Qantas’ Intriguing Round The World Oneworld Awards

While I wouldn’t consider Qantas Frequent Flyer to be all that lucrative of a loyalty program in general, there are definitely some sweet spots. In this post I wanted to take a look at one of those, which is the ability to book oneworld round the world award tickets through Qantas.

Basics of Qantas’ round the world awards on oneworld

Long story short, for 318,000 Qantas points you can fly round the world on oneworld airlines in business class, covering a distance of up to 35,000 miles, with up to five stopovers.

Even if you’re not in the Qantas Frequent Flyer ecosystem, the good news is that the program partners with several major transferable points currencies, including Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Citi ThankYou.

How many miles do you need for an award?

If you’re looking to book a round the world award, pricing follows Qantas’ standard oneworld partner reward table. This is distance based, and you’d want to look at Zone 10, which allows you to travel 19,201-35,000 miles. The pricing for such an award is as follows:

  • 132,400 points in economy
  • 249,600 points in premium economy
  • 318,000 points in business class
  • 455,000 points in first class
Qantas Frequent Flyer oneworld award table

In general I think the sweet spot here is for business class, given that finding business class award space with oneworld airlines shouldn’t be impossible, and this is where the savings are the biggest, given how much such a ticket would otherwise retail for.

Why not the other classes?

  • The value of an economy award wouldn’t be that great, since you are still on the hook for taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, and those will add up
  • Not all airlines allow reciprocal premium economy award redemptions, which is why this is of fairly limited use
  • As nice as a first class award would be, finding first class award space on a single oneworld flight is hard enough, let alone traveling around the globe in first class
Finnair business class Airbus A330

What are the restrictions on these awards?

As you might expect, there are lots of restrictions to be aware of for these kinds of round the world awards. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • You can travel any combination of oneworld airlines (you need to fly at least two airlines), though you can’t include any of Qantas’ non-oneworld partners, like Emirates, EL AL, etc.
  • You can fly a total of up to 16 segments
  • You can have a total of five stopovers on your ticket, which are defined as any stops of over 24 hours
  • You can have an open jaw either at the end of your itinerary or even in the middle, but the distance between that and the origin or the previous city will still be included in the total
  • There aren’t strict rules about not being able to backtrack, so some amount of backtracking should be possible, as long as you stay within the other limits
  • You are on the hook for all taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges for the itinerary
  • You have to complete your entire itinerary within 12 months of starting travel
  • The pricing will be based on the highest cabin you fly in, so don’t expect you’ll be able to have one segment in first class and the rest in business class, without it costing you a fortune, for example
  • You can make unlimited changes to your ticket before departure, though at the cost of 5,000 Qantas points per change
Qatar Airways business class Boeing 777

How do you book these awards?

Obviously finding award availability and a great itinerary will take lots of effort, so you’ll first want to search availability segment-by-segment. What should you do once you’ve found availability, though?

In theory these awards can be booked online. You’ll want to use Qantas’ award search tool, and specifically the multi-city function. You can try your luck, and hope the award prices.

I say “in theory” these awards can be booked online because often they can’t be. Assuming you’re planning on getting anywhere close to maximizing the potential of these awards, odds are that the website won’t price the itinerary correctly, and you’ll have to book by phone.

The issue with booking by phone, as you’d expect, is that you’re at the mercy of the competence of the agent that you get. Some agents will likely be able to book these without issues, while others… will struggle.

So if you do plan on booking a Qantas Frequent Flyer round the world award, make sure you have a lot of time on your hands, as it probably won’t be an easy process.

Japan Airlines business class Boeing 787

How much are the taxes, fees, and surcharges?

You can try to get a sense of how much you’ll pay in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, by using ITA Matrix. Just try to price out the ticket you’re booking, and you can expect to pay everything except the base fare.

If you do book by phone, you can expect that if you call five times, you might get five different quotes as to how much the total taxes and fees will be. So expect this to also be rather complicated. There are lots of variables here, though typically you can expect to pay somewhere around $1,000-2,000, in addition to the points.

Cathay Pacific business class Airbus A350

What kind of awards are really possible?

I’d recommend using Great Circle Mapper to first map out the distance of cities you may want to fly to. Just to give an example, clocking in at under 34,000 miles is an itinerary from New York to Tokyo to Hong Kong to Singapore to Sydney to Doha to Sao Paulo to New York, and you’d be allowed to have five stopovers.

An example of a Qantas round the world award

That’s just one example, but the possibilities here really are endless, and you could easily hit all six continents.

Why I’m lukewarm on these awards

I absolutely think a Qantas round the world award could make sense for some, assuming you’re really good at searching award availability, patient, flexible, and don’t expect you’ll have to make many ticket changes.

However, for a vast majority of people I think the juice isn’t really worth the squeeze here, so to speak:

  • Finding great awards for an itinerary like this all at once can be complicated, and otherwise you’re on the hook for an additional fee of 5,000 points for each change
  • Even if you can find award availability, the process of actually booking by phone will require lots of patience
  • If your plans could change at a later point, adjusting your itinerary could prove complicated, not even factoring in the fees
  • With so many one-way sweet spot award redemptions out there nowadays, you could probably book a similarly cool award without paying much more in points

So to me this is one of those awards that’s more cool in theory than anything else. I will say that if you already have an existing balance of Qantas Frequent Flyer points then this could be an especially good deal (since great uses of Qantas points are hard to come by). Meanwhile if you have transferable points you’re considering transferring to Qantas, I’d think twice.

Qantas business class Boeing 787

Bottom line

Qantas Frequent Flyer has some pretty lucrative round the world redemptions, as you can pay 318,000 points to fly up to 35,000 miles with up to five stopovers. If you’re someone planning a huge bucket list trip, and you know what you’re doing with redeeming points, then this could be an awesome value.

However, I think for most people (including me), this is too much of an undertaking. Fortunately thanks to most award pricing nowadays being one-way, I tend to think you can build a much more flexible itinerary with one-ways for a comparable cost.

What’s your take on the value of Qantas round the world awards?