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Cheapest Miles To Australia & Oceania

This is a pretty straight forwards continuation of my “Cheapest Miles To…” series, where I make charts for the cheapest miles to get to a region. All the prices are from North America, and in this case the prices are to Australia and Oceania, which includes basically all the islands in the Pacific (besides Hawaii).

The first chart includes region based prices to Australia/Oceania, then I’ll give a few distance based. After, I’ll talk about the differences between some of the prices, and talk about routes, which is a serious limitation for availability.

Economy Business Alliance Transfers From
United 70k – 80k 140k – 160k Star Alliance Chase UR
AA 75k 125k OneWorld SPG
ANA 75k 120k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
Alaska 80k – 100k 110k – 160k SPG
Lufthansa 80k 135k Star Alliance SPG
Air Canada 80k 160k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
Avianca 80k 160k Star Alliance
Air Berlin 90k 180k OneWorld SPG
Alitalia 100k 150k SkyTeam Amex MR, SPG
Air France 60k – 100k 150k – 250k SkyTeam Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
Korean Air 110k 185k SkyTeam Chase UR
Singapore 110k 195k Star Alliance Amex MR, Chase UR, Citi TY, SPG
Virgin Elevate 40k 80k Amex MR (2:1)
Virgin Atlantic 94k 141k Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG

 

Distance Based Miles

Example: LAX – GUM

JAL 70k 100k OneWorld SPG
Asia Miles 85k 115k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
BA Avios 75k 150k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG
LAN 100k 200k OneWorld SPG (1:1.5)

 

Example: JFK – PER

Asia Miles 110k 160k OneWorld SPG
JAL 120k 150k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
BA Avios 125k 250k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG
LAN 100k 200k OneWorld SPG (1:1.5)

 

 

Price Differences

Alaska Miles

See the Alaska Award Chart I made to understand that the price you pay in Alaska Miles totally depends on which airline you fly.

Alaska miles prices in economy/business by airline:

  • 80k/120k – Cathay Pacific
  • 80k/110k – Fiji Airways
  • 85k/110k – Qantas
  • 85k/125k – Korean
  • 80k/120k – Air France/KLM
  • 100k/160k – Delta

 

Air France / Flying Blue

The incredible price of 60,000 Flying Blue Miles is only for “French Polynesia”, which is not just Tahiti but the price applies to New Caledonia.

This does work for oneways and it’s meant to be the price for the Air France routes from LAX to these places, but it ends up working on any airline, even if you route through  Sydney or something. Read Best Use of Flying Blue Miles.

 

Warnings/Ideas with Lufthansa Miles

Just a word of caution for using Lufthansa Miles as they charge more for “3 region awards”, it’s 100k/180k. Now for economy it’s only 10k more each direction, but it’s still an important thing to add. Although, as I’ll mention in a bit, it’s hard to find availability that’s not through Asia, so this may be difficult.

However, if you’re interested in going to “Micronesia”, most islands south of Japan and east of the Philippines, United is a great partner. United uses Guam as a hub and has routes to the west coast USA and to Micronesian islands like Yap and Palau.

Also, at one point I noticed that a oneway to “Oceania” is 40,000 Lufthansa miles… but you could do US to Hawaii for 20,000, and Hawaii to Oceania for another 20,000. This could open up other options or just double your stopovers. See the Trans-Pacific Hopper with Lufthansa Miles.

 

United Prices/Tricks

United has one price for “Australia/New Zealand” and another for “Oceania”. Oceania is cheaper at 70k/140k and Australia is 80k/160k.

But if you’ve read “United Stopover Secrets” you may remember that using a stopover, so you have time in both Australia and an Oceania island, causes the price to choose the cheaper “Oceania” region. In other words, a roundtrip using a stopover, so you spend a week in Sydney and a week in Fiji, would price out at 70,000 miles. Yet, a regular roundtrip ticket to Sydney would price out at 80,000 miles.

This is a pretty cool trick making United miles the cheapest economy flight to Australia.

 

Routes

Award availability is hard to Australia and Oceania. Period. A lot of people have to route through Asia which makes a long flight longer.

So I figured it was worth listing out the routes that do exist and the airlines for each.

 

OneWorld

  • Dallas – Sydney (QF)
  • LA – Sydney (QF & AA coming soon)
  • LA – Brisbane (QF)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (QF)
  • Vancouver – Sydney (QF) (seasonal?)
  • LA – Melbourne (QF)

 

Star Alliance

  • LA – Sydney (UA)
  • LA – Melbourne (UA)
  • Vancouver – Sydney (AC)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (UA)
  • Vancouver – Auckland (AC)
  • San Francisco – Auckland (NZ)
  • LA – Auckland (NZ)
  • Houston – Auckland (NZ)
  • LA – Rarotonga (NZ)
  • Houston – Auckland (NZ) (Coming Soon)

 

SkyTeam

  • LA – Sydney (DL)
  • Air France from LA to:
    • Tahiti
    • New Caledonia

 

Other Partners

  • Fiji Airways (AA and Alaska)
    • LA – Fiji
  • Virgin Australia
    • LA – Sydney
    • LA – Brisbane
    • Las Vegas – Sydney
  • Hawaiian Airlines via HNL (AA)
    • West Coast USA/NYC
    • Tahiti
    • American Samoa
    • Sydney
    • Brisbane
    • Auckland
  • Air Tahiti Nui
    • LA to Tahiti
    • Tahiti to New Zealand

 

Best Uses / Conclusion

 

First of all, I encourage anyone to check out the List of Airline Stopover Rules. After all you may find yourself needing a stopover in Asia.

 

United Miles

As mentioned above, flights that have a stop in Oceania (even with an additional stop in Australia/New Zealand) price out at 70,000 miles. This is not only the cheapest option, but also United never passes on fuel surcharges.

A great option, however, Air New Zealand is the main partner for the region and their award availability is terrible! You can always route through Asia, but it’s just a long flight.

 

AA miles

AA is great in not passing on fuel surcharges, having the second best prices, and having the most direct routes with the partner Qantas.

The problem is that you aren’t really allowed to route through Asia to get to Australia, which could be a problem if there aren’t Qantas award seats available. Still the over all best option for most.

 

Alaska Miles

You may notice that the best business class is with Alaska Miles, with a roundtrip for 110,000 miles on Qantas or Fiji. Qantas apparently has a good Business Class, plus you can get direct routes. This is a great deal for sure.

 

Air France to French Polynesia

I forgot to mention that I believe Korean also allows the same 60,000 mile price but only for the direct Air France flight from LA. So maybe not worth advertising as the price to Oceania/Australia.

Either way this is a great deal and when using Flying Blue miles to French Polynesia or New Caledonia, the price is 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy or 30,000 miles for a oneway.

 

I hope the chart is helpful and saves you miles on your next trip down-under or to the beautiful Polynesian islands.

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38 Comments

    • Thanks, adding it in.

      Reply
  1. Umm, Delta SkyMiles?….

    Reply
    • They don’t publish an award chart, so prices have incredibly huge ranges to each destination.

      Reply
  2. There’s also LA -> Brisbane (QF)

    Reply
    • Right on. Thanks. Added.

      Reply
  3. I’m sure you know but there are a couple flights a week leaving from Hawaii to NZ on Hawaiian Airlines (a partner to several larger airlines). Great seat availability and probably the quickest shot from lax or sfo (I’m sure people would argue you’re not getting a great plane product). Booked honeymoon using AA miles for NZ & Fiji. Pumped.

    Reply
    • Yea, I wasn’t sure how to mention that, but… Definitely worth mentioning, so I’ma add that. Thanks for the comment.
      I actually didn’t know that they flew to AKL (because it wasn’t on the route map I last saw), so I didn’t believe you, but looked it and you’re definitely right. Obviously you knew you were right if you booked the seats… I just was skeptical. 😀
      But really thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  4. American can also book the Hawaiian Air flight HNL-AKL, which operates 3 days a week. The big advantage is that it operates during daylight hours, so you can avoid a redeye.

    Reply
    • Thanks, just added HA.
      Was just saying I didn’t know they flew to AKL. Just realized I was looking at an old route map.
      Anyways, thanks.

      Reply
  5. In the glory days of USDM, we had a few nice trips to Central America with a stop in the USA in J class. The trade off was the longer time spent in transit from A to B going via Asia. Even though J is a nice way to travel, the novelty has worn off and I would rather have a non-stop from LAX to BNE in Y on QF (J being nearly impossible), even though I did pay extra to have those 2 seats in the rear so we don’t have to sit with a stranger in a bank of 3 seats.

    Reply
    • Oh USDM. That was historic.
      Ya know, just now I even forgot that they Star Alliance.

      Def agree about direct. I love being in the front instead of the back… but it’s still flying, and less is always better.

      Reply
  6. Since Australia is so far from the US I would fly there only if I had a flat bed. Maybe you could a similar post focusing only on business and first class flights with a flat bed?

    Reply
    • Well most all the flights to Australia have flatbeds in Business/First. So the business class column should always have some option.

      Qantas, Air New Zealand, Delta, Air Canada, United, AA (soon), Cathay, ANA, and most of the Asian options all have flat beds.

      Fiji Airways and Hawaiian would be the ones without Flat beds. Or if you’re going via Asia, double check Thai/Asiana flights with seatguru.com… they both have an old first class that is super angled. I woke up in the aisle cuz I slid out.

      But as you can see, all the direction option and most all options are lieflat. But definitely always check with seatguru.

      Reply
  7. Sorry, Drew, but you can’t leave Delta out of this post. DL’s partner Virgin Australia usually has the best availability to Australia. Right now, you can get a weeklong trip LAX-SYD every single day from October 10 through November 23. It’s 100,000 miles in coach, which is definitely more than some other options, but not outrageously so.

    I know that Delta is crummy in many ways, but for those of us who rack up the MR points, it’s worth checking and can be the best option more often than you give it credit for.

    Reply
    • I think you make a really good point for that route… but I think it’s deceiving because
      1) With all the other airlines were talking about the prices for ALL other destinations in Oceania, Australia, and New Zealand. So this is a good deal on a route, but what about flights elsewhere?
      So I can’t put them on the “Australia/Oceania” chart not knowing anything about the large majority of their prices.
      But the bigger issue is…

      2) Most people don’t live in LAX.
      LAX-PPT on Air France is 50,000 miles. Not good but not terrible. However, Atlanta to PPT is 70,000 miles…

      And what if you don’t live in a hub? I checked nashville and prices were 70k to 110k… and this is still a oneway economy flight that cost 30,000 miles with Flying Blue miles.

      But…
      I think a lot of people have Delta Miles so it could be worth mentioning these partner options. It’s just not quite as easy to put into a chart. I can’t just say 50k… because that’s not always true. And the top seems to be limitless.
      I think I need to play around with the site more.

      Reply
  8. Another excellent, informative post.
    Your chart states that Virgin Elevate offers a round trip for 40k points, but no mention of this as the cheapest economy flight to Australia. Is this because of the poor transfer rate from MR?

    Reply
    • Right, it’s basically 80,000 Amex MR points since the transfer is 2:1, and that’s how nearly everyone is earning Virgin Elevate points around here. There are still some good deals out there, just not as good as it appears.

      Reply
  9. Thanks this was helpful. When going to Australia on an award can you go to most major cities in Australia on the same award? ie does it make a difference if I go to Melbourne or Hobart?

    The reason I ask is that when searching for Qantas awards it was the same amount of points for Sydney as it was for Hobart.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Right, most of these award charts are region based. So most of them see “Australia and Oceania” as one region. So with AA miles, I could fly from LA to Sydney, or Charlottesville (Virginia) to Perth, and it’s always going to be the same amount of miles.
      It does depend on award availability, but in this case, anywhere in sydney available on Qantas will be the same amount of miles.

      However, I listed the “direct routes” from the US to Australia because it could be helpful in searching for award seats or planning. Most people don’t want to fly via Asia to get to Sydney, it’s a LOT of flying. So I try to help by suggesting getting to LA first.

      Reply
  10. Of those options which typically offer the best award availability in premium class?

    Reply
    • I don’t check all the time, but Virgin Australia is generally considered to have the best availability in business. To book those, you can use Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Delta, or Singapore. Drew has listed the prices when booking with Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic. For booking through Delta, coach starts at 100k and business starts at 160k. Singapore charges different prices for 3 zones in Australia:

      http://www.singaporeair.com/pdf/ppsclub_krisflyer/charts/virgin-aust-award-mar14.pdf

      Reply
    • Since all of those are Amex MR transfer partners, the best transfer option to fly Virgin Australia in business is Virgin Atlantic at 141k

      Reply
    • Gotta agree about the Virgin comment. Probably the single best use of Delta Miles right now. Over priced compared to other programs, but a lot of people have a ton.

      With OneWorld and Star Alliance…
      Star Alliance is tough and you have to go via Asia. Asiana and Thai open up seats but they tend to be in their angle lieflats which aren’t worth the extra miles. Singapore is the way to go, and search on Air Canada.

      Qantas business class seats do happen and they are great routes.

      Reply
  11. Great resource as always Drew. Worth noting:

    New York – Sydney (QF) is via (LAX), so it’s not a non-stop flight.

    Vancouver – Sydney (QF) is very limited with 13 return flights in June/July and 20 return flights in mid-Dec-Jan.

    Houston – Auckland (NZ) new flight starts in December 2015

    Note that Virgin Australia to add (Delta) after the name to indicate you can use SkyMiles redemptions (like you did for Fiji). Also, Virgin Australia flies LAX-BNE; however they do not fly to Las Vegas as you list above.

    Reply
    • Whoa, yea. Don’t know why I didn’t notice NYC as not a real award option. It’s just one flight number so it shows up on OneWorld’s route map.

      Thanks a lot.
      Lots of really good adds!

      Reply
  12. Can you fly Cathy using Alaska miles and transit through HKG?

    Reply
    • Sure Joe. As this article states, you can use your Alaska miles to redeem on Cathay from US to Australia (via HKG). You can even use a free stopover at HKG in each direction if you like.

      Reply
    • Yeah totally.

      Reply
  13. Drew – also Air Tahiti Nui flies LAX-PPT-AKL and is redeemable via AA (and DL, though they impose fuel surcharges). Although the PPT-AKL leg is only 2x per week, award availability is pretty good.

    Reply
    • Thanks, just added it.

      Reply
  14. Might want to add KE ICN-AKL as another SkyTeam option…

    Reply
    • I didn’t add all the via-asia options cuz there’s a ton and the point was to just list the direction options as options not go via Asia.

      Reply
  15. Hey Drew,

    Awesome reference. I’m in Oceania, New Zealand, so I’m looking at these in reverse. I’m wanting to travel to West Coast US, then Europe, and back. Pretty broad question, but any thoughts on best routes? Thanks!

    Reply
  16. Great piece of advice this post! It made me think and play around with the Lufthansa mileage calculator. It shows flights PER-AKL-RAR in biz for 27500 miles. Another option is PER-BKK-AKL-RAR but makes me wonder if that would be the same number of miles as you would be touching/connecting in South East Asia with BKK?

    I know with a 3 region award the number of miles go up but this route would be Australia to New Zealand which are both in the same zone according to the M&M award chart… I will give M&M a call tomorrow to find out.

    Reply
  17. Hi Drew,
    It looks like the flying blue trick to new Caledonia is no longer an option. The only air France flights to new Caledonia seem to go through Korea or Japan.

    Reply
  18. Drew, I’m trying to book RAR-GUM but it won’t let me price it as one way at 12.5k. It is charging 30k via Asia or Japan considering them as 2 one ways. The route is also not possible via Australia or NZ. Anyone know why that is??

    Reply
  19. I’m based in New Zealand found your site via mad fientist. Just getting into the travel hacking. I found that interesting that you said there is virtually no award availability on Air New Zealand. As air nz is the main carrier out of here makes travel hacking nearly impossible unless you fly to another hub like Sydney. We have virtually no credit card sign up offers either!

    In saying that we have Elite status with air nz and you can buy stand by upgrades to the next class with airpoints $. Although they often don’t clear until the gate we have had 90% success rate in getting these upgrades. Even for family members not living with in our household. It appears that there is award availability on air nz but it’s offered to their frequent flyers first and not star alliance.

    Reply

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