Forget your collared shirt and charm; alcohol is all you need to get consistent upgrades.
Think about it: any sucker can dip their toe in business—what’s impressive is staying there because (let’s face it), no one wants to go back to the land of scratchy blankets and screaming kids.
Jay Whitmore, Qantas’ “official-unofficial” favourite frequent-flyer, made the switch about five years ago and hasn’t looked back since. A self-described “points hacker”, part of the reason he is able to regularly fly Business is his passion for wine.
“Whether it be through credit card scheme rewards or buying wine off Qantas epiQure that’s how I build up my points balance.”
He went on to say, “I used to buy from retailers like Dan Murphy, but once I started to realise the wines I was trying when I was flying business class I could also buy online, I started to buy every time I flew.”
A case of $200 wine gets you 200 frequent flyer points, but as Jay tells us: premium members get 3 points for every dollar they spend (and there are bonus offers where you can earn between 2,000 and 10,000 points per case). So if you’re strategic about it (or if you’re planning a wedding) you can get an upgrade without becoming a raging alcoholic.
He says, “For me it only costs 10, 000 points (16 cases of $200 wine) to upgrade to Business for a Melbourne to Brisbane flight. Also work flies me Business class to LA twice a year and I often use my points to upgrade to First, which for me is the best value use of points.”
Yes, you heard that right: as long as you’re a wine-enthusiast, upgrading to First Class isn’t extravagant—it’s “good value for money”, because if you buy your Business class seat on sale, you can still upgrade to First for the same amount of points as if you had paid full price for your Business seat.
“A return Business ticket on sale from Melbourne to LA is six to eight thousand, while a First Class return would be thirteen or fourteen grand, so to upgrade both ways (which costs 200, 000 points) gives you six or seven grand’s worth of value because you’ve bought your Business class seat on sale, but the ratio of points doesn’t change.”
Jay recently had to reduce the size of his pantry to fit a new 660 bottle wine-fridge in the kitchen, and has no regrets whatsoever. The only warning he has about the velvety-smooth highlife is, “If you’re coming back from a wine tour don’t put it in the overhead bins.”
“I was flying back from South Australia with my mother, and she put four bottles of wine in the overhead lockers, the seals broke and the lady in front started complaining there was water dripping on her. No-one could work out what was wrong. Only at the end of the flight did we realise that it was our Shiraz…”