My wife and I are looking to fly Perth to Edinburgh return in Jan 2017 with Qatar airways. Can you recommend a loyalty program that would be the most beneficial to acquire sufficient points to fly business class, at least one way?
Unfortunately such a simple question requires a really long answer! My basic answer is that it would be quite hard to get the exact flights you want, so you may want to be more flexible and consider other potential airlines/routes.
The first thing I’d do is check whether Qatar actually releases many business class seats between Perth and Edinburgh. You can do this using the BA Executive Club search engine, but make sure you do it by two separate segments (i.e. PER – DOH and DOH – EDI).
Assuming they do release seats, given when you want to fly you would realistically want to have the points to book seats in February this year, as this is when Qatar is most likely to release seats on the PER – EDI routes (i.e. about 330 days out). I am not sure whether Qatar releases last minute seats, but I am assuming you don’t want to wait until 1-2 days before your trip in 2017 to book your seats. As such, you will need to gain lots of points quickly. This can be done with either credit card bonuses or purchasing points.
A one way business class on Qantas will be ~ 130,000 QFF points, so 260,000 QFF for both of you. Acquiring this many points through credit cards by February would be very difficult. However, if you somehow managed to get this many points, you could also use them to fly on business class on Emirates to Glasgow, as Qantas partners with them. Glasgow Airport is only a one hour drive from Edinburgh Airport. It is not possible to buy Qantas points, and even if you could, it would probably cost as much as buying the tickets outright.
Given this, the only other real option I can think of is to try and purchase points from American Airlines through their AAdvantage reward program. You will be able to use the AA points to book Qatar flights as they are both members of Oneworld. At present, it only costs 60,000 AA points from PER – EDI on Qatar in business, which is significantly less than Qantas. However, for bookings made after 22 March, this will increase to 85,000 AA points.
You would generally only want to buy AA points during a sale, and you need to have been a member for 30 days to purchase. AA has just had a big sale on for the last few weeks, which unfortunately ends today. Assuming you joined up today, there is a chance another sale could happen after 30 days, which would allow you to purchase enough points. Depending on the type of sale and the exchange rate, you would be looking at paying about $2000 each for enough points for a one-way ticket. You would then need to buy a one-way ticket back which is probably going to cost around $2000 anyway, so you could consider buying enough points for business both ways. Another option with AA points is to redeem the points on Etihad, who also fly to Edinburgh, via Abu Dhabi. However, this would cost 75,000 AA points (around $5,000 return) and you can buy business tickets outright for around $6,000 if you search around.
My final advice would be to do some more research using this website and others and consider different options. A good starting article is https://www.pointhacks.com.au/aadvantage-europe-routings-guide/. There are a multitude of ways to get to from Perth to Edinburgh/Glasgow with only two stopovers such as the Middle East or Asia, and then to a major hub such as London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, where you can connect direct to Scotland. For example, Singapore Air only costs 59,500 points (inc. 15% online discount) one-way from Perth to Amsterdam in business class, and then you could pay for an economy fare on KLM to Edinburgh. You could enough points for this redemption by applying for a AMEX Platinum Card through a referral link, which is 100,000MR points plus 20,000MR for the referral (assuming you qualify). From there, you could transfer the points to Krisflyer/Singapore.
would our options be greater if we flew Perth to London return as we were originally going to drive to London from Edinburgh but could easily do the reverse. I note that NAB and AMEX have some generous sign up bonuses