I’ve been planning some activity for my many frequent flyer points, many tens of thousands of which were earnt over several years of paying for childcare on a credit card several years ago. It adds up, I can tell you.
Firstly I’ll be jaunting down to Hobart for a few days in October with Marita. Then I’ll be taking the kids on a little holiday over the Melbourne Cup long weekend. Their preferred venue? Sydney. Because although they’ve been there before, they want to (again) ride the monorail and the double-decker trains.
Poking around on the Qantas web site, I found tickets were available on points for all those flights. Who’d have thunk? Mind you some of the flights to/from Hobart involved going via Sydney — hardly a logical proposition. I managed to find some direct ones though.
In the small print on the site it mentions government taxes, fees and surcharges, but it gives you no clue as to the magnitude of them. This is only clear when you’ve worked your way through the booking, and I suppose it doesn’t know the precise amounts until you’ve said where you’re flying, but it’d be nice to have a clue early on, because it turned out to add up to about $50 per sector.
So for instance I could fly to Hobart for $49 plus 8000 points. Or alternately I could just book on Jetstar for $79 all-inclusive, if I was willing to put up with a rigidly enforced 30 minute check-in and no free food en-route. Eventually I decided to fly down on Jetstar, and back on Qantas. (And hopefully Marita can book onto the same flight home; she’ll be in Hobart before me on a work-paid conference trip.)
And the Sydney flights? Well I compared the costs of Qantas versus Qantas on points versus Jetstar versus Virgin Blue. Bearing in mind that kids don’t fly for any less money than adults on the cheapest flights, the totals for three passengers on return flights came out at:
- Qantas on points, fees $300
- Qantas on paid tickets $740
- Virgin Blue paid tickets $594
- Jetstar paid tickets $621 (bleuch, flying out of Avalon, what a pain that would be)
So using Frequent Flyer points is far from free, but assuming there isn’t some super-dooper-mega sale later down the track, it’ll still save me about $300 (and with the benefit of free nibblies thrown in), so given how infrequently I fly anywhere, this time round I’ll go with the points.