Do Qantas redemptions allow free stopovers? We get asked this question quite a lot and the answer is ‘no’ – but you can get a layover (a break in your itinerary in a city of up to 24 hours between flights) to add in an extra (quick) city break, and with fewer points than if you’d stopped for longer.
In this guide, we explain the important difference between a transit and a stopover and the effect they have on award pricing. We also give three examples of incorporating short or long stays in Dubai, Hong Kong and Sydney on your next trip overseas.
This guide deals only with one-way award redemptions. If you want to book a more extensive round-the-world trip with your Qantas points, we have our separate Qantas Round The World Class Award Guide here.
Rules and restrictions
The determining factor in the pricing of your award ticket with Qantas depends on whether you are doing a:
- transit of up to 23 hours and 59 minutes = no additional costs for transits of different lengths
- stopover of 24 hours or more = not free (prices each segment separately)
Most frequent flyer programs, including Qantas, allow free transits.
Some frequent flyer programs allow free stopovers; however Qantas does not.
However, you can use the Qantas multi-city search tool to customise your transit and make it up to (almost) a full day.
Note that Qantas has four different award charts and you’ll need to stick to just one:
- Classic Flight Reward Table: for travel on Qantas and preferred partner airlines, which are Emirates, American Airlines, Fiji Airways, Jetstar, QantasLink, Airnorth and Air Vanuatu
- Jetstar Classic Flight Reward Table: for travel on Jetstar and its subsidiaries in Asia
- Partner Classic Flight Reward Table: for travel on all other partner airlines, such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines
- oneworld Classic Flight Reward Table: travel on at least two oneworld alliance airlines other than Qantas, such as American Airlines and British Airways
Example 1: Perth to London via Dubai in Emirates First Class for 168,000 points (extend stopover for extra 15,000)
Say you want to use your Qantas points to fly First Class to London and you decide to fly Emirates via Dubai.
You can get a free transit of up to 24 hours in Dubai for the regular 168,000 points, or you can spend a few days there by separating your trip into two awards, totalling 183,000 points.
Here’s how to do it in six steps:
Step 1: Enter the two flights into the Qantas multi-city search tool. Note that I’ve put the first leg as departing on Wednesday and the second departing on Friday. This is because with the length of the flight and time difference, I will arrive into Dubai on Thursday. (This example shows the flexible dates option, but you can do exact dates too):
Step 2: You will be prompted to log in to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account:
Step 3: The default will be to show Economy Class seats, so tick the box of the cabin of your choice and you will (hopefully) see availability on your dates:
Step 4: After you have confirmed that there are award seats on your desired dates, click Continue and the screen will show the exact flights available. You can see below that there are two options on the first leg from Perth to Dubai and I’ve selected the second option as an early morning arrival will give me more time to fully explore Dubai than an early afternoon one:
Step 5: This is the most important step! I need to select my onward flight to depart less than 24 hours after I arrive in Dubai (at 5:20am on Thursday), meaning a 2:45am departure on Friday will keep me under 24 hours (and therefore within the 168,000 pricing bracket):
whereas if I select anything after 5:20am, like this 8am departure, it will bump the price up to 183,000:
Having said that, if you wanted to spend a few days or a week in Dubai, then you may feel that the extra 15,000 points for the extended stopover is worth it.
Step 6: Once you have the combination of flights you are happy with, click through at the bottom of the page to complete your booking. Easy, right?
Example 2: Melbourne to Los Angeles via Sydney in Qantas and American Airlines Business Class for 96,000 points (extend stopover for extra 16,000)
Say you are flying from Melbourne to the US and have family or friends in Sydney.
Some travellers dislike transiting through Sydney because the domestic-to-international (and reverse) transfer process takes a bit of time and can be stressful, so streching your transit to nearly a full day can give you a cushion between flights and allow you to visit the city.
The following itinerary flying Qantas to Sydney and American Airlines onwards to Los Angeles is priced the same as a direct Melbourne to Los Angeles flight on Qantas, but the latter is very hard to find award space on due to its popularity.
The arrival to Sydney just after midday on Sunday and departure before midday the next day satisfies the less-than-24-hours requirement of a free transit:
It also you a night to play with in Sydney, plus lower taxes and fees as American Airlines does not add fuel surcharges to its award tickets and generally better award availability.
Example 3: Adelaide to Taipei via Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific Business Class for 65,000 points (extend stopover for extra 18,000)
Cathay Pacific is the only carrier flying direct between Adelaide and Hong Kong, and as it is not a preferred partner of Qantas, it falls into the more expensive Partner Classic Flight Reward Table.
If I arrive in Hong Kong at 1:45pm on Friday, I have until the same time the next day to enjoy a free transit.
The following itinerary prices at 65,000 points because I am in Hong Kong for 23 hours and 30 minutes:
But the next one is a stopover of 24 hours and 15 minutes, which means the price increases to 83,000 points (because the flights segments price separately):
If you search for a one-way or return trip on the Qantas website, it will automatically give you options with the shortest connection times.
However, if you use the multi-city search tool, you can customise a free transit of up to 24 hours in an intermediate city, which can be a really nifty way to visit places like Dubai, Doha, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Sydney, Auckland, Nadi, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and a host of other cities that Qantas and its partners connect through.
Finally, if you want a longer stopover (of more than 24 hours), you might as well make the most of it for at least a few days as Qantas prices the segments separately.