In July this year Qantas changed the way it calculates your allotment of frequent flyer points on each flight.
How many points you get now depends more on what you paid for your seat rather than the distance you will travel.
That’s not the full story because Qantas has more of a hybrid system with the fare level and the distance being taken into account.
But there is no question that discounted seats get fewer points while full fare or business class will get more.
US-based analysts IdeaWorksCompany reviewed how the frequent flier business is positioned for change due to moves made by key players, here and in the US, to revolutionise point accrual.
For example, a Qantas discount economy fare Sydney to Los Angeles will now deliver just 4,500 Qantas points, a 40% drop from the old distance-travelled method.
But an advance purchase business class seat on the same flight will get 20% more points at 13,500. A full fare business class seat will get 40% more at 15,750 points.
And then add tier points bonuses for senior frequent flyers in Silver, Gold and Platinum levels.
For many fliers, including those who use Delta and United in the US, the notion an economy class fare accruing points on the basis of distance flown is gone forever.
In Australia, Qantas modified rather than replaced its existing method.
“While points remain the currency of the program, these are no longer accrued on the basis of distance flown,” IdeaWorksCompany says.
“But under the new system, points are not linked directly to fares.
“Instead, Qantas offers a complex system of 15 travel regions, which must be combined with 8 fare categories, to eventually define how many points are accrued for a trip.
“The result is a bewildering array of 120 defined accrual levels.”
IdeaWorksCompany put together comparisons for two key markets in the following table:
IdeaWorksCompany says the airline is placing more accrual emphasis on higher yielding fares.
“There is no easy method to implement big changes, but Qantas seems to have designed an especially complicated path for their customers to comprehend,” IdeaWorksCompany says.
The challenge is the complexity of the new method and the fact that when searching for flights the various fare levels don’t initially display the frequent flyer points returns for each.
Frequent flier points are not displayed until the process continues with flight selection in the next step of the booking path.
“If revenue-based accrual is intended to encourage members to upgrade to a higher fare… that benefit has been lost with the lack of disclosure associated with this price display,” says IdeaWorksCompany says.
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