Why most of us would rather use points for two Business Class flights rather than four in Economy

How and where to get most value from your points

GUIDE: Using Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 3 minutes
POSTED: August 15, 2018
UPDATED: August 16, 2018
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Relevant to Multiple Programs

The single best advantage of frequent flyer points is to get into Business and First Class without paying the kind of money that an outright ticket purchase requires.

The maths

Airlines charge anywhere north of 7 times the cost of an Economy ticket for a First Class seat on the same flight, 4-5x for Business Class, and 2x for travel in Premium Economy—so using points to get to the front of the plane more cheaply becomes the goal if you want to maximise the value of your frequent flyer balance.

The basic premise that points get so much more valuable for Premium Economy, Business or First Class redemptions is simply because the cost in points of these trips is more like 3x the cost of an Economy ticket for First Class, 2x for Business, and 1.5x for Premium Economy.

You can totally use 60,000 Qantas Points to fly from Sydney to London one-way in Emirates Economy Class:

or you can use 192,000 points (just over triple) to fly the entire way in a First Class Suite:

Let’s look at that in table form, using a real-life example of flying Emirates from Sydney to London return during low-season dates:

CabinIn cashCompared to EconomyWith pointsCompared to Economy
Economy$1,3181x120,0001x
Business$7,5355.7x256,0002.1x
First$15,18511.5x384,0003.2x

That is a lot of points for Business and First, right?! Do you need some more? Check out the highest points offers on credit cards available right now.

Compare the multipliers between the paid fare and the points fare, and you will see that saving up your points can pay real dividends—if you place a value on travelling in premium cabins.

A caveat

This does not factor in the taxes and fees that are usually payable with redemptions with frequent flyer programs. While these tend to increase as you move towards the front of the plane on points bookings, they are usually worth it—but, again, only if you place a value on travelling up towards the front.

What do our readers say?

We put this question to those who follow our Facebook page and over 1,600 Point Hackers responded, with more than 4 in 5 preferring to direct their points to travel in premium cabins:

What about Business vs First Class?

Is it worth paying 60,000 points for a lie-flat Business Class seat with priority check-in and lounge access, or 90,000 to get access to an even better lounge, eat whenever you want (‘dine on demand’) and potentially have a hot shower while you are flying?

Yes, you can shower on a plane now

That is a different ball game, so we have explored that question in this post.

Summing up

I want to stress this point: points can definitely be used for Economy travel to make your travels go further—as Martina does—but the points system has most of us paying surcharges on our redemptions, meaning that Economy Class awards are often slugged with fees that eat up most of the benefit of using your points in the first place.

As such, the best value to be had (versus paying in cash for the same ticket) is for travel in First, Business or Premium Economy Class. However, some travellers do not care less about travelling up front (or never have), and so getting high perceived value out of their points will be a lot harder if they do not value travelling in this way.

For some basic tools to help you calculate the value of a point, you can check out the Points Value Calculators we have created, which let you have a crack at trying to calculate what you think a point might be worth.

Do you have a friend, family member or colleague who just doesn’t ‘get it’, i.e. they keep using their points for low-value redemptions when you know they could be getting a better deal? Share this article with them using the social media buttons below and spread the word!


Earning Points: First Principles

Using Points: First Principles

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Why most of us would rather use points for two Business Class flights rather than four in Economy was last modified: August 16th, 2018 by Matt Moffitt

Supplementary image courtesy Emirates.

Why most of us would rather use points for two Business Class flights rather than four in Economy was last modified: August 16th, 2018 by Matt Moffitt