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Buying Miles to go Down Under
My son, wife and I are beginning to plan a trip to Australia in August 2019, and we want to fly business class. We can leave from either SEA or YVR and can fly into either MEL, SYD, or BNE. We plan on purchasing miles to redeem for business class because I won’t be able to accumulate enough UR or MR points for this trip as we just spent them all on a trip to Ireland this summer.. We’re all Alaska Mileage Plan, AAdvantage, and United Mileage Plus members, additionally I have a LifeMiles account. We would like to book as soon as the award calendar opens. What would be your strategy on purchasing points and which program is best for getting 3 seats in Business class to Australia?
Australia is tough. I’d keep monitoring award space and then buy miles to book as soon as space is available. AS and Lifemiles both have sales frequently. Dont limit your search to depart out of SEA – try to search for awards on direct flights from SFO, LAX, DFW, YVR and IAH, then find a connecting flight from SEA or buy a paid ticket. I’d also recommend searching for awards that route thru Asia, it’s slightly easier – and remember to search by segment!
There’s really no best program – it’s about finding whatever space is available and booking.
I’d also have a conversation with your family about how important it is to fly together vs taking a connection. Finding 3 seats on the same flight in business class non-stop to Australia would be extremely rare. Not impossible! But, by no means a sure-thing.
If 2 of your are able to fly one day, and the 3rd leaves a day or two earlier/later, that could open up some options for you.
On the other hand, if you absolutely have to travel together, I’d discuss options that involve a connection in Asia (Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, etc.), since that will also open up a lot of possibilities in business class.
August is a bit easier than Oz summer. You might get lucky and find award seats on any of the major players — start looking now and see what August 2018 looks like to get a sense. If trying to predict this far in advance what is most likely to be available forbthree seats, your best bet booking a year out is likely to be Korean through ICN. No guarantee though. And I’m not sure there’s a cost-effective way to purchase enough miles though. It would be 585,000 miles. To acquire that many miles it might be better just to buy tickets.
Alaska is probably the best program if you’re buying miles since they require fewer miles for travel to Oz. But they could change their points chart tomorrow. You have a decent choice of carriers with AS — Qantas, American, Korean — though I believe Qantas and Korean make fewer seats available to partners than their own members. I think Fiji too, but I don’t know if they ever make three seats available.
You might get a good chance with finding space on Cathay using AS miles, especially in advance. They fly from LAX, SFO & YVR to HKG and from HKG to SYD, BNE and MEL. 60k per person one way on two long haul flights is a fantastic deal.
I’d also take [USER=1436]@rickyw[/USER]’s advice and see if you can fly separately, as award seats will be easier to find when searching for one or two seats. Furthermore, AS lets you change awards up to 60 days before travel with no fees. If you find something that [I]could[/I] work, even if it’s not ideal, book it. Also a bit of a stretch but you might luck out and get CX First! Remember to use BA or QF’s award search tools to look for CX space – it doesnt show up on AS’s site.