Qantas is making it easier for frequent flyers to take that dream trip overseas, investing $25 million in what it says is the biggest overhaul in the 32-year history of its frequent flyer program.
Australia’s largest airline says it will free up an extra one million seats to high-demand destinations for so-called reward flights, which customers pay for with points they have earned by using Qantas services and those of its partners.
Qantas will also reduce the number of points needed for domestic and international reward flights by as much as 10 per cent and cut carrier charges – the extra costs associated with points bookings – by up to half.
It’s not all good news – with upgrades and business class seats set to require more points – but chief executive Alan Joyce says the changes will generally improve how Qantas Frequent Flyer’s near 13 million members are recognised and rewarded.
“These changes are about making it easier for members,” Mr Joyce said on Thursday.
“We know the majority of our members what to use their points to take a dream trip overseas, so we are adding more reward seats including First, Business and Premium Economy to places like London, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Singapore.”
The $25 million investment will go on making those seats available and reducing charges, although the airline anticipates that the increase in business it will generate will offset that within the first year.
Qantas Loyalty, which allows customers to earn redeemable points by booking flights, shopping at retailers including Woolworths, and using linked credit cards, was founded in 1987 and has grown from 50,000 members.
It made a $372 million profit in the last financial year off revenue of $1.55 billion.
Qantas last month announced its first-ever so-called “points plane” from Melbourne to Tokyo, with all seats on the October flight reserved solely for those paying with frequent flyer points.
Qantas Loyalty boss Olivia Wirth said the airline had conducted extensive research before making the changes announced Thursday.
“There’s a lot about the Qantas Frequent Flyer program that our members tell us they love, but there are also areas of the program that have increasingly come under pressure as a result of rapid expansion,” she said.
“”What we’re announcing today is all about investing more into the heart of our program.”