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Australia is one of the hardest awards with frequent flyer miles. Part of it is that there are very few routes between the US and Australia, served by only five airlines:

  • United (Star Alliance)
  • Qantas (oneworld)
  • Delta (SkyTeam)
  • Hawaiian (no alliance, American Airlines partner)
  • Virgin Australia (no alliance, Delta partner)

Add in a flight from Vancouver to Sydney on Air Canada, and those are basically the options to get from the US to Australia without having to transit Asia.

The Big Deal with Transiting Asia

When I first started looking into going to Australia about three years ago, I thought: what’s the big deal with transiting Asia?

The big deal is that transiting any part of Asia but especially Southeast Asia adds hours and hours of flying, not to mention layovers, to the trip.

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According to the Great Circle Mapper:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney direct is 7,488 miles
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo to Sydney is 10,297 miles (about six extra hours of flying)
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo to Bangkok to Sydney is 13,002 miles (about 11 extra hours of flying)

My goal for award bookings to Australia is direct flights. This post will discuss the best routes, times of year, and miles to collect to book direct flights to Australia in economy.

The three best miles to have to get to Australia in economy are:

Delta charges 100k miles roundtrip to Australia in economy, which is 25-33% more than its competitors, so I will ignore the Delta and Virgin Australia award space to Australia in this post.

Save your miles by using American, United, or US Airways miles to book Qantas, United, Air Canada, and Hawaiian award space.

American Airlines Partners

American Airlines miles can be used to book Qantas and Hawaiian Airlines flights.

Qantas flies:

  • Dallas to Brisbane
  • Los Angeles to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane
  • Honolulu to Sydney (some flights are operated by subsidiary Jetstar)

Hawaiian flies:

  • Honolulu to Sydney and Bribane

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Award space is generally very good on the LAX to Brisbane and Sydney routes. The LAX to Melbourne route isn’t as good, but Qantas has connections throughout Australia, so getting to any city is easy.

My main advice with American Airlines miles is to be flexible. While March and April are wide open on the Qantas flight to Sydney, there are some big gaps in July.

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But starting in late July, there is award space every day!

Pay attention to this tomorrow because while Qantas is liberal with award space during the North American summer, United is stingy.

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Qantas also has great space next Southern Hemisphere summer in November and December 2014 from Los Angeles to Sydney.



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Free Stopovers

Booking with American Airlines miles entitles you to a free stopover in the North American International Gateway City in both directions.

Learn more about these perks in Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about United awards to Australia. Then I’ll discuss premium cabin awards to Australia.

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