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How to fly round-the-world in business class with Qantas Points via the oneworld award [2024]

Many people dream about flying round-the-world in business class but believe it’s a goal that’ll forever be out of reach.

In fact, this ‘bucket list’ experience is more attainable than you may think, thanks to a unique and highly rewarding way of using Qantas Points.

The ‘oneworld award’ is a special type of booking that allows you to fly with oneworld member airlines up to 35,000 miles. That’s enough for a round-the-world journey (though you don’t have to fly RTW if you don’t want to – more on that later).

This booking costs a relatively modest 132,400 points in economy, 249,600 points in premium economy, 318,000 points in business class or 455,000 points in first class, plus taxes and fees.

Business class is the sweet spot, as it’s a higher-value use of points than economy.

Premium economy isn’t available on many airlines, so it’s quite difficult putting together a full itinerary in this class of travel.

As for first class, that’s also very hard to book because the number of routes with this cabin is small.

Since you can spend up to 318,000 Qantas Points on a return business class fare from Australia to Europe or the USA, flying 35,000 miles with 5 stopovers for a similar price is superb value.

The main ‘catch’ is that it can be time consuming and difficult to research and book flights, so here are some tips to make the job easier.

The rules

Here are the specific rules you must follow for a valid booking:

  • maximum total distance of 35,000 miles
  • maximum of 5 stopovers (a stopover is when you have 24+ hours between flights; if you land in one city and depart from another, it counts as just one stopover)
  • a maximum of 16 individual segments – a segment is each individual flight AND any journey you make over land yourself. These land segments are also counted towards the 35,000 mile maximum
  • no more than one stopover and two transits through a single aiport
  • you must fly with at least two oneworld airlines that are not Qantas (in fact, you don’t have to fly Qantas at all – just two or more other oneworld airlines – see below for the list)
  • you have 12 months to complete the travel
  • once you return to your country of origin you can’t leave it again
  • you must finish booking all flights in the itinerary before the first flight takes off.

The oneworld member airlines are:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Oman Air (joining in 2024)
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines (currently suspended)
  • SriLankan Airlines

Possible itineraries

You can fly anywhere and in any direction you want, so long as you comply with the above rules.

There are no restrictions on how many continents you can visit or regarding backtracking (which are limitations in most paid round-the-world fares).

If you make some land segments on your own, you can actually visit more than five destinations. That’s because when you land in one city and take off on your next flight from another city, it doesn’t count as two stopovers – just one. The land segment is counted towards the 16 maximum and the distance towards the 35,000 mile maximum.

To illustrate: here’s an example where you fly from Sydney to Tokyo (first stop), make your own way to Hong Kong, fly to Helsinki (second stop), make your own way to Paris, fly to Marrakesh (third stop), make your own way to Casablanca, fly to New York City (fourth stop), make your own way to Montreal, fly to Lima (fifth stop) make your own way to Santiago, and fly home.

Also, there’s no requirement to fly round-the-world, though that’s how most people use this award. You could do a loop around a specific region or criss-cross between continents – it’s totally up to you.

For example, here’s one of my past itineraries, which started in Singapore and took me to the USA, followed by Australia, Japan and back to Australia.

oneworld award itinerary

How to book

Now, here’s the catch: it can be very time consuming to book this award because finding business class seats on popular routes is often tricky and the booking process usually requires several phone calls to Qantas.

Here are some tips:

  • start planning early – ideally more than a year in advance – and research which specific flights you want to book, and when you can expect the seats to become available for the dates you want (more on that below)
  • be flexible with your dates
  • explore the different flight and route options at the oneworld alliance route map here
  • use Qantas’ website to search for award seats for each individual leg. Use the multi-city tool (yes, it’s designed for multiple flight searches, but it works for single flight searches as well and has the advantage of giving you results in a handy monthly calendar view unlike the default search tool on Qantas’ homepage.) Make sure to select “Use points – Classic Flight Rewards only” and “Flexible with dates for all flights”.
  • be flexible with cities in Australia for departures and arrivals – ie. if you can’t find a long-haul flight ex-Adelaide, try Perth or Sydney. Don’t assume that the search results on Qantas’ site will have considered this option along with a domestic connection from your home city
  • book the initial flight(s) online yourself on the Qantas site. Use the multi-city tool if you can book multiple flights. It’s very unlikely all the flights in your itinerary will be available to book at the same time, since airlines release reward seats at different times. Also, Qantas’ site isn’t capable of handling complicated itineraries, and you may get an error message.
  • once you’ve booked what you can online, to add more flights, you’ll have to call Qantas on 131313
  • you cannot make a series of individual bookings online with different reference numbers and then ask for them to be “stitched” together
  • you’ll be charged 5000 points per person each time you make a change via the Qantas call centre, like adding flights – this is an extra cost to factor into your planning
  • if you call Qantas to make a change, make sure you receive a new e-ticket within 24 hours. If it’s not in your inbox by then, it’s essential to call Qantas to get the ticket issued properly otherwise you may lose your seats.
  • to calculate the total miles flown to make sure you don’t exceed the 35,000 mile limit, use this mapping tool. Just type in the airport codes separated by hyphens (for example, MEL-LAX-JFK-LHR-HKG-MEL). You can search for the codes on the site or use google.
  • you don’t have to finish in the city you started, but the booking system will calculate the distance back to the original departure airport in determining whether you’re within the 35,000 mile limit
  • book seats as soon as they become available, otherwise someone else may snap them up. Airlines release award seats at different times, usually 330-360 days ahead. They also sometimes release them in batches. You’ll need to keep your eye out.
  • you can only fly with oneworld member airlines, which does not include some Qantas partners like Emirates – so be careful when looking at search results on Qantas’ site
  • airlines have varying taxes and charges they levy on reward fares, which must be paid with money, not points. Airlines with lower charges include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, SriLankan Airlines and Japan Airlines. On the other hand, high charges are most often found with British Airways, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian.
  • if you mix different classes, the highest class will be used to calculate the cost – i.e. just one first class flight in an otherwise all-business class itinerary will make the cost jump to the first class level. You can include lower classes if you wish with no price change
  • if you decide to cancel your itinerary, you can get a full refund of points and money paid less the cancellation fee of 6,000 points per person.

Summing Up

The oneworld award is easily one of the best uses of Qantas Points. While booking it is complex, it’s definitely worth the effort given what you get to experience: flying in style, visiting a range of destinations and having bragging rights for years!

Remember to plan carefully, be patient, and familiarise yourself with all the rules. That way, the booking process will go as smoothly as possible.

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  1. Hi Kris, if I use the Qantas multicity tool to book a business class RTW trip using points, and I book each flight over say a week, I presume that each time I book a leg it will charge me the points for that leg. Once I have booked the final leg and meet all their requirements for the RTW ticket, does it then charge me the 318,000 points, rather than the points for each leg? The article suggests it can be booked in stages

    • Hi Sue, you can only use the multicity tool once. To add further flights to an existing booking, you’ll have to call Qantas. They will charge you for each leg added, until such time as you have at least two airlines other than Qantas in the booking (i.e. you meet the requirements for the oneworld award), at which point they’ll continue to charge you for each leg until you hit the 318k cap and no more after that.

  2. Hi Kris,
    It appears they’ve changed the rules on the flights now, requiring you to:
    – Your trip must be in a continuous forward direction
    – You must cross both the Atlantic ocean and the Pacific ocean in your journey

    Is this news to you as well?

  3. Thanks for all the information. I don’t have enough points for two business class tickets. Can I pay cash to make the shortfall?

  4. hi chris do you know of any body or agency that can organise a business class ticket around the world as i have the required points if i provide dates and destinations as i find it very difficult to do, if you know any organisation that handles these complex bookings for a fee let me know steve.

  5. Hi Kris! Great article. I see that the points costs was 132k/318k/455k in late September 2019, but do you know where I can check to see the current point cost for RTW in business on OW?

  6. Hi Kris
    Thank you for putting all the work into writing the info so clearly, really appreciate it!

    I am in the process of trying to book a trip from Melbourne to the US and flights throughout the States.
    I’m having a little trouble keeping to 2 x surface sectors.
    The first itinerary above appears to have 3 surface sectors (first 3 stops), is there away around this, Qantas seems to only let me do 2.
    Ideally, my itinerary we be something like below:
    MEL – LAX (Stopover 1 / Surface sector 1)
    LAS – ORD (Stopover 2)
    ORD – JFK (Stopover 3)
    JFK – BNA (Stopover 4 / Surface 2)
    AUS – LAX (Stopover 5 / Surface 3)
    LAX – MEL

    Wondering if you have any suggestions? Possibly I should book JFK – BNA separately?

    Thank you 🙂

    • If you know exactly which flights you want you could call Qantas and book them over the phone. But if you need help finding flights, they won’t do that for you.


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