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Fly EL AL? It’s a new option now Qantas Frequent Flyer has joined Amex Membership Rewards

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On Monday, Qantas Frequent Flyer became a partner of American Express Membership Rewards in the UK.

As promised, I wanted to answer the question: what are the best ways to spend Qantas Frequent Flyer points if you live in the UK?  I should caveat this by saying that I have happily ignored the Qantas programme for my entire life until Monday so this has been a fairly steep learning curve!

How to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points from UK credit cards

You can now earn 1 Qantas Frequent Flyer point for every £1 you spend on American Express Green, Gold, Platinum and Amex Rewards Credit Card cards.

You also get generous sign-up bonuses if you qualify:

20,000 points for getting American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (no fee in year 1, our Amex Gold review is here) – this is a special offer which expires on 29th June

30,000 points for getting The Platinum Card (£575 fee, our Amex Platinum review is here)

5,000 points for getting the American Express Rewards Credit Card (free for life, our Amex Rewards Credit Card review is here)

There is no bonus on The Green CardOur review of the American Express Green card is here.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Qantas Frequent Flyer is not the most competitive frequent flyer programme out there.

Unless you already have some Qantas miles, most people won’t see any value in transferring points across compared to using British Airways Executive Club.  As both Qantas and BA are members of the oneworld alliance, they can generally access the same reward seats.

There are exceptions though ……

What are the best Qantas Frequent Flyer redemptions?

How much are Qantas Frequent Flyer redemptions?

Full details of Qantas Frequent Flyer reward pricing can be found on this page of their website.  Here are the key charts you need:

This is the chart for redemptions on Qantas, Jetstar, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu, American Airlines and Emirates (for Emirates bookings up to 31 August 2020):

Qantas Frequent Flyer reward chart

More relevant, this is the chart for redemptions on Air France, Air Niugini, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, China Eastern, Cathay Dragon, EL AL, Emirates (for Emirates bookings from 1 September 2020), Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines:

Qantas Frequent Flyer oneworld redemption chart

These charts are for one-way flights.  A return is priced as two x one-way flights.  You do NOT double the mileage and use the price based on the mileage for a return flight.

This pricing is in line with what you would pay via British Airways Executive Club.  Once you factor in the ability to also earn Avios via other partners, and of the course the 2-4-1 voucher from the British Airways American Express credit card, there is little point considering Qantas Frequent Flyer as a transfer partner for booking a BA flight.

Here are the airlines on the list above which CAN’T be booked using Avios via British Airways:

  • Air Niugini
  • EL AL
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • Air France
  • KLM

I will focus on EL AL and Emirates in this article, as Air France / KLM flights can be booked via Virgin Flying Club or their own Flying Blue scheme, both of which are already Amex transfer partners.

Using Qantas Frequent Flyer miles to book EL AL flights

Using Qantas Frequent Flyer points to book EL AL flights

EL AL is not big on partnerships, to put it mildly.  According to wheretocredit.com, it only works with:

  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Qantas
  • Alaska Airlines

This means that Qantas Frequent Flyer is the ONLY easy way to redeem miles for EL AL flights via UK credit card spend.

London Heathrow to Tel Aviv is 2,233 miles according to Great Circle Mapper.  From Manchester it is 2,355 miles.  This means that both fit into the same Qantas Frequent Flyer pricing zone:

Economy: 20,000 miles each way

Business: 43,800 miles each way

For comparison, Avios would charge 12,500 Avios one-way in Economy and 37,500 Avios one-way in Club World, based on peak dates.

Virgin Flying Club would charge 11,000 miles one-way in Economy and 33,000 miles one-way in Upper Class, based on peak dates.

Qantas does have low surcharges when you redeem on EL AL.  You save around £100 compared to booking British Airways return flight using Avios (roughly £250 vs £350).

What IS a good deal is just booking a flight TO the UK on EL AL.  The taxes and charges for Tel Aviv to London in Business Class, one way, are just £25.10.

EL AL is also a great deal on taxes if you book from outside the UK. Here are some examples:

Amsterdam to Tel Aviv (one-way) – €31.44 in Business

Tel Aviv to Amsterdam (one-way) – £25.10 in Business

One option would therefore be to fly out from Amsterdam, to benefit from the lack of Air Passenger Duty, whilst flying back directly to the UK.

Use Qantas Frequent Flyer to book Emirates flights

Use Qantas Frequent Flyer points to book Emirates flights

I also wanted to quickly touch on Emirates.

American Express Membership Rewards is a 1:1 partner with Emirates Skywards anyway.  In general, unless there is some big discrepancy in pricing on a particular route, it would make more sense to convert Amex points to Emirates Skywards and redeem with them directly.  Amex transfers to Emirates are instantaneous.

London Heathrow to Dubai is 3,421 miles.  This means you are looking at:

Bookings to 31st August: 20,300 miles one-way in Economy, 57,000 miles one-way in Business, 85,500 miles one-way in First

Bookings from 1st September: 24,500 miles one-way in Economy, 61,200 miles one-way in Business, 89,800 miles one-way in First

Qantas reward pricing increases at 3,600 miles but it seems that all UK Emirates departure points make it (Edinburgh to Dubai is 3,594 miles) EXCEPT Glasgow.

Let’s compare with Emirates Skywards.  Emirates redemptions require fewer miles when booked as a return so I have quoted return prices from London Heathrow below:

Economy return: 45,000 Skywards miles + £189

Business return: 90,000 Skywards miles + £373

First return: 135,000 Skywards miles + £373

Assuming that taxes are the same, there is no real advantage to using Qantas Frequent Flyer to book Emirates UNLESS you already have some Qantas points and want to top them up via American Express Membership Rewards.

Conclusion

Whilst it is always good to see new Membership Rewards partners, in truth Qantas Frequent Flyer doesn’t add much for a UK traveller who doesn’t already have some of their miles.

It is good news for anyone who wants to redeem miles on EL AL.  It also benefits anyone who flies EL AL for cash, as they could credit the miles to Qantas and top them up via Amex Membership Rewards points.

Perhaps Amex can focus on getting a UK partnership with World of Hyatt instead?!  That would be a real game changer if they want to attract more spending from the frequent flyer market.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (36)

  • GS says:

    Re El Al to/from Manchester, according to the Qantas miles calculator (https://www.qantas.com/au/en/frequent-flyer/calculators.html#/usepoints) it oddly prices via Paris rather than direct to TLV. Maybe because direct is a relatively new route, but if it doesn’t show here maybe it isn’t redeemable yet?

    • Lyn says:

      The Qantas calculators don’t always include all the routes available. For instance I’ve noticed fairly new BA seasonal routes missing in the past. I don’t know if the key factor here is “seasonal” or “new” though.

  • guesswho2000 says:

    A QF point is worth around A$0.02, based on cash prices for Y, and significantly more for J/F.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Workings based on my most recent flight as booked (MEL-CBR in Y):
      Cash price $572 (don’t underestimate the cost of domestic Aussie flights);
      Redemption 16,000 QFF + $107.88;
      Points therefore 16,000=$464.12=$0.029/point.

      It’s possible to do worse or better, (sometimes significantly better, particularly on QF monopolised routes, such as to the islands (Hamilton, Whitsundays, Kangaroo, etc.)) than that, obviously, but 2c is a typical outcome.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Comparison of recent J redemption vs cash bookings MEL-HKG:
        Cash price $3,033.01 (QF both direction);
        Redemption 125,000 QFF (65k out 60k back, CX/QF blended redemption, these have increased since then slightly) + A$195.20 + (HK$652.00, for simplicity’s sake I’ll use today’s exchange rate A$121.67)=$316.87
        125,000 QFF=$2,716.14=$0.02173/point

  • Paul says:

    The Qantas branded Amex card issued in Australia offers 1.25 points per A$1 spent as opposed to the currency equivalent of 1 mile per A$1.8 which is what the UK card does.

  • Rob says:

    Yes it is! I pulled it up the other day and readers have sent me screenshots today with the tax data.

  • Dominic Barrington says:

    For all that, in any class of service, El Al is way inferior to either BA or VS. I don’t know what their COVID arrangements are, but it is certainly true on the basis of normal flying. I grant you that it is probably the only airline to guarantee a kosher meal at the moment, but that’s about all it really has going for it. And you have to endure a tedious extra layer of security before boarding…

    • J says:

      easyJet and I think Wizz also do this route, I wonder if there’s demand for BA/Virgin/El Al with 2 LCC’s as well… not sure I can see VS making it work.

      • Rhys says:

        Virgin was definitely making it work and announced it would put a second daily on Tel Aviv before coronavirus happened!

  • Lady London says:

    Hold on…did I misread something?
    It looked like the article implies you can use avios to book Kl/AF?

    Should that have read we can book Kl/AF with MR points.

    • Rob says:

      I have just clarified the text. You CAN book Air France and KLM with Qantas points, but I didn’t bother covering it because they are already Virgin partners and of course a lot of readers have Flying Blue accounts anyway – and those schemes are both 1:1 Amex partners.

  • Gringo says:

    Maybe a glitch – but when searching if you’ve clicked “Use money, points or both” TLV doesn’t show up, but if you click “Use points” it does.