The world is a big place, and the volume of travel deals, offers, products and perks available to travellers seems just as big — and very overwhelming.
Thankfully, for the average traveller, there are experts like Point Hacks that sift through all the information and tell us what we should pay attention to.
After looking at all the things happening in with airports and airlines in 2019, the Point Hacks pros have narrowed the list down to nine deals and products Australians should jump on.
Some of these are ways to earn points and save money, and others are new perks on planes and airports that will give us a better travel experience.
Either way, this is shaping up to be a great year for travel, Point Hacks spokesman Daniel Sciberras told news.com.au.
“Airlines are definitely working hard to woo us this year, particularly on the premium side with their hard products — space, seats, etc — which I can see continuing in the near future,” he said.
“A number of airlines are upgrading their first class cabins into ‘mini apartments’, such as Etihad’s First Class Apartments and Singapore Airlines’ latest Suites on their A380s. However, we’ve been seeing investment in economy class as well with airlines making their seats more streamlined to offer greater pitch and also providing better cushioning for greater comfort.”
A big thing to look out for this year is new premium economy offerings on long-haul flights to the United States with American carriers.
Premium economy is a class between economy and business.
“The continually increasing investment in premium economy is exciting for Australian travellers, particularly as we travel such long distances,” Mr Sciberras said.
“Many US-based airlines are offering premium economy across their Australian routes, and Emirates’ upcoming premium economy cabin is also exciting, given they are a partner airline of Qantas.
“In terms of deals, the bonus points offerings will continue in 2019 will also be something Aussie travellers can look forward to. We are already hitting record numbers with cards offering up to 120,000 points.”
And on that, here are the nine best travel deals and products on offer this year that Australian travellers should take advantage of, according to Point Hacks.
POINTS AND OFFERS
1. Complimentary return flights and 80,000 bonus points through the ANZ Travel Adventure Card
Point Hacks has an exclusive offer for the ANZ Travel Adventure Card, which gives new cardholders 80,000 bonus Velocity Points, in addition to the regular benefits of a complimentary return domestic flight with Virgin Australia and two single entry Virgin Australia lounge passes each year.
This is a pretty sweet deal. To put it into perspective, Mr Sciberras said when points weren’t maximised to their fullest potential, 1 point is worth around 1 cent when it comes to economy flight rewards.
“However, the redemption dollar equivalency becomes greater when you’re using your points towards premium flight redemptions — where you’re looking at a 3-4 cent mark per dollar,” he said.
Here, that means 80,000 bonus Velocity Points is around $2400.
Mr Sciberras said around 95,000 Velocity Points can get you a return flight from any Australian east coast city (like Sydney and Melbourne) to Los Angeles in economy, or a one-way flight in business class.
2. Up to 120,000 bonus points on the ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa and Westpac Altitude Black cards
The ANZ Frequent Flyer Black Visa offers new cardholders 120,000 bonus Qantas Points, 75 bonus status credits, $150 back to your new card, two Qantas Club lounge passes and complimentary insurance.
Westpac’s Altitude Black Mastercard and American Express offers up to 120,000 Qantas or Altitude Points on sign up — 80,000 bonus points on the Mastercard and 40,000 on the American Express — when customers spend a minimum of $3000 on each card within 90 days of being approved.
“With 120,000 Qantas points, you can get a return flight in economy from any east coast city to London,” Mr Sciberras said.
“Alternatively, 65,000 Qantas Points can get you a one-way business class fare to Hong Kong from Sydney or Melbourne.”
ON THE PLANE
3. Multimillion-dollar revamp of premium cabins in Qantas A380s
Passengers flying long-haul to the United States, Asia and Europe on Qantas Airbus A380s will enjoy the perks of a major cabin upgrade that begins mid-this year, with all 12 aircraft in the fleet to be fully upgraded by the end of 2020.
There will be 30 economy seats removed from the upper deck and the addition of six seats in business class and 25 seats in premium economy.
The original business class sky beds will be replaced with the latest Qantas Business Suites already on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and they’ll have a 1-2-1 configuration.
The 14 first class suites will get contoured cushioning and larger HD screens.
4. US airlines launching premium economy cabin
Three major US airlines — American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines — will launch premium economy cabins across selected flights into Australia this year.
United Airlines’ Premium Plus will begin in early 2019, and will be introduced on a number of aircraft including the Boeing 787s that fly to Australia.
Delta’s Premium Select will be available on some international routes, including Los Angeles to Sydney, on its A350 flights, from April.
American Airlines will continue to roll out premium economy on selected flights into Australia, in addition to premium economy already available on its Dreamliner flights to Australia.
5. Mega-facility terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport
Abu Dhabi International Airport — the hub of Etihad — is a major transit point for Australian travellers and it will this year see the opening of a new state-of-the-art terminal.
The new terminal will be able to handle 84 million passengers each year, and travellers can enjoy 35,000 sqm of duty-free shops, dining and entertainment.
6. Multimillion-dollar upgrade at Qantas’ Sydney International Business Lounge
If you do manage to swing a business class upgrade, and are flying out of Sydney, make sure you take a peek at Qantas’ Sydney International Business Lounge.
It’s the latest Qantas lounge to get a fancy facelift, featuring a new dining experience inspired by top chef Neil Perry, full-service bar, dedicated family zone, and more seating — seats have been boosted by about 30 per cent.
It’s due to be completed by the end of this year.
7. Premium Entry at Virgin Australia’s Melbourne Airport domestic terminal
Virgin Australia business class travellers, plus Platinum and Gold Velocity Frequent Flyer members, can enjoy Premium Entry at the airline’s Melbourne Airport domestic terminal, which is set to open in mid-2019.
There will be a dedicated security screening point ahead of the lounge, and areas for check-in and bag drop for premium travellers, which will have automated options.
Point Hacks reckons that going by the Sydney and Brisbane Premium Entry facilities, travellers will also benefit from the optional valet parking and potentially direct kerbside access, which is on offer in Sydney.
8. New Qantas first class lounge at Changi Airport
It’s often said to be the world’s best airport, and now Singapore’s Changi Airport will get a boost with the new multimillion-dollar Qantas First Lounge.
It will offer seating for 240 customers with premium a la carte dining with Asian-inspired menus, a cocktail bar, shower facilities and an open kitchen.
The existing Qantas Business Lounge will also be expanded to add at least 50 seats. Development is due to start in April and will open towards the end of the year.
9. $300 million Gold Coast Airport terminal expansion
Here’s another reason to holiday in the Gold Coast — the city’s airport is getting a three-level terminal adjacent to the southern end of the airport, advanced facial recognition systems and full-glass panels for more natural light.
The first stage of the project is expected to be finished this year.
The new $50 million four-star Rydges hotel will also open near the airport’s major terminal this year.