award type for tickets issued for flights on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir

$50 for change of flight, date, route or carrier for tickets issued for flights on partner airlines
$75/50 for Saver/Advantage$75/50 for Saver/Advantage$100 Economy
$200 Premium Economy
$300 Business and First
$25 or 2,500 KrisFlyer miles offline/phone service fee (waived if can't perform action online)

KrisFlyer Service Fees
United Airlines MileagePlus
US$75/125 if more/less than 60 days before departureUS$75/125 if more/less than 60 days before departure$125 for United flights

All miles forfeited for partner flights
$125Fees are reduced or waived for those with elite status

United Award service fees

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
£30 from UK

US$50 from the US or any other region
£30 from UK

US$50 from the US or any other region
All miles forfeited, £30 charge for refund on taxes
All miles forfeited, £30 charge for refund on taxes
Virgin Atlantic Spending Miles

Some other notes on the comparison above:

  • Many airlines have a slew of conditions depending on the fare type, route booked and what your cat’s name is.  I have linked to the relevant sources so you can double check your own particular case. It does seem that these conditions can change frequently, so please double-check
  • Some airlines have different fees and charges depending on your point of departure. I have assumed the point of departure to be Australia
  • The information in the table regards flight bookings only.  All the airlines have different change/cancellation policies regarding other services (e.g. hotel and car hire) booked on points
Key takeways Per person, per booking

In all of the examples, the relevant fees are charged per person, per booking—not per booking or per sector. What does that mean?

I’ll use my own example: I have a total of four flights booked on the same booking number, for two adults. When I changed flights, it wouldn’t have mattered if I changed one or all four—the penalty would be the same, per person.

So in my case, that penalty was 10,000 Qantas Points, being 5,000 per adult. I changed two flights to a different airline, via different cities. Note that fees and taxes changed due to the airline and airport change, so as always, be aware of that too.

Don’t be a no-show

Some airlines have a clear no-show policy, while for others there’s no mention of it at all. For the most part, it’s definitely to be avoided, as it can (and probably will) void any further flights on the same booking with no possible avenue for a refund.

In many cases, penalties for no-shows and late cancellations aren’t to be found anywhere, except to say they are ‘not permitted.’ In my mind, that suggests the forfeiture of all points and money paid.

As a side note, not all airlines use 24 hours as their benchmark for late cancellations or no-shows. For example, Delta (not covered in the table) only allows changes if they’re made 72 hours before departure.

You won’t get expired points back

In most cases, expired points are not refunded (here’s the exception for Qantas). So booking a flight a year into the future with points that are about to expire, with the intention of cancelling said flight won’t get you anywhere.

Changes after your journey has begun

Another thing to note is that, for the most part, fees and charges can increase if your journey has already begun. That would be the case if you have started your trip and now want to change your return flight. In some cases, if your journey has begun, you can’t change any further flights without forfeiting your points entirely, e.g. from Qantas:

Changes that require a ticket to be re-issued are not permitted within 24 hours of departure or once travel has commenced. Changes are not permitted on any Classic Flight Reward flight paper ticket booking once travel has commenced.

Some strategies to minimise change and cancellation fees

Being that award flights often need to be booked a fair way in advance, it’s not uncommon for them to need to be changed.

These are some strategies for avoiding fees in case that happens:

1. Give your loyalty to an airline with low fees

This is certainly easier said than done, but still worth thinking about.

In the case of buying miles though, your decision could certainly be swayed by how costly it may be to change any award redemption. Any money saved from buying those miles could easily get swallowed up by a simple change.

Remember the fare conditions are based on who the miles are with, not who you fly with. If you’re buying American Airlines AAdvantage miles and flying Qantas, you’re still bound by AA’s rules and fees.

2. Change, don’t cancel

For some airlines, the changing of flights is free, while cancellation is not.

In the case of KrisFlyer, date changes are free as long as you’re travelling on a more expensive Advantage award with Singapore Airlines or SilkAir and aren’t wanting to change the destination. There is nothing in the terms and conditions that I can see that could stop you from continually postponing your travel until you decided to book the actual trip you wanted to go on.

If you book an Advantage award with your KrisFlyer miles, you can change the date of your Singapore Airlines flight for free 3. Wait until the last minute to cancel

If the airline has a considerable schedule change, you may be due a full refund if you elect not to accept the change. This is obviously different between airlines and not something to rely on. However, it could work so long as you’re happy for your points to be tied up until the last minute.

In some very rare cases, flights may be disrupted for the foreseeable future by serious weather, such as the Eyjafjallajökull or Mount Rinjani ash clouds. Again, definitely not something to rely on.

And this only works if you don’t need the miles from the cancelled booking to make another, of course.

4. Book return flights as separate reservations

Depending on your itinerary, it may be worth booking your outbound and return segments separately. If you book in this fashion, you avoid the risk of inadvertently cancelling your return flight if you’re a no-show. This also means you can change your return booking after your journey commences.

The downside to doing this is that if you need to change both your outbound and return journeys, you’ll be slugged with fees twice.

5. Status matching

Status matching isn’t that common in Australia, mainly due to the small amount of competition amongst our airlines. It also wouldn’t help in the case of changing or cancelling travel on Virgin Australia or Qantas, being that fees aren’t waived for status members.

In the case of the US though, status matching is more common and could do you well.

Let’s say you have Gold status with Qantas, but you’re looking to cancel an Alaska Airlines flight. There’s no harm in calling or emailing Qantas Mileage Plan and asking them to match your AA status. Status matches often come with challenges, but even if you have no interest in keeping your Alaska Airlines status, you can still cancel your flight and save yourself the cancellation fee.

If this is a strategy you want to look further into, check out Status Matcher to see evidence of which airlines you might have some luck with.

6. Pay with the right credit card

Again, this is not so relevant in Australia. However, some US airlines will waive change and cancellation fees if an affiliated credit card was used to pay the taxes on the booking.

7. Ask and you may receive

You never know your luck, and there’s never any harm in asking for a fee waiver. I would imagine you’d have more success of a waiver in the case of a change (especially if you had a good reason), as opposed to a cancellation.

Summing up

Award change fees vary greatly between airlines, and there’s certainly an argument for taking this into account when choosing which airline to give your loyalty to.

In some cases, it may not even be worth the trouble of cancelling the trip if you deem your points to be worth less than any cancellation fee. Don’t forget that a no-show can nullify the rest of your travel, though. So you should only consider skipping that flight if it’s the last or only one on your itinerary.

In my research, the only airline I could find that has no change or cancellation fees at all (apart from no-shows) is Southwest in the US.

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IHG Rewards is offering a bonus of up to 100% on points purchases until 23 August 2019 11:59 pm US ET time.

IHG Rewards points can be leveraged into some cheaper hotel nights than you would pay versus paid rates at InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Indigo and Kimpton Hotels. This guide takes a look at the latest buy IHG Rewards promotions.

At the upper end of the market, InterContinental, Kimpton and Crowne Plaza hotel rooms can often go for fairly hefty nightly rates, so buying points to redeem immediately offers a nifty way to potentially reduce costs.

Is this a good deal?

Potentially, if you think you will use your points and especially for PointBreaks promotions.

An 80% bonus is less than the 100% bonus we’ve seen on a regular basis now, so make sure you’re only purchasing points with a very specific use in mind. See Offer history below.

Sometimes with IHG hotels, certain room rates are far cheaper just to book outright with cash than to book with points, especially if you are buying IHG Points during a promotion specifically for that purpose.

Towards the bottom of this guide, we have an example of a booking where it’s not advisable to use points—read on for some tips.

The current promotion

With the current deal of 80% bonus on points purchases, the cost per point is 0.55 US cents, with a total cost of US$1,000 for the maximum purchase of 180,000 IHG Rewards points including the bonus.

The bonus offer is tiered, with the maximum 80% bonus starting from 30,000 IHG Rewards points.

Note that the bonus and tiers can sometimes be unique for different members.

IHG allows you to purchase 100,000 points (excluding bonus) per calendar year.

Buying IHG Rewards points in a bonus period gives you a much better chance of coming out ahead for cheap redemptions.

Points outside of sales are sold at 1c per point but there is a hack to purchase them at 0.7c per point indefinitely—just book a points+pay room and then cancel, and you’ll be given the cash back as points in your account—but there’s some risk to your account in this approach.

Offer history

Previous promotions have run as follows:

DateBonus offer (%)USD/point (cents)Notes
June 20191000.5lowest price
April 2019800.55
March 20191000.5lowest price
January-February 2019750.57
November 20181000.5lowest price
October 20181000.5lowest price
September 20181000.5lowest price
July-August 20181000.5lowest price
June 20181000.5lowest price
April-May 2018800.55
March 20181000.5lowest price
January-February 2018750.657
October-November 20171000.575
September 20171000.575
August 2017800.64
May 20171000.575
March 2017800.64
February 20171000.575
January 2017750.675
December 20161000.575targeted
November 20161000.575targeted
September 20161000.575
August 2016800.64
June 20161000.575targeted
February 20161000.575
November 20151000.575
October 2015600.7highest price
June 20151000.575
March 2015600.7highest price
September 20141000.58
Average920.574

Under the current promotion if you get the maximum bonus, you’ll be able to buy enough points for a single night at hotels in the following categories/price bands for this cost:

Example hotels in this categoryIHG Rewards points neededCost of points per night (USD) in this promotion
Holiday Inn Rotorua20000$110
Holiday Inn Resort Bali, Auckland Airport, Queenstown

InterContinental Jakarta

Crowne Plaza Christchurch
25000$137.5
InterContinental Sanctuary Cove, Wellington35000$192.5
InterContinental Resort Fiji, Bali, Tahiti, Resort & Spa Moorea

Crowne Plaza Auckland
40000$220
InterContinental Singapore

Crowne Plaza Melbourne, Queenstown
50000$275
InterContinental Melbourne60000$330
InterContinental Sydney, Grand Standford Hong Kong65000$357.5

Clearly, you’ll want to run the numbers for your intended redemptions and compare points purchasing vs a paid stay to ensure you are better off buying and redeeming points than paying outright.

However, like other hotel program redemptions, IHG Rewards redemptions are flexible and can be cancelled at no cost.

This is a big difference compared to the lowest paid rate which is usually non-refundable, so if flexibility of your reservation is important, don’t forget to factor that benefit in.

Example IHG Rewards redemptions

A great resource for points pricing at IHG hotels is from Travel is Free, who has a map of the complete set of properties in the group and their pricing, and embedded here for your convenience.

Another great resource is Award Mapper, which gives points pricing for all the major hotel loyalty chains.

Personally, I’ve redeemed points (a mixture of purchased and earned) at a range of properties, including:

InterContinental Singapore

Club Premier Room (not booked using points) at the InterContinental Singapore – review here

InterContinental Resort Fiji

Garden View room at the InterContinental Fiji, booked using points – review here

InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto

InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto Standard Room booked using points – review here

InterContinental Sydney

InterContinental Sydney Harbour Bridge View room (not booked using points) – review here

In addition, some of the best value to be had from IHG Rewards is the PointsBreaks promotions, where rooms are available for 5,000-15,000 points per night.

These are released on a limited basis from a limited set of hotels once every three months. You can read more in our guide to PointBreaks.

Notable terms around buying and redeeming IHG Rewards Points

The terms of purchase for IHG Rewards points state that you can buy a maximum of 100,000 IHG Rewards points per calendar year and receive as a gift a maximum of 100,000 points per calendar year.

You’ll also need to allow 24-48 hours for points to post and appear in your account.

There’s no requirement I know of around the age of an account that’s eligible to buy points, so you should be able to sign up and purchase immediately if it makes sense to do so.

Rooms available with IHG Rewards points, and benefits on offer with IHG Rewards redemptions

You’ll find that the rooms on offer using IHG Rewards points in each hotel are usually the base room type. If you’re after a premium or larger room, bear this in mind.

I have had some success in contacting the hotel in advance to try and pay my way up to a better room—it’s worth a shot.

You also may not be eligible for any IHG Rewards status benefits, or IHG Ambassador benefits, on points stays—that’s up to the individual hotel. Not that IHG Rewards status gets you much but the IHG Ambassador confirmed room upgrade can’t be used, which is a bummer.

Important: Check the room’s cash rate and compare it to using points

Buying IHG Points can be useful if you’re just topping up your existing balance, or using it for a PointsBreak property where the nightly rates are heavily discounted.

However, there is a quirk of the IHG program where sometimes using points for a base-level room can be terrible value compared to just paying for it outright with cash.

For example, take the newly opened Even Hotel in Miami Airport. 

For their basic Wellness King Room, the ‘Global Sale’ rate is $123.72 AUD a night. The IHG ‘Reward Nights’ rate starts from 20,000 points + $136 AUD.

Yes, you read that right. The co-payment for using 20,000 IHG Points is more expensive than the cash room rate itself! Of course, there are other considerations such as the better flexibility of ‘Reward Nights’ booking compared to a sale booking, but that still doesn’t justify the difference in prices.

It would also cost you at least $135 USD (currently $195 AUD) to buy the 20,000 points outright during a 100% bonus points sale—once again ridiculously higher than the cash room rate itself, and that’s not even taking into account the extra $136 AUD co-payment.

To buy the whole 35,000 points needed for a full reward redemption without co-payment, you’d be looking at $207 USD (currently $300 AUD) during a 100% bonus points sale.

In comparison, the best available ‘Flexible’ rate for the same dates comes in under $150 AUD, or half the cost of buying the equivalent amount of points.

So the important lesson here is research your desired hotel’s room rates before committing to buying IHG points. For lower-end hotels with a sale rate, chances are you won’t be able to beat that value unless you already have IHG Points earned from other means.

Summing up

As with any points purchase promotion, you need to run the maths for your own intended redemption and personal circumstances to see if this will yield some good value for you.

I’d argue that the best places to look for value are the resorts that are priced in the mid-range of the points category prices, such as the InterContinental Bali and Fiji resorts.

It will be harder to get great value out of the top-category points redemptions if buying points outright to redeem, but it’s worth keeping it in your back pocket in case you need to stay at a city hotel at a super expensive time of year.

Points redemption rooms are often available when you wouldn’t expect it and you may be able to save then too.

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A major complaint with the Qantas Frequent Flyer program is the amount of taxes and surcharges that you have to pay with a points redemption. 

While a portion of these fees will be genuine airport taxes, often a significant chunk of it is airline-imposed fuel surcharges and ‘carrier charges’ which are arbitrary amounts that specific airlines charge for their flights.

Let’s take a look at ten popular routes, flown by multiple airlines, that you can book using Qantas Points, along with a comparison of their associated fees and surcharges.

NB: All figures are correct as of June 2019, but are set to change from September 18.

Melbourne to London (one-stop)
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessOne-way~$660 AUD128,000
EmiratesBusinessOne-way~$649 AUD128,000
Qatar AirwaysBusinessOne-way~$522 AUD139,000
British AirwaysBusinessOne-way~$435 AUD139,000
Cathay PacificBusinessOne-way~363 AUD139,000
China EasternBusinessOne-way~265 AUD139,000

Our pick: Cathay Pacific is our all-rounder pick due to its relatively low taxes and excellent lounge network if you have elite status. Otherwise, for the lowest co-payment on a one-way trip to London, consider Qantas partner China Eastern Airlines.

Qantas and Emirates both levy an incredible $1,080 in carrier charges for a return Melbourne-London redemption in business class, and that’s on top of the normal taxes.

On a one-way route, as shown above, the vast majority of the $660 co-payment is a Qantas-imposed surcharge, rather than actual taxes.

Sydney to Hong Kong
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$384 AUD120,000
Cathay PacificBusinessReturn~$402 AUD130,000

Our pick: Qantas actually takes the lead here with lower taxes and Qantas Points needed overall. Cathay Pacific used to be known for its low taxes on all flights, but it appears to have increased in recent times for specific routes like this one.

Sydney to Singapore
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$660 AUD120,000
British AirwaysBusinessReturn~$452 AUD130,000

Our pick: British Airways’ taxes are $200 lower than Qantas’ and reward seats are more readily available in general, but at the cost of 10,000 more points. Some people may prefer the hard product and onboard service of Qantas though.

Melbourne to Singapore
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$642 AUD120,000
EmiratesBusinessReturn~$640 AUD120,000
JetstarBusinessReturn~$519 AUD96,000

Our pick: If the timing of Emirates’ daily flights to Singapore matches up, go for that option. It is the same price as Qantas, but you might get to experience the inflight bar on an Airbus A380.

Sydney to Los Angeles
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$879 AUD192,000
American AirlinesBusinessReturn~$155 AUD192,000
QantasEconomyReturn~$331 AUD83,800
American AirlinesEconomyReturn~$155 AUD83,800

Our pick: Definitely American Airlines if you can find the reward seat availability.

In addition to the true taxes, Qantas adds ‘carrier charges’ to all reward bookings, with bigger fees for flying Business or First. This is a huge surcharge compared to American Airlines, which only passes on the taxes.

Sydney to Santiago
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$832 AUD192,000
LATAMBusinessReturn~$800 AUD192,000
QantasEconomyReturn~$351 AUD83,800
LATAMEconomyReturn~$400 AUD83,800

Our pick: Since Qantas and LATAM share similar taxes and identical points needed, we’d stick with Qantas for the better standard of service.

Sydney to Christchurch
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$216 AUD72,000
EmiratesFirstReturn~$216 AUD108,000
JetstarEconomyReturn~$214 AUD28,800

Our pick: All three airlines on the Sydney-Christchurch route have taxes of about $215 return. That rules Jetstar out of the running since you could book an economy sale fare at that price, so use your points for Qantas or Emirates premium cabin.

The latter even has first class which can be booked for 54,000 Qantas Points one-way.

Sydney to Fiji (Nadi)
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$301 AUD72,000
Fiji AirwaysBusinessReturn~$273 AUD72,000
JetstarEconomyReturn~$299 AUD28,800

Our pick: Jetstar’s fees are particularly high for an economy return trip, so consider using Qantas or Fiji Airways. Both those airlines need the same number of points for business class, but Fiji Airways is slightly lower in taxes.

Melbourne to Tokyo
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$515 AUD144,000
Japan AirlinesBusinessReturn~$330 AUD156,000

Our pick: We are a fan of Japan Airline’s unique inflight service. Although the points cost is slightly higher for comparable Qantas flights, the taxes in business class are nearly $200 lower.

Sydney to Shanghai
AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$505 AUD144,000
China EasternBusinessReturn~$154 AUD156,000

Our pick: China Eastern Airlines continues to shine by charging an incredible $350 less in taxes for a return business class trip, per person. That is a significant saving for a slightly higher increase in points needed compared to Qantas.

Summing Up

In general, Qantas’ Asian partner airlines, particularly Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, but also American Airlines, offer the best bang for the buck in terms of minimising extra co-payments with reward seat bookings.

You will usually need to part with slightly more Qantas Points, but that might be worth it if you can save cold hard cash for your next business trip or holiday.

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Alaska Airlines does not fly to many places outside the US, but its frequent flyer program Mileage Plan packs a punch.

That’s because it has some of the lowest redemption rates of any frequent flyer program in the world and charges low fees.

Mileage Plan partners with four of the top seven airlines flying into Australia. They include Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Together, these four airlines cover over 37% of the international flights servicing Australia.

Crediting your Qantas flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a good alternative to Qantas Frequent Flyer

Other Mileage Plan partners flying to Australia include American Airlines, British Airways, Fiji Airways, Hainan Airlines, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and LATAM.

So why should you consider switching your points earn from Qantas Frequent Flyer, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to Mileage Plan? Well, you could be getting a lot more bang for your buck.

Let’s have a look at how many miles you can earn on some sample flights, and what you can do with them.

Comparing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to Qantas Frequent Flyer Flying Qantas

Say you purchase a return ticket from the Melbourne to Los Angeles flying Qantas. Let’s assume that you buy a discount Economy Class ticket in fare class Q.

You’ll earn 12,400 Qantas Points for that return flight, but with Mileage Plan you’d get 20,700 Alaska miles.

With 12,000 Qantas Points, you could book a one-way Qantas Economy Class flight from Melbourne to anywhere in the circle below.

However, with 20,000 of the Alaska miles you’ve earned, you can fly Qantas anywhere within Australia—in Business Class. For example, you could fly from Melbourne to Broome via Perth, which tends to be an expensive fare using cash.

You can fly Qantas’ Airbus A330 from Melbourne to Perth and Sydney

(Note that Jetstar flights cannot be credited to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.)

Flying Emirates

For our second example, let’s look at flying Emirates from Brisbane to Singapore, one of its fifth freedom flights.

If you buy a full-fare return Economy Class ticket in fare class Y, you’ll earn 8,000 Qantas Points—or 7,632 Alaska miles. You’d think that the Qantas Points would be more valuable, but remember that not all points are created equal.

Did you know you could credit your Emirates flights to Alaska?

Now let’s look at redeeming those points for travel on Alaska Airlines itself within the US. You can do that with both Qantas Points and Alaska miles. However, you wouldn’t even have enough Qantas Points to book an award ticket (10,000 points minimum).

Conversely, 7,500 Alaska miles get you a one-way Economy Class ticket on Alaska Airlines from San Francisco to places like Las Vegas, Seattle and Denver.

Alaska Airlines is one of my favourite US carriers Comparing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

A lot of travellers in Australia fly on Singapore Airlines. That’s because they fly to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra (and Cairns and Darwin if you count flights on their regional airline SilkAir).

Let’s say you purchase an Economy Class ticket in fare class M from Perth to Paris return. You’ll earn exactly the same number of KrisFlyer miles as Alaska miles—13,304. So, what can you do with them?

Well, you’d be almost 2,000 KrisFlyer miles short of being able to redeem a one-way Virgin Australia Economy Class ticket from Perth to anywhere in Western Australia.

Crediting this flight to KrisFlyer wouldn’t give you enough miles to fly Virgin Australia to any airport

Conversely, you would have enough miles (12,500) to fly Qantas Economy Class anywhere in Australia.

Crediting this Singapore Airlines flight to Alaska would give you enough points to fly Qantas anywhere in Australia Comparing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

For our final example, let’s assume that your employer has bought you a flight to Toronto for a conference. You have a return Business Class ticket in fare class D flying Cathay Pacific departing from Adelaide.

Your first thought may be to credit that flight to Cathay’s own program, Asia Miles. You would earn 33,260 Asia Miles for this trip. (You could also choose to credit to Qantas Frequent Flyer, earning you 29,600 Qantas Points.)

With Alaska, you’d earn a whopping 54,297 Mileage Plan miles. So what can that get you?

Well, with 30,000 Asia Miles, you could redeem a one-way Cathay Pacific Premium Economy flight from Adelaide to Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy

With 24,000 Qantas Points (jumping to 27,600 from 18 September 2019), you could fly from Adelaide to basically anywhere in Australia (except Perth or Darwin) in Qantas Business Class.

Qantas Boeing 737 Business Class flying domestically

Or, if you earned just 703 Alaska miles extra through another flight or buying them, you’d have 55,000 miles in total. That would get you a one-way Qantas Business Class flight from Adelaide to the US.

Plus, you could stop over in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane along the way for no extra cost. That’s because Alaska allows a free stopover on international award tickets.

Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class flying to the US You choose: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy to Hong Kong (Asia Miles), Qantas Business Class anywhere in the circle (Qantas Points), or Qantas Business Class all the way to the US (Alaska miles) How to decide whether to credit your flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or another program
  1. Consider where your existing points balances lie, e.g. if you’re just short of an award using Qantas Points, then you should probably credit to Qantas Frequent Flyer
  2. Make sure you know which fare class you are booked in (it’s more complicated than just ‘Economy Class’)
  3. Go to wheretocredit.com to compare earn rates between Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and other frequent flyer programs for your specific flight
Other ways to earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in Australia

If you need to supplement your Mileage Plan balance, you can purchase miles during promotions (40% is the average bonus; 50% is a great deal).

If you have an American Express card, then you can transfer your points to Marriott Bonvoy and then to Mileage Plan. However, using this method means your points lose quite a lot of value due to..

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