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Old Jul 14, 12, 12:52 am   #1
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Programs: US Airways, Alaska Airlines, Southwest
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AS frequent flyer miles to Australia/NZ

High -- advance planning time. Thinking about a trip to NZ and Australia using Alaska miles.

My thinking is this -- we can be quite flexible and are planning this for March/April 2014.

Business class

LA or SF start point (we can get there from Phoenix on our own $)

to

Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne

return

Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland or Christchurch

1) Using Cathay Pacific
2) Using Qantas
3) Using Air Pacific

If Cathay Pacific the route is via Hong Kong to either Melbourne or Sydney
Return ideally from Auckland

If Qantas outbound to Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne and return from one of these cities.

If AP then outbound to Melbourne or Sydney (2nd choice) by way of Nadi and return from Christchurch or Auckland with a 3 day layover in Fiji.

Our schedule will be quite open ended and we've got a bunch of options.

So question 1 -- is this something that we can get or is the answer 'no' regarding business class (actually this past December we used AP for a NZ trip business class with miles so I suspect one way or another this can be done).

Question 2 -- is this sort of 'complex/compound' query more than I should ask the good folks at AS who have to search this? I've found their service folks to be quite good in the past.

Any suggestions as to how to go about this -- for that March/April time frame I know the call won't be made until April next year (which is OK -- we won't have the 120K miles each until the end of this year.

Oh, one other note, I figure to try to get Qantas Business class later next year to handle flights either round trip or one way to get to NZ.
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Old Jul 14, 12, 8:12 am   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryAZ View Post
High -- advance planning time. Thinking about a trip to NZ and Australia using Alaska miles.

My thinking is this -- we can be quite flexible and are planning this for March/April 2014.

Business class

LA or SF start point (we can get there from Phoenix on our own $)

to

Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne

return

Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland or Christchurch

1) Using Cathay Pacific
2) Using Qantas
3) Using Air Pacific

If Cathay Pacific the route is via Hong Kong to either Melbourne or Sydney
Return ideally from Auckland

If Qantas outbound to Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne and return from one of these cities.

If AP then outbound to Melbourne or Sydney (2nd choice) by way of Nadi and return from Christchurch or Auckland with a 3 day layover in Fiji.

Our schedule will be quite open ended and we've got a bunch of options.

So question 1 -- is this something that we can get or is the answer 'no' regarding business class (actually this past December we used AP for a NZ trip business class with miles so I suspect one way or another this can be done).

Question 2 -- is this sort of 'complex/compound' query more than I should ask the good folks at AS who have to search this? I've found their service folks to be quite good in the past.

Any suggestions as to how to go about this -- for that March/April time frame I know the call won't be made until April next year (which is OK -- we won't have the 120K miles each until the end of this year.

Oh, one other note, I figure to try to get Qantas Business class later next year to handle flights either round trip or one way to get to NZ.
AS partner awards can either have one stopover OR an open-jaw. Not both.

That being said, if you can get your hands on a very modest amount of AA or BA miles, their one-way awards are cheap (10K for AA for economy, 17.5K for business, for BA it's distance-based, an AKL-SYD/MEL award would be 10 in economy, 20K in business). (I'm using BA miles in conjunction with an AS award myself...)
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Old Jul 14, 12, 8:44 am   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryAZ View Post
High -- advance planning time. Thinking about a trip to NZ and Australia using Alaska miles.

My thinking is this -- we can be quite flexible and are planning this for March/April 2014.

Business class

LA or SF start point (we can get there from Phoenix on our own $)

to

Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne

return

Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland or Christchurch

1) Using Cathay Pacific
2) Using Qantas
3) Using Air Pacific

If Cathay Pacific the route is via Hong Kong to either Melbourne or Sydney
Return ideally from Auckland

If Qantas outbound to Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne and return from one of these cities.

If AP then outbound to Melbourne or Sydney (2nd choice) by way of Nadi and return from Christchurch or Auckland with a 3 day layover in Fiji.

Our schedule will be quite open ended and we've got a bunch of options.

So question 1 -- is this something that we can get or is the answer 'no' regarding business class (actually this past December we used AP for a NZ trip business class with miles so I suspect one way or another this can be done).

Question 2 -- is this sort of 'complex/compound' query more than I should ask the good folks at AS who have to search this? I've found their service folks to be quite good in the past.

Any suggestions as to how to go about this -- for that March/April time frame I know the call won't be made until April next year (which is OK -- we won't have the 120K miles each until the end of this year.

Oh, one other note, I figure to try to get Qantas Business class later next year to handle flights either round trip or one way to get to NZ.

1. Of course this can be done, I have done several trips using Alaska miles in business and first on Qantas and Cathay to OZ/NZ. I have also booked Air Pacific for others in biz.

2. You may get lucky and get a good agent at the partner desk who is willing to really dig and look for you. However, I recommend you do your own search.
Sign up for Qantas Frequent Flyer and you can see availability for all three airlines you mentioned.

Good luck, it can be done.
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Old Jul 14, 12, 11:21 am   #4
 
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Thanks for the response here.

The open jaw here would be either SF or LA to Australia and then Auckland to SF or LA. (With Cathay Pacific).

With Qantas, it might be LA to either Brisbane or Melbourne and return from Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney to LA.

With Air Pacific the open jaw plus stop over would be in Fiji (which Air Pacific might allow -- but might not), alternatively with them, We could go LA/Melbourne (their flights all go via Nadi) and then Melbourne/Nadi with a layover/LA.

In any event, for the NZ piece, I figure I will have enough FF miles to arrange flights from Australia to NZ (either one way or RT).

I think my first preference would be with Cathay Pacific -- I'd only need to arrange a one way flight from Australia to NZ -- and worst case this would be out of pocket. I also have miles from USAirways, so the alternatives NZ include Qantas (using Alaska Airways miles) or Air New Zealand.

I don't anticipate trying to organize the flights between Australia and NZ when I first set this up. That's one variable I figure to work with several months later as I suspect that arranging flights between Australia and NZ with frequent flyer miles is a simpler task with more flights and more seats to work with.



Quote:
Originally Posted by eponymous_coward View Post
AS partner awards can either have one stopover OR an open-jaw. Not both.

That being said, if you can get your hands on a very modest amount of AA or BA miles, their one-way awards are cheap (10K for AA for economy, 17.5K for business, for BA it's distance-based, an AKL-SYD/MEL award would be 10 in economy, 20K in business). (I'm using BA miles in conjunction with an AS award myself...)
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Old Jul 15, 12, 3:22 pm   #5
 
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qantas and air pacific would save you some time with more direct routings and their business class redemptions are 10k miles less.

Partner desk has told me that on a QF award, you can have a stopover in BNE, MEL, SYD, or AKL, so you may be able to get your full itinerary on one AS redemption, all in business. AS may be able to get you to LAX for free, though you'd have to go through PDX/SEA.

EX: LAX-BNE/MEL/SYD(stopover)-AKL(destination)-SYD-LAX

you may have to start making your reservation 350 days in advance to find avaialbility for 2 people. AS lets you hold these far away (330+ days) reservations for up to 30 days without ticketing. I doubt you'll be able to find space for more than 2 people on the same flights.

If you won't have the miles to book your trip until a few months prior to travel, you may have to go with air pacific or CX which have better availability. Browse QF's award search tool to get a feel for how good your odds are of finding something a couple of months in advance. The partner desk can do all the work for you, but it can be nice to look at your options ahead of time.
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Old Jul 16, 12, 6:06 pm   #6
 
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Thanks for the encouragement -- I'll sign up and see what I can see for options.



Quote:
Originally Posted by flytoeat View Post
1. Of course this can be done, I have done several trips using Alaska miles in business and first on Qantas and Cathay to OZ/NZ. I have also booked Air Pacific for others in biz.

2. You may get lucky and get a good agent at the partner desk who is willing to really dig and look for you. However, I recommend you do your own search.
Sign up for Qantas Frequent Flyer and you can see availability for all three airlines you mentioned.

Good luck, it can be done.
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Old Jul 16, 12, 10:49 pm   #7
 
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Thanks for that response and the research. You've confirmed my sense that Air Pacific and Cathay Air will be more likely to have miles. The thing about Air Pacific -- their business class seats (at least currently) are not full sleepers. Now they are looking to get A330-200 in service next year and those might be configured for sleepers -- but with them it is always layover in Fiji (I figured it would be a lemonade out of lemons to include a three day layover on the return flight).

With Cathay Pacific -- yes it is a long way around -- LA/Hong Kong/Brisbane and then Auckland/Hong Kong/LA -- but I figure their business class seats and service might actually get us into Brisbane outbound and LA return more rested anyway.

I realize that AS might well be able to find a routing using AS from Phoenix -- but it would add yet another flight to the mix and getting to LA is not expensive nor a problem for us in Phoenix (heck we could fly southwest and have no baggage fees).

As to the Australia/NZ leg -- I will have the miles for that in time (say 8 months before we fly) or will simply go out of pocket for that -- I think will provide more flexibility as it seems business class long haul award flights on Qantas are VERY scarce.

And as to the timing -- I plan to be 'on the horn' with AS as soon as I get to the 350 day window for the outbound leg. I know (at least from past dealings with AS) that they allow that with the return leg 'in air' until its 350 day window shows up. We did that two years ago with flights from Phoenix to Athens and then back from Tel Aviv to Phoenix using British Airways (direct flight from Phoenix to London).

Lastly, for the return flight, frankly I figure to overnight at a hotel in LA before flying back to Phoenix (at least with Cathay Air as their arrival from Hong Kong is late enough - especially given customs/immigration on entry.

Thanks again for the research.

Again, this is distance planning for sure (8 months away from starting to arrange flights). I figure to have the miles a few months before that window opens anyway.




Quote:
Originally Posted by evoG View Post
qantas and air pacific would save you some time with more direct routings and their business class redemptions are 10k miles less.

Partner desk has told me that on a QF award, you can have a stopover in BNE, MEL, SYD, or AKL, so you may be able to get your full itinerary on one AS redemption, all in business. AS may be able to get you to LAX for free, though you'd have to go through PDX/SEA.

EX: LAX-BNE/MEL/SYD(stopover)-AKL(destination)-SYD-LAX

you may have to start making your reservation 350 days in advance to find avaialbility for 2 people. AS lets you hold these far away (330+ days) reservations for up to 30 days without ticketing. I doubt you'll be able to find space for more than 2 people on the same flights.

If you won't have the miles to book your trip until a few months prior to travel, you may have to go with air pacific or CX which have better availability. Browse QF's award search tool to get a feel for how good your odds are of finding something a couple of months in advance. The partner desk can do all the work for you, but it can be nice to look at your options ahead of time.
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Old Jul 17, 12, 9:58 am   #8
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Qantas award availability is now searchable using AA.com, and since you're flying in 2014, it's highly likely that by then CX award inventory might be searchable there as well. Might or might not be available to AS mileage redeemers, but it would be an excellent place to start.

Also (let us pray) AS might get off the dime and allow multiple-carrier awards by then, e.g. Qantas out, CX back or some such, which would be a breakthrough of gigantic proportions.
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Old Jul 17, 12, 5:12 pm   #9
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Thanks for this information. It would be great if the inventory were searchable -- in a sense it would be good for AS -- since absent that, folks like me call in and end up tasking an agent (and as I noted, they have been quite good working with me over the years).

I seriously doubt that AS will support multiple carrier awards in the 'plannable' future though -- it would be nice -- though I've typically not used routes that require that. I'd like to see if Qantas 2014 or CX 2014 business class compares with BA 2005 to 2010. I worry that by 2014, business class generally will be what economy plus is today, just as economy plus is what economy was 5 or 8 years ago. As to what economy class is today for long haul -- I've only heard stories. The maximum range flight my wife and I take in coach is to Hawaii -- and there we do look for a FC option within budget. Same for Phoenix/East Coast -- for us, those are maximum range. The loss of the FC partner option with AS to Hawaii is something I lament. We've one more of the 'old style' partner codes available -- it expires in March -- I figure that puppy will be used for flying to Hawaii in December 2013.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Qantas award availability is now searchable using AA.com, and since you're flying in 2014, it's highly likely that by then CX award inventory might be searchable there as well. Might or might not be available to AS mileage redeemers, but it would be an excellent place to start.

Also (let us pray) AS might get off the dime and allow multiple-carrier awards by then, e.g. Qantas out, CX back or some such, which would be a breakthrough of gigantic proportions.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 9:59 am   #10
 
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I see it wasn't listed as one of your options, but have you considered DL? I understand that you couldn't open jaw the ticket, but you could do PHX-LAX-SYD all on one reservation. I have used AS miles twice to get to SYD in business (once during a "sale," so the ticket was 102,500 miles) and have been impressed by the DL product on this route. I find their seats to be comfortable and everyone has direct access to an aisle. My last trip I used miles to get to SYD and then purchased a separate RT Business Class ticket on LanChile (SYD-AKL), which gave me some more AS elite-qualifying miles.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 11:19 am   #11
 
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Interesting, my experience has been that trying to match to Delta is a frustrating exercise for both the user and the service rep. Just for the heck of it I tried nearly all the 5 week splits between outbound and return between March and the last available return date -- all got me error code 1300. I think, absent some status and a bit of extra push, the number of business executive seats available with Delta on that route is a single digit number less than 1. It isn't that the seats are booked, rather that Delta doesn't release them absent some arm twisting. I guess when the time comes, I'll mention that option if the other options fail. I am guessing that Delta premium seat availability is much like Qantas -- as in, not on offer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mthoodfan View Post
I see it wasn't listed as one of your options, but have you considered DL? I understand that you couldn't open jaw the ticket, but you could do PHX-LAX-SYD all on one reservation. I have used AS miles twice to get to SYD in business (once during a "sale," so the ticket was 102,500 miles) and have been impressed by the DL product on this route. I find their seats to be comfortable and everyone has direct access to an aisle. My last trip I used miles to get to SYD and then purchased a separate RT Business Class ticket on LanChile (SYD-AKL), which gave me some more AS elite-qualifying miles.
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Old Apr 11, 13, 11:37 pm   #12
 
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Curious about your success in using AS miles to fly to Australia.

We are trying to plan a trip from San Jose, CA, most likely via LAX, to Sydney for October 2014 for 3 week trip. Will have enough miles for business class (220k for 2). Also visit Melbourne and NZ during trip so can fly into those cities if needed.

I checked the AS site and spoke to an agent but no flights/seats come up.

Appreciate hearing about experiences and recommendations.

Thank you.
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Old Apr 12, 13, 1:07 am   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm1 View Post
Curious about your success in using AS miles to fly to Australia.

We are trying to plan a trip from San Jose, CA, most likely via LAX, to Sydney for October 2014 for 3 week trip. Will have enough miles for business class (220k for 2). Also visit Melbourne and NZ during trip so can fly into those cities if needed.

I checked the AS site and spoke to an agent but no flights/seats come up.

Appreciate hearing about experiences and recommendations.

Thank you.
Your trip is October 2014? Then you're about 6 months to early to start looking.
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Old Apr 12, 13, 8:30 am   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm1 View Post
Curious about your success in using AS miles to fly to Australia.

We are trying to plan a trip from San Jose, CA, most likely via LAX, to Sydney for October 2014 for 3 week trip. Will have enough miles for business class (220k for 2). Also visit Melbourne and NZ during trip so can fly into those cities if needed.

I checked the AS site and spoke to an agent but no flights/seats come up.

Appreciate hearing about experiences and recommendations.

Thank you.
Welcome to FlyerTalk.

AS round-trip awards may have ONE stopover or ONE open-jaw, and cannot mix partners. QF premium class awards (which would be the only way to get the trans-Tasman or intra-Australia flights as part of the same ticket) from the USA are very, very difficult to get, especially more than one at a time.

My recommendation would be to get your hands on some AA/BA miles, as mentioned above (not too many are needed) and use CX on an open jaw (into/out of Australia, out of/into NZ), and use the AA/BA miles or purchase tickets for the shorter hops.

Oh, and don't plan on being able to book tickets more than 360 days out.
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Old Apr 12, 13, 9:41 am   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eponymous_coward View Post
QF premium class awards [...] from the USA are very, very difficult to get, especially more than one at a time.
I cannot echo this enough. It takes a special kind of patience to book a premium cabin QF award ex-USA. I routinely search for QF premium cabin awards LAX-SYD. The usual results, when I specify complete schedule flexibility to fly ANYTIME in the next year:
LAX-BNE-SYD in J: "best" availability. Usually around 10-12 total days available with 1 seat each, mostly at ~11 months out.
LAX-SYD in J: next best. Usually around 5 or 6 total days available, 1 seat each, mostly at ~11.5 months out.

Anything ex-LAX in F: joke availability. I've never had an agent find availability, and I have never even encountered an agent that has ever booked a QF F award. Some claim that they have heard it has been done, but it's the stuff of folklore.
I have largely given up on QF premium cabin awards. If you want reasonable availability, CX J through HKG would be my next choice, but as pointed out above, you'd have to book the intra-AUS/NZ flights separately.
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