If you’ve decided that upgrading your plane seat is the best use of Qantas Points, there are a few things you should know before diving in. There are many factors that determine how to get the best value with your Qantas Points and whether your upgrade request will be accepted. Read our complete guide to upgrading to help you succeed.
What you'll learn
- How to upgrade your seat with Qantas Points
- Competing for an upgraded seat
- Tips for a successful upgrade
- Getting the best value on an upgrade
Whether you’re after domestic flight upgrades or international flight upgrades, the process is generally the same. Requesting an upgrade on a Qantas flight (known by Qantas as ‘Classic Upgrade Rewards’) can be done either through the Qantas app, or by logging into your account with Qantas and selecting ‘upgrade’ for your chosen booking.
Upgrading to business class on domestic flights
Domestic flights are a great use of Classic Upgrade Rewards. With so many domestic flights running daily, you’re sure to lock in your requested seat upgrade. When booking domestic flights, you can also search for Classic Flight Rewards, and if a seat in a higher cabin is available, you’ll be approved for the upgrade immediately. If not, you’ll need to wait for the upgrade request window to open (which, depending on your Frequent Flyer status, could be as late as 24 hours before flight departure). With the amount of points required to upgrade a seat determined by the flight distance, a domestic flight will generally be far less Qantas Points than international flights. And unlike international flights, if you book a Discount Economy fare on domestic flights, you’ll still be eligible to upgrade your seat.
Upgrading to business class on international flights
While upgrading your seat on international flights will use a lot more Qantas Points than a domestic flight, a long-haul flight in the comfort of business class could well be worth it. You’ll certainly have more difficulty competing with other passengers for business seat upgrades on international flights, but read ahead, and you’ll find there are many ways to improve your chances of securing your seat.
There are many elements that decide whether a passenger will be approved for a requested seat upgrade. As there’s a limited number of seats available for upgrade on each flight, Qantas has implemented a priority system to decide which passenger’s request is successful.
Each factor used to determine the priority of upgrade requests are ranked in order of importance when calculating who is successful for the upgrade.
Classic Upgrade Rewards
|Classic Upgrade Rewards is the most common and straightforward method of getting an upgrade. Simply request an upgrade during the eligible request period through the Qantas app or by logging into the Qantas website and selecting ‘upgrade’ for your booking. Using this method, you’ll enjoy the best value Qantas Points rate. You’ll also have the security of priority over passengers requesting an upgrade with Bid Now Upgrades and Domestic On Departure Upgrade Rewards. You can check the current Qantas Points cost for Classic Upgrade Rewards and factor in the flight distance, your booked cabin class and your requested cabin class to get a good idea of how many points you’ll need.
|Bid Now Upgrades
With Bid Now Upgrades, you’re taking a gamble for your upgraded seat, but there’s a chance you’ll win big if you’re approved for the upgrade with a lower Qantas Points bid. There’s a lot of flexibility with this method, as you can even pay with a mix of Qantas Points and cash. You can also amend your bid as often as you like to increase your chances.
Domestic On Departure Upgrade Rewards
If you have a Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum or Platinum One membership, or you’re a Qantas Club member, you’ll be able to make use of Domestic On Departure Upgrade Rewards. You can even request an upgrade after checking into your flight, as long as your request is within 3 hours of the scheduled flight departure. This is ideal for last minute decisions, and best of all, the Qantas Points cost for this method is the same as Classic Upgrade Rewards.
With so many factors coming into play when requesting an upgraded seat, you may feel like your chances are slim. Thankfully, there are many ways to increase your success rate when it comes to seat upgrades:
Classic Flight Rewards
When booking a domestic flight, have a look to see if the flight is offering Classic Flight Rewards. If so, you’ll be able to request and be approved for an upgrade immediately, regardless of Frequent Flyer Status or Qantas Club Membership.
Consider your destination
If you haven’t decided on where you want to travel, choosing a less popular destination could be a good idea, as you may have an emptier flight. Requesting an upgrade in this situation will be far easier and you won’t have to wait as long for your upgrade to be confirmed by Qantas.
Consider when to fly
Similarly, booking a flight on an off-peak time will increase your chances. With a less-packed flight, not only will you have a better shot at upgrading to a business or first-class seat, you’ll also pay less for your ticket, as off-peak flights are generally cheaper.
Upgrade as soon as possible
As there’s a first-come, first-served component to flight upgrades, it’s best to be ready and waiting to apply for a seat upgrade as soon as it’s available to you. Beating your competition to the punch could make all the difference when it comes to soaring in comfort.
Check the size of the plane
When searching for your ideal flight, check your flight number to see which type of plane is being used. Qantas uses a fleet of planes of different sizes with varying numbers of seats. A flight on an Airbus A380 or A330 will have more seats than a Boeing 737 or 787, meaning there are more business seats available for upgrade.
Become a Qantas Club member
If you’re a frequent flyer and not already a Qantas Club member, consider signing up and reaping all the benefits that come with joining the exclusive Qantas Club. When requesting an upgraded seat, you’ll receive priority over others on your Frequent Flyer tier, but you’ll also get to enjoy the tranquillity of the Qantas Club lounge with a guest, free meals, drinks and Wi-Fi on your flight, extra checked baggage and more Qantas Points per dollar spent.
When deciding how to upgrade your seat with the Qantas Points you’ve earned on a Qantas Rewards Credit Card, make sure you get the best value by considering the type of upgrade, whether it’s a domestic or international flight, the extent of the upgrade and the flight distance.
Type of upgrades
Frequent Flyer status
|The primary factor when considering upgrade requests is Frequent Flyer status. The Qantas Frequent Flyer program has different levels of membership tiers, which come with increasingly enticing benefits, including a higher Qantas Point earn rate for flight bookings with Qantas, Jetstar and American Airlines. The Frequent Flyer membership tiers range from Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One. To receive a promotion to a higher tier, you must book a certain number of flights within a year.
|Qantas Club membership
If you and another passenger competing for the same upgrade are of the same Frequent Flyer status, whoever is a Qantas Club member will receive priority. Becoming a Qantas Club member also comes with many other benefits, such as entry to Qantas Club with a guest, complimentary meals and Wi-Fi, additional baggage and a higher Qantas Point earn rate.
When requesting a seat upgrade, the passenger in the higher cabin will receive the upgrade over a passenger in a cheaper cabin. Ticket cost is considered with competing upgrade requests, so if your original ticket is premium economy, you’ll be given precedence over someone in economy requesting a seat upgrade. Plus, upgrading from premium economy to business will cost less Qantas Points.
|Time of request
The final consideration for upgrade priority when all other factors are tied, is whoever requested the upgrade first. The time period you can request an upgrade varies, depending on Frequent Flyer status and whether it’s a domestic or international flight. It can be as little as 24 hours before scheduled flight departure for gold, silver and bronze members on a domestic flight, to as much as 7 days before scheduled flight departure for a platinum one member on international flights.
Domestic or international flights
If you're wondering how many Qantas Points to upgrade to business class from economy, it's actually quite similar across domestic and international flights. In fact, if you used your Qantas Points to book your ticket outright with Classic Flight Rewards, the amount of Qantas Points required to upgrade to business class is identical on domestic and international flights. If you paid for your ticket in full, there is still only a slight difference of a few thousand Qantas Points between domestic and international flights. If you’ve booked a flight as part of a Discount Economy sale (known as ‘Red e-Deal’ or ‘Economy Sale’), upgrading your seat using Qantas Points is only possible on domestic flights.
Difference between cabin classes and ticket prices
When deciding to upgrade your seat, you should consider what cabin class you want to upgrade to, as well as the type of ticket you currently hold. Upgrading to a first-class seat will always cost more Qantas Points than to a business-class seat. The same can be said about upgrading to business-class over premium economy. Additionally, the lower the ticket type you have (whether that be discount economy, flexible economy, premium economy, business etc.), the more Qantas Points you’ll need to upgrade.
It goes without saying that the longer your flight, the more Qantas Points required to upgrade your seat. The number of Qantas Points required for an upgrade changes about every 1200 miles, but depending on your cabin class and the total flight distance, the Qantas Points rate seems to vary quite a bit between each distance level. It’s a good idea to check the Classic Upgrade Reward tables for a better idea of how many Qantas Points you’ll need.
If you’d like to know more about how to earn Qantas Points, have a read of our tips on maximising your Qantas Points article or check out our Qantas Rewards Credit Cards for heaps of bonus points on sign-up.
Frequently asked questions
How much does it cost to top up Qantas Points?
The cost of buying Qantas Points varies depending on the amount of points you’re purchasing. Starting with 1000 Qantas Points for $56 (at a rate of 17.86 points per dollar), all the way up to 150,000 Qantas Points for $3999 (at a rate of 37.51 points per dollar). You can buy Qantas Points a maximum of four times in a 12-month period.
Does Qantas use upgrades to fill every seat?
Qantas generally leaves a few empty seats in business and first class in case of last-minute travel for certain members. You may be able to get an upgrade at the very last moment if these seats aren’t taken. If you don’t request an upgrade, Qantas flights will often depart with empty seats.
Can you upgrade from economy to first class?
No, using Qantas Points to upgrade to first class is only possible from business class. With an economy seat, you can upgrade to premium economy or business class.
Information correct as of 25/09/23.
This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.
Conditions, credit criteria and fees and charges apply, credit provided by Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.
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