The Best Ways to Fly to Australia With Points and Miles

Best Ways to Fly to Australia with Points & Miles; Sydney Opera House

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Australia is an undeniably far-flung destination for Americans. The great Outback is located at least 14 hours by nonstop flight from the contiguous U.S. (excluding Hawaii). The exotic nature of this country is what compels many travelers to head there in the first place.

Known for awe-inspiring nature and unique indigenous culture, Australia is absolutely one of the top tourist destinations out there. Flying to Australia can be a huge logistical undertaking, especially if you don’t know how to plan a trip.

Although using points and miles can reduce the cost of flights, you’ll definitely want to save up for business or first class if you can, simply due to the grueling nature of these ultra-long-haul flights.

Here are the top ways to fly to Australia with points and miles, especially in premium cabin redemptions. We’re going to also be integrating discussions on award availability and using this factor to rank our top booking methods.

After all, it doesn’t make any sense to rank a product at the top if the airlines don’t release any seats, right?

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

Since Australia is one of the most difficult-to-access destinations, particularly from the U.S. and Europe, there are going to be fewer routes you can take.

There are a total of 8 airlines that operate nonstop flights from the U.S. (including Hawaii) to Australia. These are:

  • Qantas
    • Chicago (ORD) – Brisbane (BNE) [Beginning on April 20, 2020]
    • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Sydney (SYD) [Beginning on February 9, 2020]
  • Virgin Australia Airlines
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)
  • Jetstar Airways
    • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
  • United Airlines
    • Houston (IAH) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Sydney (SYD)
  • American Airlines
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)
  • Delta Air Lines
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)
  • Hawaiian Airlines
    • Honolulu (HNL) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
  • Air Canada
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Sydney (SYD)

In all, there are 21 routes with service to Australia in North America, with 2 future routes. Generally speaking, award availability, especially in business/first class is extremely difficult to get. More so than ever, the importance of flexibility and being open to positioning flights can’t be overstated.

If you are flexible, you should be able to book at least a solid business class, lie-flat seat to Australia using points and miles with minimal cash outlay.

Our guide will be focusing on the top ways to book nonstop flights from the U.S. to Australia.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Delta One Suites
Delta One Suites is picture-perfect. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Virgin Atlantic is airline partners with 3 important airlines:

  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Virgin Australia

Virgin Atlantic’s frequent flyer program, known as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, has a lot going for it. With great award rates, a straightforward booking process, and tons of transfer partners, using this method is an absolute no-brainer.

There are tons of ways to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for maximum value, and this redemption is no exception. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club prices out awards with different award charts for each partner. Therefore, the same flights on different carriers will inevitably cost different amounts of miles.

For Delta Air Lines redemptions, you can follow this award chart for one-way U.S. flights to Australia:

Cabin ClassVirgin Atlantic Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy50,000$5.60
Business75,000$5.60

As it so happens, Delta Air Lines’ sole Australia route from Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) contains Delta One Suites, which are their newest, best business class product!

In fact, Delta One Suites is at the top of our list of best international business class products, so you know you’re in for a treat. 75,000 Virgin Atlantic miles is a relative bargain for a top-notch business class product with sliding doors, excellent food, comfortable bedding, and fully lie-flat seats.

Best of all, taxes and fees are truly minimal, which will surely reduce your out-of-pocket cost.

Of all the 3 partners listed above, Delta Air Lines has the best award availability, in addition to offering a fantastic business class product. You’ll definitely need to be flexible, but your flexibility will pay off.

Award availability is best in-advance but seats often open up after the holiday season or if there’s a lot less demand than expected.

You can also redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for flights on Virgin Australia as follows (one-way):

Cabin ClassVirgin Atlantic Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy47,000~$65
Premium Economy70,500~$65
Business94,000~$65

The award pricing is not as good as booking Delta One Suites. You’ll pay 19,000 miles more each way, along with some $60 more in taxes and fees. Virgin Australia is an excellent business class product, though, as it ranks well in our rankings of international business class airlines.

However, the award redemption price is not as attractive as Delta One Suites. Furthermore, award availability is very difficult to find for Virgin Australia business class. One of the only ways you’ll be able to get a seat is if you book close to departure. To maximize your chances of booking, you’ll want to look either:

  • 3 days prior to departure
  • 325-330 days in advance

Unfortunately, there’s virtually no chance of securing Virgin Australia business class otherwise.

Lastly, Virgin Atlantic is partners with Hawaiian Airlines, which can be useful for those based in Honolulu. The award flights are priced out at:

Cabin ClassVirgin Atlantic Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy20,000~$65
First/Business40,000~$65

This pricing is extremely attractive, especially if you’re already planning on flying out of Hawaii. All the seats are lie-flat, though not all of them have direct aisle access. Nonetheless, for a 9-11 hour flight, 40,000 miles in business is a great deal.

Let’s put all of this together and show you some great example redemptions you can make:

  • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way in Hawaiian Airlines business/first class for 40,000 Virgin Atlantic miles + ~$65 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • One-way in Virgin Australia business class for 94,000 Virgin Atlantic miles + ~$65 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • One-way in Virgin Australia business class for 94,000 Virgin Atlantic miles + ~$65 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way in Delta One Suites for 75,000 Virgin Atlantic miles + $5.60 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way in Virgin Australia business class for 94,000 Virgin Atlantic miles + ~$65 in taxes and fees

Once you’ve decided on which flight you want to take, follow these steps to book your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award flight online:

  1. Visit Virgin Atlantic’s homepage.
  2. Change the region by scrolling to the bottom of the page. Click the globe icon at the bottom of the page that says United States – English. Change it to United Kingdom – English. 
  3. Once redirected to the new page, type in your flight details into the top banner of the homepage. Enter in your departure and destination cities, flight type, number of passengers, and travel dates.
  4. Click the button that says Advanced Search towards the bottom-right of the banner. Click Miles and select Upper Class to search for business class award space.
  5. Click the arrow to perform the search. If there’s no award availability, scroll down and select Show flights for Within 5 weeks. Redo the search.
  6. You may need to play around with dates to find availability. Once located, click Next Step.
    • Although transferring points to Virgin Atlantic is normally instant, you can also request 5-day award holds by calling Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500.
  7. Log into your Flying Club account.
  8. Complete your booking by paying the miles and paying for taxes and fees.

Booking Delta awards is completely doable online. However, you may need to call for other partners if there’s no online award availability showing up.

Hot Tip: Want to monitor flight award availability without checking back every day? Read up on our ExpertFlyer guide to learn how to set up automatic flight alerts for your desired cabin and flight! 

Earning Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate RewardsAmerican Express Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. As you can probably imagine, there are tons of ways to earn Virgin Atlantic miles.

American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer instantaneously at a 1:1 ratio.

Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio, usually within 1 business day. Also, when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll earn a 5,000-mile bonus to Virgin Atlantic, increasing your total miles from 20,000 to 25,000.

Best of all, American Express and Citi are both known for offering generous transfer bonuses ranging from 15%-35%. What this means is that you could get a huge bonus by timing your transfers properly. A 35% transfer bonus means you could get 75,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for only 55,556 points!

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $450 annual fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Easy earning at 1.5% on all purchases. Just know that you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a whopping 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Also, if you pay for your cell phone bill with this card, you can get up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. In addition, get up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services. This is one of the best no annual fee business cards.

Bottom Line: Using Virgin Atlantic miles to book flights to Australia is one of the top ways to fly with points. Award availability tends to be pretty good, award prices are great for the most part, and there are minimal taxes and fees. 

All Nippon Airways Mileage Club

United Airlines Polaris Business Class
United Airlines’ lie-flat business class, though not the true Polaris product, can be found on numerous flights to Australia. Image Credit: United Airlines

Another top choice for flying to Australia is using All Nippon Airways’s loyalty program, ANA Mileage Club. ANA Mileage Club consistently gets raving reviews, whether it’s the amazing redemption prices or its slew of partners.

Although it’s a relatively complex program, there is still so much value to be had when redeeming ANA miles for flights to Australia. ANA offers excellent redemption rates with tons of sweet spots and an awesome stopover/open jaw allowance. Lastly, there are loads of ways to earn ANA miles, which rounds out the reasons why you want to consider redeeming ANA miles for flights to Australia.

ANA has 2 main award charts:

With All Nippon Airways, you can only redeem for round-trip tickets — one-way tickets are not allowed. If you can avoid booking one-way tickets, ANA offers some excellent business class pricing. Here’s the partner award chart for round-trip tickets:

Class of ServiceANA Mileage Cost
Economy75,000
Business120,000
First225,000

The 2 main carriers offering nonstop flights that you’ll want to book to Australia using ANA miles are:

  • United Airlines
    • Houston (IAH) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Sydney (SYD)
  • Air Canada
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Sydney (SYD)

In general, Air Canada has a reputation for offering the superior premium cabin product. However, several other factors can drive your decision, such as proximity to the departing airport, willingness to connect in Canada, and more.

Total taxes and fees will usually run you at around $10-$50 for United Airlines and Air Canada, which is amazing.

The seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. Although all the seats are 100% lie-flat, not all of them have direct aisle access, and the seats aren’t as private as the true Polaris business class. Currently, there are no United Airlines routes that feature the true Polaris business class.

Air Canada’s product consists of reverse herringbone seats in a clean, airy cabin. When you can, it would be best to enjoy Air Canada’s business class product over United Airlines’ “faux-laris” business class.

Here are some great example redemptions you can make:

  • Houston (IAH) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Round-trip on United Airlines business class for 120,000 ANA miles + $40 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • Round-trip on United Airlines economy for 75,000 ANA miles + $40 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Melbourne (MEL), Sydney (SYD) – San Francisco (SFO)
    • With an open jaw in Melbourne on United Airlines business class for 120,000 ANA miles + $40 in taxes and fees
  • Vancouver (YVR) – Melbourne (MEL), Brisbane (BNE) – Vancouver (YVR)
    • With an open jaw in Melbourne on Air Canada business class for 120,000 ANA miles + $40 in taxes and fees

To book any of these itineraries, you simply need to visit the ANA website as follows:

  1. Go to ANA’s homepage.
  2. Click ANA Mileage Club on the top-right side of the homepage.
  3. Find the Flight Awards section on the left side of the page, click International, and then Award Reservation.
  4. Log in using your ANA Mileage Club account number and password.
  5. Type in your route pairing, travel dates, number of passengers, cabin class, and then click Search.
  6. Transfer your points to ANA miles. You might have luck holding awards when calling 800-235-9262, but this is the exception rather than the norm.
  7. After the points are deposited into your account, confirm your reservation by paying for taxes and fees.

Earning ANA Mileage Club Miles

As we mentioned above, earning ANA miles is super easy. ANA is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy, so there are many options to earn credit card points and then transfer to ANA.

Amex transfers at a 1:1 ratio, whereas Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.

There can be a bit of a delay when transferring to ANA. Amex usually takes around 3 business days to process transfers, while Marriott takes around 7 business days.

Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months. This is our favorite card for getting into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass) and we get about $2,700+ in value from the card every year.

Plus, get up to $200 in Uber credits annually ($15 per month and a $20 bonus in December) — and up to $200 in annual credit for airline incidental charges (e.g. baggage fees). For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, for many this is an easy addition to your wallet. For rates and fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended American Express Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 after you spend an additional $10,000, on purchases within the first 3 months.

We get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks.

This is the best business card for lounge access as you'll get into 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates and fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. This means you'll max out at a (whopping) 600,000 points per year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates and fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This is a simple card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year! The card has no annual fee. For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Bottom Line: ANA offers access to 2 carriers that operate nonstop flights to Australia: United Airlines and Air Canada. The Star Alliance airline offers attractive redemption rates, particularly in business class. 

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Qantas First Class Dining
Enjoy a nice meal (or 2) on your journey to Australia in Qantas first class. Image Credit: Qantas

One of the best ways to book nonstop flights to Australia is by redeeming Alaska Airlines miles. Although Alaska Airlines doesn’t operate flights to Australia, it has some great partnerships that can be instrumental in economically getting you to Australia in style.

In fact, Alaska Airlines has partnerships with 2 useful airlines for nonstop flights to Australia:

  • Qantas
    • Chicago (ORD) – Brisbane (BNE) {beginning on April 20, 2020}
    • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Sydney (SYD) {beginning on February 9, 2020}
  • American Airlines {award redemptions are ending on March 1, 2020}
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)

Qantas is the flag carrier of Australia. Since this is a booking guide to fly to Australia, it makes sense that Qantas is thoroughly discussed. We’ll be the first to mention that travelers usually have a love-hate relationship with Qantas.

Qantas first class is one of the most aspirational products out there. With such a tight grip on award inventory, booking Qantas first class is ever-so elusive, which actually plays into the mystique and luxury of the airline product.

Here’s the award chart for the 2 airlines for flights between the U.S. and Australia:

Cabin ClassAlaska Miles Cost for Qantas FlightsAlaska Miles Cost for American Airlines Flights
Economy42,50040,000
Premium Economy47,500N/A
Business55,00080,000
First70,000110,000

As you can see, Alaska Airlines redemptions for Qantas business or first class are incredibly lucrative. If you couple this with the stopover allowance on one-way flights, there’s simply too much value to pass up.

There is a catch; Qantas is extremely stingy with award availability. It has gotten to a point where most of the time, you won’t see award space on any of the nonstop routes for the entire year. It’s almost as if booking Qantas is impossible.

You wouldn’t be wrong in most cases. Periodically, Qantas will dump an obscene amount of inventory in business/first class into the system. This is typically done for flights in January through March.

Other than that, you’re going to have an extremely difficult time nabbing these flights. If you do, however, you’ll savor some of the top luxuries in the world. Qantas is on our rankings of the best international first class airlines in the world, so you’re definitely in for a treat.

Here are some great example redemptions you can make:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Sydney (SYD) – Perth (PER)
    • One-way on Qantas first class for 70,000 Alaska miles + ~$26 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Brisbane (BNE) – Darwin (DRW)
    • One-way on Qantas business class for 55,000 Alaska miles + ~$26 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL) – Alice Springs (ASP)
    • One-way on Qantas first class for 70,000 Alaska miles + ~$26 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD) – Hobart (HBA)
    • One-way on Qantas first class for 70,000 Alaska miles + ~$26 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Brisbane (BNE) – Cairns (CNS)
    • One-way on Qantas business class for 55,000 Alaska miles + ~$26 in taxes and fees

The process for booking Qantas and American Airlines flights using Alaska miles is easy:

  1. Go to Alaska Airlines’ website.
  2. Sign in using your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Number and Password.
  3. Search for your route pairing, dates, and number of passengers on the homepage (check off the box that says Use Miles).
  4. Select your flight and click Add To Cart.
  5. Complete your booking by paying with miles and for any taxes and fees using a credit card.

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

Although Alaska Airlines is only transfer partners with Marriott Bonvoy. The transfer ratio is 3:1 with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. Transfers usually take around 2 business days to complete.

There are also several different ways to earn Alaska miles. Some other ways include opening the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card or buying Alaska Airlines miles when there’s a big sale.

The biggest sales have been a 50% bonus on all purchased miles, which is a big deal. This can effectively get you a Qantas first class flight, which retails for $15,000+, for only $1,000-$2,000!

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Bottom Line: Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles for Qantas or American Airlines flights is a great way to fly to Australia, as long as you can find award availability. 

United Airlines MileagePlus

Hawaiian Airlines Business Class
Hawaiian Airlines business class aboard its A330-300. Image Credit: Hawaiian Airlines

United Airlines MileagePlus is an award program that has gone through a ton of changes. As of November 15, 2019, United’s award chart is no longer exist. Instead, all award flights will be subject to a dynamic award pricing scheme, thereby devaluing the whole program.

Until then, however, here’s the award chart for flights between North America and Australia:

Cabin ClassUnited Miles Cost for United FlightsUnited Miles Cost for Air Canada FlightsUnited Miles Cost for Hawaiian Airlines Flights
Economy40,000-100,00040,00035,000
Business80,000-200,00090,00060,000
FirstN/AN/AN/A

Using United miles rarely represents the absolute best value for your points. However, using MileagePlus to book your awards has these benefits:

  • Easy to earn United miles, particularly for Chase loyalists
  • Easy booking process
  • No fuel surcharges on most flights
  • Star Alliance network of routes

There are 3 airlines on which you can book nonstop flights to Australia:

  • Air Canada
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Sydney (SYD)
  • Hawaiian Airlines
    • Honolulu (HNL) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
  • United Airlines
    • Houston (IAH) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Sydney (SYD)

Here are some great example redemptions you can make:

  • Honolulu (HNL) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • One-way on Hawaiian Airlines first/business class for 60,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way on Hawaiian Airlines economy class for 35,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Houston (IAH) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way on United Airlines business class for 80,000 United miles (saver award) + ~$6 in taxes and fees
  • Vancouver (YVR) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • One-way on Air Canada business class for 90,000 United miles + ~$6 in taxes and fees

To book using United miles, follow these simple steps:

  1. Visit United Airlines’s homepage.
  2. On the homepage, there’s a search box. Type in the city pairs, travel dates, number of travelers, and cabin class you’re booking.
  3. Click Find flights.
  4. Log in using your MileagePlus Number and Password.
  5. Locate your flights, and pay with miles. Pay for taxes and fees using any credit card to finish confirming your reservation.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

There are so many different ways to earn United miles. The primary way is going to be transferring from Chase Ultimate Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy.

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers at a 1:1 ratio instantly, while Marriott transfers within 2 business days at a 3:1.1 ratio with a 5,500-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.

You can also use Chase’s co-branded United credit cards to earn United miles directly. Using United MileagePlus is an excellent way for Chase cardholders to fly to Australia using points and miles.

Hot Tip: Want to earn loads of Chase points fast? Check out our in-depth guide now! 

Avianca LifeMiles

Air Canada 777 Business Class
Air Canada business class is a very comfortable way of crossing the Pacific Ocean en route to Australia using miles. Image Credit: Christian Heinz via Shutterstock

If you’re a Citi loyalist and you’re unable to use the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club method above, there’s another option: Avianca LifeMiles.

Avianca LifeMiles is a Star Alliance airline with plenty of transfer partners. Using LifeMiles is attractive due to the reasonable redemption rates and the number of ways to earn LifeMiles.

Avianca LifeMiles is one of the simplest methods to book flights using points. You’ll enjoy instant mileage transfers, lots of transfer partners, no fuel surcharges, and an easy online booking process.

There are several great ways to redeem Avianca LifeMiles for maximum value, and this is definitely one of them. Here’s the award flight for one-way flights from North America to Australia:

Class of ServiceAvianca LifeMiles Cost Fees
Economy40,000~$30.60
Business80,000~$30.60

The 2 airlines you’ll want to book flights on are:

  • United Airlines
    • Houston (IAH) – Sydney (SYD)
    • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • San Francisco (SFO) – Sydney (SYD)
  • Air Canada
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • Vancouver (YVR) – Sydney (SYD)

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • One-way in United business class for 80,000 LifeMiles + ~$31 in taxes and fees
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • One-way in United economy for 40,000 LifeMiles + $31 in taxes and fees
  • Vancouver (YVR) – Melbourne (MEL), Sydney (SYD), or Brisbane (BNE)
    • One-way in Air Canada business class for 80,000 LifeMiles + $31 in taxes and fees

Once you’ve solidified your travel plans, here’s how you can book your flight using Avianca LifeMiles:

  1. Go to the LifeMiles website.
  2. Click the flag icon in the top-right corner and choose English.
  3. Click Log in at the top-right side of the page.
  4. Enter your LifeMiles number and password.
  5. Click Fly at the top banner to search flights.
  6. Enter your route pairing, number of passengers, and cabin class. Click Find Flights.
  7. Click your flight date(s).
  8. Find your award availability and pay with LifeMiles and for any taxes and fees using a credit card.

Earning Avianca LifeMiles

As we mentioned above, LifeMiles is transfer partners with lots of flexible currencies: American Express Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex and Citi transfer at a 1:1 ratio instantly, while Capital One transfers at a 2:1.5 ratio instantly. Marriott transfers in around 1-2 business days at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.

Amex and Citi have both offered transfer bonuses of up to 35% in the past, so be sure to hold out for transfers until you see one of these, if possible.

You can also earn LifeMiles by applying for the co-branded Banco Popular Avianca Vuela credit cards. Avianca is known to offer giant sales of up to 150% bonus miles, so you’ll absolutely want to wait for the right time to buy LifeMiles.

Qantas Frequent Flyer

Qantas Business Class
Fly Qantas long haul 787 business class to Australia! Image Credit: Qantas

If the number of points you pay is no object and you just want the highest probability of landing Qantas’ first or business class, then the best way to accomplish this is by using Qantas’ own frequent flyer program: Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Qantas first class is arguably the greatest unicorn in points travel. In our guide on when airlines release award seats, we outline why booking Qantas first class is much more probable using Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Chiefly, Qantas first and business class is easier to book for 2 reasons:

  • Qantas releases award seats exclusive to Qantas Frequent Flyer members redeeming Qantas Frequent Flyer points
  • Qantas’ schedule opens up 353 days in advance, compared to Alaska’s 330 days and AAdvantage’s 331 days, effectively giving you a 22-23 day head-start

If you’re wondering why Alaska miles are so hard to redeem for Qantas first class, it’s because all of the availability is gobbled up by Qantas members, 22-23 days in advance. By the time Alaska or American Airlines have access to this award space, all of the very few seats are already taken.

There are 3 airlines on which you can redeem Qantas points for nonstop flights to Australia:

  • American Airlines
  • Jetstar 
  • Qantas

Here’s the award chart for flights between Australia and the U.S.:

Qantas Classic Flight Reward Table (applicable for Qantas, Airnorth, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu, American Airlines & Emirates)
ZoneOne-way DistanceEconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
10-6008,00013,80018,40027,600
2601 – 1,20012,00020,60027,60041,500
31,201 – 2,40018,00031,00041,50062,200
42,401 – 3,60020,30042,20057,00085,500
53,601 – 4,80025,20051,30068,400102,600
64,801 – 5,80031,50061,50082,000123,100
75,801 – 7,00037,60071,10094,900142,300
87,001 – 8,40041,90081,300108,400162,800
98,401 – 9,60051,20094,900126,500189,800
109,601 – 15,00055,200108,400144,600216,900

Here’s the award chart for flights on Jetstar:

Jetstar Classic Flight Reward Table (applicable for Jetstar, Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Japan & Jetstar Pacific only)
ZoneOne-Way MilesEconomyBusiness
10 – 6006,40013,800
2601 – 1,2009,60020,600
31,201 – 2,40014,40031,000
42,401 – 3,60018,00042,200
53,601 – 4,80021,50051,300
64,801 – 5,80026,00061,500
75,801 – 7,00032,00071,100
87,001 – 8,40035,60081,300
98,401 – 9,60043,50094,900
109,601 – 15,00046,900108,400

Here are some great example redemptions you can make:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way in Qantas first class for 189,800 Qantas points + ~$60 in taxes and fees
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way in Qantas business class for 82,000 Qantas points + ~$60 in taxes and fees
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way in Jetstar economy for 26,000 Qantas points + ~$60 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL)
    • One-way in Qantas first class for 162,800 Qantas points + ~$60 in taxes and fees

Again, you’d really only want to use Qantas points if you desperately need award availability to show up, at the expense of paying more points. Follow these steps to book your flight online:

  1. Visit Qantas’ website.
  2. In the top-right corner, log into your account using your Qantas Frequent Flyer number, last name, and PIN number.
  3. In the flight search box, enter your city and date pairings, number of passengers, and click the button that says Use points.
  4. Click Search flights.
  5. Click the date(s) that works for you.
  6. Select your flights and click Continue.
  7. Pay using points and for any taxes/fees using a credit card.

Earning Qantas Frequent Flyer Points

Qantas is transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. There are also lots of ways to earn Qantas points.

Amex and Citi transfer at a 1:1 ratio, while Capital One transfers at a 2:1.5 ratio. By transferring to Marriott, you’ll earn points at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.

Amex transfers almost instantly to Qantas, Citi takes around 2 business days, and Capital One takes around 36 hours. Lastly, Marriott takes the longest at around 6 business days.

Bottom Line: Qantas Frequent Flyer offers 1 advantage: more award availability. Using this method can dramatically increase your chances of booking Qantas first/business class. However, you’re going to pay more points, so just watch out for that. 

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines 787-9 Flagship Business Class cabin
American Airlines 787-9 Flagship Business Class cabin. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Our last method to book nonstop flights to Australia is by using American Airlines AAdvantage. American miles are great for booking flights on these airlines:

  • American Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Qantas

Here’s the award chart for flights from the U.S. to Australia:

Cabin ClassAAdvantage Miles Cost for AA FlightsAAdvantage Miles Cost for Qantas FlightsAAdvantage Miles Cost for Hawaiian Airlines Flights
Economy40,000-90,00040,00037,500
Premium Economy65,000-155,000N/AN/A
Business80,000-195,00080,00065,000
First110,000-260,000110,00090,000

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way on Qantas first class for 110,000 AAdvantage miles + ~$40 in taxes and fees
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way on Hawaiian Airlines business/first class for 65,000 AAdvantage miles + ~$20 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Brisbane (BNE)
    • One-way on Qantas business class for 80,000 AAdvantage miles + ~$40 in taxes and fees
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD)
    • One-way on American Airlines business class for 80,000 AAdvantage miles (saver availability) + ~$11 in taxes and fees

To book your AAdvantage award, follow these steps:

  1. Perform an award search using Alaska Airlines’ search engine (method outlined in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan section). For Hawaiian Airlines, you may need to use a search tool such as ExpertFlyer.
  2. Call AAdvantage at 800-433-7300 and tell them your flight numbers, dates, number of passengers, and class of service.
  3. Pay using AAdvantage miles and taxes and fees to ticket your reservation.

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles is easy. Whether it’s using the Citi or Barclays co-branded AAdvantage credit cards or transferring from Marriott Bonvoy, there are plenty of ways to earn AA miles quickly.

There are also some fantastic ways to redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles for tons of value. Marriott is a 3:1 transfer partner with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. Transfers take around 2 business days to complete.

Bottom Line: Using AAdvantage miles is an excellent way to book nonstop flights to Australia. Whether it’s American Airlines, Qantas, or Hawaiian Airlines, you’ll definitely find a great way to use AA miles. 

Final Thoughts

There are so many different ways to fly to Australia using points and miles. This piece focused primarily on the best ways to book nonstop flights. With a number of nonstop routes offering great in-flight products, there’s no reason to book a connecting flight!

When you book nonstop flights, you can arrive well-rested and ready to hit the ground running exploring Australia. We covered all the 3 major alliances, along with some quirky options such as Jetstar, so now you’re equipped with all the information you need to book flights to Australia with points and miles.

Happy traveling!


FAQ

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book an economy class award flight to Australia?

You can pay as little as 40,000 United miles, Avianca LifeMiles, or American AAdvantage miles for a one-way flight in economy.

If you’re based in Hawaii, you can get even cheaper flights using 25,750 British Airways Avios flying on Qantas.

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book a business class award flight to Australia?

The cheapest cost is to use 55,000 Alaska Airlines miles for one-way flights on Qantas business class. If you’re fine with flying round-trip, you can spend 120,000 ANA miles for United Airlines business class.

Other options include spending 75,000 Asia Miles for one-way flights in business class on American Airlines or Qantas.

If you want to fly Delta One Suites, you can spend 75,000 Virgin Atlantic miles one-way.

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book a first class award flight to Australia?

Your only option to fly first class is on Qantas, as American Airlines, Delta, Virgin Australia, and all other carriers do not offer nonstop service in first class.

You can choose between 70,000 Alaska miles, 110,000 AAdvantage miles, or 162,800-189,800 Qantas Frequent Flyer points for a one-way first class award flight on Qantas.

Which airlines include carrier-imposed surcharges on award flights to Australia?

Australia is actually one of the few countries that restricts fuel surcharges.

We’ve written the ultimate guide to airline fuel surcharges, and Australia is actually one of the countries you can strategically route to to avoid fuel surcharges! This is great news for flyers headed to the Great Outback.

What is the best airline to fly to Australia?

If you’re considering booking business or first class flights, the absolute best way to fly in first class is on Qantas. However, the flights are notoriously difficult to book with points, so it might not be realistic.

That being said, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Australia offer some solid products, whether it’s Delta One Suites or Virgin Australia business class.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

7 comments

  1. Marilyn B · August 27, 2018 · Reply

    Have seen your posts on OMAAT. This is an absolutely awesome post! Will help me tremendously.

  2. I just wanted to let you know that your rates need updated…..badly. It says on the article that it was updated on May 10th of 2019, but it is obvious that it is not updated at all for current redemption rates. United Business class round trip Base Business fare is 200K each way, you have listed 80k! It is 90K business class with saver availability…..each way. Round trip is never under 180K. Please update.

    • Stephen Au · June 18, 2019 · Reply

      Tim,

      Thanks for reading. You are incorrect in saying that business class is 90,000 United miles on United metal. It costs 80,000 miles each way on United Airlines-operated flights and 90,000 miles on Star Alliance partners.

  3. “As the only Star Alliance carrier operating nonstop flights between the U.S. and Australia, you will have limited opportunities to use your United MileagePlus miles. United operates 2 flights to Sydney (SYD): 1 from Houston International (IAH) and 1 from San Francisco (SFO).”

    The above statement is incorrect. United flies to Sydney from LAX, SFO and IAH daily (except in the northern hemisphere summer, when they decrease service to 3x (LAX) and 4x (IAH) weekly). There are also daily flights from LAX and SFO to Melbourne (SFO service starting 10/2019) – uncertain on the seasonal variance in these flights. Hope that helps people.

    Just scored some 4 award tickets to SYD 12/30 —- and there looks to be plenty to open (elite) business class award space (IN and PZ class) to Australia.

    • Stephen Au · July 16, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Brent!

      Thanks for reading. We appreciate your feedback and we’re in the process of updating this piece.

  4. Hahm Burger · November 16, 2019 · Reply

    You wrote: >>>….the importance of flexibility and being open to positioning flights can’t be understated. <<<

    Should be: cant be OVERstated.

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