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Update 20 June 2019: The changes have now been announced – follow this link for details
Let’s face it, it’s rarely good news when an airline or hotel chain tells us that it’s planning to make some changes to its loyalty program so the fact that Australian Business Traveller is reporting that Qantas will announce “sweeping changes” to its frequent flyer program on Thursday is cause for concern.As things stand there’s no concrete information out there which tells us what to expect so the only thing we can know for a fact is that Qantas has called a press conference in Sydney for 10:30am (local time) on Thursday 20 June.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and Qantas’ CEO of Loyalty Olivia Wirth will both be present at the press conference and rumors suggest that the changes being announced will impact how status is earned and how points are earned and redeemed.
Essentially the whole Qantas Frequent Flyer program is up for a revamp.
What May Be On The Way?
Clearly Qantas could announce just about anything on Wednesday so, as I don’t have a crystal ball or contacts within Qantas who like to leak, I can’t do much more than speculate as to what the airline has planned….but I’ll put forward my ‘best guesses’ anyway.
In no particular order, these are the 3 things I think are most likely to make an appearance on Thursday:
- Points earning based on the cost of the fare rather than the distance flown (that’s the way most big airline loyalty programs seem to be going nowadays).
- Increased mileage requirements for Premium Cabin partner awards (I don’t expect bookings on partner airlines to be priced dynamically and I have a feeling Economy Class awards will remain untouched).
- Changes to Status Points thresholds required for elite status and/or changes to Status Points earnings on flights (it’s possible that the more expensive fares will earn more while the cheaper fares will earn fewer points).
A few other things that may be in the works (but which I think are less likely to be announced than the above) include:
- The abolition of award charts for Qantas flights with dynamic award pricing taking their place.
- The introduction of minimum spend criteria for elite status
There may be a few attempts at some positive changes too (to keep the masses from rioting) but, if there are, I suspect they’ll be more likely to be decorative ‘enhancements’ than anything genuinely useful to a true miles & points addict.
Big changes are on the way to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program but we’re probably going to have to wait until Thursday morning (Sydney time) before we know exactly what the revamped program will look like.
A few people have suggested that the news may be more good than bad as the airline’s CEO is bothering to attend (and as airlines normally like to bury bad news rather than call attention to it via a press conference), but I think that may be a little overoptimistic.
There may be a few token positive gestures handed out on Thursday morning but, when the dust settles, I fully expect the changes to be a net negative. The big question now is, just how big of a negative will they be?