Qantas is refurbishing its A330s with “fully flat beds in business class.” Right now the A330s serve the following routes.

  • Sydney-Melbourne
  • Sydney-Brisbane
  • Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Perth
  • Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Singapore
  • Melbourne/Brisbane to Hong Kong
  • Sydney-Bangkok
  • Sydney-Jakarta
  • Sydney-Manila
  • Sydney-Honolulu
  • Sydney-Shanghai

I have medium hopes for the new beds, which will roll out starting in December 2014. The reason I am not more excited is that the picture accompanying the press release looks to me like an angled lie flat beds, not fully flat beds.

A330-Business-Suite-Fully-Flat-1024x756This jives with my experience in business class on the Qantas A380. I was expecting fully flat, but I got a small and uncomfortable angle.

Still these new beds can be great news for anyone flying between Hawaii and Australia, Asia and Australia, or within Australia.

  • More info about the new beds
  • Which miles to book the new beds
  • The award space picture

Recently a friend came to me with an award request along the lines of what I have done for hundreds of clients of the MileValue Award Booking Service.

He wanted to visit Sydney during its summer and Hong Kong on the same trip. He wanted to fly in some of the world’s nicest airline products. And he wanted to maximize his weekends because he could only budget seven vacation days for the trip.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 3.40.00 AM

Through several rounds of Free Credit Card Consultations, he had built impressive six-figure balances with United, American, Delta, US Airways, and Ultimate Rewards.

I suggested that we use his US Airways miles now–before they are devalued next year–to get him into Cathay Pacific First Class and Qantas First Class, two of the world’s nicest First Classes. I helped book him an 11 day trip that uses only seven vacation days, gives him time in each city, and costs only 140k miles roundtrip.

He had gotten all of his US Airways miles from The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, which currently offers 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase.

  • How did I know that using US Airways miles would be the best value?
  • How did I search for the very rare Qantas First Class space on an A380 between the United States and Australia?
  • How did I search for Cathay Pacific First Class?
  • With what routing rules did I have to comply?
  • What were his options for a free oneway?
  • How exactly did I book the award?

Qantas will operate its daily flight from Dallas to Sydney with an A380 starting October 1, 2014. This is a large increase in capacity from the current 747 on the route.

The Dallas to Sydney flight will be the longest A380 flight in the world at 16hr55min, so it’s not one I’d be eager to fly in coach.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 1.45.12 AM

The route is in addition to the A380 flights Qantas operates from Los Angeles to Sydney and Melbourne. I flew Melbourne to Los Angeles in Business Class on the A380 last year.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 1.26.22 AM
Business Class on the A380
  • How is award space from Dallas to Sydney in Economy, Business, and First Classes?
  • Is it better to book the flights with American Airlines, US Airways, or British Airways miles?

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!

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 3.00.02 AM

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

I nabbed a scarce First Class award from Australia to Los Angeles on Qantas during peak travel season and added a first class segment on American’s new Airbus A321T from Los Angeles to New York-JFK, both in fully flat beds.

I’m incredibly excited to try out another First Class product on the Airbus A380, especially after my great experience on a Thai flight from Paris to Bangkok.

Qantas A380

Relative to other Anatomy of Award posts, this one was simple to construct and even easier to book online. However, Qantas premium cabin award space isn’t widely available. You have to find the rare space and plan your hotel reservations around it, not the other way around. That’s one of the eight tenets of Highly Effective Award Bookers, after all.

How do you nab this tough to find award space? Can you add a stopover on a one way AAdvantage award? How am I getting to Australia?

This is the eighteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using BA.com to Search for Awards.

Using qantas.com for award searches can help you get maximum value from your American Airlines miles. American partners with the oneworld alliance and several non-oneworld partners. Unfortunately oneworld award space searching is fragmented, and I use aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.

I’ve described how to use aa.com and ba.com for award searches:

Now I’ll explain how and when to use qantas.com.

10 108

Last week, I reviewed Qantas Business Class on the A380 and lamented not getting into First Class on my trip to Australia.

I’m not one for empty laments, so let me show you how to get into Qantas First Class on its A380–which is one of the coolest things you can do with your American Airlines miles.

I’ll break down which routes have the best award space, and what your cheapest option is to test out the product.

38 293

I’m not sure how this trip report slipped through the cracks. In January, I flew Qantas Business Class on an A380 from Melbourne to Los Angeles. I wrote the trip report then but never posted it. Fly along with me on the world’s biggest jumbo jet.

Qantas 93
Melbourne (MEL) – Los Angles (LAX)
Depart: 11:20 AM on Wednesday, January 23
Arrive: 6:45 AM on Wednesday, January 23
Duration: 14:25
Aircraft: A380-800
Seat: 17A (Business Class)

I had booked my Qantas flight 331 days in advance when it became bookable with American Airlines miles. In the intervening 11 months, anticipation had built, so I was ecstatic when flight day came.

Why was the flight a huge disappointment?

Breakfast at the Business Class Lounge

Seating in the Qantas Business Class Lounge
Business Class Seats at Boarding

Get ready for tons of pictures.

Yesterday’s post about the Coolest Thing to Do with 130k and 280k American Airlines Miles got me to look at the American Airlines’ chart again for value. I found what I think are the Five Best Values in premium cabins.

These values combine low miles, low taxes and fees, and the very best products from among American’s partners. How does First Class on Etihad or British Airways for 40k miles sound?

A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on The Coolest Thing You Can Do with 57.5k United Miles and 10k Avios, which arose from daydreaming about booking myself more award trips.

The last few days I’ve worked myself into a frenzy planning an incredible-value American Airlines Explorer Award around the world in business class for 130k American Airlines miles and the most opulent Explorer Award possible for 280k miles.

This is the twenty-second post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Searching BA.com to Redeem American Airlines Miles.

Using qantas.com for award searches can help you get maximum value from your American Airlines miles. American partners with the oneworld alliance and several non-oneworld partners. Unfortunately oneworld award space searching is fragmented, and I use aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.

I’ve described how to use aa.com and ba.com for award searches:

Now I’ll explain how to use qantas.com.

Qantas shows award availability for airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, and LAN. It also shows Qantas availability, but not the same availability that AA has access to, so I use aa.com to search Qantas availability.

To search Qantas, sign up for an account or sign into yours on qantas.com.au.

Once signed in, an award search box is on the next screen. Make sure to select the award search tab.

Leave the default option “Qantas and Partner Classic Award” selected. Type in your cities and choose Return or Oneway. I like to select “Flexible with dates.” The calendar it brings up is quite handy:

Red seats mean there is economy space. Purple means business class space. If you want to change what classes of service are displayed, manipulate the check boxes above the calendar.

If you’re planning on using American miles, you shouldn’t check Premium Economy because that option is not available with American miles.

If you hold your cursor over a specific date, a yellow box will pop up telling the shortest award available that day, listing its duration and number of stops. That’s a handy way to sort by nonstop or other specific routings.

If you want to see the exact options on a specific date, select that date and click the Select Flight button. For instance, here are the flights available from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on December 24.

Ignore the part at the bottom that say it would cost 104k points for this flight. If you are using American miles, you should use qantas.com.au for searches, but you should determine the price from the AA partner award chart, which prices LAX-HKG in business at 55k miles each way.

Occasionally an itinerary has an exclamation point above where you select the cabin.

Holding your cursor over the exclamation point tells you which flights are serviced by a cabin worse than the one listed. In the example above, Buenos Aires to New York is first class, but New York to Los Angeles is only business class.

What I like about searching at qantas.com is that it has great coverage of oneworld, has an easy-to-navigate calendar, and shows logical connections. But there are some drawbacks.

1. Qantas.com doesn’t show all oneworld members. Amman isn’t a city on the dropdown menu of “From” cities, so good luck finding Royal Jordanian space.

ba.com does show Royal Jordanian flights.

Qantas also doesn’t list S7′s hub of Moscow-DME–qantas.com shows Moscow-SVO–so you should search S7 space on ba.com too.

I also couldn’t find JAL space on qantas.com.au, but JAL space does display on ba.com.

Qantas hasn’t yet added Malaysia Airlines to its search engine either as ba.com has.

2. The dropdown menu for the “From” city doesn’t list all options. For instance, Tampa is not listed on the dropdown menu.

So if you want to search from an unlisted city, like Tampa to Hong Kong roundtrip, you would have two options.

The first option would be to search Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and New York to Hong Kong since AA has flights from Tampa to those cities according to wikipedia.

Then you could go to aa.com and look for domestic space.

The second option is probably a little quicker. You can search Hong Kong to Tampa oneway to find the return. And you can search Hong Kong to Tampa roundtrip to find the outbound by narrowing in on the “return” results for your backward search.

Although you can’t search TPA-HKG, you can search HKG-TPA roundtrip, which obviously includes TPA-HKG as one direction.

3. Qantas releases more Qantas award space to its own program. That means Qantas results you see are unreliable. Luckily this problem is moot now since aa.com displays Qantas space in award searches. Search Qantas space on aa.com if you are using AA miles.

4. Qantas.com times out so quickly between searches.

What to do when you find the space

Note the dates, times, flight numbers, and cabins, and call AA at 800-882-8880 if the space is for airlines not bookable at aa.com.

When to Search aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.

I search for awards on aa.com if I can. aa.com displays: American, Alaska, Hawaiian, British, Qantas, Finnair, and airberlin.

If I can’t, I search on qantas.com for Iberia, Cathay Pacific, and LAN.

If I want to search JAL, Malaysia, Royal Jordanian, or S7, I use ba.com.

Continue to Using Delta.com to Redeem Delta Miles.

5 74

Using qantas.com for award searches can help you get maximum value from your American Airlines miles. American partners with the oneworld alliance and several non-oneworld partners. Unfortunately oneworld award space searching is fragmented, and I use aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.

I’ve described how to use aa.com and ba.com for award searches:

Now I’ll explain how to use qantas.com.

Qantas shows award availability for airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, and LAN. It also shows Qantas availability, but not the same availability that AA has access to, so I use aa.com to search Qantas availability.

To search Qantas, sign up for an account or sign into yours on qantas.com.au.

Once signed in, an award search box is on the next screen. Make sure to select the award search tab.

Leave the default option “Qantas and Partner Classic Award” selected. Type in your cities and choose Return or Oneway. I like to select “Flexible with dates.” The calendar it brings up is quite handy:

Red seats mean there is economy space. Purple means business class space. If you want to change what classes of service are displayed, manipulate the check boxes above the calendar.

If you’re planning on using American miles, you shouldn’t check Premium Economy because that option is not available with American miles.

If you hold your cursor over a specific date, a yellow box will pop up telling the shortest award available that day, listing its duration and number of stops. That’s a handy way to sort by nonstop or other specific routings.

If you want to see the exact options on a specific date, select that date and click the Select Flight button. For instance, here are the flights available from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on December 24.

Ignore the part at the bottom that say it would cost 104k points for this flight. If you are using American miles, you should use qantas.com.au for searches, but you should determine the price from the AA partner award chart, which prices LAX-HKG in business at 55k miles each way.

Occasionally an itinerary has an exclamation point above where you select the cabin.

Holding your cursor over the exclamation point tells you which flights are serviced by a cabin worse than the one listed. In the example above, Buenos Aires to New York is first class, but New York to Los Angeles is only business class.

What I like about searching at qantas.com is that it has great coverage of oneworld, has an easy-to-navigate calendar, and shows logical connections. But there are some drawbacks.

1. Qantas.com doesn’t show all oneworld members. Amman isn’t a city on the dropdown menu of “From” cities, so good luck finding Royal Jordanian space.

Ba.com does show Royal Jordanian flights.

Qantas also doesn’t list S7’s hub of Moscow-DME–qantas.com shows Moscow-SVO–so you should search S7 space on ba.com too.

I also couldn’t find JAL space on qantas.com.au, but JAL space does display on ba.com.

2. The dropdown menu for the “From” city doesn’t list all options. For instance, Tampa is not listed on the dropdown menu.

So if you want to search from an unlisted city, like Tampa to Hong Kong roundtrip, you would have two options.

The first option would be to search Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and New York to Hong Kong since AA has flights from Tampa to those cities according to wikipedia.

Then you could go to aa.com and look for domestic space.

The second option is probably a little quicker. You can search Hong Kong to Tampa oneway to find the return. And you can search Hong Kong to Tampa roundtrip to find the outbound by narrowing in on the “return” results for your backward search.

Although you can’t search TPA-HKG, you can search HKG-TPA roundtrip, which obviously includes TPA-HKG as one direction.

3. Qantas releases more Qantas award space to its own program. That means Qantas results you see are unreliable. Luckily this problem is moot now since aa.com displays Qantas space in award searches.

4. Qantas.com times out so quickly between searches. What is this a bank account login that needs to be protected? Ba.com does this too.

What to do when you find the space?

Note the dates, times, flight numbers, and cabins, and call AA at 800-882-8880 if the space is for airlines not bookable at aa.com.

When to use qantas.com, ba.com, and aa.com

I mentioned that you need all three to search oneworld availability easily and well. I have a system for deciding which award search engine to use that I’ll write about tomorrow.

Recap

Qantas.com.au is a valuable search engine for award searches when you want to use your American Airlines miles.

It has some drawbacks, but the ability to search Cathay Pacific and LAN on month-long calendars makes the search engine a part of my arsenal.

Australia and New Zealand are a tough place to get to with miles, especially if you want to go from mid-December through March, which encompasses Christmas, New Year’s, and the Southern Hemisphere’s summer.

Having booked several trips to Australia and New Zealand for myself, family, and others through my Award Booking Service, I’ll share some tips on getting there with American Airlines miles.

Basics

American Airlines allows oneway bookings at half the price of roundtrip awards. From North America to the South Pacific–which is the AA award region that includes Australia and New Zealand–awards cost 37.5k/62.5k/72.5k AA miles each way in economy/business/first class.

American has a slightly below-market price to Australia. United charges 40k/67.5k/80k each way. Delta charges 100k/150k roundtrip in economy and business, and SkyMiles can’t even be redeemed for three-cabin first class.

US Airways has the cheapest price in premium cabins at 80k/110k/140k in economy/business/first roundtrip, but oneway awards aren’t allowed at half price with US Airways miles.

American does not fly to Australia, but several of its partners do including Qantas, the national airline of Australia, which has flights to Honolulu, Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York (tag leg of flight to Los Angeles).

Key partners Qantas and Hawaiian Airlines are searchable on AA.com, making booking some of the routings to Australia a snap.

Qantas: The Gold Standard

If you want the best itinerary with AA miles from the US to Australia–in terms of duration, stops, and airline product–you want to book an award on Qantas.

Qantas has the following Australia <-> USA routes:

Sydney <-> New York-JFK (one stop at LAX)

Sydney <-> Los Angeles

Sydney <-> Dallas

Sydney <-> Honolulu

Melbourne <-> Los Angeles

Brisbane <-> Los Angeles

Some Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles flights are served by a brand new Qantas A380. See this Qantas A380 marketing page if you want to daydream about the experience. The plane features First Class suites, Business Class fully flat beds, and miles of economy class seats.

Sydney <-> Honoloulu is on a 767-300. The plane is only fitted with economy and business classes, and business class passengers get recliner seats.

Jetstar–a Qantas subsidiary–also serves this route with an A330-200. Its business class is the equivalent of domestic first class–pretty rough for a ten-hour flight. AA miles can be used on the Qantas and Jetstar flights from HNL-SYD-HNL.

The other USA <-> Australia flights are served by 747-400s, which have been refurbished to feature the same fully flat business class beds of the A380 with first class removed. My reading of Qantas’s site is that all 747s serving the USA have now been refurbished in this manner.

To search for Qantas space, I recommend using AA.com, since it now displays Qantas space.

AA displays a week-long calendar that you can make month-long by clicking Show Full Calendar. Then, to ensure you are only getting Qantas results, change the drop-down menu to Non-stop only. Choose the desired cabin from the color coded Award Legend, but don’t expect a First Class option. I don’t see any First Class available in the next 11 months between LAX and Sydney for instance.

Even if you don’t live in Los Angeles or Dallas, I recommend finding the transpacific flights on Qantas first, and noting what days have availability. That way when you add a search from your home airport, you’ll know what days are routing you on Qantas and which must be routing you through Hawaii without having to click each date.

In my experience, Qantas releases its business class seats 350 days out to be picked over by its members and BA members. Then AA gets access to the space 330 days out. If you want premium-cabin space on Qantas, that is the time to book. Space gets much worse over time. I don’t see any LAX-SYD space less than nine months out at the moment for instance.

See this Anatomy of an Award post for my saga trying to book a Qantas First Class seat on an A380 with a free oneway tacked on.

Hawaiian: Hawaii and Australia on one Trip

American Airlines awards allow a stopover at the North American International Gateway City–the last airport from which you leave North America or the first at which you arrive in North America. See The Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards for more information.

That means if you route to Australia via Honolulu, you can get a free stopover in Hawaii for as long as you’d like. Or you can get a free stopover in Honolulu if you return via Hawaii.

The other great news is that routing through Hawaii is pretty easy because American has good availability to Hawaii on its own flights and on the flights of its partners–Hawaiian and Alaska. And Hawaiian has fantastic availability from Honolulu onto Sydney.

Plus in the last few weeks, Hawaiian has announced two new services to Oceania:

Honolulu <-> Brisbane, starting 11/27/12 (three times weekly)

Honolulu <-> Auckland, starting 3/13/13 (three times weekly)

I don’t see award space for these new flights yet, but I expect space to be excellent once it’s loaded onto the calendar.

There is one major drawback to flying on Hawaiian to Oceania. Hawaiian’s premium cabin–called First Class, costing business class’s 62.5k miles each way–features recliner seats with 40″ of pitch. That’s basically a domestic first class seat with two extra inches of leg room. For a ten hour flight, many people will find that uncomfortable, and it’s quite inferior to the flat beds that can be had on Qantas’s mainland USA <-> Australia flights.

Qantas’s flight from Honolulu to Sydney features quite a bit more leg room but also has recliners in business class.

If you’re willing to trade an inferior business-class product–or you’re booking an economy award–for a chance to stopover in Hawaii, there are options with AA miles.

See this Anatomy of an Award post for an example of a free stopover in Hawaii en route to Australia. My brother lives in Hawaii, so his was a free oneway, but if you imagine him living in Las Vegas, his stopover in Hawaii would be a perfect example for this section.

Continue to the second half

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