Qantas begins flying its 747s between San Francisco and Sydney on December 18, 2015. The plane features 58 flat beds in Business Class, Premium Economy, and economy with no First Class.
Uncharacteristically for Qantas flights, the route has amazing award space in Business Class that you can book with American Airlines miles. But the space is hidden; you need to know where to look.
I flew Qantas Business Class on its A380 two years ago from Melbourne to Los Angeles. I understand that the 747 has the same seat/bed as the A380.
If you check out my review, you’ll see that I was not blown away by the product. My top two complaints are the 2-2-2 layout meaning that if you have a window you have to climb over your seatmate, and the fact that the bed is not totally parallel to the floor.
I think I would have slept fine on a westbound flight that takes off at 10 PM, but the schedule from Australia to the United States (on all airlines) are terrible for sleep, so I had trouble.
While I’d slightly prefer United Business Class and greatly prefer Qantas First Class on the route, premium awards between the United States and Australia with anything other than Delta miles (Virgin Australia) are hard to come by. This is a good enough product with temporarily great award space, so I’d jump on it if I wanted to go to Australia since it is so cheap to book.
Award Price and Where You Can Fly
Between the United States and Australia one way, American Airlines charges:
- 37,500 miles in economy
- 62,500 miles in Business Class
- 72,500 miles in First Class (not available on this route)
This is ridiculously cheap. United and Delta charge 40,000 and 50,000 miles one way in economy and 70,000 and 80,000 miles one way in Business Class.
There are no fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights flying Qantas, so you just pay taxes of $5.60 one way to Australia or about $130 for a roundtrip.
You can connect to San Francisco on American Airlines, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines flights for zero extra miles. If you have a Business Class award, these connections can be in First Class.
In Sydney, you can connect throughout Australia and New Zealand for zero extra miles.
The award space is not displaying on aa.com like Qantas award space normally does. You can search it on Expert Flyer and call American Airlines to book. Ask for the phone fee to be waived, since you couldn’t book online. This is the search you want to run on Expert Flyer, changing the dates to match your ideal travel dates:
The results will look something like this, except without the yellow boxes. This result shows that both December 21 and 22, there are two Business Class award seats from San Francisco to Sydney that you can book with American Airlines miles.
There is Business Class award space in both directions in December and January. Here is one Business Class seat from Sydney to San Francisco on January 18.Award space really improves in both directions in March and April (end of Summer and beginning of Fall in Australia.) Here are four straight days in March with Business Class award space from San Francisco to Sydney.
On the return from Australia, here’s 3 out of 4 days with Business Class space.
The main patterns I discern are that:
- There is space from December onward, but it gets better in March
- There are tons of flights, almost every one, with 9 economy award seats
- Award space is better for two passengers in Business Class from San Francisco to Australia than vice versa.
Searching and Booking
On Expert Flyer, note the date, cabin, and flight number. To book, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. Give the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found. Confirm that the agent is NOT charging you a $40 phone fee, since the award cannot be booked online with American Airlines miles.
Getting AA Miles
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® now offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That’s the biggest bonus of any card right now.
Qantas Business Class award space is very rare, but on its new San Francisco to Sydney route beginning in December, the space is wide open, especially from March on.
Book with 62,500 American Airlines miles each way. Right now, you can get a boatload of American Airlines miles from opening the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® with a 75,000 mile bonus.
Use the flight as part of a round-the-world trip. There are some really cheap awards out of Australia.
Hat Tip The Forward Cabin