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By: Caroline Lupini
Getting to Australia or New Zealand can be one of the more difficult redemptions to put together. Not only do you need to amass a huge number of miles to get to the region, but you also need to find award space which can be tough.
But, fear not. In this article, we’ll show you seven different programs that can help you get to Australia and New Zealand with points and miles. Armed with this information, you’ll have a better chance of finding the award availability you need.
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- ANA Mileage Club
- Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- United Airlines MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Let’s get started!
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
One of the best ways to fly to Australia with points is using Alaska Mileage Plan miles. Though Alaska doesn’t actually fly to Australia or New Zealand, many of its partners do. From the U.S., its partners Qantas and American Airlines will provide the most direct path but you’ll have a couple other options as well.
Alaska Mileage Plan has different award charts for each partner so you’ll want to keep an eye out for sweet spots in each chart. Qantas is the better deal for first and business class, but American Airlines is the best choice for economy seats. Here are the one-way award rates when booking with Alaska miles:
|Class of Service||American Airlines||Cathay Pacific||Fiji Airways||Qantas|
|Economy||40,000 miles||40,000 miles||40,000 miles||42,500 miles|
|Premium Economy||N/A||47,500 miles||N/A||47,500 miles|
|Business||80,000 miles||60,000 miles||55,000 miles||55,000 miles|
|First||110,000 miles||80,000 miles||N/A||70,000 miles|
Not only are awards on Qantas cheaper, but it also has a very nice first class and solid business class product. Though the hard product leaves a bit to be desired in business class on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747, the soft product is incredible for a round-trip price of only 110,000 miles. If you find yourself on one of Qantas’ Boeing 787 Dreamliners, you’ll get to experience one of the better business class options in the sky.
While you can add a connection on Alaska Airlines, you are only allowed to include one partner on award bookings. This means you cannot fly both American Airlines and Qantas on the same award.
Since Qantas flies out of Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) via LAX, and San Francisco (SFO), you may find yourself positioning on an Alaska flight before your flight abroad.
Flying Cathay Pacific or Fiji Airways are also great options if you don’t mind a connection or better yet, a free stopover! If you fly Cathay Pacific, you’ll connect at their hub in Hong Kong (HKG). If you fly Fiji Airways, you’ll connect in Nadi (NAN).
Note that Fiji Airways business class award space is pretty tough to come by, but if you’re looking for economy tickets it can be a great option.
How To Book With Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles
Booking your tickets with Alaska Airlines is simple: just search for the award on its website. The search results will show both American and Qantas award space if available. From there, you just select your desired flight and book.
If you’re trying to book a business or first class award, make sure you don’t get stuck with a mixed-cabin award. Annoyingly, you’ll get search results that include a short segment in first class and a long-haul segment in the economy.
To make matters worse, you’d be charged the first class award rate.
In the example below, both premium economy and business class flights are mixed cabin award availability, denoted with the light blue person in the dark blue seat. An award without mixed cabin availability would not have that.
The best way to search for award space on Cathay Pacific is to use the British Airways website. You will need to have an account with British Airways in order to search, but it’s free and easy to set up your account. After you find flights that work for your itinerary, you’ll need to call Alaska to book your flights.
Keep in mind that Alaska doesn’t always see the same number of award seats as British Airways, so it may be best to find a couple of options that work so you don’t have to go back to the drawing board after calling Alaska.
How To Earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles
Alaska Mileage Plan is a partner with Marriott Rewards. You can transfer Marriott Rewards points to Alaska Mileage Plan at a 3:1 ratio (which is equivalent to the old 1:1 ratio with SPG).
If you transfer 60,000 points to Alaska Mileage Plan, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus which will yield a total of 25,000 miles. When you consider that each SPG point is worth 3 Marriott points and 20,000 SPG Starpoints used to get you 25,000 Alaska miles, this isn’t a big change. The issue is the earn rates on the SPG credit cards as we’ll discuss below.
Additionally, you can earn miles directly from co-branded Alaska cards issued by Bank of America. Bank of America offers both a personal and a business version of the card.
Cards To Help You Earn More Alaska Miles
Due to some recent changes to the SPG Amex credit cards, the best way to earn Alaska miles is with Alaska’s co-branded cards. Both the personal and business versions of the card offer 3X miles per dollar on purchases with Alaska Airlines and 1X mile per dollar on all other purchases.
With the combining of the SPG and Marriott Rewards programs, Amex has reconfigured the earn rates of the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express and the SPG Luxury Card.
These cards each come with bonus categories but only the 6X points you can earn at Marriott and Starwood properties really deserve attention. Non-bonus category spending now earns 2X points which is equivalent to ⅔ the value of the old earn rate. With this in mind, it’s hard to justify using the SPG cards beyond SPG and Marriott stays.
ANA is one of the major carriers of Japan and part of the Star Alliance. You can use ANA Mileage Club miles to book flights on Air New Zealand, United, Air Canada, ANA, and other partners.
The downside to using ANA miles is that you’ll be required to make a round-trip booking, but ANA miles are incredibly easy to earn due to being a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Rewards. ANA also offers some very good redemptions rates, especially if you’re traveling during low-season.
ANA Operated Flights
|Low Season||Regular Season||High Season|
To find out details on what counts as low, regular, and high season, visit ANA’s website.
Economy: 75,000 ANA miles round-trip
Business Class: 120,000 ANA miles round-trip
First Class: 225,000 ANA miles round-trip
How To Book With ANA Mileage Club
First, search for the award on ANA website. If you can find availability there, book it and you’re done!
However, ANA’s website isn’t the best, so sometimes you need to search for availability on the United website using the flexible date search and call ANA to complete the booking. Be careful of the fact that United will show more United flights that are available to only their own members that will not be bookable by ANA.
If you want to avoid this issue, you can search for award space on the Air Canada Aeroplan website and then call ANA to make your booking.
How To Earn ANA Mileage Club Miles
American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to ANA Mileage Club at a 1:1 ratio. They’re also a transfer partner of Marriott Rewards but Amex Membership Rewards points will be your best option when you want to book with ANA Mileage Club if you have them because Marriott Rewards points transfer to more partners, so it’s better to save them for when they’re the only option.
Cards to Help You Earn More ANA Miles
Fortunately, American Express provides a number of cards that are great for earning Membership Rewards points. From great bonus categories to solid welcome bonuses, Amex has you covered. Some cards even have great bonus categories and welcome bonuses.
JAL is the other major carrier in Japan and is part of Oneworld, so you can use it to book award flights on Qantas, Cathay Pacific and other partners.
JAL has a distance-based award chart for flights on partners, so you the miles required based on the distance you fly. That means that depending on your departure airport and how many connections you have, the price could be different. Most flights from the US to Australia and New Zealand will fall into the 8,001 – 10,000, 10,001 – 12,000, and possibly even then 12,001 – 14,000-mile category for one-way flights.
How To Book With Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
First, try searching for the award on Japan Airline’s website. If you can’t find anything (which is likely—its search engine isn’t very robust), search for flights British Airways’ website to find more flight options and then call Japan Airlines to book.
How To Earn Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Miles
Unfortunately, JAL miles are extremely tough to earn. They only have one lackluster credit card which earns 1X mile per $1 after paying for the premium annual fee. However, as with Alaska Airlines, you can transfer points from Marriott Rewards earned through the SPG and Marriott credit cards.
Finally, you can also earn 2X miles per dollar on the Barclays Arrival Premier but the transfer ratio is a weak 1.7:1.
Cards to Help You Earn More Japan Airlines Miles
The SPG credit cards earn 2X Marriott points per dollar on purchases that don’t fall under a bonus category. If you transfer your points in increments of 60,000 points, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus. This means that 60,000 points will provide 25,000 airline miles.
If you have decent bit of spend to put on a card, don’t sleep on the Barclays Arrival Premier though.
Like Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific is a part of the Oneworld alliance. It has some reasonable rates for single partner bookings on any of its partners, or flights on just Cathay Pacific and/or Cathay Dragon. It doesn’t hurt that it’s easier to earn Asia Miles than Alaska and JAL miles.
Here are the Asia Miles award rates for flights only on Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon. Note that bookings on a single partner don’t have a separate award chart, but cost 5,000 miles more than the prices shown on the chart below. Keep in mind that most flights from the U.S. to Australia are between 7,000 and 12,000 miles one-way, depending on connections.
Asia Miles also has a multi-carrier Oneworld award chart, but award rates are not as good. The following redemption rates are for round-trip bookings (meaning 14,000 – 24,000 miles for most trips).
How To Book With Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
First, search for the award on Asia Miles’ website. If you can find availability there, book it and you’re done!
Keep in mind that partners such as American Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Malaysia Airlines do not show up on Cathay Pacific’s award search engine. If you want to find award space on these carriers, you’ll need to search with British Airways or Qantas then call Asia Miles
As a result, Qantas and Cathay Pacific flights will be the easiest to book when flying to Australia or New Zealand but it all comes down to award space.
How To Earn Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
The co-branded Cathay Pacific credit card is currently offering a 60,000 bonus. The card also earns 2x on dining and 1.5x for all charges made abroad.
You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points to Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio. You can also transfer Marriott Rewards points though these are much harder to earn more most people.
Cards To Help You Earn More Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Cathay Pacific’s partnerships with Citi and Amex make Asia Miles a bit easier to earn than Alaska miles or ANA miles. Take a look at the following cards that can help you earn a bunch of Asia Miles for your next trip.
Taking a step back from Oneworld, Air Canada Aeroplan miles can be used to book tickets on Star Alliance partners to Australia. Some carriers that fly to the region include United Airlines, Air New Zealand, and ANA All Nippon Airways.
Here’s how much economy, business, and first cost using Aeroplan miles:
How To Book With Air Canada Aeroplan
You can search for award space on Aeroplan’s site but you might find it easier to use United’s flexible date search to narrow down the exact dates with award space. Once you do that, you can search for exact dates with Aeroplan and complete your booking online.
Aeroplan sometimes issues with itineraries that include connections. If United shows award space but Aeroplan doesn’t, search segment by segment. If Aeroplan shows the space, call to complete the booking. The number is 1-800-361-5373.
How To Earn Air Canada Aeroplan Miles
You can transfer Membership Rewards points (1:1 ratio) to Aeroplan. These transfers process almost instantly so you can quickly get your hands on Aeroplan miles.
You can also use the TD Bank Aeroplan co-branded card to earn Aeroplan miles directly.
Cards to Help You Earn More Aeroplan Miles
If there’s a go-to Membership Rewards partner, it just might be Air Canada Aeroplan. You’ll have plenty of Amex card options to help you earn a bunch of Aeroplan miles.
Have a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards? Consider using United miles to book United and Star Alliance partner awards to Australia and New Zealand. You can book tickets easily on the carrier’s site as it shows availability across most major airlines.
Further, United miles are extremely easy to earn if you have the trifecta of Chase cards (Ink, Freedom, Sapphire), so you can restock your account easily.
Here’s how much one-way flights to the region cost in all classes:
How To Book With United Airlines MileagePlus
United shows all partner availability on its website. Just head to their site, login, and search for your award. You can book it without having to search on other sites due to the power of United’s search engine.
How To Earn United Airlines MileagePlus Miles
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United at a 1:1 ratio. These transfers process almost instantly. The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred as well as the Ink Preferred have the ability to transfer points to partners like United Airlines.
Chase also offers a few co-branded cards that earn United miles directly: the Explorer, Club, and Business. Each of these cards offers varying benefits and have varying annual fees. If you’re a frequent United flier, it may make sense to sign up for one of these cards.
Cards To Help You Earn More United Miles
If you want to put together a great strategy for eanrning United miles, cards that earn Chase Ultiamte Rewards points are going to play a big role. In fact, Ultimate Rewards cards should be the priority while Chase’s co-branded cards can play a solid supplimentary role.
Virgin Atlantic miles used to have a bad reputation for being close to worthless, but this isn’t the case anymore. You can use your Virgin Atlantic miles to fly on partners Virgin Australia, Delta, and Air New Zealand. Their awards are respectively priced and you can transfer miles in from almost anywhere.
These are the non-stop award rates that you’ll find for each partner:
|Airline||Route||Economy Class||Premium Economy||Business Class|
|Air New Zealand||LAX/IAH – AKL||50,000||75,000||92,000|
|Delta||LAX – SYD||44,800||71,700||95,500|
|Virgin Australia||LAX – BNE/MEL/SYD||44,800||71,700||95,500|
How To Book With Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
You have to call Virgin Atlantic (1-800-365-9500) to book these awards but, don’t worry, the phone agents are fantastic.
Before you call, you can search with Delta’s site to find Virgin Australia award space and Virgin Atlantic’s site for Delta award space — I realize that’s confusing. To find award space on Air New Zealand, you can search with United’s site.
While you can actually book Delta awards on Virgin Atlantic’s site, we prefer to put awards on hold by calling before transferring points to Flying Club.
How To Earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles
You can transfer points in from all major transferable points programs –. Chase, American Express, Citi, and Marriott Rewards — to are all partners of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Virgin Atlantic also has two co-branded cards in the USA: the Black and White cards. We recommend using the Black card as it has a larger sign-up bonus and earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent.
Cards To Help You Earn More Virgin Atlantic Miles
Since you can transfers Chase points, Amex points and Citi points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, you shouldn’t ever have an issue earning the necessary miles for your next redemption. Any of the following cards will give your Flying Club balance a nice boost.
It might take a little time to build the perfect itinerary for your trip to Australia or New Zealand but it’s worth the effort. Fortunately, you have plenty of ways to earn the necessary points and miles to book your award.
How do you plan on flying to Australia? Have you booked a trip there before? Let us know how you did it in the comments.
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.