What is a reward seat and how does it work?

Virgin vs Qantas | Point Hacks
GUIDE: Using Points
DIFFICULTY: Easy
TIME TO READ: 4 minutes
POSTED: May 14, 2019
UPDATED: May 16, 2019
AIRLINES: Qantas Airways, Virgin Australia
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Relevant to Multiple Programs

In theory, reward seats sound great, allowing you to redeem flights with an airline using your frequent flyer points and only a small cash payment, if any at all. However, due to reward seat availability being limited in number, booking a reward seat can often be easier said than done. This guide takes a look at the various types of reward seats that are offered by Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer programs.

There are multiple ways to find reward seats, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Most often, it is best to search for reward seats using the airline program you want to redeem your points with, as they should have the most reliable information. For example, if you want to redeem Qantas Points, search with Qantas. However, in some cases partner airlines or third-party search engines can be useful.

Qantas

There are three ways to book flights with Qantas Points, ‘Classic Flight Awards’ and ‘Points Plus Pay’ and ‘Any Seat Award’. Points Plus Pay can be thought of as a hybrid between an Any Seat Award and paying for the fare fully by cash.

A summary of the Classic Flight Award and Any Seat Award can be foundhere.

Classic Flight Rewards

Classic Flight Rewards require a set number of points per flight, based on the distance of travel. They are available with Qantas and Jetstar as well as their partners shown below.

Qantas Partners

To book a Classic Flight Reward, simply log in to your frequent flyer account and select ‘Use points’ on the booking window.

Booking Qantas Award seat screenshot

Remember, there is limited availability of Classic Flight Rewards seats available on each flight, and some flights have no seats available. You will also not earn Qantas Points or status credits on Classic Flight Rewards, but will be subject to taxes, fees and carrier charges.

Booking Qantas Award seat screenshot

Classic Flight Reward availability will be shown over a month
Booking Qantas award seat

After selecting a date available flights are shown on the next page
Qantas award seat redemption
Once flights are selected, you should be able to see the points required

You can calculate the number of points you need for your Classic Flight Rewards redemption using Qantas’ own Points Calculator.

Points Plus Pay

Points Plus Pay is available on Qantas, Jetstar and some of their partner airlines. Points Plus Pay requires you to have a minimum of 5,000 points for Qantas flights or 3,500 for Jetstar flights.

‘Points Plus Pay’ sits as a hybrid between an ‘Any Seat Award’ and paying for the fare fully by cash in that you can book any available seat using all points (that is, an ‘Any Seat Award’), or a combination of points and cash. You will earn Qantas Points and status credits just as if you had paid for your ticket with cash.

The Points Plus Pay window is shown after you have selected flights and have proceeded to the next page.

Although easier to book, Points Plus Pay does not often provide good value for money, and where possible, look to redeem for a Classic Flight Reward or purchase a fare by cash and save those points for a later redemption.

Any Seat Award

‘Any Seat Awards’ are award seats made available so long as there is seat available for purchase on your desired flight. To book an ‘any seat award’, you will need to use the ‘Points Plus Pay’ function and move the slider to set the co-cash payment to zero.

The points pricing for these seats are based on the cash fare of the seat and generally estimated to be 0.7c per point. For example, return Business class flights that retail for $3,366 were priced at 481,000 points for an any seat award with no cash co-payment.

Qantas Any Seat Award

While the availability of ‘any seat awards’ is fantastic, it too does not represent good value and for most people, the points required for these types of awards is in excess of most’s people balances, especially for long-haul premium cabins.

Virgin Australia

There are two ways to book flights with Velocity points, ‘Velocity Reward Seats’ and ‘Any Seat’. Both are available for flights on Virgin Australia and their partner airlines including Air Canada, Delta, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Velocity Reward Seats

Velocity Reward Seats rewards require a set number of points per flight, based on the distance travelled. There is a limited amount of Velocity Reward Seats available on each flight, and some flights have no seats available. You will not earn Velocity points or status credits for flying, and in addition to the required points, taxes, fees and carrier charges are payable.

To book Velocity Reward Seats simply select ‘Use Points + Pay” on the booking window.

Any Seat

Like Qantas, Any Seat is easier to book as it is always available (as long as the flight is not sold out). If you are looking to book a specific flight or you can’t find Velocity Reward Seats you may choose to book Any Seat, however it will cost considerably more points. For example, the flight below costs 51,100 more points to book Any Seat as opposed to a Velocity Reward Seat.  You are able to pay entirely with points, or with a mix of points and cash (minimum 2,500 points) and you will earn Velocity points and status credits just as if you had paid for your ticket with cash.

Again, although easier to book, Any Seat does not often give good value for money. We suggest trying to book velocity reward seats if possible.

Velocity award booking

Velocity Reward Seat and Any Seat are shown on flights page

Summing Up

Searching for award seats can be a time-intensive and sometimes confusing process given the different award seat types. Knowing these different types will help to ensure that you are searching for award seats that meet your needs and frequent flyer points balance. If you’re looking for the more restrictive ‘Classic award seats’, it does sometimes take patience and flexibility in terms of dates and flight routes but in the end, it is often one of the best uses of frequent flyer points.


What is a reward seat and how does it work? was last modified: May 16th, 2019 by Tom Goward