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Founded in 1920, under the name Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited (QANTAS), Qantas has grown to be Australia’s largest domestic and international airline. This is an impressive achievement considering the first flights this company operated were with fragile biplanes—carrying only one or two passengers in an open cockpit—at the very beginning of civil aviation in Australia. The Qantas Group’s main business is the transportation of travelers using the complementary airline brands, Qantas and Jetstar. The group also operates subsidiary businesses including other airlines and businesses in specialist markets, such as Q Catering. Qantas Group’s airline brands offer regional, domestic and international services. The company now employs more than 30,000 people, with approximately 93% of these employees based in Australia. 

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The Good

  • Fleet
  • Destinations
  • Loyalty program

The fleet Qantas operates includes a combination of Airbus and Boeing aircraft. One type of aircraft in particular, the Qantas A380, has received a Good Design Award in regards to their First Class suite. The Chicago Athenaeum awarded this title. First Class passengers can certainly appreciate traveling in a suite demonstrating style and functionality.

If there is ever a destination Qantas can't deliver passengers to, then they recommend flying with one of their 35 partner airlines. Several of these partner airlines include American Airlines, British Airways and Emirates. Since Qantas is a member of the oneworld network, they are able to collectively offer travelers approximately 1,000 destinations in over 150 countries.

Qantas Frequent Flyer is Australia's best loyalty program that strives to reward members for doing things they already do. This means that Qantas Points can be earned for things like buying groceries, shopping online, or eating out. Many major banks also offer Qantas Points, earning credit cards and bank accounts. Plus earn Points by flying, hiring a car, and booking a hotel. Points can be redeemed in many ways, including purchasing flight and upgrade, buying items from the Qantas Store, and booking one of approximately 100,000 hotel accommodation options worldwide. Qantas Points can even be used to purchase QBE Travel Insurance. It should be noted, however, that Australia and New Zealand residents pay a one-time-only joining fee (A$89.50 and NZ$50 respectively). Individuals interested in this membership can apply online and get their Frequent Flyer membership number right away.

The Bad

  • Flight statistics
  • Insurance
  • In-flight services
  • Sigh-up fee

Qantas arrived on time with 79% success from May 15, 2015 to July 15, 2015. Records show that 8% of flights were late, 3% were very late, and 6% were excessively late. Furthermore, 1% of flights were cancelled altogether. Schedule-oriented travelers of today can appreciate an airline that arrives on time. This is an area Qantas should improve.

QBE Insurance (Australia) offers three package options to help meet customers' travel insurance needs. Options include an Annual Multi-trip policy, International Comprehensive policy as well as a Cancellation, Baggage and Rental Vehicle Excess policy. Quotes can be generated online, which will include exact pricing and coverage details. While at least Qantas offers travel insurance at all, the packages aren't very impressive when compared to other airlines' options. With only three packages to choose from, it is likely that airlines offering more travel insurance choices will be able to meet customers' needs more easily.

Q Streaming is Qantas' next generation in-flight entertainment system and is offered only on selected planes (2-class B717 and some A330-200 aircraft). This system uses wireless technology to grant passengers access to a menu of pre-selected content viewable on Qantas provided iPads. On select carriers, passengers may use their own Apple iOS devices to access the wide range of Qantas entertainment. As enjoyable as this feature sounds, not all planes are equipped with this new system. Although it will be a crowd-pleasing feature in the future, for now it simply means that a good portion of Qantas flyers are getting comparatively subpar service in regards to in-flight entertainment.

Although the Qantas Frequent Flyer program has quite a few positive features, the fact that Australia and New Zealand residents pay a sign-up fee (A$89.50 and NZ$50 respectively) is unfortunate. Most airlines' loyalty programs offer at least an entry-level, basic membership completely free of charge.

The Bottom Line

Sure, Qantas has several areas that are bland and unexciting: their on-time performance could use some work, their unequal distribution of Q Streaming is unfortunate and their travel insurance options are completely ordinary. Still, the company doesn't seem to have any major red flags. Together with their partner airlines, Qantas can offer travelers an impressive list of destinations. Plus, their rewards program is a great feature, even though some members have to pay a fee to join, because it has so many ways to earn and redeem points. Having been in business for nearly a century, there is no reason to expect a negative, uncomfortable flight experience with Qantas.