Outstanding Availability for Four Business Class Seats to Australia on Your Choice of Dates!

Delta charges 160,000 miles roundtrip in business class between the US and Australia.

In contrast,

  • American AAdvantage charges 125,000 miles for roundtrip business class but does not permit routing via Asia. Qantas premium cabin awards are very tough to get.
  • United MileagePlus charges 130,000 miles for roundtrip business class on United’s own flights, or 150,000 miles on partners.

The biggest drawback for many of using Delta miles is that while Virgin Australia has fantastic award availability between the US and Australia, these awards can even be booked on the Delta website, and no longer adds fuel surcharges to them), finding domestic award availability on Delta flights to get to and from Los Angeles can be tough. If you live in a city serving Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines you may be in better shape.

Many people will find themselves spending 160,000 miles roundtrip just for US – Australia roundtrip, and buying their flights to and from the Los Angeles gateway separately still.

But this could be worth it. Because if you want to take your family to Australia in business class, and you don’t want to route via Asia, awards on Virgin Australia are your best bet.

Just how good is availability?

Virgin Australia operates flights between Los Angeles and Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

Since I happened to be searching for March 2015 (still peak season, but ~ 9 months off) I thought I’d share what I found.

Here’s a search for four passengers, March 1-29, 2015 for Los Angeles – Sydney and Los Angeles – Brisbane.

And here’s availability for those same dates for four passengers in business class, Los Angeles – Melbourne.

I’ve got a ton of points earned via the Delta Suntrust debit card, so may finally put some of those to good use, visit family, and try out a product I haven’t been on before!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] While I’m not a fan of Delta miles generally, or their recent and pending award chart changes, 50,000 miles do have a use. I earn most of my Delta miles via the Suntrust Delta debit card which still gives me 1 mile per dollar. And I recently booked a couple of business class award tickets to Austalia (on their partner Virgin Australia when availability was out of this world good). […]


  1. What is the best way to cover MEL, SYD and AKL in 1 trip? I think Delta permits a stopover and open jaw in 1 round trip ticket but is there a delta partner that flies between AKL and either MEL or SYD?

  2. I quite enjoyed flying VA business class to SYD. They have nicer pj’s than VS, a nice onboard bar and a friendly service-oriented cabin crew. I booked this several years ago (when DL still had a fuel surcharge on VA flights) and was able to get a flight on DL from JFK-LAX w/an overnight at an airport hotel. Coming back I had to buy a one-way flight on AA LAX-JFK to get home. May have to burn more DL miles and go again. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Is the ability to search a 30 day period a function of a higher tier of AwardNexus membership, or is there a feature for merging multiple searches onto a single calendar? I’d love to be able to generate full-month views like the ones you posted.

    I just booked my parents 2 flights to SYD in F/J via DL & VA for February. Like you mentioned, the domestic LAX legs were extremely restrictive; there was only one day over a two month period where the return flight was available.

  4. Did some more research and it looks like VA flies between AKL and both SYD and MEL but DL site does not display award availability for that route. Where can we check VA award availability between AKL and SYD/MEL? Is the following itinerary DFW-LAX-SYD-AKL(Dest)-SYD(stopover)- LAX-DFW feasible on a single award ticket subject to availability ofcourse.

  5. Can I do a stopover in SE Asia or India on my way back from Australia with Delta miles?

  6. @Unclesam: Some VA trans-Tasman routes to appear on DL.dumb, but you’ll only see economy since the flights are operated as premium economy/economy and DL doesn’t let you redeem for premium economy. I checked SYD-AKL for a random date in March and found space in Y. If you do it segment-by-segment with multi-city, you should be able to put it together. However, you probably don’t really want to go to AKL if you have limited time. AKL is not the best part of NZ. Fly to WLG and take the ferry across to the south island and drive around. Or fly to ZQN or CHC and explore. Many of those routes won’t come up on DL.dumb, so call. Space is almost always available. If you really want to check, get a Velocity Rewards account (use a dummy address in Oz) and search for saver space. DL should be able to access the economy saver space trans-Tasman on VA-operated flights.

    @Rod: In theory, yes, to SE Asia. (India’s going to throw you way over the MPM.) However, remember that DL limits you to four segments each way so you’re kind of limited to stopovers in ICN (fly KE), TPE (fly CI), SGN (fly VN), CAN (fly CZ), or PVG (fly MU). Of course, you can book separate tickets to go to other places you might be interested in. Also, check out the AAdvantage chart for flying QF from Australia to Asia and do an OJ with the DL award. Before QF stopped selling F to HKG, I flew AKL-SYD-HKG with QF taking the A380 in F on SYD-HKG for 45K AA miles. Had gotten to NZ and back to the us from HK using DL miles.

  7. The United journey in biz on this route is perfunctory to the extreme. If want any pazazz I would pick another airline.

  8. @Rod – You can do a stopover in Asia on a Delta Australia award. So VA one direction, and an Asian carrier in another, in theory you could do a stopover in Vietnam for instance with Vietnam Airlines out of Sydney, but most options will be in North Asia (China, South Korea) based on partners.

  9. @Unclesam – you can get economy space between Australia and New Zealand, but remember that you can only redeem on Virgin Australia’s own flights not on their codeshars with Air New Zealand.

  10. We really enjoyed our recent trip on VA business class LAX-SYD-CNS-SYD-LAX. VA has a very enjoyable business class. No, the seat wasn’t the best ever, but we both slept very well after a bottle of their lovely vintage Lawson champagne, and the flight attendants were great! I highly recommend VA business class (and I never thought I would be saying this).

  11. @UncleSame,

    We are doing the trip you mentioned. Flying NY-HKG-MEL on Cathay Pacific in Business since First not yet available. Cathay flights all using Alaska Air miles. MEL to Cairns and Cairns to SYD on Qantas using Avios miles.

    Most creative part was SYD to Christchurch (we are doing a one week tour of the South island and only doing Auckland for 3 days on the way home). We found we could book Economy non-stop on Emirates and transfer AMEX points to Emirates and upgrade to Business Class. Not a lot of points. We finish our NZ South Island tour in Dunedin and had to pay for that flight. Finally, we come home AKL-HKG-NY on Cathay First. Still checking every day to see if First opens up on the outbound and would spend the dollars to buy the needed Alaska miles to make the change. That said, Cathay has one of the best Business cabins out there so no big worry.

  12. Can you use delta sky miles as you describe to go USA to east coast of Australia then connect on Virgin Australia’s domestic network on to Perth?

    If so, does it cost the same amount of miles?

  13. @stevens

    How did you find cx akl-HKG-ny availability? I’ve only seen sporadic y availability on ef.

  14. Great find Gary
    I’ve been looking for 2 from mid Dec to early Jan in business but nothing do far.
    Other than Deltas site what tools did you use?

  15. @Jerry Udell – these seats are bookable on the Delta website but to put together the calendar and power search across a broad range of dates I use the pay service Awardnexus

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