In the last couple of years, I’ve had a bunch of friends tell me they’d like to move to New Zealand or Australia. Having visited Queenstown recently, I absolutely understand the appeal of such a naturally beautiful location. Australia totally makes sense to me if you want beautiful beaches and fun cities — heck, I’ve been three times in the last three years.
With Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you’ll have several options to help get you there. The toughest part when flying from the U.S. will be finding award space, of course — especially if you want to fly business or first class. If you want to visit Sydney and experience its amazing New Year’s celebration, please do yourself a favor and start searching for award space nearly a year from departure.
While non-stop awards from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand can be tough to come by, they’re not impossible to land. Additionally, there are number of options if you’re willing to connect in Asia.
As a reminder, there are many options to accrue Ultimate Rewards.
Now, let’s dive in and check out some of the best ways to book awards to Australia with the partners of Ultimate Rewards.
Flying Blue – SkyTeam economy awards
Air France-KLM has moved away from a standard region-based award chart and now offer different award rates based on your origin and destination. Sometimes award rates are the same from a number of U.S. cities to the same destinations and other times rates vary quite a bit.
Flying Blue award rates
As with all Flying Blue awards, keep an eye on the surcharges as they can really increase the cash cost of your booking. With that in mind, Flying Blue is a solid program if you need a one-way economy award on a SkyTeam partner.
For the best award price, you’ll want to book a non-stop on Delta from Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD). However, award space on that route is tough to find. Business class is particularly tough and generally only release a few days before departure if at all.
If you have a connecting flight within the U.S. or in Asia, the award will cost more. If you’re booking with Flying Blue, though, it’s best to just avoid business class awards as the price is very steep. Here’s a look at the one-way award prices for non-stops from LAX and awards with a connection:
Class of Service
Non-stop from LAX
With a connection
Unlike other regions, I haven’t seen a variation in saver level based on your point of departure.
How to book with Flying Blue miles
Flying Blue made the terrible decision to remove the calendar search option in mid-2018, but appear to have seen the error of its ways and brought it back. This makes Flying Blue the champion of SkyTeam award searches once again.
You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Air France-KLM Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio and expect these transfers to process almost instantly. If you can find a friendly phone agent (1-800-375-8723), you should be able to put an award on hold for 48 hours.
Now, Flying Blue has had some issues with “fraud prevention” so it’s advisable to put an award on hold before transferring Ultimate Rewards points. Once the award is on hold and the miles are in your account, you can complete the booking over the phone and pay with a credit card under the Flying Blue account holder’s name.
British Airways Executive Club – Oneworld economy awards
While British Airways often tacks on massive surcharges to awards, it won’t be a problem if you’re flying American Airlines or Qantas to Australia. If you choose to use British Airways Avios, make sure you remember that connections will require more Avios.
If you connect in Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines, you will also be on the hook for taxes/fees which can be around $160-250.
British Airways Avios award rates
British Airways uses a couple distance-based award charts. The standard chart governs awards on a single partner and/or British Airways. Additionally, it has an award chart for awards that include flights on multiple Oneworld partners and no flights on British Airways.
If you route through London (LHR) and Singapore (SIN) on British Airways, you could take advantage of the off-peak award dates but that’s a long way to go in economy. When you consider the number of Avios required for business and first class awards, you really want to stick with economy awards when booking with Avios.
Here are the redemption rates from the standard award chart. Remember, peak rates apply to all partner flights.
Zone // Distance
Economy Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy Off Peak // Peak
Business Off Peak // Peak
First Off Peak // Peak
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,500
5.750 // 6,750
7,750 // 9,000
15,500 // 18,000
6,500 // 7,500
9,500 // 11,250
12,750 // 15,000
25,500 // 30,000
8,500 // 10,000
12,750 // 15,000
17,000 // 20,000
34,000 // 40,000
10,000 // 12,500
20,000 // 25,000
31,250 // 37,500
42,500 // 50,000
13,000 // 20,000
26,000 // 40,000
50,000 // 60,000
68,000 // 80,000
16,250 // 25,000
32,500 // 50,000
62,500 // 75,000
85,000 // 100,000
19,500 // 30,000
39,000 // 60,000
75,000 // 90,000
102,000 // 120,000
22,750 // 35,000
45,500 // 75,000
87,500 // 105,000
119,000 // 140,000
32,500 // 50,000
65,000 // 100,000
125,000 // 150,000
170,000 // 200,000
The multi-Oneworld carrier award chart is a bit different as you can see below:
Premium economy requires 50% more Avios, business class requires an additional 100% and first class requires 150% more.
If you need a connection when booking with British Airways Avios to Australia or New Zealand, you’ll want to fly with both American and Qantas to take advantage of the multi-Oneworld carrier award chart rates.
If you need to book with a connection on the same partner airline, you’ll better off using Iberia Avios. For example, if you want to book a round-trip award from Denver (DEN) to SYD with a connection at LAX with all flights on American Airlines, Iberia will provide a better award rate of 100,000 Avios vs 115,000 Avios.
Here’s a look at Iberia’s Oneworld award chart.
How to book with British Airways Avios
To book with British Airways Avios, simply run a search on its site and complete the booking there. While its ability to see award space surpasses other Oneworld partners, it has recently had issues with search errors. You might have to reload the page or switch browsers to get your search to work.
Transfers from Ultimate Rewards are 1:1 and process almost instantly.
United MileagePlus will be the go-to option for Star Alliance awards to both Australia and New Zealand. While you won’t be able to connect within Australia (due to the lack of partners), you’ll have plenty of ways to get there. However, if you’re flying to New Zealand, you can take advantage of United’s partnership with Air New Zealand to connect to hot spots such as Queenstown (ZQN).
If you can find award space on the dates that you need, you might even be able to take advantage of United’s Excursionist Perk — the MileagePlus version of a stopover. If you want to see multiple cities in Australia and New Zealand, don’t forget to take advantage of an open jaw and use cheap intra-region flights to hop around before returning to the U.S. on your United award.
United award rates
If you’re flying to Australia, United will be your one Star Alliance option that provides non-stop service from the U.S. However, if you might be able to connect in Vancouver (YVR) and fly Air Canada.
Flying to New Zealand, your options will be United and Air New Zealand out of the U.S. As it can be very difficult to find award space on these routes, don’t forget about your options to connect in Asia.
Here are the one-way award rates you can expect when booking with United MileagePlus miles:
Class of Service
Star Alliance flights
The most frustrating part of the Excursionist Perk is that your free one-way (stopover) must be within one region. This means you can’t stopover in Asia on your way to/from Australia or New Zealand. However, flying with All Nippon Airways (ANA), Asiana, EVA Air, Thai Airways, etc. really opens up some opportunities for award space.
How to book with United miles
United is one of my favorite award search platforms as it will show you two months of availability. Not only that, but it will also indicate whether economy and/or premium cabin award space is open. From there, you just need to select your desired date(s) to see specific award flight options.
Occasionally, United will show phantom award space. Rather than transferring Ultimate Rewards points (1:1 ratio), make sure you click through the booking process or double check by searching with Aeroplan just in case. Once you submit a transfer request, it should process almost instantly and you’ll be ready to book online.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
The reason Virgin Atlantic Flying Club falls into the special case category is that it requires more miles to book awards with connections. However, if you’re able to take advantage of a non-stop award, it can be a solid way to book awards to Australia or New Zealand.
Flying Club award rates
These are the one-way award rates on partners Air New Zealand, Delta and Virgin Australia:
Class of Service
Air New Zealand flights
Virgin Australia flights
Now, none of these partner airlines is known for having ample business class award space — or even economy for that matter. If you want to book business class on Delta or Virgin Australia, your best bet will be close to your departure date.
How to book with Flying Club miles
If you want to fly Virgin Australia, you can use Delta to search. I’d suggest expanding the search to a 5-week calendar to see more potential options. For awards on Air New Zealand, you can run a flexible date search on United to see two months of availability. Delta and United will show other partner options, so confirm that you’re seeing Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand award space.
Once you have found the dates you want, you can call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (1-800-365-9500) to put the award on hold while you transfer Ultimate Rewards (1:1 ratio). Flying Club has great phone agents so this should be pretty easy.
Booking with Delta is a bit different. You can search with Delta and follow the same procedure, but you can also just search directly with Virgin Atlantic. You can even run a search for dates within 5 weeks of your desired departure date.
To run a search on Virgin Atlantic, you’ll need to use the teardrop pin to select Sydney (SYD) from the drop-down menu otherwise you won’t be able to select Pay with Miles to run an award search.
When you find space, you can book online if you already have the miles in your account or follow the above procedure to call, hold and book.
Other options for special cases
The above options will be the staples of getting to Australia and New Zealand but there are a couple of other options that might work for some of you.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer – Suites Class and more
If you want to fly Suites class, first class or business class on Singapore Airlines, you’re going to need KrisFlyer miles to book. While you’ll have to connect in Asia, you can include a stopover on a one-way saver award for about $100 — free on round-trip saver awards.
Singapore Airlines operates flights out of several U.S. airports including:
- Houston (IAH)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Newark (EWR) – flights begin October 2018
- New York (JFK) – only route from the U.S. with Suites class
- San Francisco (SFO)
Singapore KrisFlyer has two award charts, one for flights on Singapore Airlines and one for itineraries that include flights on Star Alliance partners. These are the one-way award rates Singapore-only itineraries:
- EWR/IAH/JFK to Australia/New Zealand: 118,000 miles for business class, 152,000 miles for Suites Class and/or first class
- LAX/SFO to Australia: 110,000 miles for business class, 154,000 for Suites Class and/or first class
Flights from EWR and IAH will/do not have a first class cabin nor will flights on the SFO-SIN route. Unfortunately, Singapore Airlines will not let you book from the west coast to New Zealand.
If you’re booking a Star Alliance award from anywhere in the U.S., these are the one-way award rates:
- Economy: 60,000 miles
- Business: 117,000 miles
- First: 152,500 miles
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a rate of 1:1 and these transfers generally process within a day.
Award space between the U.S. and Australia can be very tough to find. However, Ultimate Rewards generally transfer quickly so you can jump on it as soon as you find award space that works for you. Not to mention, you have a number of options for booking awards that connect in Asia.
Now, you just have to figure out when you can take a dream vacation to Australia or New Zealand — I suggest both!
How have you used Ultimate Rewards points to fly to Australia and New Zealand?