Best Ways To Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points To Fly To Australia Or New Zealand

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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.

Earn 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.

Air France-KLM 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.

Flying Blue Delta Australia

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
Economy 48,500 miles 57,500 miles
Business 121,000 miles 144,000 miles

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 // Flight DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 200,000

The multi-Oneworld carrier award chart is a bit different as you can see below:

oneworld partner awards

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.

Iberia Plus 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

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.

United MileagePlus Australia

Here are the one-way award rates you can expect when booking with United MileagePlus miles:

Class of Service United flights Star Alliance flights
Economy 40,000 miles 40,000 miles
Business 80,000 miles 90,000 miles
First 100,000 miles 130,000 miles

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 Delta flights Virgin Australia flights
Economy 40,000 miles 50,000 miles 47,000 miles
Business 62,500 miles 75,000 miles 94,000 miles

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.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Delta Australia

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.

Bottom line

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?

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. Nice post Spencer – I’ve been waiting for this one. But what would you recommend for flights from AUS to CONUS? My wife and I are looking to cruise from HI to Sydney and then take a 1 way award flight back from SYD to the US. The trip wouldn’t be until 10/2019, so I can’t check award inventory yet. But when the booking window opens, I want to start looking at possibilities for a premium cabin award with carriers that might have the best saver level availability. We have over 600K UR points, so I know we can pretty much “force feed” any flight/carrier we want if we are willing to up pay. What are your suggestions for carriers that usually have decent availability at the saver levels – but w/o some of the more exotic routings I have seen when I have searched using 11/2018 and 4/2019 as proxy tests. Getting all the way to CMH would be great, but we can do a “lay-up putt” to any CONUS airport served by WN (I qualify for the Companion Pass every year). Thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. Now that NZ will be launching nonstop service from ORD in November, I’ll be watching a lot more closely.

  3. Just booked UA 842 Polaris from SYD-LAX for 80000 one way in March 2019. Couldn’t find any seats on UA918 AKL -SFO, but grabbed UA917 for SFO-AKL. Watched for four weeks.

  4. Kahunna my wife and I booked Singapore Air suites from Sydney to US…a long flight from Sydney to Singapore (with a 24 hour layover to stretch the legs) and then Singapore to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to JFK…I think it was on save so one 135ish which was a steal. Between Book the Cook and Krug vintage champagne throughout the flights it was a long blast!

  5. I thought of a creative route to go from Australia to Canada… 60k MileagePlus in J oneway.

    MileagePlus allows you to route MEL-YVR-HNL/OGG. So when there is J availability and a 10h connection time at YVR, who knows what MEL check-in desks can do with your bags?

    Unfortunately they don’t show MEL-LAX-HNL, even when there is space available on MEL-LAX and LAX-HNL.

  6. I jumped on a great Qantas cash fare and paid with points on the Chase portal. I earned full mileage on Alaska which cut the net cost a further 25%+.

  7. This article could really use a summary table. For example, # points on each option, in business class, from someplace like LAX.

  8. Very informative post. My wife and are planning to visit Australia in early 2020, during low season (February – April). We can fly mid-week since we are both retired. I would like to use my United miles (currently 130,000) and Chase UR points (currently 170,000) to fly business class. I have the CSR card, Freedom card and INK Cash card. I know it is difficult to accomplish the above.

    As an alternative, I would like to buy two Premium Economy round trip seats on Air New Zealand. Is there a way to do this with United Miles and UR Points? I have read in the past that you can not book Premium Economy seats through the United website. Is there a way to get around this problem?

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