The Qantas Explorer Pass is a unique travel perk that allows you to explore the diverse landscapes and vibrant cities of Australia and New Zealand on a budget. With this pass, you can combine your international journey with discounted domestic flights, making it an attractive option for savvy travellers looking to get the most out of their trip Down Under. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the Explorer Pass, exploring its features, restrictions, and how it compares to similar offerings from other airlines.
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What is the Qantas Explorer Pass?
The Qantas Explorer Pass is a special fare program that allows travellers to explore the vast regions of Australia and New Zealand at discounted rates. The pass is designed for passengers who book their international flights with Qantas or its codeshare partners and want to add domestic flights within Australia and New Zealand to their itineraries. The Explorer Pass covers travel on both Qantas and Jetstar-operated flights, providing a broad range of destinations to choose from.
A key aspect of the Explorer Pass is its zone-based pricing structure. The destinations are divided into three zones, each with its own pricing tier:
- Zone 1: Includes major cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, as well as key regional centers. Zone 1 fares are the lowest-priced fares available within the Qantas Explorer Pass program.
- Zone 2: Covers more remote destinations, such as Darwin, Broome, and Cairns. Fares for Zone 2 destinations are moderately priced compared to Zone 1 and 3 fares.
- Zone 3: Encompasses the most distant locations, including Perth, Hobart, and Queenstown in New Zealand. Zone 3 fares are the highest-priced fares within the Qantas Explorer Pass program, reflecting the greater distances involved in these flights.
Eligibility and Restrictions
To qualify for the Qantas Explorer Pass, certain requirements and restrictions must be met. Here, we delve into the technical aspects of these conditions to provide a clearer understanding of the pass’s limitations:
- International Flight Requirement: The Explorer Pass must be purchased in conjunction with an international flight arriving in Australia or New Zealand. This means that passengers must book their pass simultaneously with their international ticket/itinerary. The pass is not available for itineraries that originate from New Zealand.
- Domestic Cabin Class Limitation: While passengers can fly to Australia or New Zealand in any cabin class, the Explorer Pass fares for domestic flights within these countries are restricted to Economy class. Passengers seeking a higher cabin class for their domestic flights must book separate tickets or consider other fare options.
- Trans-Tasman Route Exclusion: The Explorer Pass cannot be used for trans-Tasman routes, which are flights between Australia and New Zealand. The pass is specifically designed for domestic travel within each country. As such, customers cannot use Qantas Explorer fares for travel between Australia and New Zealand.
- Booking Deadlines: Passengers must book the Explorer Pass before their departure from the point of commencement, and it must be in conjunction with their inbound Qantas or codeshare international flight.
- Baggage Allowance: The baggage allowance for domestic flights within the Explorer Pass will be the same as the international Economy allowance. Additional baggage can be purchased for each flight if required.
How to Book the Qantas Explorer Pass
Booking the Explorer Pass is a straightforward process that involves using the Qantas website or contacting a travel agent. To take advantage of the discounted fares, it’s important to focus on multi-city bookings when searching for flights. This allows you to include your international and domestic segments within Australia and New Zealand on the same itinerary, ensuring that the Explorer Pass pricing is applied.
To book your Explorer Pass using the Qantas website, follow these steps:
- Visit the Qantas website and select the “Multi-city” option in the flight search section.
- Enter your international and domestic flights within Australia and New Zealand as separate segments within the multi-city booking.
- When selecting your flights, look for the “Qantas Explorer” fare type, which indicates that the discounted fares are being applied.
Note that while trans-Tasman routes may appear in your search results, they will not be priced with a discount, as Qantas Explorer fares do not include trans-Tasman routes.
Alternatively, you can work with a travel agent to book your Qantas Explorer Pass. The agent will guide you through the process, ensuring that the appropriately discounted fares are applied to your itinerary.
It’s essential to book the Explorer Pass before departing from your point of commencement and in conjunction with your international ticket/itinerary. This ensures that you receive discounted pricing and can enjoy seamless travel within Australia and New Zealand.
If you’re a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, you can use Qantas Points Plus Pay to purchase flights with the Qantas Explorer Pass. This option allows you to utilize your points to cover part or all of the cost, providing even greater savings on your journey.
Comparison with Other Explorer Passes
Qantas does not require Australian citizens to have an international residency card to purchase the Explorer Pass. In contrast, JAL and ANA require Japanese citizens to have an international residency card, which must be supplied during the purchase process.
The Qantas Explorer Pass must be booked in conjunction with an international ticket/itinerary and before departure from the point of commencement. Qantas focuses on multi-city bookings, ensuring that the Explorer Pass pricing is applied to eligible domestic segments. However, JAL allows the purchase of their Explorer Pass after the international ticket has been booked, providing more flexibility in the booking process.
JAL and ANA offer airport upgrades (subject to availability), allowing passengers to potentially enjoy higher cabin classes on their domestic segments. Qantas, on the other hand, does not offer such upgrade options for the Explorer Pass. The domestic segments within Australia and New Zealand must be booked in Economy class.
Qantas allows the use of Qantas Points for purchasing the Explorer Pass through their Points Plus Pay option. This feature provides greater savings for Qantas Frequent Flyer members. JAL and ANA do not offer a similar option for using their respective reward points when purchasing their explorer passes.
The Qantas Explorer Pass offers a valuable opportunity for travellers to explore the vast and diverse regions of Australia and New Zealand at discounted fares. With its unique features, such as eligibility for all customers, the ability to use Qantas Points for bookings, and the inclusion of domestic New Zealand routes, it stands out as a convenient option for those planning to visit multiple destinations within the region. While the pass does come with certain restrictions, such as being limited to Economy class on domestic segments and requiring booking in conjunction with an international ticket, these limitations are balanced by the overall savings and flexibility it provides.