Travelling to Europe 1/9 2024. When is the best time to book? I’ve been searching and it seems impossible to travel in a premium cabin without stopping several times. Is this what it’s come down to? I have 1.2 million points and struggling to make good use of them. If I use the qantas call centre, are there any advantages to finding the seats I’m after. Also is it worth considering points plus pay?
If time allows, you might want to think about planning a Oneworld classic reward (more commonly known as a round the world trip). 1.2 million is more than enough for 2 people to go around the world in business (provided there is availability of course).
Going straight from Australia to anywhere in Europe will always be pretty damn challenging. If you break up your journey somewhere in Asia (or even America!), you will have better luck that way searching sector by sector. If you can make Asia and Europe and America into a trip, then, you’ve got yourself a Round the world ticket.
The Qantas Call Centre generally won’t find any more award seats than online. unless you are a Platinum member, in which you have the opportunity to request for award seats to be ‘unlocked’ for you.
Ultimately, award availability is just a numbers game. The more options you have, the greater your chances of getting a ticket. There are only a dozen or so ways to go straight from East Coast Australia to Europe. Usually the bottle neck is’t the Europe part, but the Australia part. Going from Australia to the transit point in the Middle East or Asia and then having it line up with award availability to Europe is a big ask. Keeping an open mind as to where you can fly and where you might have an intermediate stop in between helps increase the odds that you can find a seat.
I find tickets into and out of asia and the states just as difficult to acquire. Am I trying at the right time? 11 months in advance?
You can always pay cash for an economy seat into a SE Asia port and then look for premium points based reward seats to take you on to Europe. It depends on the airline, the popularity, and their reward seat cycles and your Qantas status as to when you can see the flights, which routes are available in premium cabins and which days/flights suit your intended itinerary. Not to mention if it’s for a single reward seat or for 2 when travelling with a partner. Even then premium cabin availability between business and first class reward seats varies greatly across each airline - and when they’re released. You’ll generally find it easier to book business class reward seats. If you have a residual pool of points though once you’ve locked an itinerary in, you can always look at upgrading to first class if reward seats become available closer to your departure dates (eg; Emirates does this)
This is about the right time to start looking. For 1/9, I can see Melbourne to Singapore, Sydney to Taipei have some seats. Maybe from there you could try looking at some other options too?
It is common these days for seats to be released in batches at random times throughout the year. It helps if you have the dedication and time to check seats every day on all possible routes. Even then you may find nothing so don’t be too hopeful.
There is some irony in that you want premium seats to be comfortable yet using points also means discomfort in having to fly an indirect routing with unnecessary stops, transits, overnight hotel costs, etc.
Have a read of these two articles if you haven’t already. They are on finding award seats.
The third party tools (second article) might be useful if you value your time/sanity.
Ok trying to do this, is it normal for the website to keep dropping out and saying this page is unavailable? I have been trying for hours and hours. This especially happens when I try to seek flights departing from another country, particularly on multi city search. Also whilst there are plenty of flights via Taipei, there are no direct flights. Qantas seems to make it impossible to obtain award seats on direct routes.
It can be very frustrating I agree.
One thing to remember is that we are still in the “post-covid, lets all travel and use our 2yrs of banked points” phase. Also the airline capacity globally is not yet back to it’s pre-covid levels. So, it’s kind of a perfect storm when you consider the following info too.
- Finder.com.au estimates that in 2023 there are over 14.7 million Qantas FF members
- There are about 57 international routes (Feb '23) that Qantas flies to
- Consider just how few premium cabin reward seats there are on each of those flights.
It really is a numbers game that takes patience, smarts, thinking outside the box and determination to find the exact flights you are after - date/itinerary/connections/stopovers etc…
Having said that though, it is possible to get direct routes on reward… in Feb this year, I flew Perth - Dubai - Seattle return in Emirates 1st class using points - 550,000pts and approx. $3,500 in fees & taxes (high but well worth it). When you start to compare the cash price of a similar itinerary (over $23,000) you can see that the airlines aren’t going to make it easy to “give away” those rewards.
Reward programs are very viable businesses in their own right:
Qantas Loyalty, meanwhile, has made $905 million in underlying earnings between the 2020 and 2022 financial years when, over the same period, the carrier as a whole lost $3.5 billion before tax. It now has 14.7 million members, Qantas says, exceeding the 12.9 million target it had set for 2024
And the value of points in these programs are being devalued all the time, so I’m sad to say it’s only going to get harder I think.
But… it’s still very much a worth while exercise I feel to enjoy the benefits of something that is well out of reach for the average holiday maker.
Best of luck!
Thank you for your reply I’ll keep on searching.
This year we did Europe return in Business class all the way.
Getting the return trip was a bit of a struggle for us so we ended up extending our trip until there was availability. (Lucky we were able to be flexible).
So for the return trip we managed to find flights to Singapore, but the last leg to Australia only had availabiliy 3 days later. This was a close as I could find, and since we had never been to Singapore, we decided to spend the 3 days there. (So happy we did because it was awesome).
Flexibility is simply the only option some times.
I think if you get creative with your trips, you may be able to find what you need. Although it might mean an extended travel time to include some stopovers.
Our next plan is to use Japan as that stopover place, since it is somewhere we would like to see. Also Finnair has nice business class options that are extremely low in taxes and fees, that fly via Japan.
Great to hear your experience! Not everyone can be so flexible especially with this annoying thing called work ;), but if you can, the world really is your oyster!
Yep I am lucky that I had heaps of leave and a great boss. My wife had to take leave without pay for most of it unfortunately, but we made it work because we thought it was worth it.
I agree with all comments it’s not easy at the moment and if you can be flexible it can only help. We’ve just come back from a UK and Italy business classic reward through Delhi ( airside) there and Doha home and that was fine but was booked a year ago.
Today we’ve just spent 90mins with Qantas trying to find flights to UK for next Sept and nothing (Platinum).A few premium but no business and all requests for seat release submitted by customer service were denied.
So we are back to drawing board….