At Point Hacks, we often like to showcase all the fun you can have in Business and First Class. Flying in Economy doesn’t usually get you the same exceptional value when using points, but regional flights turn this equation on its head. With cash fares often very expensive on these short legs, using your points for a reward seat can be an excellent choice.
Here’s how to best utilise your frequent flyer points when flying with QantasLink or Virgin Australia.
Regional reward seats can be excellent value
It’s simple economics really. Regional flights tend to be more expensive to run due to decreased seating capacity. Conversely, the points needed can be quite minimal because these flights are usually short. This pushes the potential value of your points sky-high.
One of the most extreme examples within Australia is Lord Howe Island – we even have a dedicated guide on this. But in short, you can expect up to 7.3 cents per point worth of value when you use 8,000 points + $88 to book a fare worth over $600 one-way. That’s a level unreached by even many Business and First Class reward flights!
Many QantasLink routes are just 8,000 points
QantasLink makes reward seats available across its entire regional network. While they’re subject to availability from flight to flight, there are plenty of terrific savings to be had. Let’s take Sydney to Broken Hill as an example.
On dates we’ve searched, the cheapest fare is $339. Or you can book an Economy Classic Reward for 8,000 points and $45. After taking into account the taxes and charges, you’ll get a value of 3.68 cents per point. That’s a really good value, given we estimate each Qantas Point is worth about 1.90 cents.
Fly regionally from just 6,200 Velocity Points
Virgin Australia’s route map isn’t as intricate as Qantas’. But you can still enjoy decent value with your Velocity Points to the destinations that the airline flies to.
This Kalgoorlie to Perth fare is $295 for a Choice fare – the type that includes checked baggage, as with a reward seat. But you can also part with 6,200 Velocity Points and $70.05, which brings you a value of 3.62 cents per point.
Why are regional flights so expensive?
This is a question we often see asked by frustrated travellers. Without turning this guide into an Economics 101 lesson, there are a number of variables that determine the pricing of flights. These can include:
- The competitive landscape
- Cost synergies of higher-demand routes
- The capacity of the planes
- Fuel prices
- Labour costs
- Taxes and charges levied by airports and governments
There are many other factors too. When an airline has a monopoly on a specific route, expect prices to go up: and in many cases, significantly so. This usually occurs when the demand for the route is enough to strip supply but not necessarily enough to make other entrants into that route a viable option.
Need help working out the value of your points for a flight?
We have a simple points calculator to help you out. At the top, simply enter the price of the cheapest comparable fare (or what you’re willing to pay) – minus the cost of any taxes with the reward seat. In the second field, just put in the number of points needed for that redemption.
The number that comes out is what your points could be worth for that particular flight reward.
Summary: using points for regional flights
It’s still true that long-haul redemptions generally offer better value than their short-haul counterparts. But if you find yourself collecting frequent flyer points without any long-haul travel plans, then you can still extract great value from your points if you’re looking to fly domestically to regional areas.
Remember that travel in premium classes for both long and short-haul routes will provide great value on a cents per point basis. So if your uses of points don’t fall into the long-haul or regional destinations categories, redeeming for Business and First Class flights will still be a good bet.
Additional reporting by Chris Chamberlin.
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