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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

This is the ninth post in one comprehensive guide that tells you everything you need to know about American Airlines miles. Now is the time to write this guide because now is a special time to earn American Airlines miles.

American Airlines and US Airways have merged legally, but they maintain separate frequent flyer programs. The two programs will combine some time between April and June 2015, and your balances in the two programs will be combined as American Airlines miles.

Getting the American Airlines personal card, American Airlines business card, and US Airways personal card now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by mid-2015.

This guide will explain the rules, quirks, tricks, and options for redeeming those 156,000 American Airlines miles all in one place. It might just put my Award Booking Service out of business when it comes to redeeming American Airlines miles.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the credit cards that earn them, please use my links. 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!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.33.16 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

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 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

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Etihad and Qantas both fly their stunning A380s with ultra-luxurious First Classes out of London. You can get on both for only 40,000 American Airlines miles one way, and you can do it while avoiding the big London departure tax.

Etihad First Class on its newest A380 has a couch that seats several people and a separate bed and costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles between London and Abu Dhabi.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

Etihad’s fully enclosed suites are the most spacious in the sky.

Award space is widely available on the A380 between London and Abu Dhabi and from there to the rest of the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and Maldives for zero extra miles.

If you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, which comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, you will even get an automatic 10% rebate on your award, so the final cost is 36,000 miles.

Qantas First Class costs only 40,000 (36,000) American Airlines miles between London and Dubai.

Qantas First Class features an open suite that converts into a bed…

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.25.48 AM

…or a table for two.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.33.16 PM

Qantas First Class is widely available between London and Dubai, Dubai and Sydney, and London and Sydney for low mileage prices.

The problem is that if you fly either of these beauties on an award beginning in London, you’ll pay $273+ in taxes.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.07.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.07.21 AMThe UK charges an arm and a leg to departing passengers (but not to arriving or connecting passengers), and extra if you fly in a premium cabin.

Solution 1: Arrive in London

You can fly these products from Abu Dhabi or Dubai to London and avoid the departure tax in London.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.30.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.30.57 AM

 

But what if you’re going east?

Solution 2: Connect in London

I’m looking at flying something like London to Abu Dhabi in Etiahd First Class on the A380 and Abu Dhabi to Mumbai in Etihad First Class on the 787.

But I don’t want to pay almost $300 in taxes.

If I just start the award anywhere else in Europe and connect in London, I can save a bundle. For instance, starting in Dublin and flying to London drops the taxes $273 to $62. Flying the first leg on British Airways does add in a $40 fuel surcharge, but I’d still come out $170+ ahead.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.06.14 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.06.30 AM

And I could start in other countries and look to fly other partners than British Airways like airberlin or Finnair to lower taxes further and eliminate fuel surcharges.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We also know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time before 2015.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by June.
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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

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I wish Qantas released a ton of Business and First Class between the United States and Australia. Qantas flies directly from Los Angeles to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane plus from Dallas to Sydney. (Qantas also operates a tag flight from Los Angeles to New York that can only be booked as part of a trip to/from Australia.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.25.48 AM
Qantas A380 First Class Open Suite

The flights to Sydney and Melbourne are on A380s.

Beyond the nice product and the convenient schedule to and within Australia, the main reason I wish Qantas released a ton of Business and First Class award space is that Qantas award space can be booked cheaply with American Airlines miles and can be searched on aa.com. American charges:

  • 37,500 American Airlines miles each way in economy
  • 62,500 American Airlines miles each way in Business
  • 72,500 American Airlines miles each way in First

That’s barely more than American charges to go to Europe even though Australia is about twice as far from the United States. Plus American Airlines miles are super easy to get at the moment.

Getting the Miles

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Unfortunately as much as I wish for plentiful Qantas premium awards, the reality is very different.

Award Space Picture

Qantas releases its award space 355 days out. At that point, the space is bookable with Qantas miles and British Airways Avios. Unfortunately, the cost with these types of miles is outrageous.

British Airways charges:

  • 50,000 Avios each way in economy
  • 100,000 Avios each way in Business
  • 150,000 Avios each way in First

Plus taxes plus $390 in fuel surcharges.

Since First Class is more than double the price with Avios compared to AAdvantage miles, obviously you’d want to wait until 330 days out when American Airlines awards become bookable. Unfortunately a lot of the space that is released at 355 days out is gone by 330 days out, never to be replaced.

For instance, this amazing First Class award seat on December 29 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, with possibly connections to Sydney to arrive the morning of the fireworks, will almost certainly not be around in three more weeks to book with American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.33.03 AM

But some space does creep through to American Airlines miles. Specifically here is the space I found 10 hours ago. Note that almost all of it is 320+ days out.

Los Angeles to Sydney

1 Business Class Seat and 0 First Class Seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.03.42 AM

Sydney to Los Angeles

1 Business Class seats and 0 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.03.49 AM

Los Angeles to Melbourne

2 Business Class seats and 1 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.22 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.27 AM

Melbourne to Los Angeles

2 Business Class seats and 1 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.35 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.41 AM

Dallas to Sydney

0 Business and First Class seats in both directions

Los Angeles to Brisbane

Operated by a 747 without First Class, not an A380

The most Business Class space, maybe 4 days in each direction

Update

All those calendars are 10 hours old. The only change I’ve noticed in the interim is that the First Class seat from Los Angeles to Melbourne disappeared, but on the same day a first class seat from Los Angeles to Sydney appeared.Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.21.59 AM

Bottom Lines

  • If you want to fly in a premium cabin to Australia, collect Delta miles to fly Virgin Australia (80,000 miles each way in Business Class.) Full post on Virgin Australia award availability.
  • If you want to fly Qantas Business or First Class to Australia with American Airlines miles, try to book around 330 days out, and be prepared for not much space.
  • If you want to fly Qantas First Class on the A380, try to book it between London and Dubai (40,000 AA miles one way), or London and Sydney (80,000 AA miles one way). Both of these options have a lot more award space than Qantas’ American flights.

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Your miles are as valuable as you are creative. For instance, you can combine two luxurious A380 First Classes onto one American Airlines award.

British Airways flies an A380 daily between Los Angeles and London. Qantas flies an A380 daily from London to Dubai (it continues to Sydney.)

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 8.25.13 PM
from gcmap.com

Although American Airlines has strict rules on transiting one region to get to another, it is ALLOWED to transit Europe on your way to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent region.

Combined the award costs 90,000 American Airlines miles one way.

The drawback is really high taxes and fees, but even here I see a silver lining.

The Products

First Class on the Qantas A380 taunted me with its near emptiness when I flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles in Business Class last year.

Qantas A380 Seat

I saw the British Airways First Class Suites on the A380 up close last year on a trip from Frankfurt to London as British Airways used the short hops to get the crew familiar with the plane.

British Airways A380 First Class Suite

Just Los Angeles to London

Los Angeles to London one way has $480 in taxes and fees, including $452 in fuel surcharges. (American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights.) That totally stinks, but it is tempting for a 10.5 hour flight in First Class on an A380 for only 62,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.24.38 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.24.50 PM

Just Los Angeles to Dubai

Departing London in a premium cabin has massive taxes. London to Dubai has $288 in taxes. That’s why if you only want to go one way for 40,000 American Airlines miles in an awesome First Class between the Middle East and Europe, I recommend flying west into London to avoid those departure taxes.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.24.56 PM

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The Silver Lining

Combine these two flights onto one awards, and you save big on miles and taxes. Instead of 62,500 + 40,000 miles (both of which are a steal), the one way First Class award is 90,000 miles.

Instead of $480 + $288 ($768) in taxes and fees, you pay $530 total. The big savings is because the less-than-24-hour layover in London means you are not considered to originate in the UK, which triggers the nasty taxes we saw from London to Dubai.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.25.07 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.25.13 PM

That’s 17.5 hours in luxury for 90,000 miles and $530. Delta miles can’t even be used for International First Class. United would charge at least 140,000 miles for the same award. When you look at it that way, it starts to get tempting.

Other Options

Scrap the British Airways First Class and save $452. You could fly American Airlines First Class instead, but the product isn’t as nice and award space is harder to find.

From London, you can fly Etihad First Class on its A380 to Abu Dhabi (and beyond) or Qatar Business Class on its A380 to Doha and beyond. I haven’t seen Qatar release First Class award space on the route.

You can continue to anywhere in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives for no extra miles if the airline that connects you from the United States to Europe publishes a fare from your starting city to your final destination. That’s a big “if.” (See Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards for more info on this rule and how to figure out if you comply.)

You can start anywhere in North America and connect to Los Angeles on American Airlines, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines flights, subject to the same “published fare rule.”

I’m Talking Myself Into This Award

I need to get from the United States to Europe in April. I might fly an award like this and spend a few days somewhere in the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent region before returning to Europe. I could sample three A380 First Class products on such a trip–two as outlined in this post and Etihad First Class on the A380 on the return, stay tuned tomorrow–see a region I’ve never seen, and have a few interesting reviews for this blog.

Ninety thousand American Airlines miles is a lot, and $530 is more than I’ve ever laid out for an award, but it’s so tempting.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Getting both cards now and meeting both spending requirements means you will have at least 106,000 American Airlines miles in early 2015.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

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.

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