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Qantas is hiking the cost of upgrades – lock in yours now if you can

From 20 February 2017, Qantas will be charging customers a lot more to upgrade their flights using Qantas Points. The increase was announced late last year but Qantas gave passengers a few months’ reprieve before the changes took effect.

The cost is going up for both international and domestic upgrades across most routes and cabins. This affects ‘Classic Upgrade Rewards’ – i.e. using points to upgrade a paid fare to a higher class of service.

The cost is rising by as much as 25%. I won’t list all the changes but you can see a good summary of them in this article at AusBT.

I do want to point out that some passengers can lock in the current, lower price. Basically, you can lock in the current price if Qantas confirms your upgrade before 20 February.

Unfortunately, that will exclude most international flights after 20 February, as upgrade requests for international flights are usually processed very close to the flight date. If you’re flying overseas after 20 February, you’ll probably have to pay the higher rate.

However, for domestic flights, you can confirm an upgrade from economy to business class right now if there is an award seat available on your flight. It’s simple to check if there’s one available – just do a new fare search on the day and route you’re flying and if it shows that a “Business Classic Reward” is available on your flight, you can upgrade immediately (just go to “Manage Booking”).

In this example of flights from Sydney to Perth on 3 May, a business class reward seat is available for the top two flights but not the bottom two.

If there are no award seats available, then you can still request an upgrade, but it’ll probably be confirmed after 20 February and be subject to the new prices.

It’s a shame Qantas is increasing prices across so many routes, but perhaps it’s not surprising given the rise in demand for award seats and upgrades. There’s been a huge increase in the number of people earning points, not to mention all the new ways to earn points – from banking to shopping to insurance.

I still think upgrades represent good value in many cases. For example, I love to upgrade from economy to business class on A330 flights from the east coast to Perth. These planes feature the awesome ‘business suites’, which I’ve reviewed here. The cost of this upgrade is rising from 20,000 points to 25,000 points but I think it’s still worth it for a great experience on a 4+ hour flight.


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