Crazy: Qantas A380 Seats Sold For 2 Million Air Miles

A pair of previous generation Qantas business seats sold on Wednesday for two million frequent flyer points in an online points auction. The seats were sold in one of five auctions Qantas is running this week.

Qantas has auctioned off two previous generation business class seats for two million frequent flyer points. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Qantas works to keep its best passengers loyal

While value varies depending on how points are redeemed, a Qantas frequent flyer point is worth about US$0.014. On that valuation, the top bidder paid around US$28,000 for the two seats – and that’s without the IFE screen working!

But the Qantas points auction isn’t about value. The points auction promotes the Qantas brand and keeps the airline’s best customers engaged with the brand. After 16 months of minimal flying for most Qantas frequent flyers, many are sitting on big points balances and happy to spend.

“Whilst travel remains the number one thing frequent flyers want to use their Qantas Points on once borders open up, we know that many are keen to use some points on unique, big-ticket items,” Qantas’ Olivia Worth said last week.

The two business class seats auctioned were iconic Skybed II seats. Photo: Qantas

A big week of auctions at Qantas

The Skybeds auction followed Monday’s auction of a one-hour flight simulator session with a top Qantas Captain. That sold for 1.2 million frequent flyer points (worth approximately US$16,800).

Also going under the digital hammer was a one-hour soccer coaching session for your child and 19 of their mates. That session, run by Socceroos’ Head Coach Graham Arnold, sold for 500,000 points (valued at approximately US$7,000).

Three-nights of luxury accommodation at Queenstown’s Eichardt’s Private Hotel, a three-hour dinner cruise on a superyacht on Lake Wakatipu, another dinner for four at Eichardt’s, and return business class tickets to Queenstown for four people from either Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane sold for 3,765,000 points (worth more than US$52,000). For that, the top bidder doesn’t even score a Qantas Business Suite. Qantas only operates Boeing 737s to Queenstown. Those Boeings have pretty average recliner-style seats in their small business class cabins.

On Friday, Qantas is auctioning a day trip on a QantasLink Dash 8 for the top bidder and 30 of their buddies. Unlike previous Qantas scenic day trips, this item doesn’t include on-the-ground hospitality at the destination. But it does include inflight catering, including as many packets of QantasLink lemon and yogurt slice as you can handle. Qantas is also tossing in amenities kits and a pair of Qantas PJs for each passenger. On Friday evening (Sydney time), bidding had reached 2.2 million points.

A three-night stay at Eichardt’s (pictured) went for over US$52,000 worth of Qantas points. Photo: Qantas

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Preventing customer drift

The timing of this promotion from Qantas has raised some eyebrows. Earlier this week, Qantas announced the temporary standing down of 2,500 workers. The hoopla surrounding the auctions may not sit well with stood-down workers.

However, holding onto its frequent flyers makes good long-term business sense for Qantas (and ultimately its workers). While many frequent flyers are rusted on loyalists, others are not necessarily so strongly wedded to the airline. Sixteen months of no flying, lockdowns, and working from home gives your average Qantas platinum frequent flyer plenty of time to check out the Singapore Airlines website.

A regular Qantas traveler to the United States? Since Qantas suspended its United States flights, Delta Air Lines has started flying the A350-900 to Sydney. Delta’s A350-900 is fitted out with its highly-regarded Delta One Suites. There is a lot of temptation and ample time to click on the buy button on another airline’s website.

With most of its planes and regular passengers grounded, Qantas is doing its best to prevent customer drift. Qantas merch around your house, be it a pair of bog-standard business class PJs or a natty pair of Skybeds in your sunroom, may help do the trick.