AWARD/UPGRADE SPACE ALERT: American Business Class to Australia/New Zealand for Spring

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Non-stop award space in premium cabins between the US and Australia is one of the toughest things to find out of any frequent flyer award in the world.

And American has been anything but generous with premium cabin international award space generally, except during spurts when they open up space. So when they do you need to act quickly. And when they do for Australia and New Zealand it’s worth paying attention.

Between April 30 and June 4 there are several dates with at least 2 business class award seats available Los Angeles – Auckland. And when there’s business class awards, there’s also upgrade space to buy economy and use Executive Platinum systemwide upgrades (valid from any fare) or miles (with cash co-pay) for business at time of booking.

There’s also some space for the return Auckland – Los Angeles through June 4 as well, though somewhat less than for the US-New Zealand flight.

Los Angeles – Auckland is operated by a Boeing 787-8 with all aisle access fully flat business class and inflight internet.

There’s also a bit of Los Angeles – Sydney space between May 9 and June 4.

Unfortunately there’s almost no Sydney – Los Angeles space.

Of course you can use the Auckland flight and add a Qantas Australia – Auckland connection (or a LAN connection) to travel between the US and Australia.

American’s Sydney flight is operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, my favorite aircraft in their fleet with fully flat all aisle access business class and inflight internet. They’ve also upgraded the catering on this route.

While April and May is no longer peak season, I find the weather especially pleasant in Australia and a great time to visit parts North in the country (though even July in Sydney is quite mild).

American charges 80,000 miles each way between the US and South Pacific in business class.

Your American Express or Citi ThankYou Rewards points from the Citi Prestige Card may be useful here as well because transfer partner Etihad still charges American’s less expensive old pricing.

So you earn these points quickly, and then spend fewer of those points for the same award.

(HT: Marty K.)

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. My deposit of SWUs for the 2016 program year expire in February 2017. If I purchase a ticket now for travel that’s not scheduled until May 2017, can those SWUs be applied? If yes, any potential issues I should be aware of? I haven’t hit the 100K EQM threshold yet this year for the 2017 program yea.

  2. @Chris they aren’t supposed to be used for travel beyond Feb 2017. In practice, once you earn more for 2018 expiration, they’ll generally pull the first (2/17 expiring) SWUs anyway.

  3. Thanks for the heads up! I just snagged two 80k tickets to Sydney on May 20th and 2 80K tickets from Auckland on June 2nd!! I’ve been waiting for a cheap redemption to go to Australia and New Zealand so this is perfect!!

  4. Thanks for the heads-up. Able to jump on it right away and grabbed 2 biz seats at the reduced rate in May. And since the outbound LAX-SYD included an overnight in AKL, I called AA and the agent was able to stretch the NZ stay to a week for only 25K additional p/p. The makings of a perfect vacation!!

  5. This is a trick AA frequently uses; open up award space one direction, then make it nearly impossible to get a flight back no matter how flexible you are on dates. This is however perfect for someone who wants to move to NZ and never come back. 😉

  6. No thanks, I don’t want to leave late spring in America to go to late autumn Down Under 😉 . Except maybe to Cairns or Darwin, where it’s always summer!
    Maybe the Aussies & Kiwis wanna come here in May.

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