I wish Qantas released a ton of Business and First Class between the United States and Australia. Qantas flies directly from Los Angeles to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane plus from Dallas to Sydney. (Qantas also operates a tag flight from Los Angeles to New York that can only be booked as part of a trip to/from Australia.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.25.48 AM
Qantas A380 First Class Open Suite

The flights to Sydney and Melbourne are on A380s.

Beyond the nice product and the convenient schedule to and within Australia, the main reason I wish Qantas released a ton of Business and First Class award space is that Qantas award space can be booked cheaply with American Airlines miles and can be searched on aa.com. American charges:

  • 37,500 American Airlines miles each way in economy
  • 62,500 American Airlines miles each way in Business
  • 72,500 American Airlines miles each way in First

That’s barely more than American charges to go to Europe even though Australia is about twice as far from the United States. Plus American Airlines miles are super easy to get at the moment.

Getting the Miles

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Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Unfortunately as much as I wish for plentiful Qantas premium awards, the reality is very different.

Award Space Picture

Qantas releases its award space 355 days out. At that point, the space is bookable with Qantas miles and British Airways Avios. Unfortunately, the cost with these types of miles is outrageous.

British Airways charges:

  • 50,000 Avios each way in economy
  • 100,000 Avios each way in Business
  • 150,000 Avios each way in First

Plus taxes plus $390 in fuel surcharges.

Since First Class is more than double the price with Avios compared to AAdvantage miles, obviously you’d want to wait until 330 days out when American Airlines awards become bookable. Unfortunately a lot of the space that is released at 355 days out is gone by 330 days out, never to be replaced.

For instance, this amazing First Class award seat on December 29 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, with possibly connections to Sydney to arrive the morning of the fireworks, will almost certainly not be around in three more weeks to book with American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.33.03 AM

But some space does creep through to American Airlines miles. Specifically here is the space I found 10 hours ago. Note that almost all of it is 320+ days out.

Los Angeles to Sydney

1 Business Class Seat and 0 First Class Seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.03.42 AM

Sydney to Los Angeles

1 Business Class seats and 0 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.03.49 AM

Los Angeles to Melbourne

2 Business Class seats and 1 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.22 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.27 AM

Melbourne to Los Angeles

2 Business Class seats and 1 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.35 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.41 AM

Dallas to Sydney

0 Business and First Class seats in both directions

Los Angeles to Brisbane

Operated by a 747 without First Class, not an A380

The most Business Class space, maybe 4 days in each direction

Update

All those calendars are 10 hours old. The only change I’ve noticed in the interim is that the First Class seat from Los Angeles to Melbourne disappeared, but on the same day a first class seat from Los Angeles to Sydney appeared.Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.21.59 AM

Bottom Lines

  • If you want to fly in a premium cabin to Australia, collect Delta miles to fly Virgin Australia (80,000 miles each way in Business Class.) Full post on Virgin Australia award availability.
  • If you want to fly Qantas Business or First Class to Australia with American Airlines miles, try to book around 330 days out, and be prepared for not much space.
  • If you want to fly Qantas First Class on the A380, try to book it between London and Dubai (40,000 AA miles one way), or London and Sydney (80,000 AA miles one way). Both of these options have a lot more award space than Qantas’ American flights.
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