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.
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!
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:
- Part 1 – Transfer Partners
- Part 2 – How to Transfer Points
- Part 3 – Best Ways to Fly Within Continental US
- Part 4 – Best Ways to Fly to Hawaii
- Part 5 – Best Ways to Fly to Canada & Alaska
- Part 6 – Best Ways to Fly to Caribbean & Mexico
- Part 7 – Europe
- Part 8 – India & Middle East
- Part 9 – Africa
- Part 10 – South America
- Part 11 – Asia
- Part 12 – Australia & New Zealand
- Part 13 – Hotels
AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Flights to Australia & New Zealand
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:
- oneworld (includes American Airlines)
- SkyTeam (includes Virgin Australia)
- Star Alliance (includes Air New Zealand and United Airlines)
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
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.
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
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Link: ANA Award ChartANA 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.
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
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.
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.
The “MileSAAver” American Airlines award flights means you’ll be able to use British Airways Avios points for these flights.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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
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:
- 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
When you redeem points through the AMEX travel portal, you’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket with most cards.
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.
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
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.
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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