A major complaint with the Qantas Frequent Flyer program is the amount of taxes and surcharges that you have to pay with a points redemption. 

While a portion of these fees will be genuine airport taxes, often a significant chunk of it is airline-imposed fuel surcharges and ‘carrier charges’ which are arbitrary amounts that specific airlines charge for their flights.

Let’s take a look at ten popular routes, flown by multiple airlines, that you can book using Qantas Points, along with a comparison of their associated fees and surcharges.

NB: All figures are correct as of June 2019, but are set to change from September 18.

Melbourne to London (one-stop)

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessOne-way~$660 AUD128,000
EmiratesBusinessOne-way~$649 AUD128,000
Qatar AirwaysBusinessOne-way~$522 AUD139,000
British AirwaysBusinessOne-way~$435 AUD139,000
Cathay PacificBusinessOne-way~363 AUD139,000
China EasternBusinessOne-way~265 AUD139,000

Our pick: Cathay Pacific is our all-rounder pick due to its relatively low taxes and excellent lounge network if you have elite status. Otherwise, for the lowest co-payment on a one-way trip to London, consider Qantas partner China Eastern Airlines.

Qantas and Emirates both levy an incredible $1,080 in carrier charges for a return Melbourne-London redemption in Business Class, and that’s on top of the normal taxes.

On a one-way route, as shown above, the vast majority of the $660 co-payment is a Qantas-imposed surcharge, rather than actual taxes.

Sydney to Hong Kong

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$384 AUD120,000
Cathay PacificBusinessReturn~$402 AUD130,000

Our pick: Qantas actually takes the lead here with lower taxes and Qantas Points needed overall. Cathay Pacific used to be known for its low taxes on all flights, but it appears to have increased in recent times for specific routes like this one.

Sydney to Singapore

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$660 AUD120,000
British AirwaysBusinessReturn~$452 AUD130,000

Our pick: British Airways’ taxes are $200 lower than Qantas’ and reward seats are more readily available in general, but at the cost of 10,000 more points. Some people may prefer the hard product and onboard service of Qantas though.

Melbourne to Singapore

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$642 AUD120,000
EmiratesBusinessReturn~$640 AUD120,000
JetstarBusinessReturn~$519 AUD96,000

Our pick: If the timing of Emirates’ daily flights to Singapore matches up, go for that option. It is the same price as Qantas, but you might get to experience the inflight bar on an Airbus A380.

Sydney to Los Angeles

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$879 AUD192,000
American AirlinesBusinessReturn~$155 AUD192,000
QantasEconomyReturn~$331 AUD83,800
American AirlinesEconomyReturn~$155 AUD83,800

Our pick: Definitely American Airlines if you can find the reward seat availability.

In addition to the true taxes, Qantas adds ‘carrier charges’ to all reward bookings, with bigger fees for flying Business or First. This is a huge surcharge compared to American Airlines, which only passes on the taxes.

Sydney to Santiago

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$832 AUD192,000
LATAMBusinessReturn~$800 AUD192,000
QantasEconomyReturn~$351 AUD83,800
LATAMEconomyReturn~$400 AUD83,800

Our pick: Since Qantas and LATAM share similar taxes and identical points needed, we’d stick with Qantas for the better standard of service.

Sydney to Christchurch

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$216 AUD72,000
EmiratesFirstReturn~$216 AUD108,000
JetstarEconomyReturn~$214 AUD28,800

Our pick: All three airlines on the Sydney-Christchurch route have taxes of about $215 return. That rules Jetstar out of the running since you could book an economy sale fare at that price, so use your points for Qantas or Emirates premium cabin.

The latter even has First Class which can be booked for 54,000 Qantas Points one-way.

Sydney to Fiji (Nadi)

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$301 AUD72,000
Fiji AirwaysBusinessReturn~$273 AUD72,000
JetstarEconomyReturn~$299 AUD28,800

Our pick: Jetstar’s fees are particularly high for an economy return trip, so consider using Qantas or Fiji Airways. Both those airlines need the same number of points for Business Class, but Fiji Airways is slightly lower in taxes.

Melbourne to Tokyo

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$515 AUD144,000
Japan AirlinesBusinessReturn~$330 AUD156,000

Our pick: We are a fan of Japan Airline’s unique inflight service. Although the points cost is slightly higher for comparable Qantas flights, the taxes in Business Class are nearly $200 lower.

Sydney to Shanghai

AirlineCabinRoutingCo-paymentQantas Points
QantasBusinessReturn~$505 AUD144,000
China EasternBusinessReturn~$154 AUD156,000

Our pick: China Eastern Airlines continues to shine by charging an incredible $350 less in taxes for a return Business Class trip, per person. That is a significant saving for a slightly higher increase in points needed compared to Qantas.

Summing Up

In general, Qantas’ Asian partner airlines, particularly Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, but also American Airlines, offer the best bang for the buck in terms of minimising extra co-payments with reward seat bookings.

You will usually need to part with slightly more Qantas Points, but that might be worth it if you can save cold hard cash for your next business trip or holiday.

Which airlines have the least surcharges using Qantas Points? was last modified: July 12th, 2019 by Evin Tan Khiew