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Qantas significant changes to its Frequent Flyer Program

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Qantas is rolling out significant changes to its Qantas Frequent Flyer program in the face of a new frequent flyer offering from Virgin Australia due in July.

Silver and Gold members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme can now earn more status points, while the most highly-travelled Platinum members will be upgraded to a new 'super Platinum' level known as Platinum One.

The changes focus on rewarding people who fly a lot with Qantas, rather than those who accrue points via credit cards and shopping, and while largely positive in nature there are still a few downsides.

Here's our summary of today's changes.

Classic award flights cost more points

Qantas is imposing a 50% price increase on the number of points required to pay for surcharges and taxes on classic award flights. It will increase from 3,000 points to 4,500 points per segment, which Qantas blames on increased jet fuel prices.

Increased cabin class point-earning bonuses

on Qantas and eligible Jetstar tickets

•Premium Economy: from 10% to 25%

•Business: from 25% to 50%

•First: from 50% to 100%

Increased status point-earning bonuses

on Qantas and eligible Jetstar tickets

•Silver: 25% to 50%

•Gold: 50% to 75%

More points and status with Jetstar

A new fare structure for Jetstar will see Frequent Flyer members able to earn both points and status credits in Economy and Business on any fare purchase with a “Plus or Max Bundle”.

The new “bundles” can be included on top of any fare and will provide customers with flexibility and extras depending on their needs.

Among the added benefits are making free changes to their flight, seat selection or earning Qantas Frequent Flyer points and Status credits.

Better upgrade process

While most airlines allow points-based upgrades to be locked in as surely as if you'd bought a ticket, Qantas only gives you the chance of getting an upgrade when you apply for one.

There's no guarantee of the upgrade, and even if you are upgraded you'll be notified only shortly before boarding.

Qantas says it will have an improved upgrade request and notification process planned for late 2011, including SMS confirmation prior to the day of travel.

A new "super platinum" membership level

Qantas new Platinum One tier is for travellers who have accrued 3,600 status credits in a year -- three times the number of status credits required for 'ordinary' platinum status.

The airline hasn't yet released many details on what benefits this new status level will bring, except that it will include a "dedicated team to look after your travel needs every step of the way."

Changed Loyalty bonus

Qantas is raising the 'loyalty bonus' bar, making it harder to receive those extra points while also increasing the number of points you receive.

Under the current scheme members who accrue 450 status credits will receive an extra 5,000 frequent flyer points.

From December this year the qualification limit will be 500 status credits but the bonus will be 8,000 points. Loyalty bonuses can be issued up to four times a year.

Optus points earning

Optus customers will also be able to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points, at a rate not yet revealed. Although it might be a better idea overall to switch to a telco that provides fairer global roaming prices for travellers!

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