Tons Of Business Class Award Seats To Australia Using Chase/Amex/Capital One Points

Qantas announced the release of ‘millions’ of award seats as Australia re-opens. So far Australians are expected to be able to leave their country next month (and return!) with rules for what they must do on arrival varying by state. There’s no announced timeline for visitors to come to Australia, but there’s reason to be hopeful.

I’ve been waiting to see my family since before the pandemic, and I’ve booked and then had to cancel many awards. Fortunately Qantas awards are usually bookable with American AAdvantage miles, which have no cancel/redeposit fees for any member any longer. They’re also generally bookable with Alaska Airlines miles.

Early reports were that most of the seats being made available were domestic and coach for international, but I was going to persist.

In general when Qantas award seats are added into inventory you won’t see them on the American Airlines website. That was my first stop and I simply didn’t find Qantas business class seats between the U.S. and Australia coming up when I searched (I did find one date in 2022 where American offered three business seats on their own LA-Sydney flight). It’s a better idea to search the Qantas or British Airways websites and then call American to book. Space may not match exactly but it’s usually close.

In this case though I’m finding seats being made available to Qantas members and not to partners. The seats aren’t available on the British Airways website either, and weren’t available when I called American. That could be by design,, or a matter of timing (that they’ll become available to partners shortly).

Of course Qantas is a transfer partner of American Express, Citibank and Capital One. Their long haul business class awards are expensive, both in points and money (since they add fuel surcharges). Brisbane – Los Angeles is 108,400 miles and US$261 one way.

Still, I was determined. My first shot was April 2022, looking for 3 business class seats either Los Angeles – Brisbane or San Francisco – Sydney, because these two routes are historically easier than Los Angeles – Sydney and Dallas – Sydney is likely to return later than LA flying. There was some availability, and remember 3 seats are always harder than 2.

I looked at June and found nothing, but come July (their winter, but it’s not actually cold, and I’d spend part of the time up near Queensland in any case where it’s warmer) space really opened up on these two routes. You’ll see some LA – Sydney and San Francisco – Brisbane space here as well (not to mention connections via Tokyo which aren’t priced as a single award by American AAdvantage):

International awards booked with Qantas miles by February 28, 2022 for travel through end of 2022 are cancellable free of charge. I don’t really want to spend the miles Qantas charges, and don’t really want to risk stranding miles in a Qantas account – but since I travel to Australia often to see family they won’t really be stranded. If the trip doesn’t work out I’ll book another one later.

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, 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. I plan on getting back to Aus when things open up without having to quarantine.

    Isn’t there better value with United, Singapore or Cathay?

  2. Hi Gary — what program are you using here to search awards across an entire month? Thanks!

  3. Gary, good luck on being let in as a non-Citizen, and especially into BNE. Australia is currently only allowing residents in, and that is only via NSW. The Premier of Queensland is a hysteric paranoid, and I doubt she will be allowing any foreigners in anytime soon, and yes I realize you are booking for next year. But that is the narrative of what is going on in some states (Western Australia included).

  4. I’ve seen some availability for Australia-USA for next year in business class on Fiji Airways using Alaska Mileage Plan miles. OK, you transit NADI (or can have stopovers included), but you get a lie flat on an A350 costing 50,000 points not 108,000 points (per QF FF) each way. QF also has excessive carrier charges.

    QF points are easy for locals to accrue (e.g. I bought wine this week and scooped 80 QF points per USD, received 145 QF points per USD for USD700 worth of company fuel spend on a promo, etc), but poor value for credit card transfers, when you consider where else your credit card points can transfer and that QF points are half or less than half the value for given redemptions compared with some other program options.

    But, yes, QF evidently offers significantly more award space to its own members than to those of its partners.

  5. @ Dave

    It is the federal government (and not the state governments) which will decide international border control (the who and when of international arrivals – it looks like citizens / residents, then migrant visas and students, and then tourists).

    Under QLD law its the Chief Health Officer who can make health directives at times of health crisis. These become less legally defensible as high vaccination rates are attained.

    QLD has a plan to relax COVID restrictions in line with vaccination rates – you may well find QLD advances faster than the right wing states of Tasmania and South Australia, time will tell…;

    That would be the narrative without the histrionic rant.

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