I summed up some advice for booking Australia flights with American miles over on Milepoint and thought it might be worth reproducing the advice here as well, since Australia is one of those really frequent questions that I get (and that I’ve touched on before).
1. BA/QF/CX loads their schedules ~ 355 days out. Their members can book flights beginning that early.
2. Interestingly, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partners with these three programs. Alaska doesn’t load its own flight schedules until 331 days out but they can book award seats on QF/CX/BA 355 days out, no problem. In fact, you can book a partner award 355 days out and then call back later to add in Alaska segments once the Alaska schedule loads and they won’t charge you to make the change!
3. But American will not book partner awards until 331 days out when their own schedules load. This means that QF/CX/BA members have a head start in booking those award seats which are loaded when the schedle initially comes online.
4. Of course there’ll likely be more seats later. Airlines constantly evaluate loads and flights whcih are selling more lightly than expected will see more award seats being loaded as time goes on.
5. Australia is the toughest frequent flyer award there is IMHO. (Except that V Australia has great availability in business class, good use of Delta miles.)
6. February is high season. If you got business class seats, you done good!!
7. The new Dallas flight has had better inventory than the LAX flights. With American miles you can also fly LAX-PPT-AKL on TN and connect to SYD on QF. Or LAX-NAN-SYD on FJ.
8. American will not allow an Asia routing on an all-partner award. But they will allow you to do it of course on a distance-based oneworld award.
9. American agents notoriously don’t always see partner award inventory that’s out there, you need them to search segment-by-segment and often to hang up, call back. Very frequently an issue with CX and especially when looking at destinations beyond HKG like DPS.
The Qantas website is great for searching awards with most oneworld partners (just join their program, from most countries it’s free to do so). The British Airways website covers some partner availability that Qantas isn’t good at showing or doesn’t offer like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. The website is more cumbersome than Qantas’, but if you can find the seats on the BA site you know they’re available to partners for sure.