This series has been featuring pre-devaluation prices, but I still wanted to get this one out before Feb 1 (the devaluation date).
So if you have some last minute booking in the works, could use use the same concepts later, or just find these tricks interesting… well, I’m glad I got it out. If it’s too late for you to do something like this, I hope future content will continue to provide as much value.
A few things to know:
- All prices will be in economy, but the same concepts work for any class of travel.
- Australia and New Zealand are the same zone and pricing. So whether it’s Sydney or Queenstown, it’s the same.
- If you’re not familiar with the routing rules, please see the complete guide to United routing rules.
– 1 stopover and one destination are allowed on a roundtrip, international award ticket and either of these stops can be as long as you want.
– 1 stopover and one open-jaw is allowed (although open-jaw can’t be added to stopovers).
- And for more in depth hacks, read the United’s Most Powerful Zone post.
Australia and Oceania are limited in some ways in that when starting from the USA, they ca not be combined with Europe, Africa, or South America.
Oceania & Australia
Flights from the US to Australia are 80,000 miles.
Flights from the US to Oceania islands are 70,000 miles.
If you combine the two by doing a stopover in one, the price remains the lower 70,000 miles.
This means a trip to Australia could save miles by adding a stop in Fiji. You’d save 10,000 miles to be exact. Plus each stop can be as long as you want. So it’s a nice way to see an Oceania island.
However, you may find that Air New Zealand’s availability isn’t exactly amazing. It’s better for those of you who plan in advance but I’m looking at Vanuatu in March and seeing no seats either way. And look at Fiji, I see 1 date open each way, and they are back to back dates. So I could fly in and leave the next day. Things seem to be at an all time low… hence a devaluation.
Central Asia (India)
Central Asia is the most powerful region and it can be combined with either Australia or Oceania. This simply means that if it were to be combined with either Australia or Oceania, it would price out like a ticket to Central Asia – 80,000 miles.
The rest of Asia works oppositely. That if you touch SE Asia or North Asia and either Oceania or Australia it will assume the price of either Oceania or Australia.
Of course you could do just Australia/New Zealand or just Oceania.
If you’re going to Australia you could make your stopover in New Zealand on the way to Australia (although it’s 80,000 miles instead of the 70,000 mile price you’d get if you made your stopover in Oceania).
Or you could do two Oceania islands. Although it could be harder to do now with segment limits. However, if you could get it to work… that would be pretty sweet. Although if you’re in the south Pacific you’d probably have to layover in New Zealand as Air New Zealand is the only airline to connect places like Rarotonga and Fiji. But if you’re in Micronesia, you could hop from Guam to Yap to Palau on pretty short flights on United connecting in Guam.
Starting in Hawaii
I talked briefly about how the price is different when you start in Hawaii and I’ll expand on that a couple of ways.
First, I’ll repeat that when starting from Hawaii the powerful regions flip around a bit and SE Asia becomes more powerful than Australia. This means a roundtrip to Australia and SE Asia from Hawaii is 50,000 miles in economy.
However, for complicated reasons when you open-jaw so that you return to (or start in) the US, it prices it out with Australia as the more powerful zone again. It flips back.
Hawaii to Oceania and Australia
When starting in Hawaii, suddenly Australia becomes a more powerful zone than Oceania. So an Oceania roundtrip would be 50,000 and one to Australia is 70,000.
So think about positioning in Hawaii…
US to Australia roundtrip = 80,000
Hawaii to Australia to SE Asia to Hawaii = 50,000 miles
US to Hawaii roundtrip = 40,000
Thus, US to Hawaii to Australia to SE Asia to (a different part of) Hawaii to the US = 90,000
And I forgot to mention you still have a stopover. US to Hawaii is 40,000 roundtrip and you could probably throw in a stopover somewhere cool in North America. So add at the end of that a stopover in Vancouver.
Getting across the Pacific is no easy task. Star Alliance has plenty of Asian airlines, but of those airlines, few have flights across the Pacific. But still there are options via Asia… which are a lot of flight and a lot more flights to connect.
As far as direct flight to Australia/New Zealand, United does have direct flights to Sydney. This flight seems to sell out because there are so few options.
So you have Sydney to SFO, and LAX as two options. But Air Canada also has a route out of Vancouver. So make sure you check these routes.
Air New Zealand does have flights to the west coast as well… But I can hardly find availability. Alternatively, Air New Zealand has direct flights to Hawaii, and then it has a flight to LAX via Rarotonga.
Interestingly enough, Guam is also considered a United hub. It has a flight to San Fran and Hawaii as well as many other islands and many parts of Asia.
That being said, if you’re landing business class on Air New Zealand or ANA, it’s not that bad. Also, I really like Singapore Airlines Business Class but the availability no longer shows on United.com so you would have to use Aeroplan or ANA to find availability.
When I think about this, here are my leading options or desires for a trip:
- Do two Oceania islands.
Personally I would love to do Yap and Palau. Done.
- Australia/New Zealand and an oceania Island.
Personally, I would recommend Fiji and getting away in the Yasawas!
- Starting in Hawaii.
I would fly to Hawaii, then do a trip where I stopover in Australia, then destination in SE Asia and then fly back to Hawaii. Then I would use the Hawaii RT ticket to stopover somewhere else. Or use Avios or something to get to Hawaii.
Actually, that makes a lot of sense. Use something else like Lufthansa or Avios to get to Hawaii.
Finally, whatever you’re (almost), you’re better off booking before Feb 1st! 5 days from right now (1/27/2014)!