Qantas to increase number of frequent flyer reward seats by 20 million

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Remy Varga
The Nightly
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Qantas will increase the number of reward seats for frequent flyer members by more than 20 million.
Qantas will increase the number of reward seats for frequent flyer members by more than 20 million. Credit: News Corp Australia

Qantas will increase the number of reward seats for frequent flyer members by more than 20 million after the airline faced sustained criticism that members were unable to use their points to purchase flights.

The national carrier unveiled the new Classic Plus option on Monday in an attempt to increase engagement amongst frequent flyer members in one of the biggest expansions of the loyalty program in its 35-year history.

Qantas chief executive officer Vanessa Hudson said Classic Plus had been introduced in recognition of feedback from members about an insufficient number of flights to purchase with points.

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“I think it’s a recognition that our members have been really engaged with the program [and] earning a lot,” she said.

“I think its also been something that we’ve heard from members in terms of availability of redemption.

“I think it does demonstrate the success of the program and there will always be natural points in the cycle of a loyalty program where you have to make sure you are resetting access to redemption avenues that continue to drive that level of engagement.”

The Classic Plus program will make more seats available to Frequent Flyer members but will use more points than the pre-existing Classic category, which remain unchanged.

According to examples provided by Qantas, a Classic Plus return flight from Sydney to London will require 191,800 points during the peak period compared to 110,400 for Classic seats.

A Classic Plus return flight from Brisbane to Singapore will require 68,200 points while a Classic fare would cost 50,400.

Under former chief executive Alan Joyce, Qantas has for the past decade focused on delivering for investors and the earning of points in the loyalty program.

The airline has faced criticism that the number of flights available in the previous iteration of the loyalty program, five million, was insufficient and left members with points they couldn’t use.

Since commencing as CEO in September last year, Ms Hudson has signalled she wants to improve the experience of consumers.

“The more you can create and stimulate engagement and the more activity you can generate by encouraging customers to earn more, they’re going to be burning more,” she said on Monday.

“That’s what we call the flywheel effect in loyalty and that actually spins as quickly as we can.

“That’s good because you’re delivering to customers what they want but you’re also delivering for your partners and you’re able to generate growth from there.”

Qantas is investing $120 million in the Classic Plus program while the airline expects to make $500 million from the loyalty program by the end of the year. About 16 million Australian’s are frequent flyer members.

Under the new loyalty program, the number of points required to book airfares will vary like normal airfares and be subject to peak and off-peak pricing. Classic Plus will be able be used to upgrade members from business to first class by May 2024.

Qantas said Classic Plus would be fully launched by the end of 2024 and more than 20 million new reward seats would be available to members.

Loyalty Club members will be unable to use Classic Plus points to purchase seats on Jetstar or Qantas’ partner airlines.

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