When you’re flying Qantas, you’ll probably attach your Qantas Frequent Flyer number to the booking to collect points and Status Credits. It’s a no-brainer, right? This is a great idea if you want to build your Qantas Points balance up, and/or earn elite status such as Gold and Platinum Frequent Flyer.

But did you know that alternatively, you could add a membership number from a partner airline and direct your points there instead. It could be a smart way to play the long game and get better flight rewards for less, because each program has its quirks when it comes to using points for flights.

For the most part, this guide is mainly academic and most readers will still probably stick with Qantas Points. But if you’re intrigued or want to dip your toes into the benefits of other frequent flyer programs, then read on.


This article is aimed at beginners we’ll keep it simple here and link out to dedicated program guides with more information if you want to learn more about the pros and cons of each program. We’ll look at earning elite status in a separate article.


Why: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is an extremely versatile program and a new partner of the oneworld alliance. Use your miles for flights on Qantas, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific and more.

Pros: For Australian domestic flight rewards, you only need 12,500 miles in Economy or 20,000 miles for Business Class. This is a fixed rate which is great for longer flight (e.g. Perth to Sydney) which would normally require up to 41,500 Qantas Points. There are plenty of great-value international routes as well.

Cons: US$25 non-refundable partner award fee applies to any non-Alaska Airlines reward flights and an inability to redeem Mileage Plan miles for trips between Australia and Europe.

Numbers: Mileage Plan miles are earned on 25-100% of distance flown, depending on fare class, plus a bonus multiplier for Premium Economy, Business and First.

Alaska Airlines oneworld launch
A second US airline for oneworld, Alaska Airlines.

How quickly can I earn a free Business Class flight?

The table below shows the number of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles and Qantas Points you could earn on a one-way Brisbane-Perth trip in either Discount Economy, Flex Economy or Business, as well as how many flights you’d need to earn a Business reward seat on the same route.

One-way Brisbane-Perth flightsDiscount Economy
(e.g. ‘Q’ fare class)
Flex Economy
(e.g. ‘B’ fare class)
Business
(e.g. ‘D’ fare class)
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
20,000 miles for a Business reward flight
561 miles
36 flights for reward
2,246 miles
9 flights for reward
5,053 miles
4 flights for reward
Qantas Frequent Flyer
41,500 pts for a Business reward flight
1,450 points
29 flights for reward
2,200 points
19 flights for reward
3,300 points
13 flights for reward

Buy Alaska Airlines miles to top up your Mileage Plan balance →


Cathay Pacific Tail Crediting to Cathay Pacific

Why: If you like to fly to Hong Kong and abroad (after COVID-19, of course), then Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is the program for you.

Pros: Redemption rates for reward seats between Australia and Hong Kong are priced well.

Cons: The cheapest Qantas Economy fares are not eligible for earning (you’ll need a Y, B, H, K, L, M or V fare at least). This includes some domestic Red e-Deal fares, but excludes all international Economy Sale fares. Read more about Qantas fare classes.

Numbers: Asia miles are earned on 50-150% of distance flown, depending on fare class and route.

Cathay Pacific Business Class A350
Enjoy Cathay Pacific Business Class with Asia Miles.

How quickly can I earn a free Business Class flight?

The table below shows the number of AAdvantage miles and Qantas Points you could earn on a one-way Sydney-Hong Kong trip in either Discount Economy, Flex Economy or Business, as well as how many flights you’d need to earn a Business reward seat on the same route.

One-way Sydney-Hong Kong flightsEconomy Saver
(e.g. ‘V’ fare class)
Flex Economy
(e.g. ‘Y’ fare class)
Business
(e.g. ‘D’ fare class)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
45,000 miles for a Business reward flight*
2,296 miles
20 flights for reward
4,592 miles
10 flights for reward
5,740 miles
8 flights for reward
Qantas Frequent Flyer
68,400 pts for a Business reward flight
3,900 points
18 flights for reward
5,200 points
14 flights for reward
8,450 points
9 flights for reward

* Note that 45,000 miles is for a one-way Cathay Pacific Business Class flight, not on Qantas.


British Airways Tail Crediting to British Airways

Why: British Airways Executive Club offers great-value Avios redemptions, particularly for many Qantas domestic flights. Shorter flights are priced quite well.

Pros: For Australian domestic flight rewards, seats start from 6,000 Avios in Economy and 12,500 Avios in Business Class, for flights such as Brisbane-Sydney. You can also use less Avios and pay more cash for reward bookings, giving much more flexibility if your Avios balance isn’t as high. It’s easy to buy cheap Avios on sale to make your booking.

Cons: Avios are harder to come by in Australia. The earn rate on Qantas is quite poor.

Numbers: Avios are earned on 25-150% of distance flown, depending on fare class.

How quickly can I earn a free Business Class flight?

The table below shows the number of Avios and Qantas Points you could earn on a one-way Adelaide-Sydney trip in either Discount Economy, Flex Economy or Business, as well as how many flights you’d need to earn a Business reward seat on the same route.

One-way Adelaide-Sydney flightsDiscount Economy
(e.g. ‘L’ fare class)
Flex Economy
(e.g. ‘Y’ fare class)
Business
(e.g. ‘D’ fare class)
British Airways Executive Club
16,500 Avios for a Business reward flight
181 Avios
92 flights for reward
725 Avios
23 flights for reward
906 Avios
19 flights for reward
Qantas Frequent Flyer
27,600 pts for a Business reward flight
800 points
35 flights for reward
1,200 points
23 flights for reward
1,400 points
20 flights for reward

Read how buying Avios can save you up to 80% on Qantas Business Class →


American Airlines Tail Crediting to American Airlines

Why: American Airlines AAdvantage is good for domestic Australian travel, particularly longer flights.

Pros: For Australian domestic flight rewards, seats are 12,500 miles in Economy and 20,000 miles in Business Class, regardless of actual distance flown. Australia to New Zealand flights are 15,000 miles in Economy and 25,000 miles in Business.

Cons: AAdvantage miles are harder to come by in Australia. The earn rate on Qantas is average. Australia and New Zealand are no longer on the same award chart.

Numbers: AAdvantage miles are earned on 25-300% of distance flown, depending on fare class and route.

How quickly can I earn a free Business Class flight?

The table below shows the number of AAdvantage miles and Qantas Points you could earn on a one-way Melbourne-Auckland trip in either Discount Economy, Flex Economy or Business, as well as how many flights you’d need to earn a Business reward seat on the same route.

One-way Melbourne-Auckland flightsDiscount Economy
(e.g. ‘Q’ fare class)
Flex Economy
(e.g. ‘B’ fare class)
Business
(e.g. ‘D’ fare class)
American Airlines AAdvantage
25,000 miles for a Business reward flight
410 miles
61 flights for reward
1,643 miles
16 flights for reward
2,053 miles
13 flights for reward
Qantas Frequent Flyer
41,500 pts for a Business reward flight
1,000 points
42 flights for reward
1,750 points
24 flights for reward
2,700 points
16 flights for reward

Buy American Airlines miles to top up your AAdvantage balance →


Summing up

The general takeaway here is that each of these four programs has its own pros and cons. While all have particular ‘sweet spots’ for when it comes to using those points or miles, it might come at the expense of lower earning rates from partner airlines.

  • If you fly on Discount Economy tickets the most, you’ll be better off staying with Qantas Frequent Flyer because of the minimum points guarantee and better earning rates within the airline
  • In some cases (particularly with Alaska Airlines on Flexible Economy and Business tickets), it may be better to credit to a partner program and earn a comparable reward sooner.
  • However, in most other cases (e.g. with American Airlines and British Airways) it’s still better to stick with Qantas Frequent Flyer overall unless you’re actively looking to increase your balances in those programs.

Qantas does have many more partners, including Emirates, but we’ve not included them here for various reasons including low or no earn on Qantas domestic-only flights, and/or higher redemption rates which makes it unfeasible to credit your flights to that program.

Remember to use the ‘Where to Credit’ calculator to help with your planning. All you need to know is your route, airline and ticket fare class. The site will then estimate which programs will offer you the most points or miles for that flight.

Where could I credit my Qantas flights to for the best value? was last modified: June 23rd, 2021 by Brandon Loo