If you’ve ever had a passing interest in frequent flyer programs, then you’ve probably dreamt about swapping your points for a dreamy Business or First Class upgrade. The idea of getting upgraded can be exciting, but with so many other people also after the same upgrades, you do need to have an edge over them.

To help you get your head around it, here’s how to use Qantas Points to upgrade a Qantas-operated and marketed flight (and also what goes on behind the scenes).

From 20 May 2024 onwards, Qantas Classic Plus Business fares can be upgraded to First Class.

What are Qantas Classic Upgrade Rewards?

The most common way to upgrade your Qantas ticket using points is through Classic Upgrade Rewards. This involves putting in a request for an upgrade and paying the number of points relevant to your upgrade if it’s successful.

You can upgrade from most cash fares. Unusually, Qantas also lets you upgrade from Classic Reward fares and the new Classic Plus fares, both of which are booked with points in the first place.

However, not all requests will get approved. Whether or not you make the cut depends on a variety of factors. The way Qantas determines who gets an upgrade is not simple and is the source of much confusion and frustration

A lot goes on before you get the green tick.

Upgrades are worth seeking out and are a great use of Qantas Points if you (or perhaps, your employer) have already bought a ticket with cash.

Important points to note with Qantas Classic Upgrade Rewards

  • These rules only apply to Qantas-operated flights with a QF flight number on the ticket (not codeshares) and upgrades using Qantas Points only.
  • If you buy a Discount Economy sale fare – called ‘Red e-Deal’ or ‘Economy Sale’ – then you can only upgrade that ticket using points on domestic flights, not international flights. Learn more in our guide on what Qantas fares to book for upgrades.
  • You can upgrade both from commercial fares, as well as Classic Reward and Classic Plus seats (specific fares paid wholly with points). The upgrade rates vary depending on what ticket is purchased.
  • Classic Upgrade Rewards are not the only way to upgrade your flight with points. Qantas also offers On-Departure Upgrades and Bid Now Upgrades with cash. Classic Upgrade Rewards are the most common method, though, and they take priority over the other methods.

How much do Qantas Classic Upgrade Rewards cost?

Your upgrade cost depends on the type of ticket you have purchased, the distance, the cabin you want to upgrade to and whether it’s a domestic or international flight. There are far too many figures to list here. Instead, check the upgrade reward table or do a quick calculation for a specific route.

The Qantas Calculator is a handy way to work out upgrade costs.

To give you an idea of how much you might need for an upgrade, here are two examples:

Perth to Sydney:

Fare To Business
From Economy Classic Reward 28,300 pts
From Red e-Deal 27,200 pts
From Economy Flex 10,900 pts

Sydney to London:

Fare To Premium Economy To Business To First
From Economy Sale
From Economy Classic Reward/Plus 98,100 pts 135,100 pts
From Economy 81,700 pts 130,800 pts
From Flexible Economy 26,100 pts 71,900 pts
From PE Classic Reward/Plus 92,600 pts
From Discount Premium Economy 71,900 pts
From Premium Economy 65,400 pts
From Flexible Premium Economy 58,800 pts
From Business Classic Plus Reward 110,000 pts
From Discount Business 81,700 pts
From Business 73,500 pts
From Flexible Business 65,400 pts

You can upgrade a Discount Economy ticket (Red e-Deal) between Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane and Perth for 27,200 points one-way. For comparison, an outright Business Class reward booking on the same route costs 41,500 Qantas Points + taxes.

On the other hand, you can make the 17-hour trek between Perth and London more comfortable. Upgrading from a regular Economy Class ticket to Premium Economy costs 68,100 points. An outright redemption costs 94,900 points + taxes.

Finally, if your company (or deep pockets) has bought you a flexible Business Class ticket from the East Coast to Los Angeles and you want to upgrade to First Class, that will set you back just 49,100 points. An equivalent ticket would cost you 162,800 points + taxes from scratch.

Qantas A380 First Class
Qantas Airbus A380 First Class is a great way to fly.

Are Qantas Classic Upgrade Rewards worth it?

As a general rule of thumb, the answer is usually ‘yes’. Upgrades are considered one of the most efficient uses of points if you can snag one.

Other factors to consider include how much you’ve already paid for your current ticket, the length of the flight, the comfort of the upgraded seat, lounge access and your points balance.

In general, we still think you’ll get better value by booking a reward seat outright in the cabin you want to travel in. The cost isn’t too much higher than upgrading. But if there aren’t reward seats available, then upgrading is your next best shot for travelling in luxury.

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Are Qantas domestic flight upgrades different to international upgrades?

Yes, there are some major differences between Qantas’ domestic and international upgrades.

  • Domestic flight upgrades can be immediately confirmed by any Qantas Frequent Flyer member, regardless of fare or status, only if a reward seat in the higher cabin is available. (Otherwise, standard waitlist rules apply).
  • Discount Economy (Red e-Deal) fares on domestic flights can be upgraded. However, international Economy Sale fares can’t be upgraded, including those to New Zealand.

When it comes to domestic flights, booking early and looking for Business reward availability is key to getting a confirmed upgrade.

So if you want to find out whether or not you will be able to secure an upgrade before you purchase a domestic flight, you can search for Classic Flight Rewards on that flight. If seats in the higher cabin are available, your upgrade request should be approved as soon as you put it in.

How does the Qantas upgrade waitlist work?

For all international flights and for domestic requests that cannot be approved immediately, the following rules will usually be applied in order when deciding who gets a flight upgrade.

1. Elite frequent flyer status

Your frequent flyer status is the most important factor. Regardless of when Platinum members put in their requests, all Platinum requests will always be approved ahead of Gold members. Similarly, all Gold members will be approved ahead of Silver members, and so on.

Here are the waitlist timelines that apply, depending on your status. Note that during peak periods, higher-tiered members may still not get confirmation until closer to the flight.

Membership tierDomestic UpgradesInternational Upgrades
Platinum OneWithin 3 days of flight departureWithin 7 days of flight departure
PlatinumWithin 3 days of flight departure Within 3 days of flight departure
Gold, Silver, BronzeWithin 24 hrs of flight departure Within 24 hrs of flight departure

2. Qantas Club Membership

If you are a Qantas Club member with Bronze or Silver status, you will enjoy priority over non-Qantas Club members in your class. For example, a normal Silver member will lose to another Silver member who is a Qantas Club member, all other factors being equal.

But holding a Qantas Club membership won’t trump someone in a higher frequent flyer tier. Bronze Qantas Club members won’t have priority over ordinary non-Club Silver members.

3. Fare bucket of your ticket

The higher the price of your ticket, the more likely you are to get upgraded compared to someone else of equal status or membership. A traveller holding a fully flexible Economy Class ticket will have higher priority over someone with a discounted Economy ticket.

Although you can request upgrades from Classic Flight Rewards (seats booked wholly with points), those are prioritised last after all cash fares, even Discount Economy.

The new Classic Plus fares enjoy higher upgrade priority over the standard Classic Reward fares.

4. Timing of your upgrade request

Finally, if there’s a tie with frequent flyer status, Qantas Club membership and fare buckets, the time you lodge your request will come into play. Of course, that means someone who lodges their request earlier will win over someone who booked last minute.

Qantas Membership Cards
Holding higher Qantas status will boost your odds of an upgrade.

Tips for improving your chance of an upgrade

  • Try to fly off-peak: mid-week, during the middle of the day, away from school and public holiday periods.
  • Request your upgrade as early as possible: this will give you an advantage over some others
  • Pick flights operated by bigger planes: you’ll have a better chance when there are more Business Class seats to go around. For example, prioritise an Airbus A330 flight over a Boeing 737 for domestic and short-range international routes.

Qantas also tends not to confirm all upgrades immediately and will leave several seats unsold in premium cabins for last-minute travel. You may find that you’ll get an upgrade at the airport or even at the gate. The flight might even go out with a few seats empty in that cabin. Qantas doesn’t have to fill every remaining seat with upgrades.

Summing up

If you want to guarantee a Business or First Class seat, you should search for reward seat availability. Booking an outright redemption in the cabin of your choice is much easier than playing the upgrade game!

But if that’s not an option, consider submitting a points upgrade request. You never know – it could clear, and you could be relaxing in Business or First Class with fewer points.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use my Qantas Points to upgrade a flight on Emirates or another partner airline?

Generally, no. Qantas states that ‘from time to time Classic Upgrade Rewards may be requested on eligible paid and confirmed tickets on codeshare flights operated by another airline with a Qantas (QF) flight number on the ticket’. But these cases are rare.

If I am a Platinum One member and request an upgrade on my partner’s behalf through family eligibility, how will they be prioritised?

If they are an eligible family member and they are travelling on a booking made by you as a higher tier member, their request will be given the priority belonging to your higher tier — whether you are travelling with them or not. This is a perk of Platinum One.

However, for all other status levels (Platinum and below), if that person is travelling by themself, then it will be their status tier that determines eligibility, not yours.

Can I upgrade to Qantas First Class?

Using Qantas Points, you can only upgrade to Qantas First Class from:

  • Discount Business
  • Business
  • Flexible Business
  • Classic Plus Business
How to upgrade Qantas flights with points was last modified: May 17th, 2024 by Brandon Loo