Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly business from the U.S. to Australia with a stop in Fiji for 55k miles plus $95

May 30, 2021

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While Australia has been off-limits over the last year and a half, our readers are as excited as ever about a trip Down Under. What’s better than a trip to Australia? Visiting Australia and Fiji in one trip. Plus, stopping in Fiji when flying between the U.S. and Australia lets you break up your trans-pacific journey.

So, in today’s sweet spot post, I’ll tell you how to book a one-way business class award from the U.S. to Australia with a stop in Fiji using Alaska Airlines miles. You’ll only need to pay 55,000 miles and around $95 of taxes and fees for this one-way business class award. This is a steal, especially if you’re excited about visiting Fiji on the way. But, note that your return award will cost you another 55,000 miles and about $150 of taxes and fees.

Before I dive into the details of this sweet spot, there is one important caveat: Australia may not reopen to international travel until mid to late 2022. So, even if you book this sweet spot for a trip in 2022, know that you may need to postpone or cancel your award flights. Luckily, Alaska Airlines now allows you to change or cancel partner awards for no fee. So, with that caveat out of the way, here’s what you should know about booking this sweet spot.

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In This Post

Why it’s special

Fiji Airways A350
Business class on Fiji Airways’ A350-900 (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Alaska Airlines MileagePlan offers some appealing partner awards if you want to fly in a premium cabin between the U.S. and Australia. In particular, Alaska Airlines’ partner award charts show the following one-way sweet spots between the U.S. and Australia:

  • Cathay Pacific: 60,000 miles in business or 80,000 miles in first
  • Fiji Airways: 55,000 miles in business
  • Qantas: 55,000 miles in business or 70,000 miles in first

These rates are the least you’ll pay with any major airline loyalty program for flights between the U.S. and Australia. You could make an argument for choosing any of these partners, especially if you can snag a first-class award operated by Cathay Pacific or Qantas.

However, today I’ll focus on Fiji Airways. Some flights between the U.S. and Fiji feature Fiji Airways’ new A350-900. If you book one of the flights, be sure to check out TPG Editor-at-Large Zach Honig’s tips on where to sit when flying Fiji Airways’ A350-900.

Best of all, Alaska Airlines MileagePlan allows you a free stopover on one-way awards. Stopping over in Fiji is a great way to break up a long trans-pacific journey and see another destination. I loved Fiji when my husband and I visited in 2019 to review the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi BayDoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji and InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. Here’s how you can replicate this award using Alaska miles.

Related: Financially-feasible Fiji: How to plan a trip to Fiji without breaking the bank

How to book this award

Business class on Fiji Airways' A350-900
Business class on Fiji Airways’ A350-900 (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Alaska MileagePlan charges a $25 nonrefundable partner award fee for awards that include travel on a partner airline. But you can cancel or change partner awards with no fees if your plans change or Australia still isn’t accepting U.S. tourists as your departure date nears.

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to search for and book this sweet spot.

Step 1: Find award availability

Finding award availability that fits your dates and travel plans will likely be the most challenging part of booking this award. When looking for availability, note that you can’t use multiple Alaska Airlines partners on the same award. As such, you’ll need to use flights operated by Alaska Airlines and Fiji Airways for this sweet spot.

Even though you’ll book your award through the Alaska Airlines MileagePlan website, I recommend using American Airlines’ calendar search to find award availability. If you need a refresher on using this tool, check out another sweet spot post I wrote recently about flying Qatar business from the U.S. to South Africa for detailed instructions.

Related: The best websites for searching Oneworld award availability

First, use American Airlines’ calendar search to find availability in business class on a Fiji Airways operated flight between San Francisco or Los Angeles and Nadi.

American Airlines calendar award search
(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

Then, use American Airlines’ calendar search to find availability in business class on a Fiji Airways operated flight between Nadi and Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

American Airlines calendar award search
(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

Additionally, if you want to originate somewhere besides Los Angeles or San Francisco, use American Airlines’ calendar search to find availability on Alaska Airlines. You’ll want to do this as a separate search from the search mentioned above due to American’s married segment award logic. And you’ll need to find MileSAAver award availability on an Alaska-operated flight.

American Airlines calendar award search
(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

You may decide to fly in economy domestically to position for your trans-pacific awards if you can’t find business class award availability. For example, I’d likely add an Alaska Airlines flight in economy if I wanted to originate in Boston.

American Airlines award search
(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

You’ll need to find award availability for your return flights as well. But, hopefully, now you have a good idea of how to do so.

Related: The complete guide to maximizing stopovers and open jaws on award tickets

Step 2: Search on Alaska Airlines’ website

Now that you know what dates, origin and destination to search, go to Alaska Airlines’ website. Below where you’d typically enter your search information, click on “All search options.” You’ll want to click here as opposed to searching for a one-way award due to your Fiji stopover.

Alaska Airlines award search
(Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Now, click “Multi-city,” select “Use miles,” and enter the information for your outbound flights. Theoretically, you could enter your return flight info here. But for now, let’s assume you want to fly one way. Click “Find flights.”

Alaska Airlines award search
(Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

On the next screen, you should see the flights you found using American Airlines’ calendar search.

Alaska Airlines award search
(Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

If there’s a seat image next to the award cost, that means you’re looking at a mixed cabin award. I expected a mixed cabin award for this result since I only found economy award availability on Alaska-operated flights between Boston and San Francisco. You’ll need to agree to continue with the mixed cabin award to move forward with your booking.

Alaska Airlines award search
(Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Now, you can add this award to your cart by clicking on “Add to cart.”

Alaska Airlines award add to cart
(Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Once the award is in your cart, you can check the flight details. Click “Next” once you’re ready to move forward.

Alaska Airlines flights in cart
(Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

At this point, you’ll need to sign in to your Alaska Airlines MileagePlan account.

Alaska Airlines sign-in to book award
(Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Now you’ll need to enter or confirm passenger names and contact information. Next, you can select seats on any Alaska-operated flights in your booking. Then, you can enter your payment information and purchase your award.

Related: Best sweet spots with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

How to earn miles for this award

Business class on Fiji Airways' A350-900
Business class on Fiji Airways’ A350-900 (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

To book this sweet spot, you may need to earn more Alaska Airlines miles. Here are some of the best ways to do so.

Earning with Alaska Airlines credit cards

One way to rack up Alaska Airlines miles is to sign-up for and use Alaska Airlines credit cards. If you’re looking to add a new card to your wallet, here’s a look at the current sign-up bonuses available on Alaska cards:

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card: Get 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this online offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account. ($75 annual fee)
  • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card: Limited Time Offer! Get 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $3,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.

 

Both Alaska Airlines cards earn 3x miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases. TPG’s valuations peg the value of Alaska Airlines miles at 1.8 cents each. So, using these cards for purchases that aren’t with Alaska Airlines will get you an effective 1.8% return. Although this isn’t bad, many everyday spending cards would provide a better return.

Related: Get access to valuable miles: Review of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card

Transferring Marriott Bonvoy points

Another way of earning more Alaska Airlines miles is to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska. In particular, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska at a 3:1 ratio as long as you transfer at least 3,000 points.

There are many ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points, including hotel stays, the Marriott Eat Around Town dining rewards program and Marriott’s new partnership with Uber. You can also earn Marriott points with Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. Here’s an overview of the current offers available for new Marriott Bonvoy cardholders:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made on your new card at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership. ($450 annual fee, see rates and fees)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new card within the first three months of card membership.($125 annual fee, see rates and fees)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn three free nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. ($95 annual fee)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. (no annual fee)

However, TPG’s valuations peg the value of Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents each and Alaska miles at 1.8 cents each. So, with the 3:1 transfer ratio, you’re giving up a value of about 0.6 cents per Alaska mile earned when you transfer Marriott points to Alaska.

Related: When does it make sense to transfer Marriott points to airlines?

Other methods for earning Alaska Airlines miles

Of course, there are many other ways to earn Alaska Airlines miles, including:

Related: 5 vacation-worthy flights you can book with just 5,000 Alaska miles

Bottom line

If you want to fly to Australia in business class, redeeming Alaska miles to fly Fiji Airways is a pretty great option. The taxes and fees are tolerable, you can stopover in Fiji and the award pricing is better than you’d get with most other programs.

But, it can be challenging to earn enough Alaska miles for this award since Marriott Bonvoy is the only major transferrable currency that you can transfer to Alaska. And, award availability can sometimes be difficult to find — especially if your travel dates aren’t flexible.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card, please click here.

Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

Updated on 11/3/21.

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