Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With American Express Membership Rewards Points Part 12: Australia & New Zealand

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You get lots of travel flexibility with AMEX Membership Rewards points.  Because if you don’t have set travel plans for a future trip, these transferable points give you the option to choose from multiple airline partners when you’re ready to book.

Folks in the miles & points hobby know earning transferable points, like AMEX Membership Rewards points, are the best way to get Big Travel.  

The AMEX Membership Rewards program has 17 direct airline partners.  Plus, you’ll get access to other indirect partners as well, which gives you several choices for flights to Australia and New Zealand!

Or you can save time and points by using AMEX Pay With Points to book coach or Business Class flights through the Membership Rewards travel portal.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

I Enjoyed My Visit to Sydney! If You’re Planning to Visit, You Can Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points With Terrific Airline Transfer Partners!

I’ll show you the best ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for flights to Australia and New Zealand!

The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points:

AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Flights to Australia & New Zealand

Link:   Which Miles & Points Should You Collect for Award Flights?

You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to several direct airline partners for flights to Australia and New Zealand.

And from the direct partners, you also get access to fly other airlines within the 3 major alliances:

But before you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to an airline partner consider:

  • Available award seats
  • Destination you’d like to visit
  • Your airline & alliance preferences
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Is New Zealand on Your Bucket List? Plan Ahead to Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Book Your Flight!

And keep in mind there are a limited number of non-stop flights from the US to Australia and New Zealand.  This means it can be difficult to find award seats on these flights, especially in Business Class or First Class.

If you plan to use miles or points, you’ll likely have to connect via the West Coast or through Asia.  So plan ahead for long flight itineraries.

For example, I flew from Austin to Los Angeles before heading to Sydney.

If you don’t have the time or don’t want to book your own award tickets, you can consider using an award booking service.

1.   Air Canada

Link:   Air Canada Award Chart

Link:   How to Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for United Airlines Award Tickets

You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Air Canada and book award flights to Australia and New Zealand on Star Alliance partner airlines like:

  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana
  • United Airlines

For a one-way award flight to Australia or New Zealand, you’ll pay:

  • 45,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
  • 67,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Premium Economy
  • 80,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
  • 110,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class

You can fly non-stop to Auckland, New Zealand, on a Star Alliance partner airline from:

  • Houston on Air New Zealand
  • Los Angeles on Air New Zealand
  • San Francisco on Air New Zealand or United Airlines (seasonal)

This means Air New Zealand operates most of the non-stop flights from the US.  And it can be extremely difficult to find award seats on their non-stop flights, even in coach.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Most Flights to New Zealand Are Operated By Air New Zealand. Unfortunately, the Airline Doesn’t Release Many Award Seats on Non-Stop Flights!

The good news is Air Canada does NOT add fuel surcharges on Air New Zealand or United Airlines flights.

For example, I found a one-way coach award flight from San Francisco to Auckland for 45,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles and ~$32 in taxes and fees.  This sample itinerary includes a layover in Sydney and travel on both United Airlines and Air New Zealand.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

You Won’t Pay Any Fuel Surcharges on United Airlines or Air New Zealand Award Flights When You Redeem Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

If you’re traveling to Australia, you’ll have non-stop options on United Airlines from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

And you’ll have more luck finding non-stop award flight options using Air Canada Aeroplan miles.

For example, I found a non-stop United Airlines award flight from Los Angeles to Sydney in November 2017.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

You Can Book Non-Stop Award Flights to Sydney Using Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

If you plan to use Air Canada Aeroplan miles for Business Class or First Class award flights, you’ll want to look out for mixed cabin flight itineraries.

Because you’ll pay the higher Business Class or First Class award flight price as long as 1 of your flight legs is in the premium cabin.

For example, I found an ANA award flight from Chicago to Sydney with a layover in Tokyo.  You’ll fly First Class to Tokyo.  But then switch to coach to get to Sydney.

You’ll pay the First Class price of 110,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles for this flight, even though almost half the itinerary is in coach.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Check If Your Award Flight Itinerary Includes Flights in Coach and First Class

2.   ANA

Link:   ANA Award Chart

ANA is also part of the Star Alliance, which means you can book award flights to Australia and New Zealand on partners like United Airlines.

You can only book round-trip award flights with ANA.

Keep in mind, ANA adds significant fuel surcharges (up to ~$1,000) on certain partner award flights.

Using ANA miles, a round-trip award flight on a partner airline costs:

  • 75,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 120,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 225,000 ANA miles in First Class

For example, I found a round-trip coach award flight from Chicago to Sydney for 75,000 ANA miles and ~$152 in taxes and fees.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Use ANA Miles to Book Award Flights on Star Alliance

You’ll also have the option to book itineraries to Australia and New Zealand that include flights on ANA with a layover in Tokyo.

But these flights can significantly increase your total travel time by 10 to 15 hours each way.

3.   British Airways Avios Points

Link:   How to Fly to South America With British Airways Avios Points 

Link:   British Airways Award Flight Calculator 

The transfer ratio to British Airways is less favorable (5:4).  But the program gives you options to book award flights to Australia and New Zealand on partner airline American Airlines.

For a one-way coach award flight, you’ll pay:

  • 35,000 British Airways Avios points to Auckland
  • 50,000 British Airways Avios points to Sydney

As an example, I found available award seats on an American Airlines flight between Los Angeles and Sydney.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Use 50,000 British Airways Avios Points to Fly Non-Stop From Los Angeles to Sydney

And you don’t pay any fuel surcharges when you use British Airways Avios points to book an American Airlines award flight.

To find available award seats to Australia or New Zealand on American Airlines, I recommend searching the American Airlines website for low-level “SAAver” seats.  These are the only type of award seats you can book with British Airways Avios points.

For example, I searched the American Airlines award calendar for non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Auckland.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Find “MileSAAver” Available Award Seats, Which Means You’ll Be Able to Redeem British Airways Avios Points

The “MileSAAver” American Airlines award flights means you’ll be able to use British Airways Avios points for these flights.

You can also use British Airways Avios points to get Big Travel in Australia.

4.   Etihad

Link:   Etihad Award Chart for American Airlines Redemptions    

Link:   Save Miles!  Book American Airlines Awards With Etihad Miles

Similar to British Airways, you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Etihad and then book American Airlines award flights.  But the transfer ratio to Etihad is better at 1:1.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

You Can Use Etihad Miles to Book an American Airlines Award Flight to Australia or New Zealand. And You Might Even Find a Business Class Award Seat!

A one-way award flight to Australia or New Zealand costs:

  • 37,500 Etihad miles in coach
  • 62,500 Etihad miles in Business Class
  • 72,500 Etihad miles in First Class

To find award seats eligible for using Etihad miles, you can search on the American Airlines website or call Etihad.

The trick is to find award seats with eligible booking codes, which means you’ll be able to use Etihad miles.  The eligible codes are:

  • Booking code “T” for coach
  • Booking code “U” for Business Class
  • Booking code “Z” for First Class

Using Etihad miles for American Airlines award flights can sometimes save you miles instead of booking directly with the airline.  But it can be a challenge to find available award seats.

For example, I found an American Airlines Business Class award flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, which is eligible to book using Etihad miles.  It’s a terrific deal because it only requires 62,500 Etihad miles.

But this was the only eligible flight I found in a 5 month timeframe.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Use American Airlines Website to Find Eligible Award Flight Booking Codes to Use Etihad Miles

To book your award flight, you’ll have to call Etihad at 877-690-0767.

Note:   You can not use Etihad miles to book award flights on American Airlines partner airlines.

5.   Hawaiian Airlines

Link:   Hawaiian Airlines Award Chart

Hawaiian Airlines is a direct AMEX airline transfer partner.  You can transfer points to the airline at a 1:1 ratio.

You can use Hawaiian Airlines to fly to Australia and New Zealand if you don’t mind a layover in Honolulu.

The cheapest one-way award flights you can find from the continental US to Australia and New Zealand

  • 60,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles in coach
  • 105,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles in First Class

Available award seats at the low-level mileage prices can be limited.  There can still be award seats available, but the prices might be double.

To search and book Hawaiian Airlines award flights, log-in to your frequent flyer account (free to sign-up).

Then, enter the desired departure city and destination.  For example, I searched a one-way award flight from Los Angeles to Auckland.  There’s an available award seat in coach for 60,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Use 60,000 Hawaiian Airlines Miles to Fly From Los Angeles to Auckland

6.   Delta

Delta is good for award flights to Australia and New Zealand because they are part of the SkyTeam Alliance.  This means part of your journey can be on a partner airline like Virgin Australia.

But Delta does not publish an award chart.  So you’ll need to search specific travel dates to find award flights prices.

I searched several routes and found the cheapest one-way award flights to Australia and New Zealand cost:

  • 45,000 Delta miles in coach 
  • 95,000 Delta miles in Business Class

You can use Delta miles to fly non-stop from Los Angeles to:

  • Brisbane
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney

Or you can connect in Los Angeles from one of Delta’s hub cities.

For example, I found a one-way coach award flight from Atlanta to Brisbane in March 2017, which costs 45,000 Delta miles.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Delta to Fly to Australia or New Zealand

You can’t use Delta miles for any non-stop award flights to New Zealand.  So you’ll likely have to connect through Sydney.

Remember, you’ll pay an excise fee when you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta.

7.   Flying Blue

Link:   Flying Blue Award Flight Calculator

Link:   Save Money on Airline Tickets: Hidden City Ticketing

Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program for Air France and KLM.  And they’re also part of the SkyTeam Alliance, which means you can book award flights on Delta.

If you’re flying to Sydney, there’s a secret way to book a one-way coach award flight for only 30,000 Flying Blue miles.  But you’ll need to travel without a checked bag.

Because the trick involves using hidden city ticketing to save miles.

Flying Blue normally charges 50,000 Flying Blue miles for a one-way coach award flight from the US to Sydney.

But you can use 30,000 Flying Blue miles to book a one-way award flight to Noumea in the South Pacific, which includes a layover in Sydney.  Instead of continuing on to the next leg, you can just stop in Sydney.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Travel to Sydney for Only 30,000 Flying Blue Miles Thanks to This Secret Award Flight Option!

Some folks might not be comfortable with this option.  And the airlines do NOT like this either.  Plus there can be risks if you’re re-routed.

But it might be worth it if you want to save miles because it’s the cheapest award flight to Sydney!

8.   Direct Transfer Partners With Drawbacks

Link:   Don’t Pay Fuel Surcharges, Save Money When You Book Award Tickets

There are other direct AMEX airline transfer partners that can get you to Australia and New Zealand too.  But these partners have drawbacks like:

  • Difficult to find award seats
  • Longer and inconvenient flight itineraries
  • More miles or points required for an award flight
  • Significant fuel surcharges

This includes AMEX airline partners like:

  • Alitalia
  • Asia Miles
  • Singapore Airlines

For example, I searched Alitalia, which is part of the SkyTeam Alliance.  This means you can book Delta award flights to Australia and New Zealand.

But when I searched for available award seats using Alitalia miles, I was only able to find 1 available seat at most.  And lots of days had no available award seats.

Use AMEX Points for Flights Without Blackout Dates

Link:   AMEX Pay With Points 

Link:   Now Get Points Back With AMEX Business Platinum

Link:   Changes to AMEX Business Platinum Points Rebate

Instead of transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to airline partners, you can redeem points for airfare using Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal.

When you redeem points through the AMEX travel portal, you’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket with most cards.

But with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, you’ll get some of your points back when you redeem for coach flights on your selected airline.  Or for any First or Business Class flight.

Read this post about changes to the AMEX Business Platinum Pay With Points rebate.

This is a great option for folks looking to save time and avoid blackout dates.

For example, I found a round-trip American Airlines coach flight from Los Angeles to Auckland in November 2017.  This flight costs ~$950 or ~95,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Australia

Using the Business Platinum Pay With Points Might Save You Points and Time Booking a Flight to Australia or New Zealand

You could book this same flight by transferring points to AMEX airline partners British Airways or Etihad.  If award flights are available on the same dates, you’d pay:

  • 70,000 British Airways Avios points
  • 75,000 Etihad miles

Folks with the Business Platinum can get a fantastic deal using Pay With Points if the flight is on their selected airline.

For example, if American Airlines is your selected airline, you’ll pay ~95,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for the sample round-trip flight to Beijing.  But you’ll get some of your points back.  The rebate amount depends on when you opened your card.

Bottom Line

For award flights to Australia and New Zealand, you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to partners like Air Canada, ANA, British Airways, Delta, Etihad, Flying Blue, and Hawaiian Airlines.

For example, you can fly one-way in coach from Los Angeles to Sydney for only 30,000 Flying Blue miles.  But you’ll have to be comfortable with the hidden city booking trick.

Keep in mind there are a limited number of non-stop flights from the US to Australia and New Zealand.  So it can be a challenge to find award seats on these flights, especially in Business Class or First Class.

You can also use AMEX Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal to book cheap coach or Business Class airfare.  This can be a fantastic deal for folks with the AMEX Business Platinum booking a cheap coach flight on their selected airline.

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5 responses to “Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With American Express Membership Rewards Points Part 12: Australia & New Zealand

  1. 50k Avios to fly from LAX to SYD in a coach class? It will cost only 37,500 Avios if you do this LAX-HNL-SYD (AA or Alaska Airlines for LAX-HNL and Qantas for HNL-SYD) instead.

  2. I booked China Southern using Delta points from AMEX spend. 97500 for business class seats. JFK to CAN, long layover then CAN to CHC. Worked for me because I wanted to do South Island so this was a 1 stop itinerary vs 2 stops if I did NY to LAX to AKL then CHC. and the layover is from 630am to midnight so I have a full day to run around Guangzhou. Never been to China so I have an excuse for a day to see some sights. In business class I’ll catch up on sleep. Would have only saved a few hours with two stops but finding that available without a stop in Asia is near impossible. China Southern has good availability when using Delta points. So I’ll take the seats and sightseeing in China and get the actual date I want to fly vs waiting and hoping

  3. I am new to this hobby and hope you can answer a question that has been puzzling me. When redeeming avios on AA I know I need to search for SAAver flights. Are all SAAver flights available to be booked with avios or only a select few on each flight? Also when using avios to book on AS I know you need to find the flights with the lowest amount of miles. Are there only a few seats bookable for award on these flights? Thanks for your help on these basic questions.