AMEX Membership Rewards Points Transfer to Qantas Frequent Flyer. Points transfer 1:1 and are typically instant, although terms say to allow 48 hours for the transferred points to be reflected in your Qantas account.
But are there any sweet spots in the Qantas award chart? While Australians know there are many ways to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points, the distance based chart and expensive premium cabin redemptions, akin to British Airways Executive Club, makes Qantas Frequent Flyer a very expensive frequent flyer program for international first class and business class awards. In most cases, flyers with other frequent flyer miles such as American AAdvantage miles, JAL Mileage Bank or Alaska Mileage Plan will be able to use fewer miles to book awards, compared to Qantas Frequent Flyer.
You can also pretty much forget using Qantas Frequent Flyer points to book Qantas First Class or Qantas Business Class on Qantas non-stop flights between the U.S. and Australia. Even though the Qantas award calendar does open 353 days in advance, compared to 331 days in advance for AAdvantage, it's very rare to find even 1 Qantas First Class or Qantas Business Class award seat available on the nonstop flights between the U.S. and Australia. You're far more likely to find availability via China on China Eastern or Japan on JAL.
Here are a few of the cases where one might opt to use Qantas Frequent Flyer points:
1. El Al Business Class
El Al doesn't partner with many airlines, so Qantas Frequent Flyer can be a good way of redeeming for El Al Business Class, especially as there aren't fuel surcharges imposed for El Al flights. It's 78,000 Qantas points for El Al flat bed Business Class, on the 787-9 from the East Coast to Tel Aviv.
Alaska Mileage Plan has partnered with El Al for mileage earning, but so far there aren't any redemptions using Mileage Plan miles on El Al.
2. Emirates First Class One Way
Before March 30, 2016, the cheapest way to book Emirates First Class used to be with Alaska Mileage Plan miles; then Alaska Mileage Plan devalued its Emirates Award Chart with no notice, causing some Emirates First Class awards to double in cost, and others to increase 67-80%. NYC JFK to Dubai DXB is now 150,000 Alaska miles + $20 for Emirates First Class, whereas Emirates Skywards charges 136,250 miles + $842 for the same flight. Qantas Frequent Flyer charges 126,000 miles plus similar taxes to Emirates, so many might still choose to redeem Alaska miles in order to save on the taxes and fees. After all, you're redeeming 24,000 Alaska miles but saving over $800, valuing Alaska miles at ~3.4 cents per mile.
The best award chart belongs to JAL Mileage Bank, but keep in mind that JAL can only book roundtrip Emirates awards, not one way. A roundtrip JFK-DXB-JFK is 165,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles, with similarly hefty taxes and fees to Emirates and Qantas, so ~$1600 in taxes on the roundtrip. And apart from Marriott Bonvoy (previously SPG) there are few ways to get points into JAL Mileage Bank if you don't otherwise earn them.
On the other hand, if you're based in Asia and can fly from Hong Kong, where there are lower surcharges, you could fly HKG-DXB for 90,000 Qantas points and ~$120, vs. 98,750 Emirates Skywards miles. A roundtrip would still be much cheaper with JAL Mileage Bank miles, at 120,000 miles (so an average of 60,000 miles each way) but again, most people don't have an easy way to earn JAL Mileage Bank miles.
3. Domestic Awards or Upgrades Within Australia
Many Australian flyers who have Qantas points but not British Airways Avios redeem for short domestic flights within Australia, or upgrade them from paid economy to business class. Outright awards often aren't a good deal if you have British Airways Avios; for example, taking Sydney to Melbourne, Qantas Frequent Flyer charges 16,000 Qantas points + AUD $36 for Business Class or 8000 Qantas points + AUD $36 for economy. Meanwhile, those same awards cost 12,500 Avios + USD $13 for business class and 6000 Avios + $13, even after the British Airways Avios Partner Award Chart Devaluation.
For Qantas Frequent Flyer members who have a status, a better deal is likely to be using points to upgrade from economy to business, since domestic upgrades can be cleared at time of booking, whereas international upgrades are only confirmed close to departure.
What do you consider the best Qantas Frequent Flyer award redemptions?
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