Qantas “Points Plane” Flight: A380 Bookable Exclusively With Points

Filed Under: Qantas

Qantas has announced that they plan to offer a series of dedicated frequent flyer redemption flights across their network with seats only available to those redeeming Qantas points.

They’re calling this concept “Points Plane,” and the first such flight will be from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita on October 21, 2019.

Qantas Frequent Flyer members will be able to book all 484 seats on this flight (14 first class, 64 business class, 35 premium economy, and 371 economy seats) at the “classic” award level as of 7AM AEST on Thursday, May 16, 2019. The redemption costs will be as follows:

  • An economy seat will cost 35,000 Qantas points
  • A premium economy seat will cost 54,000 Qantas points
  • A business class seat will cost 72,000 Qantas points
  • A first class seat will cost 108,000 points

Qantas A380 first class

Interestingly Qantas isn’t actually prioritizing members based on status, and these seats will be available on a first come first served basis. I imagine the first class seats will sell out in seconds (if not faster), while I imagine economy seats will be pretty readily available.

Now, you might be wondering what Qantas’ ulterior motive here is. Sure, this is a cool concept, though it’s my understanding that the reason that all of this is practical is that they have an A380 charter from Tokyo to Melbourne, so they need to reposition the plane, and that’s why they’re doing something fun with this.

Qantas will be offering a similar flight in the other direction on October 26, 2019, though it will be operated by an A330. Obviously their intention is that not everyone will want to take the same return, so they suggest using points to book Qantas or another partner airline on a different flight.

Qantas A380

Qantas also says that the first Points Plane flight will have special inflight services, including a special cocktail and meal service, pajamas for all passengers, and inflight giveaways.

CEO of Qantas Loyalty, Olivia Wirth, had the following to say:

“This is the first time we have dedicated an entire aircraft – let alone an A380 – to our frequent flyers, and we are expecting to see significant demand for these flights.

Four flight redemptions are made every minute and sixty upgrades are confirmed every hour. We know our members love to redeem their points on travel, so we’re excited to be able to give them new ways to access these rewards.

“If this concept is a success, which we think it will be, Qantas hopes to operate more regular Frequent Flyer only flights to other international and domestic destinations in the near future.”

In the past I’ve been skeptical about these concepts (Cathay Pacific had a similar flight last year), but:

  • Qantas Frequent Flyer members generally really love Qantas (to a degree I can’t fully wrap my head around at times)
  • Qantas is typically stingy with premium cabin award seats, so the ability to redeem for first and business class seats is something that will get a lot of members excited
  • Given Qantas’ outrageously high surcharges on award tickets, I bet the fuel bill will be more than covered by the “carrier imposed surcharges” alone

Bottom line

This is a brilliant way for an airline to engage loyal members, given that they have to reposition the plane anyway. I imagine first and business class will sell out within seconds, though I’ll be curious to see if they’re able to fill all economy seats on this flight. Qantas is pretty good about releasing economy seats, so there’s not much special about that.

Would you book a “Points Plane” flight like this?

Comments
  1. Does this mean Qantas expects Australia to fall out of the world cup at the quarter finals?

  2. Not sure I agree with you that the premium seats will sell out “in seconds”. Even if a Qantas loyalty member is eager to experience business or first class, why would they prefer this flight in particular:
    – They would have no flexibility around travel dates and destination
    – They would need to find return flight as well, which may not be available for redemption and expensive if booked as a cash one-way ticket
    – They don’t get any discount versus the miles needed for a standard “classic award”
    – They would have to fork out to cover the substantial carrier charges

  3. Loving qantas isn’t really an option if you like in Australia – virgin is a ways behind on domestic network and international partners and you get Qantas points for almost everything up to and including breathing in Australia. It’s harder to rack up a lot of points that aren’t qantas ones.

    Whilst redemption rates may be high and surcharges not great, values aren’t bad given how easy it is to rack up the the point.

    As an airline it is pretty good. It still serves a full meal with wine or beer in economy domestically, at least on major routes; and the food isn’t bad. Domestic lounges are good, at least where refurbished, if busy. The international route network is acceptable (i’d appreciate a MEL-HND and a JV with JAL and CX but you can’t have everything).

    Basically if you live in Australia you can love Qantas or be a free agent or make a lot of compromises to be loyal to someone else.

  4. It’s an especially clever idea when you consider that the hard costs for the charter’s ferry flights are baked into the charter cost.

  5. @Greg Dunning – nothing to do with world cup as far as I know. MotoGP in Japan in the days before, with the following round is near Melbourne.

  6. @Ed – “you get Qantas points for almost everything, up to, and including breathing, in Australia.”

    Literally laughed out loud at that. You are bang on correct there, mate!

  7. @Ed
    All true – just that there isn’t much of an alternative. Ever tried to use Virgin Australia Velocity points for flights recently?

  8. Ben – this is because of the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo at the same time. Qantas is a sponsor of the Wallabies, the Australian national rugby team. The flight date is a few days before the Quarter Finals, so it’s perfectly timed for Rugby fans wanting to get over to Tokyo. I guarantee you it’ll be a very fun flight especially in Business!

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