Since 2016, you’ve been able to request an upgrade for Qantas Classic Flight Reward bookings (i.e. reward seat bookings you’ve already made with your Qantas Points), by using even more Qantas Points.

This ability to upgrade Classic Flight Rewards has introduced another layer of complexity when looking to redeem your points, but it’s also a great opportunity to extract some value from your hard-earned frequent flyer balance.

Here’s how it works, and how it stacks up against redeeming for a premium cabin flight outright.

What is a Classic Upgrade Reward?

‘Classic Upgrade Rewards’ is fancy-speak for the ability to upgrade your Qantas flights using Qantas Points. Both cash fares and reward seat bookings are covered under the same system.

The points needed to upgrade varies on the type of fare. For example, cheaper fares will need more points to upgrade than flexible fares. Classic Flight Reward fares command the highest upgrade rate, as you haven’t paid for a cash fare in the first place.

For an Economy to Business Class upgrade, here’s what you can expect:

  • Economy Flex fares: lowest points upgrade cost
  • Economy Red e-Deal fares: medium points upgrade cost
  • Economy Classic Reward fare: highest points upgrade cost

It’s important to remember that you’ll use more points booking a Classic Flight Reward in a lower class and later upgrading it, compared to booking a Classic Flight Reward in the higher class outright.

Redeem Qantas Points for a Classic Flight Reward or an upgrade?
Also, you can’t upgrade a Classic Flight Reward to First Class using points.

Qantas has published two tables for flight upgrades – Domestic and International. These tables list the points needed to upgrade across a variety of cabin classes for both cash fares and Classic Flight Rewards.

The points cost are shown below. These tables highlight the total cost in points of upgrading a Classic Flight Reward ticket against using your points to book directly into the higher cabin class outright.

How many points do I need to upgrade a Qantas Domestic flight?

There are two Qantas Domestic tables available, one for upgrades to Premium Economy and the other to Business.

While domestic aircraft do not include a Premium Economy cabin, the former is used for domestic segments of international flights that offer Premium Economy (such as QF9/10 between London, Perth and Melbourne).

ZoneOne-way milesOriginal Economy CostCost to upgrade to Premium EconomyTotal Cost of upgraded flightCost of outright Premium Economy redemptionDifference
10-6008,0008,70016,70013,8002,900
2601-1,20012,00013,00025,00020,6004,400
31,201-2,40018,00019,60037,60031,0006,600
42,401-3,60020,30028,30048,60042,2006,400
ZoneOne-way milesOriginal Economy CostCost to upgrade to BusinessTotal Cost of upgraded flightCost of outright Business redemptionDifference
10-6008,00013,00021,00018,4002,600
2601-1,20012,00019,60031,60027,6004,000
31,201-2,40018,00028,30046,30041,5004,800
42,401-3,60020,30038,10058,40057,0001,400

You’re definitely wasting more points booking a Classic Flight Reward in a lower cabin and then upgrading, compared to booking into the higher cabin directly as a reward seat.

Therefore, If you are looking to redeem points for a flight and have an inkling that you may wish to travel in a premium class, make sure to redeem for the premium class seat directly.

Remember that Qantas domestic reward flights are upgraded instantly where reward availability exists. Therefore, if you find yourself regretting your Economy redemption and looking to upgrade, it may be smarter to pay the relevant change/cancellation fee to re-book in the higher class, rather than upgrade.

How many points do I need to upgrade a Qantas International flight?

Qantas makes available four upgrade charts for International travel, which cover the following upgrades:

  • Economy to Premium Economy
  • Economy to Business
  • Premium Economy to Business
  • Business to First

As Classic Flight Reward upgrades from Business to First are only available on cash fares (and hence, not Classic Flight Rewards with points), we have split these up into three tables below.

The points cost for each are shown in the tables below, and again highlight the total cost in points of upgrading a Classic Flight Reward ticket against an outright redemption into the higher class.

Economy to Premium Economy

ZoneOne-way milesOriginal Economy CostCost to upgrade to Premium EconomyTotal Cost of upgraded flightCost of outright Premium Economy redemptionDifference
10-6008,0008,70016,70013,8002,900
2601-1,20012,00013,00025,00020,6004,400
31,201-2,40018,00019,60037,60031,0006,600
42,401-3,60020,30028,30048,60042,2006,400
53,601-4,80025,20041,40066,60051,30015,300
64,801-5,80031,50052,30083,80061,50022,300
75,801-7,00037,60061,00098,60071,10027,500
87,001-8,40041,90076,300118,20081,30036,900
98,401-9,60051,20087,200138,40094,90043,500
109,601-15,00055,20098,100153,300108,40044,900

Economy to Business

ZoneOne-way milesOriginal Economy CostCost to upgrade to BusinessTotal Cost of upgraded flightCost of outright Business redemptionDifference
10-6008,00013,00021,00018,4002,600
2601-1,20012,00019,60031,60027,6004,000
31,201-2,40018,00028,30046,30041,5005,200
42,401-3,60020,30038,10058,40057,0001,400
53,601-4,80025,20058,80084,00068,40015,600
64,801-5,80031,50069,700101,20082,00019,200
75,801-7,00037,60087,200124,80094,90029,900
87,001-8,40041,900109,000150,900108,40042,500
98,401-9,60051,200119,900171,100126,50044,600
109,601-15,00055,200135,100190,300144,60045,700

Premium Economy to Business

ZoneOne-way milesOriginal Premium Economy CostCost to upgrade to BusinessTotal Cost of upgraded flightCost of outright Business redemptionDifference
10-60013,8007,60021,40018,4003,000
2601-1,20020,60011,40032,00027,6004,400
31,201-2,40031,00017,40038,40041,5003,100
42401-3,60042,20024,50066,70057,0009,700
53,601-4,80051,30039,20090,50068,40022,100
64,801-5,80061,50043,600105,10082,00023,100
75,801-7,00071,10058,800129,90094,90035,000
87,001-8,40081,30073,500154,800108,40046,400
98,401-9,60094,90081,700176,600126,50050,100
109,601-15,000108,40092,600201,000144,60056,400

As was the case with Domestic upgrades, there is a premium attached to upgrading your seat via a lower class reward redemption that booking a Classic Flight Reward directly into the upgraded cabin of choice.

A thing to consider with International upgrades is that upgrades are not awarded immediately — instead, it follows a wait-listing system. Therefore, you may not get the upgrade anyway.

Except for the shortest of routes, you’ll definitely be better off paying the relevant change or cancellation fee and re-booking directly into the higher class of travel, where reward seats are available.

Summing Up

Although the points cost to upgrade Classic Flight Reward bookings is higher compared to redeeming those same points for the upgraded cabin class straight up, having this option is still welcome.

There are probably instances where you may have booked a non-upgradeable Economy ticket and wished we had just spent that little more so you could upgrade the flight. With Classic Flight Reward redemptions, this option is at least always open.

As shown above, however, in nearly all cases, you are better off bypassing this option and proceed to change or cancel your original Classic Flight Reward to upgrade to a higher class.  The sole exception is a single-sector booking on the shortest routes, where using the upgrade process will cost you slightly fewer points.

Case Study: read how Natasha used Qantas Points to upgrade to Business Class on a flight to the USA

This article was originally written by Jason Belcher and updated by Daniel Scibberas.

How to upgrade Qantas Classic Flight Reward bookings was last modified: January 27th, 2021 by Brandon Loo