Update: On 10 March 2020, Qantas announced significant cuts to its international route network through to September 2020. This includes suspension of flights and aircraft swaps, including the grounding of a majority of its A380 fleet. Further information can be found in this guide.
Have you ever been frustrated when you can’t use your Qantas Points for the date, route and/or class of travel that you’re aiming for? You are not alone.
To help save you time and narrow your searches for award availability, I’ve compiled a list of the best (and worst) international routes for releasing award seats on Qantas flights.
As you’ll see, the number of routes that it is hard to find open seats on is more than double the easy ones. Hopefully, Qantas takes notice and becomes more generous in releasing award seats to its loyal frequent flyers.
I’ve focussed mainly on Business Class award availability on international routes, given that is what most of our readers are aiming for. However, First and Premium Economy Class seat availability has also been taken into account.
Economy Class redemptions are not included in this test, given that you can usually find open seats in that cabin, especially during off-peak travel periods. However, redeeming Qantas Points for Economy flights usually does not provide very good value.
I’ve also restricted this test to Qantas-operated flights, not those serviced by partners like Emirates and Cathay Pacific.
Easiest international routes to find Qantas award availability on
It’s easiest to pick up an award seat when travelling on Qantas within the Asia-Pacific region.
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Auckland/Christchurch/Wellington|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane/Perth – Singapore|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Hong Kong|
|Sydney – Beijing|
|Sydney – Manila|
|Sydney – Osaka|
Hardest international routes to find Qantas award availability on
It’s most difficult to use your Qantas Points for premium cabin redemptions to North and South America, Europe and South Africa (Qantas’ longest flights).
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – US|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Tokyo|
|Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane – Queenstown|
|Sydney – Bangkok|
|Sydney – Honolulu|
|Sydney – Santiago|
|Sydney – Vancouver|
|Perth – London|
|Singapore – London (as an extension of Sydney/Melbourne – Singapore)|
|Sydney/Brisbane – Lord Howe Island (not technically international)|
Ways to increase your chances of securing Qantas award availability
Preference for premium cabin award availability on long-haul Qantas flights is given to those with elite status. As such, if you are a:
- Gold, Platinum or Platinum One member: book 353 days before departure
- Bronze or Silver member: you won’t get access to those seats until 297 days before departure, by which stage they are often already gone
You can increase your chances of securing an award seat using Qantas Points by:
- booking right when the award calendar opens for your status level
- being flexible with your dates, especially by avoiding travel during school holidays
- being flexible with your routes—out of the three Australian departure airports for Qantas flights to the US and Japan, Brisbane tends to offer the most award availability, followed by Melbourne and then Sydney; for flights to the US, it is easier to find seats to/from San Francisco than Los Angeles
- considering award travel on partner airlines—redemptions on carriers such as Emirates and American Airlines are cheaper than those on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines; also, you’ll save fees when flying American Airlines or Fiji Airways to the US (rather than Qantas)
Qantas is not the most generous airline when it comes to releasing award seats to its frequent flyers. A major factor in this is a lack of competition in the Australian frequent flyer market.
As such, when you are looking to use your hard-earned Qantas Points for an award redemption in First, Business or Premium Economy Class, it helps to narrow your search down to the most available routes. These tend to be within the Asia-Pacific region.
If you want to fly further afield, to places like North and South America, Europe and South Africa, then try to book when the award calendar first opens.
Do you agree or disagree with the classifications above? Based on your personal experience, which Qantas routes offer the best (and worst) award availability?