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Citi ThankYou points to Qantas transfer: upgrades are where it’s at

by on Tue February 24, 2015 • No Comment


Citi ThankYou points just added Qantas as a point transfer partner, joining the following other ThankYou partners:

  • Air France-KLM
  • Asia Miles
  • Etihad Airways Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
  • Hilton HHonors
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

There’s not a lot of outstanding value on the Qantas award chart, but upgrades are where it’s at if you must.

72,000 points can get you upgraded one-way from Australia to San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Sounds steep, right? A full on award flight using Delta SkyMiles is 80,000 miles one way with its partner Virgin Australia, and decent availability.

But think about it this way.

  • Qantas doesn’t charge a fee for upgrades like many U.S. airlines do
  • Upgrading makes you eligible for the very last business class seat on the plane day of departure
  • You can still earn points for your flight
  • You’re not beholden to traveling on the limited days with award availability

So while the optimal situation is to use American, Delta, or United miles to get a full fledged Business Class award to Australia, guaranteeing you the big seat, sometimes that’s just not an option.

Here’s what you need to know

For international flights you need to book an Economy fare in Discount Economy classes G, K, L, M, S or V. You can also book Flexible Economy classes B, H, and Y.

The lowest V or S fare is often a few hundred dollars more than the very lowest non-upgradable fare to and from the U.S.. So depending on when you book, you may have to pay up a bit for the chance to play the upgrade lottery.

And lottery it is.

Qantas does not confirm upgrades at the time of booking. In fact, unless you’re an elite member of Qantas’ frequent flier program, you won’t know if you’ve been upgraded until 24 hours before departure.

Qantas’ top elites start hearing if they’re upgraded about 7 days before departure.

But the cool thing is you can be added to an airport standby list for upgrades. And at the airport you’re eligible to be placed into the very last seats left in Business Class if they are still available. That’s something a regular award can’t do.

The international upgrade price chart is here (or view on the Qantas website):

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 6.03.46 PM

And if the 72,000 miles are steep, consider just 16,000 points to upgrade from Sydney to New Zealand on Qantas’ trans-Tasman routes, which offer a premium level of service.

You could also upgrade domestic Australia flights

While an upgrade of a flight of just a few hours is much less valuable than a 12+ hour flight, Qantas makes it easier to get upgraded on domestic flights.

Most flights will set you back 20,000 points or fewer one way, which is comparable to what U.S. airlines charge for upgrades, and you can confirm them in advance. They also keep some of the cheaper fares eligible for upgrades, which is nice.

You can book e-Deal fares in  L, V, S, N, Q, O and E classes, and be eligible to use your points to upgrade. The price chart is below.

For example trans-Australia service with international style flat bed seats from Sydney to Perth runs just 20,000 miles one way.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 6.11.17 PM

And the U.S. dollar is a lot stronger against the Australian dollar than it was just a year ago, so now is a great time to make your cash go further, and maybe use your Citi ThankYou points to splurge on an upgrade during your visit. It doesn’t take a lot and you’ll find reaching the West Coast of Australia a lot more appealing.

Our favorite Citi ThankYou card is the Citi Prestige, which combines a $250 airline credit (which can be used for airfare) along with Citi transfer partners, and the ability to book just about any American or U.S. Airways flight at an attractive 1.6 cent per dollar rate.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
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Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

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