The single best advantage of frequent flyer points is to get into Business and First Class without paying the kind of money that an outright ticket purchase requires.
Airlines charge anywhere north of 7 times the cost of an Economy ticket for a First Class seat on the same flight, 4-5x for Business Class, and 2x for travel in Premium Economy—so using points to get to the front of the plane more cheaply becomes the goal if you want to maximise the value of your frequent flyer balance.
The basic premise that points get so much more valuable for Premium Economy, Business or First Class redemptions is simply because the cost in points of these trips is more like 3x the cost of an Economy ticket for First Class, 2x for Business, and 1.5x for Premium Economy.
You can totally use 55,000 Qantas Points to fly from Auckland to Dubai one-way in Emirates Economy Class:
or you can use 168,000 points (just over triple) to fly the entire way in a First Class Suite:
Let’s look at that in table form, using a real-life example of flying Emirates from Auckland to Dubai return during low-season dates:
|Cabin||In cash||Compared to Economy||With points||Compared to Economy|
Compare the multipliers between the paid fare and the points fare, and you will see that saving up your points can pay real dividends—if you place a value on travelling in premium cabins.
This does not factor in the taxes and fees that are usually payable with redemptions with frequent flyer programs. While these tend to increase as you move towards the front of the plane on points bookings, they are usually worth it—but, again, only if you place a value on travelling up towards the front.
What do our readers say?
We put this question to those who follow our Facebook page and over 1,600 Point Hackers responded, with more than 4 in 5 preferring to direct their points to travel in premium cabins:
What about Business vs First Class?
Is it worth paying 60,000 points for a lie-flat Business Class seat with priority check-in and lounge access, or 90,000 to get access to an even better lounge, eat whenever you want (‘dine on demand’) and potentially have a hot shower while you are flying?
Yes, you can shower on a plane now
That is a different ball game, so we have explored that question in this post.
I want to stress this point: points can definitely be used for Economy travel to make your travels go further—as Martina does—but the points system has most of us paying surcharges on our redemptions, meaning that Economy Class awards are often slugged with fees that eat up most of the benefit of using your points in the first place.
As such, the best value to be had (versus paying in cash for the same ticket) is for travel in First, Business or Premium Economy Class. However, some travellers do not care less about travelling up front (or never have), and so getting high perceived value out of their points will be a lot harder if they do not value travelling in this way.
Do you have a friend, family member or colleague who just doesn’t ‘get it’, i.e. they keep using their points for low-value redemptions when you know they could be getting a better deal? Share this article with them using the social media buttons below and spread the word!
Earning Points: First Principles
- Getting Started with Frequent Flyer programs
- Earning by Flying
- Buying points and miles
- Earning from Credit Cards
- Earning from Offers & Partners
- Earning and Using Points – First Principles
Using Points: First Principles
- Who, What, When, Where and How?
- Flexible Points Programs
- Maximising Points value
- Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin Australia Key Partners
- Searching for points seats
Supplementary image courtesy Emirates.