The rules are about to change again for Qantas Frequent Flyers with passengers needing more points from February 20 to score a coveted cabin upgrade. The changes were flagged by Qantas in November, and mostly affect people buying the cheapest fares or those on sale.
From Monday, frequent flyers will need up to 24,000 additional points to get a “Classic Upgrade Reward” on an international flight and about 2500 more for a domestic upgrade. The last change to upgrade rates on international fares was in 2005, and in 2014 on domestic fares. Qantas explained the increase as being “more reflective” of the value of the commercial fare Frequent Flyer members had paid.
“Different fare types have different features with higher fares offering greater flexibility and the opportunity to earn more Qantas points and status credits,” said a Qantas spokeswoman. “When it comes to requesting upgrades on bookings it makes sense that more Qantas points would be required to upgrade cheaper fares.”
Editor-in-chief of comparison website finder.com.au, Angus Kidman, said the move seemed to design to encourage travelers to buy higher yielding fares. “If you buy a flexi-fare you earn more points on a flight, and need fewer points to get an upgrade,” said Mr. Kidman. “I do think some of the motivation (of Qantas) is to encourage people to think about the fare they’re buying and what it means to them.”
He said even after the changes, using points for an upgrade was still the best way to maximise their value. “We calculated that 1000 points was worth $85 towards an upgrade, but if you spent the same number of points in the online store, they’d only be worth $5,” Mr Kidman said. “So it’s a no brainer, even with those tougher regulations. The number of points you need for upgrading from economy is still the best thing to do with your points.”
The Qantas spokeswoman said since the last increase in points needed for an international upgrade, the airline had given Frequent Flyer members “more opportunities to earn points”. “We’ve expanded our number of Frequent Flyer partners while demand for upgrades has grown,” she said.
Those facing the prospect of needing more points for an upgrade include people with Red e-Deal fares, Economy Saver to Premium Economy, Economy Saver and Economy Flex to Business, Premium Economy Sale to Business and Business Sale and Saver fares to First Class.
“For me, the key thing is the rules have changed but upgrades are still the best option you can pick for your points,” Mr Kidman said. “It’s also a reminder that Frequent Flyer points are not money in your hand. They’re controlled by the airline with which you have them.” Qantas Frequent Flyer members can now earn Qantas Points when they book an Airbnb accommodation through the airline’s website. Qantas says the partnership represents the first time Airbnb has worked with an airline to allow travellers to earn frequent flyer points from bookings.
Qantas’ 11.4 million Frequent Flyer members will earn one point for every dollar they spend on any Airbnb accommodation listed on the airline’s website. The offering is indicative of a broader shift in the way Australians are travelling and how they plan their travels.
“The way that people around the world plan, book and experience travel is changing rapidly with the digital revolution,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement on Tuesday. “We know our many of our customers are just as likely to arrange an Airbnb as they are to book a hotel, and we wanted to recognise and reward them for that.”
Airbnb promotes itself as offering an alternative form of accommodation for travellers beyond hotels and hostels, along with a cheaper price, the immersive experience of living like ‘a local’ and being able to rent out an entire home for a few days or months at a time.
For all its positives, Airbnb has attracted criticism from locals with issues of noise and poor behaviour of Airbnb guests, and from hosts who’ve had their homes trashed.
But despite the criticisms, Airbnb has made an undeniable dent in the industry with some hotel chains strategically launching new brands to cater for this emerging market, including younger ‘millennial travellers’. These travellers, according to the industry, are looking for a certain type of ‘lifestyle’ when they travel.
Accor Hotels reportedly launched the hostel brand partly in response to the challenges posed by Airbnb and to leverage the spending power of young adults. In 2014, Shangri La launched its spinoff Hotel Jen brand aimed at the ‘millennial movement’ providing traveller that local and authentic experience while in the bustle of Singapore. Guest staying at the hotel can wander local farmers’ markets, be informed about smaller bespoke events and staff can provide tips on off-the-beaten-path sights and experiences.
Airbnb was founded by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia in 2008. The idea started when the pair, not being able to afford the rent in their San Francisco apartment, turned the living room into a bed and breakfast which they rented out to guests. The online business now has 2.5 million accommodation listings across 191 countries and 34,000 cities.