Act Fast: Nonstop Business Class Awards To Australia!

Australia is a tricky destination, particularly when using miles, and even more so if you’re looking for flights in a premium cabin. Comparatively few carriers operate routes between North America and Australia, and award inventory is incredibly limited.

However, Qantas recently announced service between Sydney and San Francisco. As is often the case with new routes, award space is more plentiful than normal. I see two seats on many days through the end of the schedule — about 50% of a given month, which is essentially unheard of.

Qantas-747-Business-Class-01

But the enhanced availability comes with a catch (and is probably the reason there are any award seats left at this point). This space isn’t visible online… at least on most websites.

Finding Qantas award seats

Typically, I like to search for Qantas space using aa.com. They have a great calendar view, and as Qantas premium cabin space is generally a needle in a haystack, being able to search a month at a time is delightful.

San-Francisco-Sydney-Award-Space-3

In this case, however, Business class awards aren’t even displaying.

The same goes for the British Airways tool:

San-Francisco-Sydney-Award-Space-1

Fortunately, it is possible to search this space online without using a “Pro” tool. You’ll need to create a Qantas Frequent Flyer account, but unless you live in Australia there’s no charge to do so.

Once you’ve logged in to your account, enter the flight details, making sure to check “Search Classic Flight Rewards.”

San-Francisco-Sydney-Award-Space-2

The Qantas results display is super quirky, but you’re basically looking for flights that show a person sitting in a seat. If the seat is clickable, there’s award space:

San-Francisco-Sydney-Award-Space-5

And other carriers should have no issues securing “Classic” flights over the phone. I was easily able to hold this flight through American, for example:

San-Francisco-Sydney-Award-Space-4

Using miles for Qantas business class

You have a few options when redeeming miles on this route, depending on which currency you have.

  • Alaska Mileage Plan charges just 55,000 miles one-way
  • American AAdvantage charges 62,500 miles one-way
  • British Airways Avios charges 100,000 miles one-way
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles charges 70,000 miles one-way

Although they require a few more miles than Alaska, I would probably redeem AAdvantage miles for this. Alaska will allow you to route via Asia on Cathay Pacific for no additional miles, and has several other great redemption options. This is a rather rare opportunity to use American miles for non-stop flights to Australia.

Qantas-Business-Class-747-01

Bottom line

If you’re looking at redeeming any miles to Australia other than Delta SkyMiles, and don’t want to route via Asia, this is the way to go. I don’t expect this to last long. At least hold the space.

Ironically, I spent a large portion of dinner last night grumbling to Ben and Travis about the lack of reasonable AAdvantage redemption opportunities to Australia. Any other routes I should be complaining about? 😉

(Thanks to reader SG for the tip!)

Comments

  1. There is scattered availability for award seats for only 1 person on assorted dates.
    Change that to 2 award seats and virtually no dates for business class.

    Great if you’re flying solo.
    If not, nothing to get excited about.

  2. @ Susan — Nope, though that would likely not be a great value in this case regardless. You’re better off just purchasing the needed miles.

  3. @ Max M — Availability was great when I wrote the post, so I think people are grabbing space. We’ve held or ticketed lots of awards on dates with two seats this morning.

  4. Tiffany-

    As of 11AM Eastern Time, there were not 2 award tickets in Business on SFO-SYD/SYD-SFO for the entire month of December 2015, and January 2016 on QF’s site.

    Perhaps other months there is/was space for 2 pax in Business?

    But apparently, you must have gotten in on the deal prior to my research.

    However, Ven also reports that it appears the deal is dead.

  5. 2 SFO – SYD on hold in biz…now to try and get back. I would expect a lot of holds to drop off over the next week, we’ll see if they go back into award inventory.

  6. @Tiffany, On my first search I was shown an award calendar of one month. I saw the same thing on another blog, but I can’t figure out how to get back to the calendar on Qantas’ site. Any idea how to bring up the calendar display?

  7. @Lantean – IIRC, you can get LH F more than 2 weeks out via Miles & More. Assuming they’re not on strike, of course. 😀

  8. Honestly, Qantas 744 availability is not really that bad. Because 744 is not 748, it sucks.
    The problem with Qantas is it rarely release any premium cabin award seats on its A380 routes

  9. I saw some business class availability on return from Melbourne-LAX for next April on aa.com. Very spotty though

  10. The seats look horribly narrow. They have 4 seats in row 1 for which LH has 2 (in F). I’m not sure this is much better than HA’s A330 recliner.

  11. So, I guess OMMAT’s award booking service snapped up all the good (aka popular dates) flights of 2 pax…I guess that’s one way to get more users to the service.

    At least the article gave me insight as to why a ton of space magically disappears….speculative booking by the award booking companies.

  12. @ brian — Well, no speculative bookings on our end, though I suppose others might do that. The only thing I held that wasn’t necessary was for the blog post, and I released it right afterwards.

  13. italdesign says:
    July 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    The seats look horribly narrow. They have 4 seats in row 1 for which LH has 2 (in F). I’m not sure this is much better than HA’s A330 recliner.
    _________

    You are comparing J with F? I would hope LH F is wider than QF J! QF F certainly is.

    QF business class seats, lie-flat bed with 21.5″ width. HA ‘First’ recliners, 18.5″ width.

  14. Tiffany claims to have booked or held ‘LOTS’ of seats on the new Qantas SYD-SFO route for her customers. This behavior is deplorable, as in most people’s opinion, acting as a broker to profit from award seats is totally against the spirit of the airlines’ award programs. Alaska recognises this and is proactively taking steps to curtail this unethical activity from their program. Bravo Alaska! Finally, customers of this service and others like it, should proceed with caution, as there would be nothing worse than arriving at the airport and be denied boarding, as has in fact happened.

  15. /ranton

    Wow there really are some haters that really don’t have a clue. Let’s be honest here, it’s a flight that is less than daily, beginning in December, so realistically at the most we had maybe 300 business award seats made available until the end of the schedule. Qantas sent an email out to their members that bookings were open, i’m sure it was posted on Flyertalk and it was posted on OMAAT and View from the Wing and potentially other blogs that have thousands and thousands of readers.

    Of course availability was going to go fast no matter which date you’re looking for, it’s availability in business class to Australia which is a hugely popular route, any month of the year!. I myself was checking availability daily to book a book a flight and as soon as I got that email from QF I checked AA.com, then Qantas.com, then called AA to book and then emailed Lucky about it.

    As for Glenn T, while I haven’t used Lucky’s service to book anything, at least to my understanding he’s not a broker (which you find so deplorable) but someone who helps people use their own miles to book awards for themselves because they’re not a mileage junkie and don’t know how to find what they want.

    For those that said that it’s all gone, it’s certainly not all gone. Maybe the dates YOU want to travel aren’t available but i’m still seeing some availability on the QF website, you just might need to spoonfeed the flights to the AAdvantage agent, just like you had to with Dividend Miles! 😉

    /rantover

    SG

  16. @ SG. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck!
    FYI~ I am not looking for a flight on these sectors. I am booked up til next year.

  17. Another useless article.
    Checked Qantas, saw biz seats available, called AA, nothing available.

  18. @ Brian~ Tiffany swept the board according to her~ read this article! @ SG, if you are a broker operating same way as Tiffany, I can understand you are peeved she beat you to the punch, and no doubt nervous if this issue gets legs and wipes out parasites who try to hoodwink the gullible travelling public!

  19. To be fair, she could have booked “lots” for clients, just happened to be all in the morning. Though I suspect tickets were held for the pending rush to book, until that knowledge of avail. biz space is acted upon…probably in that coming week (if they don’t cancel and re-hold again, then weeks)

    I made the comment more to solidify my understanding of why those seats go so damn quickly for future knowledge. I have my flights for this year to SYD (though booked back in Jan/Feb). Honestly, it’s a wise biz decision to become “the place for award booking b/c they have availability”. Whether that’s right or wrong, and whether the airline(s) do anything about remains to be seen. It would be a very hard thing to stop w/o affecting their true customer base….at least in thinking about it for all of 15 seconds.

  20. @A and @ExpertFlyer. I’m happy EF posted that, I had no idea I could use my EF subscription for QF awards for partners bookings. I had thought it was for QF members only

    I’m curious can you do name changes on held awards? If you cant, I don’t know how this alleged speculative booking scam would work. Especially since QF doesn’t automatically release more award space.

    As mentioned above I bet since this was highly publicized, on blogs, FT, emails from QF, QF press releases etc. A ton of people outside the award booking service may have also been ready to pounce as soon as they were loaded

  21. @ Glenn T. — Goodness gracious! I’m not sure what I’ve done to upset you here, but for complete avoidance of doubt: we have not, and will not make speculative bookings for the purposes of “brokering” seats. That’s a ridiculous and unfair practice, and would be more than a minor pain in the ass. We’ve also never ever ever had anyone denied boarding on a ticket we helped to book, so not even sure where that is coming from.

    To give an example of the seats we did book: a family of four using AAdvantage miles who the day prior we had told didn’t have enough miles as the only availability was by routing through Asia and breaking the award. Not sure what’s malicious or parasitic about emailing someone to say “Good news, if you can split two and two this is actually possible with the miles you have at present, and you don’t have to spend an extra few thousand dollars on this trip.”

    @ brian — It would be wonderful to have a pool of secret and secured award availability, but that’s not how it works. We’re using the same tools as everyone else, and operating in real time. People are paying for our knowledge, ultimately.

  22. I think what set things off is your comment at 11:26 July 16 about booking LOTS (in italics) of space.

  23. Tiffany-so after finding the seats on Qantas, and one calls AA, and tells them the specific day/flight details, and if they state it is not available, what does that mean – it means inventory has gone ? what are the next best options ? Transfer thank you points to Qantas or Alaska and hope that you can find something and book directly ?

    Andrew

  24. Tiffany~ let’s examine what you mean by ‘lots’ (your italics for emphasis) of seats grabbed. Either you have many, many clients fully primed with miles ready to pounce on first-release seats on this new route, or it is just bragging about how clever you are, and directly positively promoting the service you provide. I suspect it is the latter. The fact you have put a ‘hold’ on seats indicates they are speculative bookings which you will let expire and (possibly) return to inventory if no buyers are found within the 5 days. This may seem to you good business practice being able to finesse the award schemes, but it is not what was intended when these schemes developed. I suppose as long as the airlines and the schemes knowingly allow this loophole to be exploited (the exception being Korean) it will continue. The downside, and it’s a biggie, which your readers should realise, is that the likes of Lufthansa, Singapore, Qantas, and even LOT for example, severely restrict the number of premium cabin seats put out there, and even reserve 1st Class for their own FF program’s members only. This is their first shot at attempting to curtail the brokerage practiced by you and a host of other bit players worldwide; stand by for more unpleasantness!
    I’m guessing you have never considered for a nano-second the moral aspect of what you are doing, and how it may emasculate the whole (purchased miles) award system. I know many others could not give a f*** about morality, and will never, ever, let such a concept get between them and a fast buck. It may not disappear, but it could become a very unattractive desert to pick over the carcasses.
    Since you were wondering, this is what not upsets, but makes me angry.

  25. This is a good example of why airlines dont allow name changes. To avoid people from buying up all the seats for resale.

    Glenn, im confused why you are using the word broker. OMAAT has an award booking service where they assist people in spending thieir own personal miles (like a personal shopper) not OMAAT’s miles. A broker is something completely different. They who buy up hordes of miles from people and use that to pay for flights as they find interested customers. They cant just reassign the purchased tickets to someone else. It doesnt work that way and airlines don’t automatically release the award seats back in inventry for this same reason to block reselling of ticketed space. I abaondoned a QF award a few months ago and space never opened up afterwards even into the weeks before departure

  26. @CD King~ I take your point and agree on your definition of broker. The original issue was Tiffany’s buy-up and HOLD of ‘lots’ of these seats. This seems to me to be over and above what one would expect of a booking service, or whatever you may call it. There is a fine line being walked here. There are far worse types out there doing dodgy deals on behalf of clueless clients which have ended in tears~ at the check-in counter!
    I think it is bad for the industry as a whole, and would hate to see it in retreat as a response to a few unscrupulous manipulators. (Not putting you in that category Tiffany!)

  27. Tiffany, I basically have the same question as AndrewF, I passed this along to a friend but she wasn’t able to book. She had the Qantas site pulled up showing award seats on various dates that worked for her and she had Alaska Airlines on the phone. She gave them the date and flight number but the agent said nothing was showing in their system as available. She gave them a different date and flight and the agent said there was nothing available and they couldn’t book it if they can’t see it. Is there something else the agent needs to do in a case like this? I suggested the hang up try again approach, but perhaps the agent needs to something extra on their end?

  28. @ Andrew F @ dan — Hmmm, I haven’t had that happen specifically with Qantas, but it’s not unusual for there to be a lag in inventory. Sometimes American needs to enter the specific flight data in order to see availability, and Alaska sometimes needs to use their old system.

    Calling until you find an agent who is willing to troubleshoot is key. If you have an agent who can’t see any space and is cranky about the process you’re generally best calling again.

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