Upgrade your Qantas seat to Business Class

This article was published some time ago and content may be out-of-date.  Airlines are continually changing their loyalty programs. Always double-check with the airline. 

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Overview

We all want to fly in Business, and as you’ll learn below, Qantas seat upgrades can be a good use of your points!

All Qantas Frequent Flyer members can apply for a seat upgrade on both domestic and international Qantas operated flights.  However, like Velocity and Virgin Australia operated flights, Qantas seat upgrades are dependent on reward seat availability and for international flights, the cheapest Qantas Economy fares are not eligible for upgrades at all.

Because of this, an upgrade to the pointy end of the plane isn’t always guaranteed. In fact, if you do not have a premium status, securing an upgrade on popular routes (Qantas long-haul international flights) can be a hail mary approach. You may be better off with a guaranteed reward seat booking.

Local availability, on the other hand, is very good. Especially if you book a month or so in advance. This can make domestic seat upgrades a very attractive proposition in certain cases.

As we touch on below, asking yourself the following questions will help determine if a Qantas seat upgrade is for you.

  1. Did someone else pay for my Economy ticket?
  2. Do I value the Qantas Flexible Economy fare? (sometimes costing up to 100% more)

If you answer yes to one, or both questions, a Qantas Seat upgrade may be worth considering.

Qantas Status Guide

We show you what you need to do to reach each Qantas status level and the benefits on offer!

Qantas Reward Seats

The traditional Qantas points redemption method – individual Classic Reward Seats.

Best Use of Qantas Points

This guide looks at, in our opinion, some of the best Qantas Frequent Flyer redemption opportunities.

Qantas seat upgrade fare eligibility

Most fares are eligible for seat upgrades, however, only the higher priced Flexible Economy fares are eligible for upgrades on international flights.

Qantas domestic upgrades

Domestic upgrade conditions & point cost

All Qantas Economy tickets are eligible for seat upgrades. However, like all airlines, Qantas penalise upgrades from their cheapest Economy fare. For instance, a Sydney – Melbourne one-way upgrade from a Flexible Economy fare will set you back just 5,000 Qantas points. However, if you’re on the cheapest Economy ticket, you’ll pay double that.

Our general advice is that unless you really value a Flexible ticket ,you’re almost always better off securing a Classic Reward seat, which is a great deal if you value priority services, lounge access and extra room in the air. For example, a Sydney – Melbourne flight in Business can be fully-secured for just 16,000 points (vs buying a $150+ Economy Sale fare and subsequently upgrading for an additional 10,000 points). This is even more pronounced on east-west coast flights, where the Business reward costs just 2,000 more points (36,000) than the upgrade (34,000), which obviously requires an already-purchased cash fare!

The other opportunity comes about if someone, like your employer, has already purchased an Economy ticket for you. For example, let’s say your employer purchases a Flexible Economy ticket for you from Melbourne to Perth. This ticket requires just 15,000 Qantas points to upgrade to the Qantas ‘Business Suite’ on their A330! A cash ticket on these flights will set you back around $2,200, so this is a valuable option!

The table below provides an indication of what is costs to upgrade a domestic Economy fare to Business. Click on each row  (+ icon) for more information, including example one-way routes.

Domestic seat upgrade request process

Online (up to 24 hours before departure)

To request an upgrade, click here, log-in to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account and locate your booking. Click on the ‘Upgrade’ button to start your request.

Like Velocity, Qantas domestic upgrades utilise existing reward inventory, where some seats are set aside exclusively to those with higher status, like Platinum, Gold and Silver (in that order). That said, domestic Business availability is good. Even if you hold lower status, you shouldn’t have too many problems.

If a reward seat is available (find out how to search for Qantas reward seats online). your upgrade request should go through instantly. If a reward seat isn’t available, you’ll go onto the wait-list.

The wait-list is cleared subject to a separate priority order. The primary criteria is your Qantas status. For example, Qantas will grant available seats to (1) Platinum members, before (2) Gold, (3) Silver and (4) Bronze. This is a major perk of premium status (find out how to reach Qantas Gold here).

The second criteria for domestic Upgrades is time, which is something that you can control regardless of your status. The earlier you add yourself to the wait-list, the better chance you’ll have of securing an upgrade!

Day of flight (up to 20 minutes before departure)

Gold, Platinum and Qantas Club members can also submit an ‘on departure’ seat upgrade request at the airport. You can request this in person at the Qantas service desk or Qantas Club lounge. This is, of course, subject to availability. The same seat upgrade point rates apply.

Domestic seat upgrade availability

Qantas domestic Business reward availability is generally pretty good. As per usual, upgrades are tougher during the peak morning and afternoon commute. Likewise, there can be blackouts for major event periods (like flights to/ from Melbourne during the Australian Open tennis).

The key, like any reward seat, is booking ahead. Flight time flexibility also goes a long way.

Qantas international upgrades

International upgrade conditions & point cost

Most Qantas international Economy tickets are eligible for upgrades. However, Qantas Discount Economy fares are a notable exclusion. That means the cheap international promotional flights that you see advertised are ineligible for upgrades.

Like Domestic flights, Qantas encourages upgrades from their more expensive Flexible Economy fare. For instance, a Sydney – Hong Kong upgrade from a Flexible Economy fare will set you back 27,000 Qantas Points one-way. However, if you’re on the standard Economy fare, you’ll pay 50,000.

Like Australian flights, if you don’t value the more expensive Flexible Economy ticket, you’re probably going to be better off securing a reward seat in Business. For example, the same flight to Hong Kong can be secured for just 60,000 Qantas points.

The table below provides an indication of what is costs to upgrade a domestic Economy fare to Business (one-way). Click on each row  (+ icon) for more information, including example one-way routes.

International seat upgrade request process

Online (up to 24 hours before departure)

To request an upgrade, click here, log-in to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account and find the booking you wish to upgrade.

Unlike Qantas domestic flights, all Qantas international seat upgrade requests go straight to the wait-list. No requests will be accepted automatically.

The wait-list is then cleared subject to your Qantas status. For example, Qantas will grant available reward seats to (1) Platinum members, before (2) Gold, (3) Silver and (4) Bronze.

International seat upgrade availability

Qantas international Business reward availability can be limited, especially on flights to popular long-haul destinations like the US and Europe. Find out more about Qantas reward seat availability in our full redemption guide.

Tips for securing Qantas seat upgrades

Availability

As seat upgrades use Qantas Classic Reward inventory, many of the same tips also apply. Learn more here.

Be flexible

As with most frequent flyer programs, the number one rule for securing a valuable redemption is to be flexible. Therefore, it may help to book your cash ticket while considering the below.

Travel times, days, dates & locations
Book ahead
Travel times, days, dates & locations

Be flexible with travel times and even the days on which you travel. For instance, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday are the airlines’ peak days. Try your luck with a mid-week seat upgrade request, along with non-peak departure times for more success (for example, morning and evening commuter times).

Like Classic Reward seats, you’ll also have more success if you’re flexible with dates. As we’ve mentioned beforehand, sometimes it’s simply better to book a reward seat due to the uncertainty of knowing whether Qantas will grant you your seat upgrade. This is especially the case for high-demand international flights in premium cabins.

Book ahead

Reward seats generally come online 353 days before scheduled departure. Search early and then often (see below).

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