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Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly from the US to Australia with a stop in Fiji for 20k miles plus $92

March 20, 2022
12 min read
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Editor's Note

This post has been updated with current information.

Now that Australia has reopened to U.S. tourists, many travelers are more excited than ever about booking a trip Down Under. What's better than a trip to Australia? Visiting Australia and Fiji on the same 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 award from the U.S. to Australia with a stop in Fiji using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles. This month is an excellent time to book such an award since Alaska is discounting Fiji-operated awards by up to 50% if you book by March 31 and complete your trip by Nov. 30.

Now, here's what you should know about booking this sweet spot.

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Why it's special

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

Alaska Airlines MileagePlan offers some appealing partner awards, especially 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: 47,500 in premium economy, 60,000 miles in business or 80,000 miles in first.
  • Fiji Airways: 40,000 miles in economy or 55,000 miles in business (20,000 miles in economy or 40,000 miles in business when you book by March 31 and complete your trip by Nov. 30).
  • Qantas: 47,500 miles in premium economy, 55,000 miles in business or 70,000 miles in first.

These rates -- especially during the current sale and in premium cabins -- are some of the best you'll find for flights between the U.S. and Australia. You could argue 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. Also, since business-class award availability between the U.S. and Fiji is currently extremely limited, I'll focus on economy awards.

However, remember that Alaska Airlines MileagePlan allows you a free stopover on one-way awards. Stopping 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 Bay, DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji and InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. Here's how you can replicate this award using Alaska miles.

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

How to book this award

Fiji Airways A350-900 economy cabin (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Alaska MileagePlan charges a $12.50 nonrefundable partner award fee per person each way for awards booked on a partner airline. But you can cancel or change partner awards with no fees if your plans change.

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 if you want to fly in business class. As I noted above, there's currently very little availability in business class. But, if you're happy flying in economy, there's still ample availability that you can snag at a great rate during Alaska's current award sale on Fiji-operated flights.

You can't use multiple Alaska Airlines partners on the same award. So, 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 on a Fiji Airways operated flight between San Francisco or Los Angeles and Nadi.

(Screenshot from aa.com)

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

(Screenshot from aa.com)

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. You'll also need to find MileSAAver award availability on an Alaska-operated flight.

You'll need to find award availability for your return flights as well. Hopefully now, though, 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 instead of searching for a one-way award due to your Fiji stopover.

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

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

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

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

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

If there's a seat image next to the award cost, you're looking at a mixed cabin award. I expected a mixed cabin award for this business-class result since I only found economy award availability between Los Angles and Nadi. You'd need to agree to continue with the mixed cabin award if you wanted to move forward with that option.

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

But, let's assume you decide to go forward with the 20,000-mile economy award. You can add this award to your cart by clicking on "Add to cart."

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

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

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

At this point, you'll need to sign in to your Alaska Airlines MileagePlan account and then 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

(Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

You may need to earn more Alaska Airlines miles to book this sweet spot. 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: Earn 50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card:40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer after making $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Both Alaska Airlines cards earn 3 miles per dollar spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent 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:

However, TPG's valuations peg the value of Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.84 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, redeeming Alaska miles this month to fly Fiji Airways later this year is a pretty great option. The taxes and fees are tolerable, you can stop over in Fiji and the award pricing is better than you'd get with most other programs.

However, it can be challenging to earn enough Alaska miles for this award since Marriott Bonvoy is the only major transferrable currency you can transfer to Alaska. Also, business-class award availability can be difficult to find.

Updated on 10/26/22.

Featured image by (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023