Qantas is offering all 486 seats on board an Airbus A380 flying from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita for frequent flyers to redeem on what the airline describes as its first “points plane” flight.
The one-off service will depart Tullamarine on October 21 2019, Qantas announced on Monday.
Qantas frequent flyers, regardless of their status in the program, will be able to claim their seats with points on a first-come, first-served basis when they become available for booking on Thursday May 16.
The airline said the “points plane” flight came about as it occasionally needed to position aircraft for operational and commercial reasons.
For the return flight to Australia, Qantas is also operating a “points plane” flight from Tokyo Narita to Melbourne on October 26 with an Airbus A330.
“This is the first time we have dedicated an entire aircraft – let alone an A380 – to our frequent flyers, and we are expecting to see significant demand for these flights,” Qantas Loyalty chief executive Olivia Wirth said in a statement.
“If this concept is a success, which we think it will be, Qantas hopes to operate more regular frequent flyer only flights to other international and domestic destinations in the near future.”
Qantas said the inaugural flight would have a “distinctive inflight service with special on-board experiences including a bespoke cocktail and meal service, signature pyjamas and inflight giveaways”.
The 484 seats on the A380 comprised 14 in first class, 64 in business class, 35 in premium economy and 371 in economy class.
In addition to the points required – starting at 35,000 for economy and increasing to 54,000 for premium economy, 72,000 for business and 108,000 for first – those redeeming seats will have to pay all taxes, fees and carrier charges.
A dummy booking on the Qantas website for travel on the scheduled QF79 from Melbourne to Tokyo Narita showed a one-way points redemption required the frequent flyer member to pay $175.14 for an economy ticket and $265.14 for a business class ticket.
The payments for Qantas’s QF80 Melbourne-Tokyo Narita flight were at similar levels to the outbound.
The premium economy and first class payments were unknown as the Airbus A330 Qantas uses on the non-stop route does not offer those two cabin classes.
By contrast, the cheapest economy ticket for travel in the week of the “points plane” flights cost $915, according to the Qantas website.
While the October 21st flight will be Qantas’s first where all passengers have redeemed points to fly, the Australian carrier is not the first airline to offer such an opportunity.
In 2018, Cathay Pacific operated four charters flights between Hong Kong and Osaka Kansai that were only available for its Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club members to redeem points for travel on. The pair of Hong Kong-Osaka Kansai flights took place on August 30 and September 3.