Robyn Ironside, 26 October 2015

MILLIONS of Qantas frequent flyer points amassed by Woolworths shoppers could be lost as a result of the grocery giant’s decision to end its partnership with the airline.

From the start of next year, Woolworths will issue its own loyalty dollars to Everyday Rewards card holders rather than Qantas points after undertaking research into the arrangement.

The research found 60 per cent of Everyday Rewards members signed up with Qantas had not redeemed points in the last year, and a third of those had never claimed their points.

Frequent Flyer expert and Australian Business Traveller editor David Flynn said based on that research, it stood to reason many people would end up losing their points altogether.

He said under the terms and conditions of the Qantas FF program, an account left inactive for 18-months would see all of its points expire.

“For long-time loyalist Woolworths’ customers who rarely fly and don’t have any bank-issued Qantas partner credit cards, that means the clock will soon begin ticking towards the day when, due to not earning or burning any points, all of their Qantas frequent flyer points will be wiped,” said Mr Flynn.

“Everybody has heard unhappy tales along those lines, where a stack of points has vanished, and often just when the former owner goes to book a long-awaited trip.”

It was simply a case of “use it or lose it”, he said.

“Qantas has set up an online mall with scores of partners that allow frequent flyers to use their points to shop,” Mr Flynn said.

“You’ll pocket up to five points per dollar, depending on the retailer.”

Despite Woolworths’ announcement yesterday it would not renew the Qantas Frequent Flyer-deal, the airline itself said discussions were continuing.

“Woolworths is a long term partner for Qantas Frequent Flyer and we continue to have discussions with Woolworths about the future partnership,” read a statement provided by Qantas.

Mr Flynn said point-savvy shoppers would now look more closely at the Coles Flybuys scheme, which last week struck an alliance with Etihad Airways.

“It could also shift consumers’ petrol-buying habits from Woolworths-Caltex to BP where they can earn Virgin Australia frequent flyer points on each litre,” he said.

“Woolworths tipped tens of millions of dollars a year into Qantas’ coffers buying points to hand out to customers.

“That loss is going to be keenly felt.”

Extracted in full from The Australian.