Qantas ponders free flights and points as vaccination incentive

TD Guest Writer

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Qantas is considering giving free flight vouchers or frequent flyer points to people who have had Covid-19 shots, joining a growing list of businesses offering vaccination incentives to kick-start global travel.

While details haven’t been finalised, fully inoculated Qantas frequent fliers might also be offered free loyalty status credits, the airline confirmed.

“As a large company that relies on travel to put our people and planes back to work, we’re obviously motivated to help with the national vaccine effort,” Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully said.

“We’re still thinking through how this would work, but the incentive could be Qantas points, Qantas or Jetstar flight vouchers, or status credits for frequent flyers.”

Those incentives would be retrospective and available to anyone who has already been vaccinated. The program would run until the end of 2021 when Australia’s vaccination program is expected to be mostly complete.

That vaccine rollout is “the key to keeping our domestic borders open and safely restarting international travel,” Tully added.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has previously declared that vaccination will be compulsory for all Australians stepping onto an international Qantas flight when those flights resume, although exceptions may be made for some ‘bubble’ destinations like the current arrangement with New Zealand.

“Once a safe and effective vaccine becomes readily available, it will be a requirement for travel on our international services,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce flagged in December 2020.

“For international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity.”

After grounding almost all overseas flights in March 2020, Qantas has now flagged late December 2020 for the broad reboot of its international network, although this could be pushed back into mid-2022 in line with Federal Government decisions on the country’s border closures.

As reluctance in many countries to get vaccinations threatens a recovery from the pandemic, companies with the most to gain from a global reopening are pitching in. United Airlines is offering vaccinated frequent fliers the chance to win free flights for a year.

Hong Kong’s airport authority said Wednesday it would give away 60,000 flight tickets in a lucky draw to residents and airport staff who have been vaccinated before the end of September. Uber. and Lyft are offering free rides to anyone on their way to get vaccinated in the U.S.

Australia’s success in suppressing the virus has not been matched by its vaccination program.

Only about 3.7 million people in the nation of 26 million have received their first shot, and Melbourne was ordered into lockdown for the fourth time Thursday to combat a growing cluster of cases.

United Airlines Holdings Inc said last Monday it would offer vaccinated loyalty program members the chance to win free flights for a year’s worth of travel to anywhere in the world it flies in support of the Biden administration’s efforts to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccination.
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