Qantas award seats can be hard to snag – especially in premium cabins on popular long-haul routes – which is why I always advise travellers to book them as early as possible.

It used to be the case that all Qantas frequent flyer members had equal access to premium economy, business class and first class award seats on Qantas flights when they were added to the schedule, which was 353 days out from departure at midnight GMT (that’s 8 am in Perth and 10 am in the east (11 am during daylight savings)).

A couple of years ago, however, Qantas made a change to its IT system to give elite members (those with gold status and above) a first crack at booking premium award seats on most long-haul routes. They can now search for and book these seats 353 days out, but everyone else (bronze and silver members and partner airline frequent flyers) must wait until 297 days from departure to pick up whatever seats are left (it used to be at 308 days from departure, but this changed recently).

Unfortunately, sometimes there will be no seats remaining at 297 days from departure, which means bronze and silver members miss out.

It’s important to note that this restriction applies only on long-haul Qantas-operated flights. It doesn’t apply to Qantas domestic and short-haul international flights, nor flights operated by partner airlines.

As for Qantas economy award seats, everyone gets access to those at the same time 353 days out.

I actually agree with this policy of giving elite members first access to premium seats – it’s fair that frequent customers are recognised in this way and provided with this benefit – but I do think it’s a shame that Qantas doesn’t release more premium award inventory all around.

If you’re a bronze or silver Qantas member, there is a trick that may help you snag an elusive seat. As I’ve written before, if you have an eligible family member with gold status or above, they can book a premium award seat for you when it’s released 353 days out.

To get tips like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter:

We'll never spam you or share your email!