Score Discounted Awards by Combining Qantas Flash Sale With Amex Transfer Bonus

Jun 14, 2019

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Qantas Frequent Flyer has been in the points and miles news a lot recently. On May 31, Qantas became the 19th airline partner of American Express Membership Rewards. A few days later, the partnership kicked off in style with a 20% transfer bonus now through June 30.

And now, there’s yet another bit of good news for those looking to book Qantas awards. Qantas just launched a 30% discount flash sale for economy awards. The sale runs now through 11:59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) on June 16 — that’s 10am US Eastern Time this Sunday.

While the booking window is short, the discounted travel dates are very broad. You can book flights now for travel anytime between July 23, 2019 and March 31, 2020.

There’s no need to enter a promotional code. The discount is automatically applied to eligible itineraries, which (unfortunately) are limited to flights on Qantas, Jetstar and Jetstar Asia flights. So, this is only going to be useful for US-based travelers that are planning to visit Australia now through next March.

There are two possible ways to utilize this promotion: on flights between US-Australia and intra-Australia flights. Let’s take a quick look at how to combine the Amex transfer bonus with the Qantas discount for these flights.

Economy flights between the US West Coast and Australia usually start at 90,000 Qantas miles round-trip. With the 30% discount, these awards now start at 63,000 Qantas miles. Routes include Los Angeles (LAX) to Brisbane (BNE), Melbourne (MEL) and Sydney (SYD) or San Francisco (SFO) to Melbourne (MEL) and Sydney (SYD).

In order to get 63,000 Qantas miles, you’ll need to transfer just 52,500 American Express Membership Rewards. There’s no need to worry about the transfer taking too long. In my testing, Amex points transferred to Qantas instantly.

Economy award flights from Dallas/Forth Worth (DFW) to Sydney (SYD) typically cost 110,000 Qantas miles round-trip but are discounted to 77,000 miles for the next two days. You’d need to transfer just 64,500 Amex points to get enough miles.

That being said, even with the transfer bonus and economy award discounts, these flights generally aren’t going to be worth it. Qantas’ taxes/fees can be quite high. An example itinerary that I priced out between Los Angeles (LAX) and Sydney (SYD) for August cost a whopping US$323 (AU$471) in taxes and fees.

Meanwhile, cash fares between the US and Australia can be quite cheap from West Coast gateways. And while 52,500 Amex points for a round-trip to Qantas may sound good, that’s over $1,000 worth of points based on TPG’s valuations.

However, there are some cases where the cash rate could be high enough that an award flight could make sense. For example, while nonstop flights between the US and Australia can be cheap, flights from smaller US markets or onward inside Australia may be much more expensive but have award availability.

The other place where this promotion could make sense is for domestic flights within Australia. Here’s how the pricing breaks down for some of the most popular tourist flights in Australia:

From To Flight
Amex points
Sydney (SYD) Melbourne (MEL) 439 8,000 5,600 4,667
Sydney (SYD) Brisbane (BNE) 467 8,000 5,600 4,667
Brisbane (BNE) Melbourne (MEL) 857 12,000 8,400 7,000
Melbourne (MEL) Alice Springs (ASP) 1,154 12,000 8,400 7,000
Sydney (SYD) Alice Springs (ASP) 1,256 18,000 12,600 10,500

Qantas has some notoriously expensive domestic flights where it holds a monopoly. For example, the 489-mile hop from Sydney to Lord Howe Island starts at AU$322 one-way. If you can find availability, this route is discounted to just 5,600 miles plus AU$86 in taxes and fees. That’s a redemption of 4.2 Australian cents per mile or 2.89 US cents. If you’re transferring points from American Express, you’re going to get an even higher redemption rate.

If you plan to utilize these offers, remember that the flash sale ends on Sunday morning June 16 at 9:59am Eastern Time, so time is running out.

H/T: Loyalty Lobby

Featured image by Ryan Patterson / The Points Guy

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