Qantas Sweet Spots for award tickets (economy and business class)

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Qantas sweet spots are governed by the distance from the start point of your trip to the end point. While Qantas has a distance-based award chart, a refreshing twist on that concept is that Qantas charges based on cumulative mileage rather than charging for each segment separately. This can work out especially well for those on short connecting itineraries like those traveling to/from smaller airports and it means that those who are in or near Miami get access to Central America and the Caribbean quite cheaply, even in business class.

Qantas Sweet Spots
Hey, Qantas is about more than just kangaroos.

Collecting Miles

Qantas is transfer partners with the following currencies and conversion rates:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer RatioChase Transfer RatioCiti Transfer RatioMarriott Transfer RatioCapital One Transfer RatioBrex Transfer Ratio
Qantas Frequent Flyer1 to 11 to 160K to 25K1 to 11 to 1

Note that Qantas sometimes offers transfer bonuses and in the past bonuses have sometimes been targeted to those who have transferred to Qantas before. In fact, we’ve even seen times when a public transfer bonus and targeted bonus for past transfer customers have stacked, so it might be worth a single speculative transfer of the minimum number of points to be prepared in case such an opportunity ever comes around again and makes for a great deal on any Qantas sweet spots.

Award Chart

The Qantas award chart is distance-based. Miles required are calculated based on the cumulative distance of your trip whether one-way or round-trip. This means that there is generally an advantage to booking round trip since additional segments will not be priced individually but rather as part of the cumulative distance.

Here is a link to the Qantas Frequent Flyer award chart tables.

Note that Qantas maintains more than one award chart: the Qantas Classic Flight Reward Table applies to bookings on Qantas, Jetstar (though there is a separate table for Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Japan, etc), Airnorth, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu, and American Airlines.

You’ll need to scroll further down the page for the Partner Classic Flight Reward Table that covers Air France, Air Niugini, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, China Eastern, Cathay Dragon, EL AL, Emirates, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines. This second chart has slightly higher rates.

Qantas award change and cancellation fees

Qantas charges 5,000 points to change an award ticket or 6,000 points to cancel an award ticket (note the these fees are temporarily waived on Classic Flight Rewards until February 28, 2022 due to the pandemic). Those fees are pretty reasonable on long-haul flights, but might mean forfeiting more than half the points you used to book your award for shorter itineraries, so keep this in mind when booking.

Qantas Sweet Spots (Economy Class)

Caribbean from 8K miles one way (e.g. Miami to Grand Cayman)

  • The short story: Qantas offers better pricing than traditional American Airlines award prices on itineraries with a distance of 1200 miles or fewer each way and has no close-in booking fee. This could be especially good for short international flights like Miami to Grand Cayman or other points in the Southern US to the Caribbean.
  • Miles required: 8,000 miles each way for itineraries covering a distance up to 600 miles (like Miami to Grand Cayman) or 12,000 miles each way for itineraries covering a distance up to 1200 miles (like Miami to most of Central America and the Caribbean). (See: Strengths of Qantas for AA redemptions).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

South America from 12K miles one way (e.g. Miami to Cartagena)

  • The short story: Qantas offers good award pricing on shorter oneworld routes, like Miami to parts of Northern South America.
  • Miles required: Qantas has a distance-based award chart that goes by cumulative distance whether one-way or round trip. The shortest-distance flights to South America measure fewer than 1,000 miles one-way but the longest can be more than 5,000 miles one way. Here are the first several distance bands:
    • 12K miles for a cumulative distance of 601-1200 miles
    • 18K miles for a cumulative distance of 1201-2400 miles or
    • 20.3K miles for a cumulative distance of 2401-3600 miles
    • 25.2K miles for a cumulative distance of 3601-4800 miles.
    • 31.5K miles for a cumulative distance of 4801-5800 miles
    • See the full award chart here. No fuel surcharges on American Airlines.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights (though this varies with precise distance) if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

North America from 8K miles one-way

  • The short story: Qantas offers better pricing than traditional American Airlines or Alaska Airlines award prices on itineraries with a distance of 1200 miles or fewer each way and has no close-in booking fee. This could be especially good for those who need to connect on short itineraries as Qantas measures cumulative distance rather than pricing segments separately.
  • Miles required: 8,000 miles for itineraries covering a distance up to 600 miles or 12,000 miles for itineraries covering a distance up to 1200 miles. (See: Strengths of Qantas for AA redemptions). No fuel surcharges on American or Alaska.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account). Note that for Alaska space you'll need to search AA.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com for American Airlines. Call for Alaska until Alaska becomes available for oneworld bookings.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Brex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Qantas Sweet Spots (Premium Cabins)

Israel on El Al from 78K points one-way in business

  • The short story: Qantas offers good partner pricing for El Al flights to Israel.
  • Miles required: 78K points in business class on El Al between Tel Aviv and Boston, Newark, and New York JFK. 92K points in business between Tel Aviv and Chicago, Miami. 104K points in business between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles or San Francisco. With a transfer bonus, these rates can get better. No fuel surcharges for travel on El Al.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Citi, Marriott

South America from 41.5K miles round trip

  • The short story: Qantas offers good award pricing on shorter oneworld routes, like Miami to parts of Northern South America. Keep in mind that though LATAM has left oneworld, their flights can still be booked with Qantas points.
  • Miles required: Qantas has a distance-based award chart that goes by cumulative distance whether one-way or round trip (booking round trip will work out to fewer net miles each way). The shortest-distance flights to South America measure fewer than 1,000 miles one-way but the longest can be more than 5,000 miles one way. Here are the first several distance bands:
    • 27.6K miles for a cumulative distance of 601-1200 miles
    • 41.5K miles for a cumulative distance of 1201-2400 miles or
    • 57K miles for a cumulative distance of 2401-3600 miles
    • 68.4K miles for a cumulative distance of 3601-4800 miles.
    • 82K miles for a cumulative distance of 4801-5800 miles
    • See the full award chart here. No fuel surcharges on American Airlines.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights (though this varies with precise distance) if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Oceania on Emirates for 159K miles (~30 hours of Emirates business class)

  • The short story: While the award cost here is substantially higher than others included in this sweet-spot post, it may be worth it to those who really want an indulgently long experience in Emirates business class. It is possible to spend upwards of ~30 hours in A380 business class by routing via Dubai (note that some US cities have 777 service, which is likely angled in business class).
  • Miles required: 159,000 miles one-way in business class between North American cities and those cities served by Emirates in Australia and New Zealand.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Choose A380 routes to get a fully-flat aisle access business class seat with a bar at the rear of the plane.

Australia for 61.5K one-way in business class from Hawaii

  • The short story: Qantas's low-cost-carrier Jetstar flies between Hawaii and several Australian cities and can be booked with Qantas points.
  • Miles required: 57,600 miles one-way in business class from Honolulu to Sydney on Jetstar before September 18, 2019, 61,500 miles thereafter.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Jetstar flights can be quite cheap. While their business class is much more expensive than their economy class fares, it's worth comparing to cash fares to be sure you're getting a decent value.

Bottom line

Qantas can be a great program for short-distance flights. Qantas points can be especially useful for itineraries from Miami to the Caribbean and Central America, though they have some unique partnerships like with El Al and Emirates that might make sense in some situations – particularly if you can snag a good transfer bonus to give your transferable currency a boost.

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