Do Qantas redemptions allow free stopovers? We get asked this question quite a lot and the answer is ‘no’ – but you can get a layover (a break in your itinerary in a city of up to 24 hours between flights) to add in an extra (quick) city break, and with fewer points than if you’d stopped for longer.
In this guide, we explain the important difference between a transit and a stopover and the effect they have on award pricing. We also give three examples of incorporating short stays in Dubai, Auckland, and Hong Kong on your next trip overseas.
This guide deals only with one-way award redemptions. If you want to book a more extensive round-the-world trip with your Qantas points, we have our separate Qantas Round The World Class Award Guide here.
Rules and restrictions
The determining factor in the pricing of your award ticket with Qantas depends on whether you are doing a:
- transit of up to 23 hours and 59 minutes = no additional costs for transits of different lengths
- stopover of 24 hours or more = not free (prices each segment separately)
Most frequent flyer programs, including Qantas, allow free transits.
Some frequent flyer programs allow free stopovers; however Qantas does not.
However, you can use the Qantas multi-city search tool to customise your transit and make it up to (almost) a full day.
Note that Qantas has four different award charts and you’ll need to stick to just one:
- Classic Flight Reward Table: for travel on Qantas and preferred partner airlines, which are Emirates, American Airlines, Fiji Airways, Jetstar, QantasLink, Airnorth and Air Vanuatu
- Jetstar Classic Flight Reward Table: for travel on Jetstar and its subsidiaries in Asia
- Partner Classic Flight Reward Table: for travel on all other partner airlines, such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines
- oneworld Classic Flight Reward Table: travel on at least two oneworld alliance airlines other than Qantas, such as American Airlines and British Airways
Example 1: Christchurch to London via Sydney and Dubai in Emirates First Class for 192,000 points
Say you want to use your Qantas points to fly First Class to London and you decide to fly Emirates via Sydney and Dubai.
You can get a free transit of up to 24 hours in Sydney AND Dubai for the regular 192,000 points.
Here’s how to do it in six steps:
Step 1: Enter the three flights into the Qantas multi-city search tool. (This example shows the flexible dates option, but you can do exact dates too):
Step 2: You will be prompted to log in to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account, if you haven’t already:
Step 3: The default will be to show Economy Class seats, so tick the box of the cabin of your choice and you will (hopefully) see availability on your dates:
Step 4: After you have confirmed that there are award seats on your desired dates, click ‘Continue’ and the screen will show the exact flights available. You can see below that there is one option on the first leg from Christchurch to Sydney:
Likewise, for the second leg, there is only one option from Sydney to Dubai – unfortunately, for this example, you’ll only get one short night in Sydney, with a red-eye in the morning, making an airport hotel stay your best bet. Arguably alright if you’re wanting to enjoy late-night drinks with some Aussie friends that you haven’t seen in a while!
Step 5: This is the most important step! For the third leg, I need to select my onward flight to depart less than 24 hours after I arrive in Dubai (at 1:20pm on Thursday), meaning a 12:10pm departure on Friday will keep me under 24 hours (and therefore within the 192,000 pricing bracket):
Step 6: Once you have the combination of flights you are happy with, and you’ve confirmed the points price, click through at the bottom of the page to complete your booking. Easy, right?
Example 2: Wellington to Los Angeles via Auckland with Jetstar Economy Class and American Airlines Business Class for 84,000 points (extend stopover for extra 6,400)
Say you are flying from Wellington to the US and have family or friends in Auckland.
Some travellers dislike transiting through Auckland because the domestic-to-international (and reverse) transfer process takes a bit of time and can be stressful, so streching your transit to nearly a full day can give you a cushion between flights and allow you to visit the city.
The following itinerary flying Jetstar to Auckland, and American Airlines onwards to Los Angeles, is priced the same as a direct Auckland to Los Angeles flight on American Airlines – this effectively becomes a free-flight add-on for those who don’t live in New Zealand’s largest city.
You’ll unfortunately be stuck in Jetstar Economy Class for the first leg of the trip, though there are no Business Class domestic flights in New Zealand, so it’s not like you’re missing out on anything better (and it beats flying in the other direction back to Australia).
The arrival to Auckland just before 6.00pm and departure at 3.20pm the next day satisfies the less-than-24-hours requirement of a free transit:
Example 3: Christchurch to Taipei via Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific Business Class for 92,000 points (extend stopover for extra 18,000)
Cathay Pacific flies direct between Christchuch and Hong Kong on a seasonal basis between 1 December and 28 February. As it is not a preferred partner of Qantas, it falls into the more expensive Partner Classic Flight Reward Table.
If I arrive in Hong Kong at 8:55pm, I have until the same time the next day to enjoy a free transit.
The following itinerary prices at 92,000 points because I am in Hong Kong for 23 hours and 5 minutes:
But the next one is a stopover of 26 hours, which means the price increases to 110,000 points (because the flights segments price separately):
If you search for a one-way or return trip on the Qantas website, it will automatically give you options with the shortest connection times.
However, if you use the multi-city search tool, you can customise a free transit of up to 24 hours in an intermediate city, which can be a really nifty way to visit places like Dubai, Doha, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Nadi, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and a host of other cities that Qantas and its partners connect through.
Finally, if you want a longer stopover (of more than 24 hours), you might as well make the most of it for at least a few days as Qantas prices the segments separately.