Need help to SYD (rt for 2)

Old Jul 2, 14, 6:47 pm
  #1  
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Need help to SYD (rt for 2)

Looking to go SAN to SYD using AS miles for business. 2 seats. It will be our 40th Anniversary. Cruise and visit friends from prior visits to Australia. In the process of bring my AS miles to 240,000 by EOM.

Cruise starts 3/8/15 and is 14 days. Want to get tickets with 7 days either side or less. Would settle for a bit lopsided.

No current status with Alaska. Any suggestions on how to best approach this endeavor? Partner choice? Ticketing. Using another starting airport? ie LAX? Online, call, ?

Thanks...
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Old Jul 2, 14, 7:11 pm
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AFAIK, AS doesn't have different buckets of award tix for elites, so the lack of status shouldn't be an issue (compared to other airlines).

http://www.alaskaair.com/content/mil...australia.aspx

All of the carriers listed on the link above can be booked online (but for Cathay Pacific). The folks at the Partner Desk are the only way to book Cathay, but they have no better access to other partner flights (compared to booking online) --- or so we've been told.

I'd start with a matrix that might list the various partners and the US gateways that they use to fly to Sydney. That will help you start looking for the cities that you'll want to search for (gateway city to SYD and then SYD to gateway city on the return (separately)).

I wouldn't bother trying to get the complete trip as an award as the flight from SAN to the gateway city can always be purchased, if need be. Don't let missing domestic award segments mess you up.

Also keep in mind that you can't mix and match partners on an award. And Delta and Korean don't offer one-way awards (like Cathay does), which makes it more difficult to book an award trip.

Edited to add: For a trip to SE Asia this coming November, I outsourced the award booking process to a third-party service. For $300 ($150 per person), they did all the work and met the requirements that I had given them (transpacific in F, intra Asia in J was okay, using UA miles). For me, money well spent. For you, it might be better to follow the DIY process.

Last edited by dgreen12; Jul 2, 14 at 7:19 pm Reason: Added an alternative
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Old Jul 2, 14, 8:08 pm
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It will not be easy, as award seats for next March were released two+ months ago and seats, especially in the premium cabins! were snapped up at that time. You will now be searching for leftovers.

You can search yourself on the Alaska website for all but Cathay Pacific flights. Just tick the "use miles" box and search one way at a time. Use LAX as the start as you can easily add it to your award booking later; starting your search from SAN adds a layer of complication. Qantas and Delta fly direct to Sydney; Korean Air and Fiji go via Seoul and Fiji, respectively. Delta charges as many miles for a one-way flight as a RT, but if you see something in business class you could call and ask the agent to book that and then he or she can search for a return flight. Qantas also flies direct from LAX to Melbourne and Brisbane and you can easily add the flight from there to Sydney. Spend a couple of days and enjoy the different city.

And watch out for "mixed cabin" flights. These appear in the Business Class column but have a little blue seat icon next to the button. Click on that and you will most likely see that the flight offered is LAX to BNE or MEL in economy, and then BNE or MEL to SYD in Business. Not what you want.

After spending some time on the website and finding nothing you may want to call. The Alaska agents on the partner desk are incredibly helpful, apart from one who told me I was never going to find a flight in business class on Cathay Pacific. (But I did, using the BA website to find available flights in business class and then calling and asking for that specific date.) Before you call, decide in advance if you will want only a direct flight to Australia on Qantas or Delta, or will accept a routing through Fiji or Seoul or Hong Kong. ( People really love Cathay Pacific so consider that).

We are flying to Australia next January on our Alaska miles, outbound in First on Qantas, and returning in Business on Cathay Pacific ( with a two-night stop in Hong Kong). I spent hours and hours working on this, researching possibilities and checking early every morning on the day the seats were released (330 days in advance). But my efforts paid off and we have the seats. I hope you have similar success.
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Old Jul 3, 14, 12:03 am
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I'm not much more than an echo, but I'll add to it.

I recently booked First on QF LAX-SYD, but had to do so the full 330 days out. Business gets snapped up nearly as fast. QF is probably a long shot at this point for March.

CX should have bit more availability for Business ex-LAX (which would be a reasonable gateway for you), you'll just have to route through HKG and do a bit more searching. As enzian mentioned, ba.com is very helpful for looking at CX availability.

Since CX doesn't usually have an F product to SYD, the Business award options are usually pretty rare for that segment - especially for two. You're usually relegated to Premium Economy as a result, which is quite the reduction in quality, but it makes the journey viable.

Quick searches show that you could do definitely do CX Business for trans-pacific segments, and Premium Economy for the HKG-SYD segments. A call to AS might not hurt either. Good luck!
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Old Jul 4, 14, 1:00 am
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Cathay has a nice premium economy product and for the minimal added mileage cost, it's definitely worth considering. I don't think their economy product is great, but premium economy is very good.
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Old Jul 4, 14, 10:08 am
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Originally Posted by mycenaeanapollo View Post
I recently booked First on QF LAX-SYD, but had to do so the full 330 days out. Business gets snapped up nearly as fast. QF is probably a long shot at this point for March.
I think i grabbed the only remaining QF F flight from NA-OZ for May 2015 and i did it about 329 days out. QF is always taken up at the 355 day window by those programs that allow booking out that far. I just hope they open up J or F on the JFK-LAX as i'm currently booked in PE
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Old Jul 6, 14, 7:13 pm
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Originally Posted by enzian View Post
Qantas and Delta fly direct to Sydney; Korean Air and Fiji go via Seoul and Fiji, respectively. Delta charges as many miles for a one-way flight as a RT, but if you see something in business class you could call and ask the agent to book that and then he or she can search for a return flight.
I'm pretty sure you can now book Delta one direction (for half the price of a round trip) as long as you have the other direction booked in the same reservation; the return does not need to be on Delta. So you could do Qantas one way and Delta the other if that's what's available.

Of course, in each direction, you can't mix and match partners. So AA SAN-LAX to connect to QF LAX-SYD is not allowed. You might in principle be able to do something crazy like AS SAN-SEA-LAX, then QF LAX-SYD, but I'd just use miles for LAX-SYD and drive, train, or buy a separate ticket for SAN-LAX. If you magically find DL availability, you could fly DL SAN-LAX-SYD on one award.
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Old Jul 7, 14, 4:11 pm
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Thank you all.

Not much hope offered, and when I called Alaska partner desk I found out your right. Nothing was available on Qantas, Delta, Korean, Cathy or Fiji.
A Prem. Econ was available on Cathay (don't know the product).

Lots of coach, that's it. I'll keep checking, but now I wonder about $$$$ for purchasing 2 RT business tickets SAN/LAX to SYD? Lots of internet firms offer big discounts...maybe..."Iflybusiness", ASAptickets...wholesale-flights"
but I am not familiar with any.

Our trip includes a cruise out of SYD-SYD and some time to visit friends. Maybe I can check with the cruise line to see about Bus flight and extended stay?

The main reason for the cruise (besides my wife likes them, is to get to Fiji, a
place that we missed on our South Pacific cruise of many years ago do to a tsunami). Maybe LAX Fiji Syd LAX?

Any ideas? I know I am getting off the Alaska Airlines stuff.
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Old Jul 7, 14, 4:20 pm
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If your dates are fixed (by the cruise dates and your willingness to spend extra time), the AS partner desk can run through the options pretty quickly. If you had more date flexibility I would not dismiss the idea of a paid award finder service as suggested by dgreen12.

Unless you're accruing miles on a carrier that flies its own metal LAX-SYD (United, Delta, Virgin Australia) and willing to use a ton of those miles for peak-price tickets, you're stuck with limited partner saver inventory.
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Old Jul 7, 14, 5:47 pm
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Originally Posted by ranles View Post
Lots of coach, that's it. I'll keep checking, but now I wonder about $$$$ for purchasing 2 RT business tickets SAN/LAX to SYD? Lots of internet firms offer big discounts...maybe..."Iflybusiness", ASAptickets...wholesale-flights"
but I am not familiar with any.
Be careful using these kinds of agencies that have super low business class fares. Many of these are mileage brokers and you can find yourself stranded when the airline cancels your ticket.

Cruise ship company may have access to bulk, or consolidator or some other unpublished fares.

Premium economy is comparable to US Domestic first class (especially if you can get one of the pairs) except better food and drink selection and a generally more comfortable flight.

Australian business traveler Review of CX Premium economy
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Old Jul 7, 14, 6:47 pm
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Originally Posted by ranles View Post
The main reason for the cruise (besides my wife likes them, is to get to Fiji, a
place that we missed on our South Pacific cruise of many years ago do to a tsunami). Maybe LAX Fiji Syd LAX?
Check fares on Fiji Airlines (FJ). Sometimes they offer exceptionally cheap NAN-LAX fares in Business. These are lie flat (sloping) seats. Expedia will sometimes show the same FJ flight with code shares on QF, AA, NZ.
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Old Jul 9, 14, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by ranles View Post
Thank you all.

Not much hope offered, and when I called Alaska partner desk I found out your right. Nothing was available on Qantas, Delta, Korean, Cathy or Fiji.
A Prem. Econ was available on Cathay (don't know the product).
Cathay tends to release J and especially F inventory a couple of weeks before the flight. If you have eliminated other options, book Cathay with an overnight stopover in HKG in Premium Economy. That way you will be able to recover if you are forced to fly PE.

Set some alerts in Expert Flyer or check in regularly to see if better seats come up, especially within a month of travel.

Some tips:
1.Be sure and check the classic awards on QF.com. They tend to show availability/routing for Cathay that doesn't necessarily appear when agents search, but agents can book it if you tell them to look for those specific flights.
2. Don't search from SAN; search from the CX departure points (I think LAX, SFO, YVR, JFK, ORD)-HKG. You can miss a valid TPAC because AS/AA hasn't released SAN-XXX yet.
3. Search from CX departure points to both HKG and SYD, because you can take a stopover in HKG if you need to. HKG-Australia in J is pretty trivial to get, IME.
4. Search for one seat at a time and be willing to take the risk of splitting up. If you see one seat become available, chances are another one will come up later, but almost never will two seats show up at the same time.

CX has two seats in F LAX-HKG on March 2. Two seats in J from HKG-SFO on March 25. You will enjoy CX F as much as the cruise.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 8:38 pm
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og or anyone

Please post a bit of info on your experience with Fiji Air, They do have some better fares. Holland line seems to keep any "deals" they get to
go to them and not share.

Last edited by ranles; Jul 10, 14 at 8:41 pm Reason: oops
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Old Jul 10, 14, 8:48 pm
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Lots of people burning AA miles give up on finding First or Business with Qantas and look to Fiji. Here's one of many threads from the AA forum found by a search on 'fiji'.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...solidated.html
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Old Jul 10, 14, 10:00 pm
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The Fiji aircraft are rather new too, excellent J product.

Look for 2 sectors to OZ.
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