Qantas is testing a new concept that will see it dedicate entire aircraft to frequent flyers seeking to redeem Qantas points
The first “Points Plane” ‘will be an Airbus A380 operating from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita on October 21 and is Qantas Loyalty says the idea is one of many being explored to give its frequent flyers the opportunity to redeem points.
Bookings open May 16 and members will be able to book any seat on board at the standard points redemption rate. All status levels will have an equal opportunity to secure a berth.
The A380 has 14 seats in first class, 64 in business, 35 in premium economy and 371 in economy.
The scheme recognizes that flight redemptions are the most popular way for frequent flyers to use their points and that they can be frustrated by not being able to do so.
The airline said it occasionally moved unscheduled aircraft around the network for a range of operational and commercial reasons and this created opportunities for initiatives like Points Planes.
“This is the first time we have dedicated an entire aircraft – let alone an A380 – to our frequent flyers, and we are expecting to see significant demand for these flights,” Qantas loyalty chief executive Olivia Wirth said.
“Four flight redemptions are made every minute and sixty upgrades are confirmed every hour. We know our members love to redeem their points on travel, so we’re excited to be able to give them new ways to access these rewards.
“Member-exclusive flights mean more redemption opportunities for our members and less time searching for reward seats.
“If this concept is a success, which we think it will be, Qantas hopes to operate more regular Frequent Flyer only flights to other international and domestic destinations in the near future.”
Japan was chosen because it is a popular destination for Qantas Frequent Flyers and one of the top five most searched destinations on qantas.com.
On the way back, members have the choice of booking on an A330 return Points Plane on October 26.
People wanting to travel on another date can try for a classic reward seat with Qantas or a partner airline on another date or use Points Plus Pay for any commercially available seat.
Those wanting to book on the inaugural Points Plane will need to find 35,000 points for economy, 54,000 for premium economy, 72,000 for business and 108,000 in first.
There will also be the usual taxes, fees and carrier charges.
Separately, a Qantas Boeing 747 traveling from Tokyo to Sydney had an unscheduled landing at Cairns Sunday after the pilots shut down an engine due to a problem.