Redeem American Airlines Miles: Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand


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Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Australia and New Zealand. American Airlines miles have access to incredible economy award space to Australia and New Zealand.

Fireworks in Sydney over NYE. Source:
Fireworks in Sydney over NYE


“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are part of the South Pacific region on American Airlines’ award chart. This post only focuses on Australia and New Zealand. Some of the Pacific Islands are covered in a different post. Here are all the places in the South Pacific:

  • Australia
  • Easter Island
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Guam
  • Kiribati
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Republic of Tonga
  • Republic of Vanuatu
  • American Samoa
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tuvalu

The Partners for Australia and New Zealand Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to Australia and New Zealand must fly directly from North America to the South Pacific region. They cannot transit East Asia. That would break the trip into two awards and increase the miles price.

American Airlines partners with direct flights to the Australia and New Zealand from North America:

  • American Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Hawaiian

Other American Airlines partners with on which you can reach Australia and New Zealand on a single award:

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Fiji Airways

Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways aren’t all that useful to Australia and New Zealand because no connections of longer than 24 hours are allowed on American Airlines awards. If you want to stop in Fiji on the way to Australia, use Alaska miles instead.

Award space on American, Qantas, and Hawaiian is searchable on Here’s how to search

Award space on Air Tahiti Nui is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Award space on Fiji Airways is searchable on Here’s how to search


From North America to Australia and New Zealand, American Airlines charges:

  • 40,000 miles one way in economy
  • 80,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 110,000 miles one way in First Class

Compared to competitors, American charges similar and in some cases cheaper prices:

  • Economy: United charges 40k, Delta charges 45k or 50k depending on the date
  • Business: United charges 70k or 80k, Delta charges 80k or 95k
  • First: United charges 80k or 130k, Delta miles cannot book First Class

Routes & Award Space

American flies from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney
  • Los Angeles to Auckland (starting June 23, 2016)

Qantas flies from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne
  • Dallas to Sydney
  • San Francisco to Sydney
  • Honolulu to Sydney
  • New York-JFK to Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne

Hawaiian flies from:

  • Honolulu to Auckland, Sydney, and Brisbane
Award Space on Hawaiian

The Hawaiian Airlines routes have uniformly excellent availability in economy for two passengers. However American Airlines no longer allows you to book from the United States mainland to Asia or Australia on a single award that flies Hawaiian Airlines from Hawaii to Asia or Australia.

You will have to pay two awards: your home to Hawaii plus Hawaii to Australia. That will be very expensive, so ignore Hawaiian award space unless you live in Hawaii.

Award Space on Qantas

Qantas runs three-cabin planes with economy, Business (trip report), and First. Economy award space for two passengers is very good on all routes for most of the year. I never see Business or First Class space for two passengers on the same Qantas flight between the United States and Australia. Occasionally there is one award seat in Business or First Class, but even these are extremely rare.

San Francisco to Sydney typifies the good award space on Qantas flights in economy for two passengers right now (with about half the month displayed having at two seats available).

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 6.30.16 PM

Business Class award space on Qantas between the United States and Australia is rare, but it exists if you’re traveling solo.

First Class award space is even rarer. I sometimes see it like these seats that were available for booking in February 2015 for October 2015 travel, but I don’t see any at the moment.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.37.44 AM

It is a shame because Qantas First Class looks awesome!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.33.16 PM

Award Space on American

There is pretty good economy MileSAAver award space on the Los Angeles to Auckland flight from American Airlines that launches at the the end of this month, through the rest of the year:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 6.01.23 PM

But there’s not nearly as much space in the return direction in economy and virtually nothing available in Business Class in either direction.

From Los Angeles to Sydney, there lots of economy award space (the calendar below is for two people):
Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 6.39.03 PM

We also saw American Airlines release Business Class award space within a week of departure recently, but I don’t see any Business seats available at the moment between Los Angeles and Sydney nor Los Angeles and Auckland. Hopefully that will become more of a trend– keep an eye out if you the flexibility to book last minute.

Another American Airlines Option to Australia

I can’t mention Australia with American Airlines miles and not mention Etihad’s First Class Apartments from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

For 110,000 American Airlines miles, you can get about 14 hours in the world’s nicest First Class. Getting to Abu Dhabi would require a different award.

Read my full write up in Amazing Award Space for Two on Nicest First Class in the World? 14 Hours in Etihad A380 First Class.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are fantastic to get two people to Australia and New Zealand in economy. There is almost zero premium cabin award space.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles, which is almost enough for a roundtrip economy award to Australia!

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  1. Qantas economy from LAX to Sydney is a joke. Whatever you do, use more miles to upgrade. Quite possibly the worst flight in my 45 years of life, and I had to do it in return as well.

  2. I see one first class seat available. Is there anything that I can do with it as I await another seat? I am wanting 2 first class award seats from DFW-SYD on the Qantas A380 anytime this year for honeymoon. Do they ever come available in pairs or should I give that up and look for a new destination?

    • You will not get two First Class seats on the same flight on a Qantas flight from the USA. Use Delta miles for Virgin Australia or use AA miles for Etihad.

      • Thanks Scott. We have Starwood Points that we can transfer to Delta miles. I will look up and see what that would take for the Virgin. The best use seems to be those London-Dubai Ethiad A380 flights. Would you just forgo finding 2 luxury (by luxury, I mean lay-flat comfortably) flights from DFW to Australia and find another destination? My fiancee’ really wants to see Australia. Thanks tremendously as always.

  3. Is it common to be able to book 4 economy tickets on awards or is it pretty limited to 2? Can you do an Australian stopover on these awards?

  4. Your title indicates that this post includes info about NEW ZEALAND. I see nothing in here about getting to New Zealand, only Australia.

    Very misleading, as usual – your blog only presents half-truths, at best.

    • As Scott just responded, AA now flies AKL to LAX nonstop, as mentioned in the article, although it should have been labeled on the map as well. Even without that, you can use AA miles to fly AKL -> OZ -> LAX / DFW / NYC, so the info here from OZ is relevant. I used AA miles last year for AKL to BOS (via Sydney + LAX).

  5. Is it possible to books economy flights through AA on Qantas and then pay $ to Qantas to upgrade to premium economy? While I know UA allows paid upgrades on some awards tickets, I understand that AA does not. Due to number of people traveling I don’t think we can ever get enough business seats. Thanks!

  6. I think it would be helpful to mention that while economy award availability to Australia might be great in Quantas most of the year it often disappears from the middle of december until the middle of January.

    • Consider it mentioned. By the way, almost all award space everywhere disappears then. Miles are not for Christmas travel. They are for travel when there are unsold seats.

  7. What makes you expect to see Mile Saver availability for SYD to LAX? I’m hoping to fly to Sydney from Florida next July, and so far there is basically zero availability.

    • The fact that I can’t think of any other routes besides Buenos Aires routes on which American releases no (or almost no) award space and Buenos Aires is a special case because of currency manipulation. I don’t think we’ll see a lot of award space on AA’s LAX-SYD flights, but I think we’ll see some. There should be some on Qantas’ flight too.

  8. Thanks for the response. Does Qantas tend to wait to release award availability as well? The dates I’m looking for have been available to book for a couple weeks but zero economy availability.

    • No, I usually see Qantas space when the award calendar opens up or not at all. I don’t see them add space later.

  9. Planning for a New Zealand trip during our summer of 2017 traveling from Savannah. What miles would be best to get to travel either 1st or Business. Would like a stopover in the south pacific. Hoping that planning over a year out will allow us to get the right hotel and airline miles.

    • You aren’t going to get a free stopover in the South Pacific from Savannah to NZ. You can either use United miles to fly to NZ in Air NZ or United Business Class. Or you can use Alaska miles to fly LAX-Fiji free stopover, Fiji-NZ.

    • Scott,

      I don’t have American Airlines miles but have close to 250,000 United miles and 150,000 Chase points. I would like to fly to New Zealand (need two tickets) in Business but see availability only in Economy Saver, nothing in Business Saver for February of 2018 (or any other time). Any idea if business saver is ever available? Thank you.


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