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AA Awards to Australia
My husband has never wanted to go to Asia or the South Pacific so I haven’t paid much attention to awards for those areas. However, he just announced that he thinks he’d like to go to Australia for his 60th birthday next year in the fall, but only if we can fly in first class. We have mostly AA miles, with a few here and there with UA and DL and we hold CSR, DL, and AA cards. I understand that seats in first class from the US to Australia are as scarce as hen’s teeth. I’m open for suggestions! Thanks!
Is his heart set on FIRST class or would Business class be ok? Because while it’s difficult to find 2 business class seats, 2 first class seats is the proverbial unicorn.
From what I can tell, American doesn’t fly planes with a first class cabin to Sydney, which is their only destination in Australia.
AA’s oneworld partner Qantas does have flights with a first class cabin in their A380s from LAX and DFW to SYD. Their other flights are on 747s or 787s and don’t have a first class cabin.
AA also has an agreement with Fiji Air. It’s not a non-stop route but they often have 2 business class seats available on their LAX-NAN route and you can connect to SYD, MEL, BNE or wherever on the same ticket.
So let’s say business class is ok. You’re going to need to be flexible about which gateway city you depart the US from. You’re also going to want to set an alert on Expert Flyer (if you have a subscription) or to watch for availability every day and be ready to grab it when you see it, even if there is no connecting award space from your home airport.
The great thing about AA is you can grab an award and put it on hold, then call AA to see if they can open up connecting space for you. Even if it’s not a routing you’d like, there’s a chance that later on better space will open up and you can change that routing at no charge. For example, when I returned from Fiji a few years ago, AA routed me NAN-LAX-CLT-MEM with the LAX-CLT leg being a redeye. Having spent an overnight on the NAN-LAX leg I wasn’t too keen on that but accepted it. Later on LAX-DFW-MEM space opened up and I was able to switch to that.
And say you don’t find award space to Sydney but you see a couple of seats to Brisbane or Melborne. I’d jump on those as there are dozens of cheap flights per day between those cities and Sydney – or you may even find connecting award space. The thing to remember is to be flexible and that getting the longhaul leg in a premium cabin is the most important thing. A 1.5 hour connecting flight (MEL-SYD or BNE-SYD) is a small price to pay for 14 hours in a lie-flat seat!
Would you mind sharing your points & miles balances that each of you have?
If you have the miles, you might consider first class from the US to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific and then separate awards in business class on Qantas from Hong Kong to Australia. Both awards are relatively easy to find. Alternatively, you could consider separate awards on Etihad between the US and Abu Dhabi and then on from Abu Dhabi to Australia, all in first class. I think this routing might run about 440K AA miles.