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Optus pulls the plug on Qantas partnership

Our members are disappointed that Optus will no longer award customers with Qantas points from July. A number of customers have threatened to leave the telco, while the news has frustrated some Optus customers on contracts they are unable to get out of.

Optus became a Qantas Frequent Flyer partner to much fanfare in 2011. There was so much hype that Qantas even painted one of its planes in an Optus livery. But it seems the relationship wasn’t meant to last, with the companies splitting paths after just four years. Qantas is now reportedly looking for a new partner. Some of our members tip Vodafone as a likely candidate, though time will tell.

"Maybe vodafone can step in and partner with Qantas"

Our members too are considering alternative telcos. For some, the ability to earn Qantas points was the main differentiator between Optus and the competition. With this key point of difference removed, the grass may be looking greener on the other side now for some.

"I will shop around for a new carrier as soon as my contracts are up with Optus. Qantas Frequent flyer points were the only point of difference..." ...more
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Crash course in maximising frequent flyer points

Our members this week deliver a crash course on maximising the value of your frequent flyer points. Responding to a request for advice from an inquisitive new member, our members offer a wide range of valuable tips. Being new to the world of frequent flyer points, it’s a significant but decidedly positive learning curve for our new member.

Attaining the best value for your points is one of the topics discussed in detail. Our members explain that a stockpile of Qantas points is best used on reward flights in business or first class, or on upgrades. On the other hand, the worst ways to spend points include shopping at the Qantas online store or booking hotel accommodation.

While burn rates are important, so ...more
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No value in Virgin Flexi fares?

One member is frustrated at what they perceive as a considerable devaluation of Virgin’s more expensive Flexi fares. They complain that while the benefits have decreased, the prices of Flexi fares have soared. Flexi fares often cost triple the price of a standard Saver ticket.

"Can someone enlighten me on the benefit of booking a Flexi fare over a Saver, besides additional FF points and SC’s? Over the last year VA have drastically devalued this fare type!"

Our member points out that former Flexi-only benefits, such as a complimentary on-board snack, free checked baggage and the opportunity to upgrade with points are now meaningless, as all customers now receive these benefits regardless of the fare paid.

Many of our members concur that they don’t understand the benefit of Flexi fares either. One member has calculated that even if they had to change or forfeit a large number of bookings, it would still cost them less overall to buy only Saver fares than Flexi tickets!

"I did a comparison and for me (where flights do change frequently) over a twelve month period and I still worked out it was cheaper to buy the base level fare and forfeit" ...more
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Top Travel Apps

This week our members discuss their favourite apps for overseas travel. And there are certainly a wide range of different apps used by our members, for a large variety of purposes.

Most our members use apps covering many different functionalities, such as this respondent:

"Tripit for my itinerary, Citymaps2go for offline maps w/ GPS, MyFlights for my flight details and change notification, XE Currency Pro for currency, Expert flyer for seating. If I’m spending any particular time in a city I’ll get the metro/public transpor/tourist app then remove it afterwards."

Maps are popular amongst our members, with a few different navigation-aid apps being utilised. Some prefer GPS-type apps that can be used to provide directions while driving. Others prefer offline city maps. Maps.me is popular as it offers all of these perks – maps, directions and it works offline, though you’ll need to remember to download the map online first.

"Maps.me: Better than city maps 2 go, offline, free, does driving directions/navigation. Even has the" ...more
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Magical Venice – the canals, the food, the people

Our member Flying mermaid recently began an exciting, whirlwind tour around the world in the magical Italian city of Venice.

The trip began with a flying start, if you’ll pardon the pun, in Qantas first class on the A380. The journey to the city of canals was almost smooth, except for a missed connection resulting from a delayed flight. Luckily the airline was very proactive in rectifying the situation, arranging an alternative flight from a different airport in London, as well as a seamless transfer to get there.

"When we landed at Heathrow, as promised a First Host was at the door of the plane, to ask us to describe our luggage. We then went through immigration and after a short wait at the carousel, he joined us with our cases and gave us directions to the Chauffeur drive. A driver was waiting for us and we were soon (well about an hour’s drive) at Gatwick. In fact it took around 2 hours from when we landed until we were checking in at Gatwick."

It’s fitting that the trip begins in beautiful Venice. The canals, waterways and churches are a sight to be beheld, and the restaurants bring out the best in Italian cuisine. Of course, such beauty tends to attract droves of tourists, but it seems our correspondent has figured out the secret to avoiding the crowds on San Marco Square ...more
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Finally, free food on all Virgin flights

Virgin Australia began offering free food on all domestic flights last week. The news has been largely welcomed by our members, who have long complained of Virgin’s lack of consistency when it comes to in-flight service.

Until now, those on flights between the east coast and Perth already received a complimentary hot meal. However the offering on other routes varied considerably, with passengers on some routes receiving a free snack while others missed out completely. Following these changes, all passengers on all flights will receive at the very least a free snack.

The real winners here appear to be those travelling on the cheaper “Saver” fares, who are now guaranteed food on every flight. However a complimentary snack was previously a benefit for those travelling on the more expensive “Flexi” fares anyway. Some of our members wonders if this move devalues flexi fares.

"So it seems although this is a positive move for most, its benefit is marginal at best. Flexis have been apparently downgraded from a year or so ago yet have increased in price. Saver lite has increased in price (by becoming extinct) but provides now a basic small snack and a checked bag" ...more
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Have them in circles
46 people
Mike Ikvliegveel's profile photo
Lisa Clayton's profile photo
Paul Barclay's profile photo
Mark Buchanan's profile photo
Debra K. Haverly, CPA APC's profile photo
Alan Cuthbertson's profile photo
Mt Tamborine's profile photo
InkMoment's profile photo
Matt McInnes's profile photo
 
"Dynamic Currency Conversion" rip-off

Ever been offered the opportunity to pay in Australian dollars while shopping overseas or on a foreign website? Chances are, you’ve been exposed to “dynamic currency conversion”. You might think that the merchant is doing you a favour by converting the price to your native currency, but the reality is that they’re probably ripping you off! It may sound good, but dynamic currency conversion is a practice where the merchant converts the price to your local currency at a rate which very much favours them.

This week one member warns others about the disadvantages of dynamic currency conversion after experiencing the practice while booking a ticket with our very own national airline.

"Perhaps a warning to others. In this case I’ve just purchased an airfare from Qantas from AKL-ADL. The total price was NZD677.20, paid by visa. The visa travel tools tells me that 1 NZD = 0.988379 AUD, (the inverse is 1 AUD = 1.01175 NZD). That should mean that I need AUD 669 to get NZD 677. (I think) Ignoring fees, my card should be charged AUD669 to cover the fare. The Qantas website offer to charge me AUD 695.96, at a conversion rate of 1.0277)."

In this case, paying in Australian dollars would have cost an extra $27. This does not include the credit card’s foreign transaction fee ...more
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An epic South American adventure – another RooFlyer classic

We’re privileged on AFF to see another trip report from veteran traveller and trip report writer RooFlyer, who recently jetted off to South America for a month-long tour. The impressive destination list will include the likes of Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Quito and the Iguassu Falls, to name but a few!

"Following in the footsteps of, and inspired by a number of AFFers (hi JohnM, dr.ron/mrsdr.ron, kpc and others) I’m going round (western) South America for a month, mostly on LAN, but a bit of Avianca and even TAME."

"Its amazing what happens when you decide to do a simple Galapagos cruise but there is altogether too much in Y for my liking. Although I got SYD-SCL-SYD in J for $4K in a Qantas sale some time ago, the rest of the budget blew out all over the place, so whY it is."

It all began with a trans-pacific flight over to Chile on LAN. It seems our correspondent was “lucky” enough to get a seat on one of the last LAN A340 flights from Australia. In the week following the flight, LAN upgraded the aircraft used on its Sydney-Auckland-Santiago route to a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. ...more
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Qantas reinstates Perth-Singapore flights, but they’re not daily

After a year-long hiatus and months of speculation, Qantas recently announced they are resuming flights between Perth and Singapore, with services to resume in June. The route was operated for many years until it was cut from the route map in an apparent cost-cutting exercise last year. The move angered many Perth-based flyers, who were left with just one international Qantas flight – a twice-weekly service to New Zealand that only operates for a few months each year.

The new service won’t quite resemble the old one as there are two key differences – firstly, the new service will be operated by smaller, single-aisle Boeing 737 aircraft. Secondly, the service won’t operate daily; rather five times per week.

In spite of this, many of our members are delighted. A number of members have already confirmed that they will be supporting the service and hoped others would do the same to ensure the route remained. Some are even hopeful of a future upgrade to a larger aircraft.

"I am so pleased to have the PER – SIN QF option reinstated. And I am happy that the flights are not overnight. The SIN -> PER time is a little late for me but..." ...more
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Stuck between an obese flyer and a hard place

One member this week bemoans having to share their seat with a fellow passenger whose size is not well-equipped for a standard seat. In a case of seat invasion, our member had a very uncomfortable journey. The situation is not fair on anyone involved- it can be embarrassing for the overweight passenger and uncomfortable for their unfortunate neighbour.

Our member is not alone and many of our members have shared similar experiences. It is a sensitive topic and ought to be dealt with tact on behalf of all involved. When the situation arises; some passengers have discreetly asked to be moved to provide them more room. Others have been bolder and requested an upgrade given they are not receiving the full use of the seat they paid for.

Some members opine that the size of passengers ought to be dealt with in the same manner as overweight baggage and larger travellers ought to pay for additional space on the aircraft. Others believe ...more
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Maximising the full first class experience

Flying in first class on an international flight is something many of us would love to do if we had the chance. Luckily, thanks to many of the tricks discussed on AFF, first class flying is not out of reach. But for someone who has never experienced the luxury of the pointy end of the plane before, it can all seem overwhelming. This week one of our members asks the forum for advice on making the most of the full Qantas First Class experience, from the day before the flight right up until arriving at the final destination.

"Just hoping for some advice small pieces of advice to get the very best out of the F experience from sydney to LHR and return from chauffeur pick up to lounge to cabin... Check in advice, best use of lounge, best seats, Dubai lounge & duty free etc..."

Our members are happy to offer advice to our traveller. They advise that the whole experience actually begins well before arriving at the airport. The day before the flight, a phone call from a Qantas First host can be expected to discuss seating and spa treatments in the lounge prior to the flight. Passengers can even expect to travel to the airport in style, using the complimentary chauffer pick-up service.

The acclaimed first class lounge awaits ...more
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IHG Rewards Club enhancements – Positive or not?

Our members are divided over changes recently announced by Intercontinental Hotels Group to its loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club. Are the changes a positive thing for customers or not?

A major part of the announcement is the creation of a new tier above Platinum, which is currently the highest tier. At the same time, IHG will reduce the number of points and qualifying nights required to earn their existing status levels, Gold and Platinum. The number of qualifying points to earn Gold status will halve from 20,000 to 10,000 and Platinum status holders will need to earn just 40,000 points (down from 60,000). On the outset, this appears to be a positive enhancement and our members comment that the new requirement for earning Gold status seems very low.

"Gold at 10 nights / 10k points is a damn low bar though (aside from getting it free with Ambassador or simply paying US$50 for it). What do Golds get again besides an extra 10% points?"

Some of the other changes aren’t so beneficial. Points will now expire if an account is inactive for at least twelve months. Previously IHG Rewards Club was one of only a handful of hotel loyalty programs whose points would never expire. Some changes to the number of points required for a free night at various hotels were also announced. Finally, the Fast Track program ...more
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People
Have them in circles
46 people
Mike Ikvliegveel's profile photo
Lisa Clayton's profile photo
Paul Barclay's profile photo
Mark Buchanan's profile photo
Debra K. Haverly, CPA APC's profile photo
Alan Cuthbertson's profile photo
Mt Tamborine's profile photo
InkMoment's profile photo
Matt McInnes's profile photo
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Australia’s Leading Frequent Flyer Community and Travel Website.
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Here you can read our member’s travel experiences, hotel reviews and trip reports. Get expert opinion on everything from the best frequent flyer credit card to securing a free airline upgrade.