This is Part 2 of my two-part post on using AA miles to get to Australia and New Zealand. Read Part 1 first.
Here are a few more ways to get to Australia and New Zealand with American miles.
Air Tahiti Nui and Air Pacific: Connect in the Middle of Nowhere
One horribly annoying rule when redeeming AA miles is that your award cannot transit a region other than the origin region and destination region unless explicitly permitted. (Seriously, read The Five Cardinal Rules of AA Awards if you haven’t.)
Awards between North America and the South Pacific cannot route through any airports not in those regions. The obvious candidate for a third region to transit would be Asia. If you fly USA-Asia-Australia, AA will break that into two awards and charge you the USA-Asia price plus the Asia-Australia price.
You might think that means you can only route on direct flights between the USA and Australia, but American actually has two non-oneworld partners with hubs within AA’s definition of the South Pacific.
Air Tahiti Nui has its hub (PPT) in Tahiti and Air Pacific’s hub (NAN) is in Fiji. Air Tahiti Nui’s relevant flights are:
Los Angeles <-> Tahiti
Tahiti <-> Auckland
And Air Pacific’s are:
Los Angeles <-> Fiji
Honolulu <-> Fiji
Fiji <-> Auckland
Fiji <-> Christchurch
Fiji <-> Sydney
Fiji <-> Melbourne
Fiji <-> Brisbane
That means you can route from Australia or New Zealand through either Tahiti or Fiji to Los Angeles and other points within the US and Canada for the normal miles price of 37.5k/62.5k/72.5k each way in economy/business/first.
I’m not sure how to search Air Pacific’s availability besides calling AA. Let us know in the comments if you know a better way.
Air Tahiti Nui’s space can be found on ExpertFlyer. (See my guide to using ExpertFlyer.) Getting from Los Angeles to Auckland may include an overnight in Tahiti, but it is very possible. Remember that layovers can be up to 24 hours on international AA awards.
The two major drawbacks of routing through Tahiti and Fiji are that you can’t stopover, and the premium-cabin product is not very impressive.
Stopovers on AA awards can only be taken at the North American International Gateway city, meaning they can never be taken outside North America–unless you know one of my tricks that does not apply here.
If you want to spend more than 24 hours in Fiji or Tahiti on the way to Australia, you’ll need a separate award from those places to Australia or New Zealand costing 20k/30k/42.5k each way in economy/business/first.
That means a vacation that included both Tahiti and New Zealand would cost 95k/155k/187.5k AA miles total in economy/business/first class.
Here’s the seatmap of the Air Tahiti Nui plane that you’d fly the whole way:
First class features angled lie flats, and business class has recliners. I’ll also add that I’ve never seen an Air Tahiti Nui flight with more than one first class award seat available.
I would only route on Air Pacific or Air Tahiti Nui to Oceania if I wanted to stopover in those places and to pay for the extra award or if it were the only way to get to Australia, and I really needed to be there.
To book Air Pacific or Air Tahiti Nui, you will have to call AA and incur a $25 phone fee. The number is 800-882-8880.
Cathay Pacific: Combining Asia and Australia at a Higher Miles Price
You can’t book one award from the USA to Australia that routes through Asia. AA will automatically break that into USA to Asia and Asia to Australia, costing you more miles.
Paying this premium may be worth it if you want to combine Asia and Australia into one trip, you really want to fly Cathay Pacific, or you have no other way to get to Australia.
Cathay Pacific has its hub in Hong Kong, which AA classifies as part of Asia 2. North America to Asia 2 is 35k/55k/67.5k miles each way in economy/business/first. Asia 2 to the South Pacific is 25k/35k/45k each way.
That means if you routed from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Sydney on Cathay Pacific oneway, it would cost 60k/90k/112.5k miles. That’s a hefty premium over a direct LAX-SYD flight, and it’s the price whether you stop in Hong Kong for two hours or two months.
If you’re willing to pay that premium, you can stop in Asia, enjoy Cathay Pacific’s product, and have more flexibility on your trip. And I should note that you are more than welcome to fly different classes of service from the USA to Asia and from Asia to Australia. Since it’s two separate awards, you can mix-and-match cabins at will.
To search for Cathay Pacific space, I recommend using qantas.com or BA.com–see my guide to using BA.com for oneworld award searches. Then you have to call AA to complete booking. You will incur a $25 phone fee.
I used Cathay Pacific as an example because it represents an aspirational award for many people. Everything in this section could equally apply if you route through Asia on AA metal or JAL metal (with slight changes in the miles needed if you route through Asia 1, which includes Japan.)
Between Oz and NZ
Getting between Australia and New Zealand with AA miles, there are only two options. You can try to find space on the tag flight between Auckland and Sydney on LAN’s Santiago, Chile to Sydney service. Or you can take one of the tons of flights on Qantas between major Australian cities and major New Zealand destinations.
There is no limit to the number of partners used on an AA award, so it’s not a problem to fly LAX-HNL-SYD-AKL on one award with the three flights operated by American, Qantas, and LAN.
There are several ways to get from the USA to Australia and New Zealand with AA miles. The quickest and most comfortable way to arrive is on a Qantas flight. Try to snag a seat on an A380 if you can.
If you want to combine Hawaii and Australia in one trip, you can do that easily by flying HNL-SYD on Qantas, Jetstar, or Hawaiian.
If you want to or have to route through Tahiti or Fiji, partners Air Tahiti Nui and Air Pacific can help.
Combining Asia and Australia will drive up the award price because American will treat your routing as two separate awards. The higher price may be worth paying to combine two great destinations and to fly a great carrier like Cathay Pacific.
This article didn’t mention free oneways. Of course you can combine any trip to Australia with up to two free oneways since a free oneway can be added each direction on international AA awards.
Here’s my post on free oneways on AA awards. And if you don’t live anywhere on my list of international gateway cities, you can use my trick to get an almost free oneway if you don’t live at an international gateway city.