The battle of the skies is heating up with Australia’s airlines revealing more routes at heavily discounted and competitive prices. The airlines have made it even more attractive by allowing travellers to pay for their holidays with all those points that have been accumulating.
Qantas allows you to book its own brand Qantas Holidays and Qantas Hotels, as well as its partners, car rental company Avis and big touring companies APT, Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions and Luxury Escapes.
Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program allows you to book a number of hotels around the country using points. Coupled with cheap airfares, holidaymakers could pay for an entire holiday without outlaying a cent.
The airline has a number of hotel partners where guests can earn Virgin Velocity Points on stays, or transfer hotel loyalty points into Velocity Points. Some of the companies include big players such as Hilton, Crown Hotels and Accor.
With more affordable airfares, there is an abundance of routes for a holiday at home.
Flights between the capital cities are still the most popular, according to a Qantas spokesperson, particularly Sydney to Melbourne and Melbourne to Brisbane.
They noted that prices between capital cities are low at the moment and highlighted Darwin and Hobart as high on the list for holidaymakers. But it seems frequent-flyer members are also spending their points in other areas.
“Lots of customers have been using their Frequent Flyer points for pursuits other than flights. Some popular options include ski passes in New Zealand and the Ghan, Australia’s outback railway from Darwin to Adelaide,” said the spokesperson.
“There’s also been plenty of points spent on hotel and car rentals, as well redemptions on special flights such as the Flight to Nowhere, Flight to Somewhere, the Mystery Flights series and the Supermoon flight.”
QantasLink, the sister brand of the flying kangaroo, has waged a war against Rex and is moving into the airline’s traditional regional routes. Rex last year scored itself a small fleet of inexpensive former Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800s and announced new services between Melbourne and Canberra, undercutting Qantas’s fares.
The Central Western Daily newspaper reports Qantas is rumoured to be increasing services on its new Sydney to Orange service, a route which is traditionally dominated by Rex.
Last week, Virgin Australia announced that by October it will add more than 700 extra flights per week with new routes between Sydney and Darwin, Sydney and Townsville, Adelaide and Cairns, Melbourne and Townsville, and Perth and Cairns.
Flights to the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Brisbane, Townsville, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast will also be increased.
“Off the back of strengthening demand of leisure travel from major capital cities, we’re boosting flight frequencies to key Queensland destinations by around 40 per cent,” said Virgin spokesperson Kris Taute.
“We’re also seeing members of our Velocity Program take advantage of points redemption for car hire and hotels once they reach their destination.”
How to book a holiday using your points
Qantas has made it easy for Frequent Flyers to package their entire holiday. Its website offers users the choice of paying for their holidays using points, as well as an option to see how many points are accumulated from their purchase.
An example holiday package from the ACT to Queensland includes an economy one-way flight from Canberra to Brisbane for 5600 points, plus $51.44 You’ll stay at the Hilton Brisbane, a lovely four-star hotel with an outdoor pool, tennis court and fitness centre, all in the centre of the city. For two nights, it will cost you 85,590 points. And if you’re looking to rent a car, you can rent a Hyundai i30 Active Hatchback from 31,300 points.
The best deals out there
– Sydney to Gold Coast from $77
– Melbourne to Devonport from $89
– Brisbane to Darwin from $163
– Book the Oaks Gold Coast Hotel for 32,000 points for two nights.
– Get away to the Imagine Drift Palm Cove for 54,670 points for one night.
– Canberra to Brisbane for $129
– Adelaide to Cairns from $179
– Melbourne to Hamilton Island from $149
– Stay at the Hilton Brisbane for 50,634 points per night.
– Spend a night at Como The Treasury in Perth for 162,967 points per night.
– Newcastle to Gold Coast from $44
– Adelaide to Melbourne from $32
– Melbourne to Uluru from $95
– Paradise Resort Gold Coast, from $449 for two nights
– Crystalbrook Riley, from $790 for two nights
– The Langham Melbourne, from $578 for two nights
– Canberra to Sydney from $99
– Rex regional routes to Sydney from $99
– Regional TANS Melbourne to Merimbula from $99
– Melbourne to Tasmania from $99
– Adelaide to Kangaroo Island from $74