Free First Class Next Month 4.0: Searching Qantas.com to Redeem American Airlines Miles

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This is the eighteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using BA.com to Search for Awards.

Using qantas.com for award searches can help you get maximum value from your American Airlines miles. American partners with the oneworld alliance and several non-oneworld partners. Unfortunately oneworld award space searching is fragmented, and I use aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.

I’ve described how to use aa.com and ba.com for award searches:

Now I’ll explain how and when to use qantas.com.

To search Qantas, sign up for an account or sign into yours on qantas.com.au.

Once signed in, find the award search box, check the Show Classic Awards Box and start typing in your cities.

Some of the cities you try to type may not appear on the list. Make sure to check the Show All Classic Award cities box. The reason for this extra step is a mystery to me, but without checking the box, major cities like Lima are not visible.

After selecting your cities and dates, you can click Search Flights. I’m searching for a one way between Los Angeles and Lima in June 2014.

I like to select “Flexible with dates.” The calendar it brings up is quite handy:

Blue seats mean there is economy space. The hard to distinguish silvery colors mean business and first class space. Red, for premium economy, is useless if you’re redeeming American Airlines miles since they cannot be redeemed for premium economy. If you want to change what classes of service are displayed, manipulate the check boxes above the calendar.

If you want to see the exact options on a specific date, select that date and click the Select Flight button. For instance, here is the top listed itinerary available between Los Angeles and Lima on June 18, 2014.

Ignore the part at the bottom of the screen that say it would cost 72k points for this flight. If you are using American miles, you should use qantas.com.au for searches, but you should determine the price from the AA partner award chart, which prices LAX-LIM in business at 30k miles each way.

Occasionally an itinerary has a small “i” next to where you select the cabin.

Holding your cursor over the “i” tells you which flights are serviced by a cabin worse than the one listed. In the example above, Los Angeles to Miami is in economy, but Miami to Lima is in business class.

What I like about searching at qantas.com is that it has great coverage of oneworld, has an easy-to-navigate calendar, and shows logical connections. Qantas.com will show you more connections than ba.com in my experience.

What to do when you find the space

Note the dates, times, flight numbers, and cabins, and call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 if the space is for airlines not bookable at aa.com. You always contact the airline whose miles you’re redeeming, even though you don’t always have to rely on that airline’s online search engine in trip planning.

When to Search aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.

I search for awards on aa.com if I can. aa.com displays: American, Alaska, Hawaiian, British, Qantas, Finnair, and airberlin.

If I can’t search aa.com, and I am searching a direct flight, I search ba.com.

If I am searching for an itinerary with connections, I search qantas.com.




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