I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to East and Southeast Asia. Awards to East and Southeast Asia are some of the best value awards with American Airlines miles.

IMG_1568
Hiking the Great Wall of China outside Beijing in September

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Asia 1 and Asia 2

This post deals with American Airlines awards to what it calls “Asia 1″ and “Asia 2.”

Asia 1 is Korea, Japan, and Mongolia.

Asia 2 is:

  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Guam
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • the Philippines
  • Saipan
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

The Indian Subcontinent is part of the Middle East region, which I cover here.

The Partners for East and Southeast Asia Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to Asia 1 and Asia 2 must fly directly from North America to East Asia. They cannot transit Europe, the Middle East, India, or any other continent. That means I’ll focus just on airlines with direct flights to East Asia and within East Asia.

To East Asia, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on:

  • American Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Malaysia Airlines (does not fly to North America)
  • Japan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines (does not fly to North America)
  • any combination of the six

Award space on American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Award space on Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Japan Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Pricing

To Asia 1 (Korea, Japan, Mongolia), American Airlines charges:

  • 25,000 miles one way in economy from October to April
  • 32,500 miles one way in economy from May to September
  • 50,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 62,500 miles one way in First Class

To Asia 2, American Airlines charges:

  • 35,000 miles one way in economy
  • 55,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 67,500 miles one way in First Class

The off peak awards to Korea and Japan are a steal. The premium cabin awards year round are outrageously cheap. Consider that you can fly Cathay Pacific First Class to China or Southeast Asia for only 67,500 miles one way.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 1.42.22 AM
All Smiles in the Huge Bed in Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class is one of the nicest First Class products in the world (read my review), and for inferior products, Delta and United charge more miles.

  • Delta charges 70,000 miles one way to Southeast Asia in Business Class. Delta miles cannot be used to book international First Class.
  • United charges 80,000 miles one way to Southeast Asia in partner Business Class and 130,000 miles in partner First Class.

American’s under-pricing of awards to Asia relative to its competitors is one of the main reasons that American miles are the best miles to Asia.

Booking the Awards

To book an American Airlines award to Asia that features only American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines flights, you can book right on aa.com.

If you want to include even a single segment on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, or SriLankan Airlines, you need to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book. There is no phone fee to book awards that can’t be booked online. I recommend searching award space on ba.com before calling and feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight with award space instead of relying on the agent’s searching skill.

Routes and Award Space

To Asia 1 (Korea, Japan, Mongolia), the possible routes are on Japan Airlines, American Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines.

You cannot fly Cathay Pacific to Asia 1 because you cannot transit Asia 2 en route to Asia 1. (For instance, Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Seoul would price as Los Angeles to Hong Kong plus Hong Kong to Seoul. Read the award routing rules post.)

American flies:

  • Dallas to Tokyo-Narita
  • Chicago to Tokyo-Narita
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita
  • Dallas to Seoul

Japan Airlines flies:

  • Boston to Tokyo-Narita
  • New York to Tokyo-Narita
  • Chicago to Tokyo-Narita
  • Honolulu to Tokyo-Narita
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita
  • San Diego to Tokyo-Narita
  • Vancouver to Tokyo-Narita
  • San Francisco to Tokyo-Haneda
  • Honolulu to Tokyo-Haneda
  • Los Angeles to Osaka-Kansai
  • Honolulu to Osaka-Kansai
  • Honolulu to Nagoya-Cetrair

Hawaiian Airlines flies:

  • Honolulu to Seoul
  • Honolulu to Tokyo-Haneda
  • Honolulu to Osaka-Kansai
  • Honolulu to Sapporo-Chitose (Japan)
  • Honolulu to Sendai (Japan)

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 11.28.18 PM

The American Airlines flights to Asia 1 have good economy award space, especially during the off peak window, and terrible Business and First Class space.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 5.37.22 PM

I used to find some Business and First Class Saver award space in the last few days before departure, but now even that is very rare.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 5.41.33 PM

The Japan Airlines flights show more Business Class than First Class award space. The best route is probably San Francisco to Tokyo-Haneda, which has award space two days in First Class the first week of March and one day in Business Class. I found award space on every route I searched, though, so with flexibility, you can fly Japan Airlines Business Class or First Class with American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 6.03.11 PM
First Class Award Space San Francisco to Tokyo on Award Nexus (Searching BA.com)
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 6.03.18 PM
Business Class Award Space San Francisco to Tokyo on Award Nexus (Searching BA.com)

To Asia 2, you can route via Asia 1. That means you can fly any of the transpacific flights above and connect on intra-Asia flights to Southeast Asia. Or you can fly directly to Asia 2 on American, Hawaiian, and Cathay Pacific.

I’m going to focus on Cathay Pacific’s award space “rules” because it has one of the nicest Business and First Class products in the world and the most consistent award space.

Cathay Pacific Routes

Cathay Pacific has eight current North American destinations. All routes offer First Class except Newark and Toronto, which top out at Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.35.03 AM

 

Cathay Pacific Business Class Award Space Rule

Cathay Pacific opens up 2 Business Class award seats on a ton of flights when the schedule opens 11 months in advance. I ran a search 11 months from now on the following routes:

  • Boston, New York, and San Francisco to Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong to Los Angeles and Chicago

Over the seven day period I searched (June 12-18, 2016), all the routes had multiple flights with 2 Business Class award seats except San Francisco to Hong Kong, which had one.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.21.36 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.21.45 PM

Many days had multiple flights with award space.

To get Cathay Pacific Business Class award space, try to book 11 months in advance. Space gets worse from that point, though it does reappear in the last few days before departure.

Cathay Pacific First Class Award Space Rule

Some Cathay Pacific First Class award space is available throughout the schedule but not a ton.

Within 36 hours of departure though, Cathay Pacific releases all but one unsold First Class seat on every flight. This usually translates to 1-4 more seats on almost every flight.

The following screen shots come from November. The snow storm on the East Coast today is messing up Cathay Pacific First Class award space.

Here are tomorrow’s flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. The far right column shows that the flights have 0, 4, 1, and 0 First Class seats respectively.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.27.18 PM Here are tomorrow’s flights from New York to Hong Kong with 0, 0, 2, and 0 First Class award seats respectively.Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 8.29.28 PM

 

 

Seven of the eight flights shown have at least 2 Business Class award seats.

 

If you can wait until the last 48 hours, your chance of booking Cathay Pacific’s mind-boggling First Class is very good, and if you can’t, you can probably book Business. Review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

Just because you want Cathay Pacific First Class doesn’t mean you want the stress of not having any flights booked until 48 hours before departure. That’s not what I’m recommending.

American Airlines does not charge a change fee to “upgrade” an award reservation, so a great strategy is to book two Business Class seats on Cathay Pacific when the schedule opens and then change the award to First Class in the last two days. This would cost 55,000 miles each way per person when first booked and 12,500 more miles per person at the time of the change. And if the plan fails, your consolation prize is Cathay Pacific Business Class–hardly a loss.

Beyond Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific and its affiliate Dragonair–both bookable with AA miles, both searchable on ba.com–offer excellent award space from Hong Kong throughout China and Southeast Asia.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are by far the strongest miles to East and Southeast Asia. First, American charges way fewer miles than its competitors–as low as 25,000 miles one way to Japan and Korea and only 67,500 miles in First Class to Southeast Asia. Second, American partners with very nice products on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

Cathay Pacific award space, which is useful to China and south, is widely available in Business Class 11 months out and First Class 36 hours out.

Japan Airlines Business Class award space is available on all its routes if you have date flexibility.

Hawaiian Airlines Business Class is widely available if you don’t mind routing through Hawaii.

American’s own flights have good economy award space, but Business and First Class are rarely available.

To fly to Asia 1 (Japan, Korea, Mongolia) on a single award, you must fly directly there from North America without connecting in any other region. To fly to Asia 2 (China and Southeast Asia) on a single award, you must fly directly there or connect in Asia 1. You cannot connect in Europe or the Middle East on a single American Airlines award to East or Southeast Asia from the United States.

Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

LAN Airlines, the flag carrier of Chile, has daily flights from Santiago to Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui and Isla de Pascua. That route makes sense to connect Easter Island to its capital city.

What makes far less sense is the weekly flight from Easter Island another five hours west to Tahiti. There’s also usually a summer seasonal (our winter) route from Lima to Easter Island, though it hasn’t been announced for 2015/2016.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.18.53 AM

LAN is a member of a oneworld, so you can use American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios to book the flights. These flights can be a creative use of either type of miles. For instance, with American Airlines miles, you could take a trip like this to South America, Easter Island, Tahiti, and Hawaii.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 3.40.08 AM

The Routes

Santiago to Easter Island is daily.

Easter Island to Tahiti operates on Mondays with the return flight on Tuesdays. It doesn’t appear to operate every Monday, but I don’t discern a seasonal pattern. You can check LAN’s timetable one week at a time to see when the flight operates.

Lima to Easter Island has been seasonal during our winter (their summer.) It is not yet on the schedule for our 2015/2016 winter, but I also don’t see any announcements that the route has been discontinued, so I think it will appear.

Award Price

Different miles, different price.

American Airlines Miles

American Airlines considers Tahiti and Easter Island to both be part of the South Pacific.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.04.32 AM

That makes tickets from Lima or Santiago to Easter Island outrageously expensive with American Airlines miles.

Between Santiago (or anywhere else in Southern South America) and Easter Island one way:

  • 37,500 AA miles in economy
  • 50,000 AA miles in Business
  • LAN doesn’t have First Class

Between Lima (or anywhere else in Northern South America) and Easter Island one way:

  • 40,000 AA miles in economy
  • 65,000 AA miles in Business
  • LAN doesn’t have First Class

Easter Island and Tahiti are in the same region, so award prices are much more reasonable one way:

  • 20,000 AA miles in economy
  • 30,000 AA miles in Business
  • LAN doesn’t have First Class
BA Avios

Avios awards are distance-based, and all three segments discussed in this post are between 2,000 and 3,000 miles flown, which means they cost one way:

  • 12,500 Avios in economy
  • 37,500 Avios in Business
Other Interesting Routes

Tahiti to Bora Bora:

  • Miles cannot be used on the route. Purchase with cash or points that can be used like cash for airline tickets–like Arrival miles or ThankYou Points.

Tahiti to Honolulu:

  • 27.5k/47.5k Hawaiian Miles one way in Hawaiian economy/First.
  • 37.5k/62.5k American Airlines miles one way in Hawaiian economy/First
Bottom Line on Which Miles to Use

There are no fuel surcharges on any of these routes, and taxes and fees are the same no matter which miles you use.

  • Use Avios between South America and Easter Island. Also use Avios in economy between Easter Island and Tahiti
  • Use American Airlines miles to fly LAN Business between Easter Island and Tahiti.
  • Use Hawaiian miles between Tahiti and Hawaii.

Award Space on LAN

You can search LAN award space on ba.com. Since you basically have to search one day at a time, make sure a flight is operating before you bother searching that day for award space. Here is how to search ba.com.

I found decent award space for one passenger between Santiago and Easter Island. Business Class costs 37,500 Avios + $11.
Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.06.37 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.06.42 AM

Some days have as many as seven award seats in each cabin.Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.07.26 AM Some days also have “First Class” award space listed. There is no LAN First Class, and if you try to select that space, you get an error.

Economy awards from Santiago to Easter Island cost 12,500 Avios + $11 or 4,000 Avios + $87, which is a better deal and ridiculously cheap. (Learn more about Cash & Avios awards.)Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.07.43 AMWhen Easter Island to Tahiti is operating, award space is good in economy.
Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.10.26 AM

It prices slightly higher because of taxes, but you can still book one of the most interesting routes in the world for an astounding 4,000 Avios + $106. (Why my BA account is in euros.)Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.19.20 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 3.19.24 AM

 

Getting Avios, American Airlines Miles, and Hawaiian Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

The British Airways Visa offers 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months. You can also transfer Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards 1:1 to Avios.

The Hawaiian Airlines MasterCard offers 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. You can also transfer Membership Rewards 1:1 to Hawaiian Miles.

Bottom Line

LAN flies some interesting routes in the South Pacific from Easter Island to Tahiti, Santiago, and Lima. Award space is searchable on ba.com and bookable with Avios and American Airlines miles.

Hawaiian Airlines flies Tahiti to Honolulu if you don’t want to backtrack.

All the necessary miles are easy to get with credit card bonuses from 35,000 to 75,000 miles.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Starting September 1, 2015, you can no longer use your American Airlines miles to book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland United States and Hawaii.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.32.30 PM

You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly inter-island flights on Hawaiian and to fly to Hawaiian’s destinations in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights.

How Big of a Loss for AAdvantage Miles is Losing Hawaiian Flights to Hawaii?

I’d categorize this as a minor loss. Hawaiian has a nice route network to the west coast, but so do Alaska, American, and US Airways. All this cities will still have direct flights to Honolulu that you can book with American Airlines miles after September 1. (Of course, if you only want the direct flight, book it with Avios not American Airlines miles to save 5k to 10k miles each way.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.40.40 PM

The big losses are Hawaiian’s flights from Las Vegas and New York-JFK to Honolulu. If you live in Las Vegas, substitute with cheap cash fares on Allegiant and consider upgrading to its First-Class-sized Giant Seat. If you live in New York, you can fly United’s direct flight from Newark to Honolulu, which features a flat bed in First Class (trip report), and costs only 30,000 Singapore miles one way.

It’s not like Hawaiian offers great award space from New York to Honolulu any way. There’s a smattering of days with economy award space for two on the route, but no days with First Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.34.17 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 11.44.45 PMHawaiian First Class is a little bit nicer than American, US Airways, or Alaska First Class on their mainland routes (Trip Report: Hawaiian Airlines First Class from Honolulu to Las Vegas), but losing the ability to book it on mainland flights isn’t huge.

If you want to book Hawaiian Airlines award space between the mainland and Hawaii with your American Airlines miles, you can do that through August 31, 2015 at which point flights will be bookable through July 2016. American charges:

  • 17.5k miles each way in economy during off peak dates
  • 22.5k miles each way in economy during peak dates
  • 37.5k miles each way in First Class

Even after September 1, American miles will remain a valuable currency to Hawaii for the award space on American, Alaska, and US Airways flights.

Flights You Can Still Book with American Airlines Miles After September 1

Interisland

Hawaiian Airlines and subsidiary Ohana have an extensive intra-Hawaii route network that you can book for 5,000 miles one way.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.10.00 AM

Generally I pay for interisland flights with cash as they’re often about $80, which I think is a better deal than 5,000 American Airlines miles + $5.60, but if flights are expensive when you want to travel, this can be a good deal.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.11.45 AM

Hawaii to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.10.18 AM

Hawaiian flies from Honolulu to:

  • Japan: Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka-Kansai, Sapporo, Sendai (ends 9/30)
  • China: Beijing
  • Australia: Sydney, Brisbane
  • New Zealand: Auckland
  • South Korea: Seoul
  • Tahiti: Papeete
  • American Samoa: Pago Pago

Australia and New Zealand could be useful destinations with American Airlines miles. Sometimes the only premium cabin awards to Australia and New Zealand are bookable in Hawaiian First Class for 62,500 miles one way because Qantas releases very little space on its American flights in Business and First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.14.50 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 3.14.57 AM

Bottom Line

If you want to book Hawaiian Airlines flights to Hawaii with American Airlines miles, do it now.

  • Starting September 1, 2015, you can no longer use your American Airlines miles to book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland United States and Hawaii.
  • You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly inter-island flights on Hawaiian and to fly to Hawaiian’s destinations in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • You will still be able to use American Airlines miles to fly to Hawaii on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines flights.
  • You can also book Hawaiian Airlines flights with Hawaiian miles, a transfer partner of Membership Rewards and Starpoints

Hat Tip The Forward Cabin

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

23

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

I often use the ITA Software Matrix, which is one of the most useful tools to search for available flights and low fares.

First, go to matrix.itasoftware.com.

Type in your home airport and destination airport. You can use airport codes like JFK (New York-JFK) or even city codes like NYC (which includes JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.)

For this example, let’s look at JFK to Honolulu.

ITA Matrix is awesome, in that you can type in all kinds of commands like which airline you want to fly. In the example above I wrote HA into the boxes, which means ITA Matrix will only return Hawaiian Airlines results. I did that because Hawaiian has a direct flight from JFK to Honolulu. If you leave that blank, all airlines will be returned.

After the cities, you can search the standard way by typing in departure and return dates or the way I prefer. I prefer to search certain length trips one month at a time for the lowest fares by selecting “See calendar of lowest fares.” I’ve asked the ITA Matrix to search for 3-8 night itineraries leaving in the month of January.

After you click “Search” you will be taken to a calendar displaying the lowest fare departing each day. You can ignore fares in light blue (though $447 is still a great price). You are targeting the cheapest days, which are in bold orange.

Clicking on a particular date will bring up the lowest prices departing on that date and returning 3-8 days later. Once you have found a comfortable length of time, click to display the flight.

Unfortunately the ITA Matrix is only for finding airfares. You don’t have the ability to book directly through this site. Write down the dates and flight numbers that work for you, and book directly through the airline site or online travel agency you prefer.

I use ITA Matrix because a quick one-minute search can show me a month at a time on a specific airline or all airlines. Then I can go the airline’s site, select seats, and purchase easily.

Best Card to Purchase Airfare?

Instead of using cash, you can use credit card points to book free flights. Buy the cheapest flights you find on ITA Matrix with credit card points you got for free for opening a card and meeting its minimum spending requirement.

The best one is the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which has a sign up bonus worth $625 in free flights on any airline with no blackouts.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 7.36.03 PM

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to Australia and New Zealand. American Airlines has incredible economy award space to Australia and New Zealand and access to some of the best First Class space in the world that flies down under.

Fireworks in Sydney over NYE. Source:
Fireworks in Sydney over NYE. Source:

What You’re Reading

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, please use my link. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“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 will be covered in a future post. Here are all the places in the South Pacific:

  • Australia
  • Easter Island
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Republic of Tonga
  • Republic of Vanuatu
  • American Samoa
  • Samoa

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:

  • 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 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 the Australia and New Zealand, American Airlines charges:

  • 37,500 miles one way in economy
  • 62,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • 72,500 miles one way in First Class

Compared to competitors, American charges much cheaper prices!

United charges 40k/70k/80k on its own planes and much more if you use partners. Delta charges 50k/80k/(First Class not bookable with Delta miles) for Australia.

Routes & Award Space

Qantas flies from:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne
  • Dallas 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
Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.02.42 PM
AA partner routes to Aus/NZ. Source: gcmap.com

The Hawaiian Airlines routes have uniformly excellent availability in economy for two passengers. You can connect to Honolulu with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, US Airways, or Hawaiian Airlines flights for zero extra miles.

Hawaiian has two-cabin planes with economy and First Class. American prices Hawaiian First Class at the Business Class price, which is fair since it is just a large recliner seat with a lot of legroom, not any sort of bed. I flew in Hawaiian First Class from Honolulu to Los Angeles. Here is the trip report.

Honolulu to Auckland runs three days a week. There is space almost every flights for two passengers in economy, though Business Class space is rare for two passengers.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.05.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.05.34 PM

Honolulu to Brisbane runs four days a week. There is economy space for two almost every flight. Again, Business Class space is far rarer.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.06.07 PM

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.06.13 PM

Honolulu to Sydney runs daily and award space is excellent for two passengers in economy.Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.06.38 PM

Business Class space is also most common on the Honolulu to Sydney route.Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.07.02 PM

Qantas runs three-cabin planes with economy, Business (trip report), and First. Economy award space for two passengers is excellent 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.

Los Angeles to Sydney typifies the excellent award space on Qantas flights in economy for two passengers.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.21.25 AM

It has award space nearly every day until it has multi-week periods with no award space like June 26 to July 20 on the Los Angeles to Sydney flight.Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.35.07 AM

First Class award space is super rare. Here are two seats–one per day–on October 11 and 18 from Dallas to Sydney.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 1.37.44 AM

Jump on the space because Qantas First Class looks awesome!

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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.

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For only 60,000 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 for 60,000 Miles.

Bottom Line

American Airlines are fantastic to get to Australia and New Zealand in economy. There is some premium cabin award space–but not much–if you are flying alone or don’t mind connecting in Hawaii.

(The best miles to Australia and New Zealand in Business Class nonstop are Delta miles flying Virgin Australia. There is award space for five people in Business Class on Virgin Australia flights even at peak times.)

Awards to Australia are cheap, especially in Business and First Class if you can snag those rare seats.

Right now the personal and business American Airlines cards are each offering 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Update on 9/23/14 to Remove Reference to American Airlines award stopovers and free one ways, which are no longer possible.

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to visit, and judging by the number of inquiries I get about booking awards to Hawaii, it’s clear that many people agree. There are a number of cheap ways to get there that I’ll list in order.

1. Allegiant Air $358+ roundtrip– Allegiant Air is a super-low cost carrier that announced flights to Hawaii that will start in November. Flights to Honolulu from Bellingham, Eugene, Fresno, Las Vegas, Monterey, Santa Maria, and Stockton; and flights to Kahului from Bellingham begin in November. The flights are as cheap as $308 roundtrip, but a carryon will cost $50 roundtrip and a checked bag is $70 roundtrip. Additionally if you want to select your seat or board early, you have to pay extra.

But if you live in one of the cities serviced by Allegiant, don’t mind a middle seat for five hours, and can travel with only one bag, $358 roundtrip to Hawaii is the best deal in my opinion.

One key caveat is that Allegiant flights don’t earn any frequent flier miles or credit of any kind. Since normally flying from the west coast to Hawaii earns about 5,000 miles, and I value 5,000 miles at around $85 depending on the carrier, Allegiant flights must be $85 or more cheaper than the legacy carriers for this to be a good deal. Since the legacy carriers want $600+ from the west coast to Hawaii right now, Allegiant easily meets the criterion.

You can always pay for your Allegiant flights, bag fees, seat fees, and food with a Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®. Then you can redeem Arrival miles to remove those purchases from your statement. You could even use your Arrival miles for an airbnb stay in Hawaii or interisland flights.

2. Avios Award 25,000+ Avios and $11+ roundtrip– I love that Avios is a distance-based award chart. Flights like the west coast to Hawaii cost only 12,500 Avios each way plus taxes. For 25,000 Avios and $11, you can fly on AA planes from LAX to the four major Hawaiian airports.

Alaska Airlines has way more gateways on the mainland to the four major Hawaiian airports. For 25,000 Avios and $36, you can fly from Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, and Seattle to Hawaii. The extra $25 on Avios awards comes from the fact that awards on Alaska Airlines can’t be booked on ba.com, and calling BA incurs a $25 phone fee.

Avios is also the best option for anyone who lives close to one of the airports mentioned in this section, since a short hop flight only adds 4,500 Avios and $2.50 to the price each way. That means Tuscon to Los Angeles to Lihue roundtrip would be 34,000 Avios and $16.

Avios can be used for oneway awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, it’s still a good idea to go oneway for 12,500 Avios and use another oneway deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a oneway award from Honolulu to LAX with Avios.

3. Hawaiian Airlines Award 35,000 miles and $11– Hawaiian Airlines awards start at 35,000 miles for Hawaiian Airlines branded card holders. The normal price is 40,000 miles. While this price is no cheaper than an American Airlines off peak award to Hawaii, I think it’s a better deal because Hawaiian Airlines miles are worth less than most programs’ miles. (The reason Hawaiian miles are worth less is their lack of partners, junk long haul first class product, and lack of destinations.)

Hawaiian also has the only direct flight from Honolulu to JFK, which at 35,000 miles and $5 is a fantastic value in terms of low cost and getting a direct flight. The other flights Hawaiian operates from Honolulu to the mainland go to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Hawaiian miles can be used for oneway awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, this can be combined with a oneway Avios deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a oneway award from LAX to Honolulu with Hawaiian miles. The post also includes information on the very useful mile pooling allowed by Hawaiian.

4. Star Alliance options from as little as 35,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 60,000 miles in First.

See this post.

 

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There is a 20% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to Hawaiian Airlines miles until June 23, 2014.

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This can be a good way to top up your Hawaiian Miles balance if you’ve recently gotten The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® with 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

  • Is this a good deal?
  • What is the fee to transfer Membership Rewards to Hawaiian Miles?
  • What are the best deals with Hawaiian Miles?

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Saturday night I had the pleasure of flying Hawaiian Airlines First Class from Honolulu to Las Vegas.

I had an internet outage at home that day, so I headed to the airport about four hours early to try to get some work done on more reliable wifi.

Hawaiian Airlines has the largest check in area of any airline at Honolulu International Airport. When I arrived, I didn’t immediately see a First Class check in area, so I just used a kiosk to print my boarding pass.

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I did see a First Class and Premier check in right after that, and I went over to ask whether my ticket entitled me to lounge access.

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The agent’s answer was hilarious and prophetic: “Yes, but it’s more of a glorified waiting area.”

  • How was the lounge?
  • How was the flight?
  • How was the service?
  • How was the food?

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Anatomy of an Award posts highlight real awards I’ve booked to show you the techniques needed to book your dream trip.

I recently made a last-second decision to head to Las Vegas and Phoenix for three days for a mix of work and pleasure.

I planned and booked the trip in 10 minutes with miles and points, saving myself $1,500 in the process and getting to fly First Class on one long flight. The cost? Only 40,000 Hawaiian Miles, 8,500 British Airways Avios, and $102.50.

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When you need to make a last minute trip for a family or work emergency or when you want to take a last minute trip for spontaneous adventure, having balances with the right types of miles is key.

  • When I decided to travel to Phoenix and Las Vegas, what miles did I immediately think to use?
  • How did I find my direct flight options?
  • Which airlines charge a booking fee for last-minute awards and which don’t?
  • How did I search for award space?
  • How did I book my awards?

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I know a lot of people with around 5,000 Hawaiian miles. Until recently, I was one of them. That’s about what you’d have if you’ve flown one paid roundtrip on Hawaiian Airlines.

For a lot of people, those miles are headed to an unused expiration.

But if you have The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®, you can receive miles from other Hawaiian Miles accounts for free through the online share miles promotion. So get the Hawaiian card and relieve your friends of their orphaned miles.

Or combine all your Hawaiian Miles into one account before making a booking for you and travel companions.

  • How does the Hawaiian Share Miles work?
  • Who can send and receive Hawaiian Miles?
  • How can you use it to make family bookings easier?

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A teenager hopped a fence at San Jose Airport (SJC), climbed into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines 767 and survived almost six hours at heights up to 38,000 feet on his way to Maui (OGG).

He was apparently unharmed and released by the FBI after they realized he wasn’t a security threat. Although another article I read quoted a doctor saying it is “more likely than not” that the boy suffered permanent brain damage during the flight.

CNN even included a video showing you exactly how to get into a 767’s wheel well.

I don’t recommend copying this teen’s free flight to Hawaii. There are a ton of cheap ways to get to the islands without having to stowaway.

What are the cheapest awards to Hawaii? Trust me that you probably aren’t aware of all of the cheapest options because they often require easy-to-obtain foreign miles.

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The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® comes with 35,000 bonus Hawaiian Miles after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days. That’s enough bonus miles for a roundtrip on Hawaiian Airlines from the mainland to anywhere in Hawaii.

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The six main reasons I love this offer:

  1. Hawaiian Airlines has amazing award availability from the western United States to all the major Hawaiian islands.
  2. Cardholders receive a discount on Hawaiian Airlines awards, so instead of paying 20k miles each way between the mainland and Hawaii, cardholders pay only 17,500 miles each way. That means the sign up bonus is enough for a free roundtrip to Hawaii.
  3. Cardholders can receive miles freely from other Hawaiian Miles accounts, so combining miles is easy.
  4. One way awards are bookable for half the price of roundtrips, which adds tons of flexibility and chances for island hopping.
  5. Hawaiian Airlines is my favorite airline to fly between the mainland and Hawaii in economy.
  6. You get a free checked bag on Hawaiian Airlines flights purchased with the Hawaiian Airlines card. That’s $50 off if you want to fly to Hawaii with your golf clubs.

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® is a new product just released this month by Barclaycard. Even if you had a Hawaiian Airlines card from Bank of America or Bank of Hawaii, this is a new card. If you’ve canceled those cards, this one should be available to you with full bonus.

  • Why is Hawaiian my favorite carrier between the mainland and Hawaii?
  • How good is Hawaiian’s award space?
  • How would I maximize a Hawaiian Airlines award to my home state?
  • How does the free Share Miles program?

The Experience

Flying Hawaiian between the mainland and Hawaii is nicer than flying other carriers.

All of Hawaiian’s flights to the mainland are on 767s and A330s, which are widebody planes that feel less cramped than the narrow planes that Delta, American, and United mostly fly to Hawaii.

Hawaiian offers a free pasta meal in economy with a free glass of wine.

Free meal and (paid) personal video monitor on my last Hawaiian flight.

And the flight attendants sure seem friendlier to me, giving you an early taste of the aloha spirit before you even get to Hawaii.

The Award Space Picture

All the routes I checked had great award space in economy at the Saver level as long as you look at the right time of year. This even includes Hawaiian’s 10+ hour flights between New York-JFK and Honolulu.

All the calendar’s below show the cheapest award price for one person on the indicated route. Remember, though, that when the calendar says 20k, folks with The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® will pay only 17,500 miles each way.

Las Vegas (the 9th Hawaiian Island) <-> Honolulu, October 2014Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 3.19.03 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 3.19.09 PM

San Jose <-> Honolulu, September 2014

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Phoenix <-> Honolulu, October 2014Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 3.23.50 PM

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Los Angeles <-> Lihue (Kauai), September 2014

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New York <-> Honolulu, January 2015

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It costs no extra miles if you need a connecting flight in the islands (and only $2.50 extra in taxes.) Los Angeles to Lihue via Honolulu is still only 20k miles each way or 17,500 miles each way for cardholders.

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Most airline programs will only let you share miles between accounts for a steep fee of 1 cent or more per mile. That means that sharing miles kills most of their value.

But Hawaiian allows free transfers TO (not FROM) the Hawaiian Miles account of holders of The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®.

I used this perk when I had another version of this card that was issued by Bank of America. Being able to pool Hawaiian Miles in one account makes family redemptions or First Class redemptions if you’re short a few miles quite a bit easier.

Don’t forget that Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Hawaiian Miles and Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Hawaiian Miles with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20k Starpoints transferred.

My Strategy

Hawaii is made for island hopping. For all the similarities between the islands, there are big differences and unique things to do on each island. I would book an open jaw that flew from the mainland to one island and home from a different island.

Then I’d hop between the islands on cash tickets (usually about $80 per segment), with Arrival miles, or with 6k United miles on Hawaiian flights if cash prices are high.

Also see my review of the Andaz Maui at Wailea.

Full Offer

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® with enough bonus miles for a roundtrip award to Hawaii!

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

There is:

  • widely available
  • underpriced
  • economy award space
  • for two passengers
  • for all of 2014
  • to Australia
  • with the opportunity to stop in Hawaii for a few days in either direction.

If you have 75,000 American Airlines miles and about $100, you can fly a roundtrip award from the United States to Australia on almost any day you want this year. Stop in Honolulu, stop in Los Angeles, or stop in each place one direction to make the trip even more interesting!

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How can you book this incredible award space online? What are your stopover options?

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Wyndham is giving away one million United miles as four 250k mile prizes. Sign up is easy.

You can earn 1k to 10k Virgin Atlantic miles for referring people to the program. This is especially valuable since 13k Virgin Atlantic miles is enough for a one way flight from New York to London.

Membership Rewards is offering a 20% bonus on transfers to Hawaiian miles through June 27.

Points Hound has a 100k Hawaiian Miles giveaway running through June 21.

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