Your American Airlines Miles Could Be Getting More Useful for Booking Premium Cabin Flights to Australia

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INSIDER SECRET: Alaska Airlines allows a free stopover (in hub cities) on one-way award flights and you can use Alaska miles to book Qantas awards.

This week Qantas announced a major overhaul of its award program and, as expected, some award prices are increasing. But it’s not all bad news, especially for the average US traveler. For starters, the prices of economy awards are going down, effective immediately, and at the same time Qantas plans to open up 5 million more award seats throughout the year.

Even though Qantas was recently added as an Amex Membership Rewards transfer partner (they’re also partners with Citi ThankYou, Capital One and Marriott), Qantas miles aren’t incredibly useful for the typical American. But you can book Qantas award flights with American Airlines miles and Alaska Airlines miles, so with Qantas’ commitment to expand award availability your options for booking award flights to Australia could be getting better.

If you want to fly Qantas, earn American Airlines miles or Alaska Airlines miles first. (Image source Qantas)

American Airlines Miles Becoming More Useful for Flights to Australia

Most of the changes Qantas is making to its loyalty program won’t have much of an impact on you unless you frequently fly with Qantas. But if you were planning on transferring your flexible points to Qantas to book a premium-cabin award, those prices are increasing (although the fees attached to all award flights are decreasing). The price increase for premium awards will go into effect on Sept. 18, 2019. If you want a full breakdown of the details, check out The Points Guy’s analysis.

If you’re a US-based traveler here are the changes that you’ll want to pay attention to.

Every year Qantas is giving its frequent-flyer members access to 5 million additional award seats. This will include a 30% increase in premium-cabin awards (premium economy, business class and first class). But not all of these additional award seats will be on Qantas flights.

Qantas is adding five new partner airlines with which you’ll be able to earn and redeem Qantas miles:

The million additional award seats you can book with Qantas miles will include flights with the partners. So we don’t know how many of the extra rewards flights will end up being available on Qantas planes.

Historically, Qantas business- and first-class awards across the Pacific have been hard to come by, so any increase in award seats should make your American Airlines miles or Alaska Airlines miles more useful for booking award flights to Australia. Of course, it’s possible that Qantas will only open these new award seats to its own members and not to partner airlines. But if I had to guess, I think that Qantas’ partner airlines will see more available award flights — it’s just a question of how many. And at the very least, Qantas is planning to start two new routes to the US, which will open up options.

The Miles You Need For Qantas Flights to Australia

Alaska Airlines has the best prices for flights to Australia on Qantas:

What makes these prices even better is that Alaska Airlines allows you to add a free stopover on one-way award flights. The biggest drawback to Alaska Airlines miles is how difficult they can be to earn.

The only flexible points that transfer to Alaska Airlines are Marriott points, which convert at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus of 5,000 Alaska Airlines miles for every 60,000 Marriott points to you transfer. Or you could open either of the Bank of America Alaska Airlines cards:

For one-way partner award flights from the US to Australia, American Airlines charges:

  • 40,000 miles in economy
  • 80,000 miles in business class
  • 110,000 miles in first class

Those prices are higher (except for economy), but American Airlines miles are significantly easier for most people to earn. You could transfer Marriott points to American Airlines, but you’re usually better off applying for a Barclays or Citi American Airlines card:

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card, and Barclays Aviator cards has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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