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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 aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

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 alaskaair.com. Here’s how to search alaskaair.com.

Pricing

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.

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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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