The cheapest level of Business Class award space on United–that is also the only kind of award space bookable with partner miles–is pretty wide open in the early winter months of Australia’s winter, which is early summer in the United States. May and June 2019 have the most days available, and with a few scattered seats open in April, July, and August. All beds are fully lie-flat.
This is news because it’s not common to see this many Business Class award seats open to Australia, a notoriously hard destination to get to with miles. Act fast if you want seats.
While the award space I isolate in the calendars below is direct between Los Angeles and Sydney, you should be able to add a leg within the United States if you don’t live in LA or a leg within Australia or New Zealand if you don’t want Sydney as destination without changing the award price. There’s more on pricing and what miles to use below the calendars.
LAX > SYD
The following calendars are from united.com and are the results of searching for two travelers, Los Angeles to Sydney direct. Days with a dotted line have two Business Class saver level award seats open, and days with a solid line have two economy saver level seats open.
The first four days of August also have direct United Business Class Saver award space available for two travelers.
SYD > LAX
There’s even more space open on the return. These calendars are the results of searching for two travelers, Sydney to Los Angeles direct.
August 2 and 4 also have direct United Business Class Saver award space available for two travelers.
ANA has a really cheap mileage price of 120,000 roundtrip. The catch is that you must book a roundtrip as a one-way award won’t be allowed. ANA will collect fuel surcharges on flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket, but luckily United does not impose them so there are none for ANA to pass on. If you have 120k Membership Rewards is very much preferable to 160k Ultimate Rewards or United miles (and the same amount of taxes).
You can also transfer Marriott points 3:1 to ANA, which I think would be a great use of them (remember Marriott points used to be SPG points, so if you had SPG points prior to the merger earlier this month your stash was tripled in the conversion…so you could look at it as transferring your SPG points 1:1). The transfer ratio would actually be even better than 3:1 as you get the same bonus transferring Marriott points to airlines as SPG points did before… a 5k airline mile bonus for every 60k increment of Marriott points transferred.
If you use United miles to book this Business award space, it will cost you 80,000 one way +taxes per person.
You can transfer Ultimate Rewards to United 1:1. Or you can transfer Marriott points 3:1.1 to United, as Marriott and United have a special relationship (3:1.1 is better than the standard 3:1 Marriott to airline partner conversion).
It costs 80,000 Aeroplan miles to book this United Business Class award space one way, and one-way awards are allowed. Again, no fuel surcharges since United doesn’t impose them.
You can transfer Membership Rewards 1:1 to Aeroplan. Or you can transfer Marriott points 3:1 to Aeroplan, but you’d be better off transferring your Marriott points to United as it also costs 80k United miles and the transfer rate from Marriott to United is 3:1.1.
If you only have ThankYou points, you can transfer 80,000 of them to Avianca LifeMiles for redemption on this award space. Again, you’ll only be charged taxes and no fuel surcharges since United doesn’t impose fuel surcharges.
Don’t have any points or miles whatsoever? LifeMiles are on sale right now. Buying 80k of them to redeem on this United space may be cheaper than buying a roundtrip Business ticket for cash.
You should be able to add a Saver level leg within the United States (economy or Domestic First) flying United if you don’t live in LA, or a Saver level leg within Australia or New Zealand on a Star Alliance carrier if you don’t want Sydney as your destination. Doing so shouldn’t change the award price.
How to View the Old United Award Space Calendar Style
When United updated their website in late 2017, they changed the format of how award space results displayed. Instead of the style of calendar above, the new layout looks like this:
The nice part of the update is that you can see award prices. I only ever consider booking Saver level space though (which is what the old calendar indicates), and my eyes don’t scan a ton of numbers as easily as lines and dots… so I prefer the old calendars. This is how you can switch: On the United home page, when filling in the flight search box, check the box next to My dates are flexible. Simple as that.
There is more than the usual amount of United Business Class Saver level award space available to Australia right now April through July, with the most space on the outbound available in May and June.
Thankfully since this award space is on United planes, no matter what Star Alliance miles you use you won’t be charged fuel surcharges. Using ANA miles is by far the cheapest mileage option, you just have to have enough to book roundtrip.
Hat tip View from the Wing