Qantas announces changes for frequent flyers

Qantas has outlined a raft of changes to its frequent-flyer loyalty program and baggage allowances ahead of the launch at the end of next month of its tie-up with Middle Eastern airline Emirates.

A day after Emirates moved to make its loyalty program more similar to that of its alliance partner, Qantas announced changes that include the ability to earn and redeem points or miles on the airlines’ networks covering more than 175 destinations around the globe.

The changes will also give access to both airlines’ airport lounges to ‘‘gold’’ members or higher of either loyalty program in Australia, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

As part of the overhaul, Qantas’s baggage policy will change from a so-called ‘‘piece and weight system’’, to a weight system, for all international flights apart from those to the Americas.

It will result in a reduction in the total checked baggage limits for many frequent-flyer members.

While a Qantas Club or Silver member in a premium-economy seat on an international flight can now have three pieces of up to 23 kilograms each, their allowance under the new policy will be a total of 52 kilograms.

Likewise, in a business-class seat those same members can now have three pieces of up to 32 kilograms each but as of March 31 they will be allowed a total of 52 kilograms.

Under the alliance, Qantas frequent flyers and Emirates Skywards members will earn points or miles on all flights on their joint network. The exception is that Skywards members will only be able to earn miles on Qantas domestic flights that are part of an international journey with Qantas or Emirates.

Qantas loyalty members will be able to use their points to redeem a Qantas ‘‘classic award’’ flight on Emirates services from March 31 when the alliance is scheduled to be launched. Likewise, Skywards members will be able to use their miles to redeem a ‘‘Skywards saver reward flight on Qantas services’’.

Members of Qantas Frequent Flyer or Emirates’ Skywards program will have their tier status recognised with both airlines when flying on the airlines’ joint network.

Qantas has almost 9 million frequent flyer members.

The boss of Qantas’s frequent-flyer division, Lesley Grant, said the benefits would give frequent flyers of both airlines the opportunity to earn and redeem points or miles ‘‘across a massive network’’.

On Monday, Emirates confirmed that it will introduce a new tier to its Skywards loyalty scheme.

As it had promised, passengers will have access to a new ‘‘platinum’’ tier, which sits above ‘‘blue’’, ‘‘silver’’ and ‘‘gold’’, from April 1.

To qualify, passengers have to earn at least 150,000 miles a year. Benefits for platinum members include access to first-class check in, and the ability to invite a guest to first-class lounges.

Emirates’ Skywards program has about 1 million Australian members.

The Qantas-Emirates alliance still needs final approval – expected next month – from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The story Qantas announces changes for frequent flyers first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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