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For a long time, Qantas Frequent Flyer members were points rich but opportunities poor. Being able to use points on a Classic Flight Rewards fare was elusive, almost impossible. Especially in first and business class.

Recognising it as a major pain point, Qantas has come out with a new way to book reward seats with the Classic Plus Flight Rewards tier. The new option will sit alongside Classic Rewards and Points Plus Pay. According to Qantas Group CEO Vanessa Hudson, the introduction of Classic Plus is one of the biggest expansions the company has made to the Frequent Flyer program in its 35-year history.

There will be more seats to book with points

Qantas is adding over 20 million new flight rewards. But how will they work? Pic: Supplied

To launch Classic Plus, Qantas will be adding over 20 million new flight rewards – bookable with Classic Plus, of course. This is four times more than the airline’s commitment to Classic Rewards which is sitting at 5 million.What Qantas hasn’t specified is how the 20 million flights will be allocated.

Whether it’ll be 19.5 million economy seats and the remaining in premium economy and business? The best use of points to maximise their value is to redeem them for business class seats.

By December 2024, Classic Plus will have fully launched across Qantas’ international and domestic network. Beyond that, members should be flush with Classic Plus flight options with Qantas saying a similar level of availability on an ongoing basis.

Sound too good to be true?

The points required to book Classic Plus reward seats will vary like normal airfares, which means they’ll be lower during off-peak periods or when booking early, and higher during peak periods. The catch is that Classic Plus flights will generally cost more points than a Classic Reward flight.

For example, a one way economy flight from Sydney to London in mid-January costs 55,200 points and $251 in taxes with Classic Rewards.

The same flight with Classic Plus costs 121,100 points and the same in taxes – over double the amount of points of a Classic Reward flight.

But upon checking dates for this hypothetical journey in January, there is just one Classic Reward seat available and countless Classic Plus seats.

What it lacks in points required, it makes up in availability.

The other downside is that Classic Plus flights are only available on Qantas marketed and operated flights. Classic Rewards are available on Qantas, Jetstar and partner airlines flights such as Emirates and British Airlines.

The silver lining

Classic Plus flights sound great. But is there a catch? Pic: Supplied

If you book a Classic Plus business class seat, then you’ll also be able to upgrade to first class if it becomes available closer to the flight time. This currently isn’t possible with Classic Rewards bookings in business class.

How does it stack up to other airlines?

Singapore Airlines has been running a similar system for quite some time. It has two tiers of points redemptions: the best value being their Saver fare and the Advantage fare requiring more points. As a point of comparison, a flight from Sydney to London around the same period – and one way in economy – requires 58,500 KrisFlyer points and $226.42 in taxes for the Saver fare. The Advantage fare is going to be 95,000 points with the same amount in taxes.

The difference between Singapore’s two tiers is just under double in this instance.

More Coverage:
Qantas Frequent Flyer program changes: What you should know

Qantas brings back route after 50 years

The bottom line

While Qantas has added a new avenue to redeem points, Classic Rewards still presents much better bang for buck. If you can find a seat. If you really need a flight and find a Classic Plus fare, book it.

But if you’re flexible and booking far in advance, seek out a Classic Reward fare. According to Qantas, Classic Plus reward seats may drop below a Classic Rewards seat on the same route during sales and promotions.

This could be a very interesting proposition when – and if – the opportunity arises.

Born to French parents, Sabine Leroy has been flying in and out of Europe since she was three years old. Living to drink champagne on a beer budget means she never misses a thrifty travel trick. She always books restaurants before accommodation and plans to visit 40 countries by the time she’s 40.