Saving up frequent flyer points for a special trip? I bet you’re dreaming about the pointy end. Serious points hounds focus their efforts on getting a business – or first-class trip. That makes sense. Those flights give you much more bang for your points buck.
My rule of thumb is that for every 1000 points you spend, you need to get at least $20 of value in return. If you use your points for a business rewards flight, that figure can easily be $50 for every 1000 points. The return is even higher for first-class flights, but the availability on those is so scarce that it’s more sensible to focus on business instead.
Scoring those business-class flights requires big points totals. On Qantas, for instance, a business return to Los Angeles requires 216,800 Qantas Points.
But despite the value, that’s still not actually the best way to spend those points.
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Qantas also offers the ‘oneworld Classic Reward’, which lets you book multiple flights on oneworld airlines. As well as Qantas, oneworld members include British Airways, American Airlines, JAL, Finnair, Malaysian Airlines and lots of others. Effectively, the reward functions like a round-the-world ticket. For business-class seats, a oneworld Classic Reward costs 318,000 Qantas Points. That’s higher than our Sydney-Los Angeles example, but it can incorporate many more flights. You can include up to five stopovers, up to 16 separate flights, and up to 35,000 miles of travel in that total.
So you could fly (for example) Melbourne to Los Angeles, then Los Angeles to Las Vegas, then Las Vegas to London, then London to Helsinki, then Helsinki to Bangkok, then Bangkok back to Melbourne. To be clear, the flight isn’t entirely free. As with any rewards flight, you’ll still have to pay “carrier charges”, which cover airport taxes and fuel costs. That can easily cost $1000 on a fully booked award. But $1000 for multiple business-class flights is still the cheapest deal you’re ever likely to encounter, given the price for the same ticket could easily top $20,000.
Like most good deals, this one requires planning and patience. There aren’t heaps of business-class rewards seats around, so you’ll need to look to book about a year in advance, and be relatively flexible about dates and preferred airlines.
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You’ll also need to be aware of some fiddly rules, such as not stopping over twice in the same city. In some cases, you can do better by booking some connections that aren’t on that ticket. For example, you might fly into London, pay your own way to Amsterdam on Eurostar, then resume your flights from there.
It’s not a reward you can book in 10 minutes flat, but the feeling of satisfaction when you get that round-the-world business trip booked is hard to beat.