If you have always wanted to visit Lord Howe Island off Australia’s East Coast, then now might be your chance. However, there is an important catch that you should be aware of.
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.
Next Points Plane destination: Lord Howe Island
For a limited time, every available seat on eligible direct flights with a QF flight number from Sydney to Lord Howe Island can be booked as a Classic Flight Reward using your Qantas Points.
You’ll need to book by 23 December 2019 for travel between 15 July and 31 August 2020 (that’s a very limited time period.)
The flights cost:
- 8,000 Qantas Points + $86 in taxes for a one-way Economy Class flight
- 16,000 Qantas Points + $172 in taxes for a return Economy Class flight
This redemption represents great value at over 5c per point (more than double our valuation of Qantas Points.) In fact, it’s one of the best domestic Economy Class redemptions you can make.
Qantas flies 1-2 times a day from Sydney, taking two hours. They’re on a Dash 8, which features only Economy Class seats.
The only other airlink that Lord Howe Island has is a weekend service to Brisbane. However, that route is not included in the Points Plane promotion.
Why I don’t think you should take advantage of this promotion
There are two roadblocks that I see.
Accommodation options on this island of 382 people are very limited. In fact, tourist numbers are capped at 400 at any one time.
You will definitely want to check if you can find accommodation before you book your flights. The official Lord Howe Island tourism website is useful for this.
Not the ideal time to visit
July and August are during the island’s rainy season, averaging 23 days of precipitation each month. Maximum temperatures are 19°C with lows of 13°C.
The best time to visit the island is between November and April, when there is less rain and temperatures are around the 23-25°C mark.
In fact, there are award seats available right now outside of the promotion months that would make much more sense, in my opinion.
How do I book an award seat on a Points Plane?
- Log in to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account
- Perform a search for your desired dates
- Ensure that Use points is selected
- Choose your flights
- Complete payment
What is a Points Plane?
A Points Plane is a plane operated by Qantas or Jetstar where every available seat is bookable with points. Here is how the program describes the initiative:
The Qantas Points Plane is a flight exclusively reserved for Qantas Frequent Flyers, where every single seat, from First Class to Economy, is a Classic Flight Reward and can only be booked with Qantas Points.
Since launching this initiative in May 2019, Qantas Frequent Flyer has announced six Points Planes promotions.
Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, with no preference given to those with elite status.
Why has Qantas launched the Points Plane initiative?
Qantas Frequent Flyer has a reputation amongst some of being stingy with rewards seats. Given that, the aim of this initiative seems to be for Qantas to demonstrate goodwill to its frequent flyer members by showing that it is releasing more award availability.
Conveniently for them, they can fill planes that are being flown one-way to pick up charter passengers or be retired.
Where have previous Points Planes gone?
1. Airbus A380 from Melbourne to Tokyo in October 2019
The first Points Plane was an Airbus A380 flight with all four cabins (First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class). It will fly from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita on 21 October 2019.
First and Business Class seats sold out within 30 seconds and 9 minutes, respectively. Premium Economy seats were gone within a day. Economy seats are still available.
This plane was going to fly empty to pick up charter passengers from the Rugby World Cup, so it made sense for Qantas to fill it on the way there.
2. Airbus A330 from Tokyo to Melbourne in October 2019
The second Points Plane was released at the same time as the one above but is a smaller Airbus A330. This one actually has better Business Class seats but no Premium Economy.
Business Class sold out in 29 minutes, with Economy Class seats still available.
3. Boeing 747 from Sydney to Los Angeles in October 2019
Qantas ‘celebrated’ the final flight of their Boeing 747 named Lord Howe Island, which is on its way to a plane graveyard in Arizona. Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class seats were released on this 13 October 2019 flight.
4. Jetstar flights from Australia to Japan in November and December 2019
This was the fourth Points Plane offer, but the first time that all available seats were made available on a number of different flights during a travel period.
Every available seat on Jetstar flights (return or one-way) departing from Cairns or the Gold Coast to Japan, and Jetstar Japan’s network, could be booked as a Classic Flight Reward with Qantas Points for travel from 12 November 2019 to 12 December 2019.
5. All Qantas flights to the Northern Territory in February and March 2020
Redeeming points for flights to the Northern Territory can be a good use of your points, especially to less-serviced destinations such as Ayers Rock (Uluru), that usually command a premium in pricing for both Economy and Business cabins.
In October 2019, Qantas ran a promotion opening up all Business and Economy Class seats for travel during February and March 2020 to the following destinations:
- Alice Springs
- Ayers Rock (Uluru)
How to maximise your chances of booking an award seat on the next Points Plane
- Make sure you have the required Qantas Points in your account—if you don’t, a family transfer, buying some Qantas Wine or topping up your account are the quickest ways to boost your balance
- Be logged into your Qantas Frequent Flyer account on the Qantas website before 7am AEST on the day the seats are released
- Have the search details all ready to go
- Ensure you select the correct flight number
- Skip selecting seats and special meals—you can do that later in Manage Your Booking
- Complete your payment quickly
I love this initiative from Qantas. It’s beneficial for its members, who often find it hard to book good-value redemptions. And it also fills a plane with passengers which may have otherwise gone empty.
Given that Qantas is seeing ‘significant demand for these flights’, be on-time if you’re interested!