Book now: Lots of business-class award seats from the U.S. to Australia

Jan 16, 2020

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Over the last several weeks, Australia has been dealing with massive wildfires. The scale of the damage is devastating, and the impact to the country’s economy — especially tourism — is also notable. And since one of the best ways to help may just be to visit, you could get there in comfort over the next few months. Qantas has currently opened up a large amount of award space on its nonstop flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Brisbane (BNE).

This is especially good news, since getting to Australia using points and miles in premium cabins can be exceedingly challenging. At the time of writing, we’re seeing up to six business-class awards for many dates in February and March. The flight only operates three days per week (Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in both directions), and the vast majority of those are currently available.

Here’s a breakdown of dates for these flights, including the number of business-class seats on each one. All are flown with the Boeing 787-9.

San Francisco (SFO) to Brisbane (BNE)

February 13: four seats
February 16: one seat
February 18: two seats
February 20: four seats
February 23: two seats
February 17: one seat

March 1: two seats
March 3: one seat
March 8: five seats
March 15: one seat
March 17: four seats
March 19: six seats
March 22: six seats
March 24: four seats
March 26: five seats
March 29: six seats

Brisbane (BNE) to San Francisco (SFO)

February 9: six seats
February 11: two seats
February 13: two seats
February 16: one seat
February 23: one seat
February 27: one seat

March 1: two seats
March 5: one seat
March 10: three seats
March 12: three seats
March 15: three seats
March 17: five seats
March 19: five seats
March 24: three seats
March 26: four seats
March 31: three seats

How to book

Qantas occasionally releases large quantities of award seats to members of its own program, but in this case, it appears that all of these flights are bookable through partners. Since Qantas is a member of the Oneworld alliance, you should be able to use any frequent flyer program from a member airline to book these flights. American AAdvantage would likely be a popular choice for U.S.-based readers, as the carrier will charge 80,000 miles in each direction (plus minimal fees).

However, the best option for booking is likely through Alaska Mileage Plan. This non-alliance partner of Qantas will only require 55,000 miles each way plus roughly $130 in taxes and fees — one of the best sweet spots in the world of award travel. And it appears that all of these flights are currently bookable through Alaska, like this award for four travelers in mid- to late-March:

This is a fantastic price for one of the harder destinations to reach with points and miles — especially in premium cabins.

Adding connecting flights

If you don’t want to end your trip in Brisbane, both American and Alaska allow you to add connecting, domestic flights at the beginning or end of your long-haul ones — without any additional miles. However, you would need to find award availability on all segments, which isn’t always easy, especially in the U.S. While Alaska’s routing rules don’t allow you to combine two or more partners on a single award ticket, you could add a connecting flight to San Francisco operated by Alaska.

Bear in mind too that Alaska allows stopovers on international award tickets — even one-way itineraries. This could be a great way to fly to Brisbane, spend a few days, and then connect to another part of Australia for the same award rate (55,000 miles in business class each way).

READ MORE: How to book stopovers with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

What about the wildfires?

Photo by Christian Kramer / The Points Guy.
The numerous wildfires in Australia aren’t necessarily a reason to avoid visiting the country. (Photo by Christian Kramer / The Points Guy)

As noted above, Australia has been ravaged by wildfires, so it’s important to bear that in mind as you finalize your plans. However, TPG Australia-based contributor Amanda Woods recently wrote about how booking a trip down under may be one of the best things you can do to support the country. Tourism dollars are critical to the recovery after a natural disaster, and there are many areas of Australia that aren’t affected by these fires. At a time when many hotels, tour companies and other businesses that rely on tourists’ money are struggling, any infusion of cash from a trip may go even further than a donation.

And of course, if you’re not able to take advantage of this particular glut of award space, there’s still plenty you can do to support Australia, including donating to the following:

TPG’s own fundraiser from last week raised over $20,000 for the Australian Red Cross, but any additional money you can donate will go a long way toward the recovery efforts.

Bottom line

Natural disasters like the Australian fires may make travelers think twice about booking a trip to an affected area of the world, but visiting Australia in the next couple of months could provide a nice boost to the country’s economy. If you have a stash of Alaska miles and have been eyeing a trip down under, I’d jump on this award space sooner rather than later, as it likely won’t last.

Featured photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy

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