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Strategies for Getting to Australia on Points and Miles

Strategies for Getting to Australia on Points and Miles
Ariana Arghandewal

I came across this Flyertalk thread about getting a family of four to Sydney on points and miles. One of the toughest trips to book on points and miles is Australia during high-season. About five years ago, I managed to book this trip in first class for three people during Christmas/New Year’s Eve. After weeks of finding zero award availability, I managed to book an unforgettable trip that still lands in my top three. If you’re looking to travel to Australia on points and miles (and you want to bring the family along), here are some strategies to help you get there:

Know the Routes and Carriers

When planning your trip to Australia, it’s crucial to be aware of which airlines fly to Sydney or Melbourne, out of which airport, and how much award space is typically released. For example, Qantas operates flights between Sydney and Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and Honolulu. So if you’ve got a stash of AAdvantage miles and are looking to fly to Sydney out of Chicago, you’ll know to search for Qantas flights between one of these other cities and then connect to that airport. Below are examples of frequent flyer programs and the partners that fly to Australia:

Alaska miles – Sydney

American Airlines via Los Angeles

Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong

Emirates via Dubai

Japan Airlines via Tokyo

Korean via Seoul

Qantas via Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu

Alaska miles – Melbourne

Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong

Emirates via Dubai

Japan Airlines via Tokyo

Qantas via Los Angeles, San Francisco

American AAdvantage miles – Sydney

American Airlines via Los Angeles

Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong

Etihad via Abu Dhabi

Qantas via Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu

American AAdvantage miles – Melbourne

Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong

Etihad via Abu Dhabi

Qantas via Los Angeles, San Francisco

Delta SkyMiles – Sydney

Korean Air via Seoul

Virgin Australia via Los Angeles

Delta SkyMiles – Melbourne

Delta via Los Angeles

Virgin Australia via Los Angeles

United MileagePlus/Star Alliance – Sydney

Air Canada via Toronto, Vancouver

All Nippon Airways via Tokyo

Asiana via Seoul

Singapore Air via Singapore

Thai Airways via Bangkok

United via Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco

United MileagePlus/Star Alliance – Melbourne

Air Canada via Vancouver

Singapore Air via Singapore

Thai Airways via Bangkok

United via Los Angeles

The Best Award Space?

Award space to Australia is better on flights originating abroad than in the U.S. Especially on carriers like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. For example, Cathay Pacific offers a ton of award space from the U.S. to Hong Kong, as well as between Hong Kong and Australia. So if you can’t find a direct flight on Qantas from LAX or San Francisco, consider looking at award space out of Asia and then building your itinerary backward to find a connecting flight out of the U.S.

Flexibility is Key

Premium award space to Australia can be tough to come by, especially on Qantas. Their incredible first class cabin is notoriously difficult to find award space for. Business class can be tough too, depending on when you’re looking to travel. So you have to be open to the idea of flying in economy class, if all else fails. Flexibility in terms of cabin and travel dates make award space much easier to find.

Plan Well in Advance

If you’re looking to travel to Australia on points and miles, I highly recommend getting started at least a year in advance. Have your points saved up and ready to go when the award calendar opens up or you come across massive premium award space.

There are lots of options for traveling to Australia on points and miles. It’s important to know what those options are and to start collecting and booking as far in advance as possible. Even if you’re not able to book ahead, having the points available ensures that you’re prepared to take advantage of last-minute award space.

What are your tips for booking award flights to Australia using points and miles?

 

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. serfty

    serfty

    April 17, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Maybe look at Virgin Australia?

    Delta Skymiles can be used.

  2. HawaiiFlyerDC8

    April 17, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Hawaiian Airlines flied to Sydney and Brisbane from Honolulu and they also have flights to Honolulu from many mainland cities including LA and San Francisco. I’ve used miles from their credit card to get a free one way or round trip to Sydney. I think they partner with Jet Blue so perhaps can use their miles, too.

  3. mot29

    April 17, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    There are also some ‘cheap’ paid options available at times that might be better than spending points.
    I flew to Oz two years ago in business class from LHR via HAN on VN including a weeklong stopover in HAN for US$2300.
    I’ve seen fares recently from CDG, AMS, FRA, and LHR for US$2300-2400 on GA (via DPS/CGK) and CI (via TPE). CI can also get you to NZ.

  4. divrdrew

    April 18, 2019 at 9:29 am

    For Delta, it’s not via Virgin Atlantic, but rather Virgin Australia. I think LAX-London-Sydney on Virgin Atlantic would violate the rules about the maximum miles on the trip (don’t recall the exact name of the rule).

    Left out Korean Airlines for Delta from LAX (or other US gateway cities). We booked a Delta award a few years back LAX-SYD and were able to fly out on Korean (via ICN) and back on Virgin Australia (non-stop).

  5. kkua

    April 19, 2019 at 5:23 am

    It’s always good to think outside the box. But why leave out multi-carrier itineraries? For AA/oneWorld awards, consider using MH via KUL and QF via LIM. Using DL/SkyTeam, consider using CI, MI, VN via TPE, PVG and SGN respectively. And for UA/StarAlliance, use CA to connect in PEK, GA via CGK or NZ to double connect via EZE and AKL.

    Also, what’s with omitting the western half of Australia? SA flies JNB to PER, and so does QH from LHR. This article is very biased from an American point of view. There’s more to OZ than just SYD and MEL.

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