How to get upgraded on Qantas flights without losing all your points

Qantas will this month increase the number of frequent flyer points needed to upgrade to the pointy end of the plane.

The red roo's revamp of its upgrade points table kicks in on February 20 and affects that bump-up to get from economy to premium economy, business class and first class.

In some instances you'll need to part with almost 50,000 more Qantas Points for a return upgrade compared to the current rates.

Pricing the upgrading

As you'd expect, the cheaper your economy fare the more points will be needed to upgrade, except on the shortest domestic routes such as Sydney-Melbourne, Brisbane-Sydney and Sydney-Canberra where there's no change.

But on international flights, travellers will need 25 per cent more Qantas Points to upgrade from international economy saver fares to business class.

The more expensive flexible economy fares favoured by many business travellers see a smaller 10 per cent increase.

Better off buying

And in some cases, high flyers will be better off using your points to book a business class seat outright rather than gamble on an economy upgrade which may or may not come through.

For example, after the revised upgrade rates kick in, popular Asian routes to Singapore and Hong Kong will see the difference between requesting an upgrade on a flexible economy ticket and booking a confirmed business class ticket comes down to a mere 10,000 Qantas Points.

That's a no brainer, provided of course that you can snare a business class reward seat.

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Beating the system

The trick here is to be flying outside of peak travel periods such as school holidays and also avoid Fridays through to Mondays.

The path you choose also depends on your Qantas status.

For domestic upgrades, if you hold a Platinum card in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program then you already enjoy access to the airline's domestic business class lounges.

This reduces the overall appeal of a business class upgrade compared to travellers at the Gold or Silver level.

On international routes, Gold-grade frequent flyers can already use the Qantas lounges.

Book early, apply earlier

But those long overseas flights are where the better business class experience comes to the fore, especially for overnight legs from Asia and the USA.

Want to beat the points price rise? If you've got a booking in place, apply for your upgrade now – upgrades granted before February 20 will be charged at the current lower rates, even if you're flying after February 20.

The good news? One of the best ways to use Qantas Points remains an upgrade from business class to first class on the Sydney-London and Melbourne-London routes.

This costs just 60,000 points on a flexible business class fare or 75,000 points on a discount business ticket.

For that you get a luxurious ride on this 24-hour trek plus access to the first class lounges at Sydney or Melbourne and Dubai.

Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.

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