best points program for US to Australia

Old Jun 2, 18, 10:39 am
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best points program for US to Australia

I really want to go to Australia but the tickets are extremely pricey. I am located in the US but not partial to a particular airport. I have tons of Southwest points to get me to the ideal departure airport. What I want to know is which airline program should I pursue to get free flights to Australia? And any other suggestions....
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Old Jun 2, 18, 2:13 pm
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Originally Posted by youranut View Post
I really want to go to Australia but the tickets are extremely pricey. I am located in the US but not partial to a particular airport. I have tons of Southwest points to get me to the ideal departure airport. What I want to know is which airline program should I pursue to get free flights to Australia? And any other suggestions....
There are many threads on award flights USA Australia. Most are in the airline ffp forums, some in info forum and others here.

FFP award flights are not free. All have real taxes and some ffp charge cash surcharges depending on the airline/ffp.

When do you want to go?
What class of travel?
Other than SW what ffp's are you a member of now?
Credit cards that get ff miles?
The cash price for coach/economy can vary a lot month to month. Less variation in cash price for premium economy and business.

The best ffp is the one that has award availability when you look. That is forever changing day by day. No one airline ffp has consistently better availability than another. The quantity of ff miles for an award flight varies by ffp. Airline ff miles/points/avios are not equal value or 1:1 to earn/burn.

For award flights USA Australia you need to be flexible on route & date of travel. Do not need to fly the same airports both ways. For USA-Aust travel LAX is not the only airport in USA and SYD is not the only airport in Australia.

Airlines that fly USA/Canada to/from Australia (not from all airports to all airports)
  • American Airlines AA(LAX - SYD) [OneWorld Alliance] (AS partner)
  • Air Canada AC (YYR – SYD BNE. YYR-MEL from 1 Dec 2017 to 1 Feb 2018, year round from June2018 ) [Star Alliance]
  • Air New Zealand NZ (LAX SFO IAH YVR via AKL) [Star Alliance]
  • Air Tahiti Nui TN (LAX via Tahiti. Last segments on codeshares) (AA & DL partner)
  • Delta DL (LAX – SYD) (VA & AS partner) [Skyteam Alliance]
  • Fiji Airways FJ (LAX SFO HNL – BNE SYD MEL ADL via Fiji) (QF, AA & AS partner)
  • Hawaiian HA (HNL – BNE SYD) (AA & VA partner)
  • Jetstar JQ JQ (HNL – BNE SYD MEL)
  • Qantas QF (LAX SFO JFK DFW HNL YVR*– BNE SYD MEL) [OneWorld Alliance] (AS partner) (MEL SFO from 1st Sept 2018) {* seasonal}
  • United UA (LAX-SYD/MEL, SFO-SYD, IAH– SYD) [Star Alliance]
  • Virgin Australia VA (LAX – BNE SYD MEL) (codeshares with AC*) (Delta & AC* partner) [*= some routes in 2017-18 link
And others via Asia & Middle East
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Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jun 2, 18 at 3:35 pm
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Old Jun 2, 18, 5:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
There are many threads on award flights USA Australia. Most are in the airline ffp forums, some in info forum and others here.

FFP award flights are not free. All have real taxes and some ffp charge cash surcharges depending on the airline/ffp.

When do you want to go?
What class of travel?
Other than SW what ffp's are you a member of now?
Credit cards that get ff miles?
The cash price for coach/economy can vary a lot month to month. Less variation in cash price for premium economy and business.

The best ffp is the one that has award availability when you look. That is forever changing day by day. No one airline ffp has consistently better availability than another. The quantity of ff miles for an award flight varies by ffp. Airline ff miles/points/avios are not equal value or 1:1 to earn/burn.

For award flights USA Australia you need to be flexible on route & date of travel. Do not need to fly the same airports both ways. For USA-Aust travel LAX is not the only airport in USA and SYD is not the only airport in Australia.

Airlines that fly USA/Canada to/from Australia (not from all airports to all airports)
  • American Airlines AA(LAX - SYD) [OneWorld Alliance] (AS partner)
  • Air Canada AC (YYR – SYD BNE. YYR-MEL from 1 Dec 2017 to 1 Feb 2018, year round from June2018 ) [Star Alliance]
  • Air New Zealand NZ (LAX SFO IAH YVR via AKL) [Star Alliance]
  • Air Tahiti Nui TN (LAX via Tahiti. Last segments on codeshares) (AA & DL partner)
  • Delta DL (LAX – SYD) (VA & AS partner) [Skyteam Alliance]
  • Fiji Airways FJ (LAX SFO HNL – BNE SYD MEL ADL via Fiji) (QF, AA & AS partner)
  • Hawaiian HA (HNL – BNE SYD) (AA & VA partner)
  • Jetstar JQ JQ (HNL – BNE SYD MEL)
  • Qantas QF (LAX SFO JFK DFW HNL YVR*– BNE SYD MEL) [OneWorld Alliance] (AS partner) (MEL SFO from 1st Sept 2018) {* seasonal}
  • United UA (LAX-SYD/MEL, SFO-SYD, IAH– SYD) [Star Alliance]
  • Virgin Australia VA (LAX – BNE SYD MEL) (codeshares with AC*) (Delta & AC* partner)
  • link
And others via Asia & Middle East
I'm sorry I wasn't more specific and didn't list all of the things I already know. I am aware that there are taxes and other charges. I posted in this forum because I am not seeking information on a specific ffp, but a specific destination. I mentioned in my post that I was open to airport changes.

I'm looking to make the trip in the next three years and want to pay for the flights and lodging with rewards points if possible. I'm very frugal and don't care what class I fly. I would only upgrade to business if it was cheaper than economy. I was hoping some people would chime in with opinions on the different options out there.

Last edited by youranut; Jun 2, 18 at 5:22 pm
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Old Jun 2, 18, 5:35 pm
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Originally Posted by youranut View Post
I'm sorry I wasn't more specific and didn't list all of the things I already know. I am aware that there are taxes and other charges. I posted in this forum because I am not seeking information on a specific ffp, but a specific destination. I mentioned in my post that I was open to airport changes.

I'm looking to make the trip in the next three years and want to pay for the flights and lodging with rewards points if possible. I'm very frugal and don't care what class I fly. I would only upgrade to business if it was cheaper than economy. I was hoping some people would chime in with opinions on the different options out there.
Your questions just don't make any sense.
Much the same as you asked an incredibly broad (and largely unanswerable) question in this Most common hotel chain in the world
There is no one airline FFP (frequent flyer programme) from the US that is Australia-specific. The closest might be Qantas (QF).
If you pick United (UA), you can use Mileage Plus miles for award travel on other Star Alliance carriers (eg. Air NZ, Air Canada). Then you need a credit card that accrues miles in the MP programme.
If you pick American (AA), you can use AAdvantage miles on oneworld carriers (eg. Qantas, BA, Cathay Pacific).
Mwenenzi's answer is very thorough.
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Old Jun 2, 18, 6:09 pm
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Originally Posted by youranut View Post
..I am aware that there are taxes and other charges.
But you asked about "free flights to Australia"

Originally Posted by youranut View Post
I'm looking to make the trip in the next three years and want to pay for the flights and lodging with rewards points if possible. I'm very frugal and don't care what class I fly. I would only upgrade to business if it was cheaper than economy.
In 3 years time ffp's will not be same, the same airlines may not be flying USA Australia or the 3 main alliances(Oneworld, Star, Skyteam) may have different members. For example AA have at times withdrawn from the USA-Aust market. QF used to fly New Zealand USA.

You will not get a business class flight less than economy. Now days some low prices economy are not eligible for upgrades. Look the airline award and upgrade charts.

Living in USA you will be best joining a USA airline ffp.

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Jun 2, 18 at 6:18 pm
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Old Jun 2, 18, 6:52 pm
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Personally I'd look at the airlines that best serve my local airport, United/American/Delta, and pick the one that has the best service/schedule/prices to where you normally go. Get the airline credit card and use it to maximize your earnings. Even better if you can get status; even the lowest level of status will help earn redeemable miles more quickly.
At least American regularly has mileage, "sales," where you get more miles when you buy miles. I'd assume Delta and United do too, but I know American's program best.

I recently used AA miles to book premium travel to Australia on QF. A subscription to Expert Flyer was extremely helpful in finding seats.
The taxes for business/first were less than US$100 per passenger.

Over in the AA forum, we have a thread dedicated to travel between the US and Australia. I'd highly encourage you to take a look:
https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...er-thread.html

Feel free to send me a PM if you have any more specific questions.
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Old Jun 2, 18, 9:33 pm
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If you think the flights are expensive, wait until you see the cost of everything once you're here!
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Old Jun 3, 18, 6:25 am
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To answer what I think you are asking, the three programs to compare for direct USA-Australia award tickets are AA, UA, and DL.

AA and DL both fly LAX-SYD only on their own planes. But AA will have the most flight options through partner QF, DL has many flight options through partner VA. UA has the most on their own metal USA-Australia, but their only partner to Australia is NZ who only connect through New Zealand.

I don't think any of these three programs holds a huge advantage over the other, especially considering we can't predict what the awards will be like in the future. I would research what each award costs on each airline, then see what credit cards, etc can earn you the most points with each.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 7:41 am
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If all u want to do is fly US to Oz and do it 3 years from now, you're going to be better off paying cash than trying to accumulate miles.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 6:30 pm
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Originally Posted by NeedstoFly View Post
If all u want to do is fly US to Oz and do it 3 years from now, you're going to be better off paying cash than trying to accumulate miles.
Impossible to state that. Nobody knows what fares or miles redemption values will be like in 3 years.

Currently, this is a route that regularly costs more than $1000 US to fly (especially east of California). This makes points redemption worthwhile at current redemption rates.

For example, you can get a credit card signup bonus for AA/UA/DL that easily covers the cost of a one-way redemption. Do that twice, pay little to nothing for those points. Book a one-way with two different airlines and save $1000.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 7:44 pm
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Originally Posted by CPMaverick View Post
Impossible to state that. Nobody knows what fares or miles redemption values will be like in 3 years.

Currently, this is a route that regularly costs more than $1000 US to fly (especially east of California). This makes points redemption worthwhile at current redemption rates.

For example, you can get a credit card signup bonus for AA/UA/DL that easily covers the cost of a one-way redemption. Do that twice, pay little to nothing for those points. Book a one-way with two different airlines and save $1000.
if it were that easy the OP doesn't have to wait 3 years, he can go now. Pls advise him on how he can do so.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 7:57 pm
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Originally Posted by NeedstoFly View Post
if it were that easy the OP doesn't have to wait 3 years, he can go now. Pls advise him on how he can do so.
I just did.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 8:31 pm
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the answers here are pretty thorough. (altho AC flies YVR to Oz, not YYR)

You might also consider more than one program and do two one-ways.

I just got back from my trip. The outbound was booked via UA miles and was a fairly long and circuitous routing (IAD-NRT-BKK-MEL). The return was booked using AA miles but ended up costing a lot since AA's stupid routing rules don't allow you to travel via Asia on a single award. But I went MEL-HKG then HKG-ORD after an overnight stay.

I am starting to look at returning next year and have seen some availability using Avianca miles.
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Old Jun 3, 18, 8:54 pm
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Originally Posted by youranut View Post
I really want to go to Australia but the tickets are extremely pricey. I am located in the US but not partial to a particular airport. I have tons of Southwest points to get me to the ideal departure airport. What I want to know is which airline program should I pursue to get free flights to Australia? And any other suggestions....
One big question: are you in an Alaska market? Alaska is the only remaining U.S. carrier that awards miles based on distance, and you could redeem on either Cathay or Qantas to Australia (those seem the most popular partners - there are others). I'm just back from a trip using Alaska miles in both directions (business to Brisbane, first class back from Sydney). I saved 50,000 miles over booking with my AA miles as Alaska requires less miles and allows a free stopover (mine was in Sydney).

For a leisure traveler, or one who buys discounted tickets, it's the best award program in the U.S. right now, but if you're not in an Alaska market would probably be completely useless to you in terms of accruing miles (though the 30,000 mile signup on an Alaska credit card would almost cover the 40,000 mile award one way in economy).

If you're looking to accrue miles on AA, UA or DL, they're all revenue based now. I bring in 2,500 mile when I fly to the east coast on a $300 AA ticket, but over 11,000 miles on an Alaska ticket with my elite bonus. Pretty easy for me to decide who to accrue with.
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Old Jun 4, 18, 4:30 am
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Originally Posted by bensyd View Post
If you think the flights are expensive, wait until you see the cost of everything once you're here!
While it might have been tongue-in-cheek, this is one of the most relevant comments.

At least once per year you'll find flights to Australia for under US$800 if your dates are flexible. Out of that, say $150 is taxes which you'd pay on an award. Subtract the cost of acquiring the miles (annual card fee, etc.) and your "free" tickets might save you a few hundred. This is minor compared to the costs you'll incur once on the ground - and inflation is likely to send those costs higher over the next three years.

Not only that, but going the miles route will lock you in to particular vendors who may or may not have award availability when you ultimately want to travel (and probably not at the same time if multiple vendors). Personally I would not anticipate something three years in advance, rather I would either sign up for cards with a huge sign-up bonus (remembering you typically need around 80K miles for RT to Australia). If the overall budget is still out of reach, I'd rather get a 2% rebate card and pocket the cash.
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