In this guide, we show you how you can use American Airlines’ AAdvantage progam for cheaper Trans-Tasman Business Class flights with Qantas and LAN, particularly when travelling further afield to cities like Adelaide, Darwin and Perth.
Qantas is Air New Zealand’s main full service competitor on Trans-Tasman flights. While Air New Zealand clearly has the superior Business Class product, there is little in the way of ‘point hacking’ that can get you into those seats any cheaper than retail value.
LAN is the second oneworld airline to fly between the two countries, as a leg at the end of the flights from Santiago in Chile. They fly the 787-9 Dreamliner on this route, which we have reviewed here.
In depth guides to buying and trasnfering points to the AAdvantage program can be found here:
- Buying American Airlines AAdvantage miles guide →
- Guide to using Starwood to convert Amex Membership Rewards points to AAdvantage miles →
Further reading about buying points
I’ve written heaps about buying points for cheap Business and First Class flights. These guides are where to start:
Buying miles to redeem for Trans-Tasman Business Class between New Zealand and Australia
When you look at buying points to redeem for flights there are a number of factors to consider, including:
- Class of travel, Economy or Business
- Distance, duration of your flight
- Availability of seats
Remember that it is also important to factor in currency exchange rates as well given that Aadvantage sell their miles in $USD.
First, the best “good value for money” use for the points/miles is for Business Class travel, and not economy – just like most points redemptions.
Having said that, during peak periods, some Economy Class tickets could fetch more than $1,000 so it’s still worth keeping the option in mind, especially for last minute travel.
Conversely, keep an eye out for Business Class flight specials – LAN often sell return flights between Auckland and Sydney for ~$800 NZD, and this will always beat any points offer, while also letting you earn points and status.
Secondly, consider the distance of your flight.
With AAdvantage, there is a fixed rate for flights between New Zealand and Australia with Qantas and LAN, regardless of distance. This means redeeming miles for a business class ticket would cost you the same amount for a Queenstown to Sydney flight, as it would for a direct Auckland to Perth flight. This is completely different from Qantas’ own program, which is mile based, with a differing number of points required depending on distance between cities.
Finally, availability – some routes are just more popular than others. You also have to be realistic with your expectations and flexible with travel dates and time, and research whether there’s availability for your intended travel dates before you jump in and make a miles purchase.
So how much will it cost to redeem with AAdvantage?
There is a flat rate redemption cost of 25,000 miles for flights on Qantas or LAN Airlines between Australia and New Zealand. This makes redemptions in Business Class between New Zealand and cities further afield like Adelaide, Darwin and Perth really good value.
You can buy a maximum of 150,000 AA miles per calendar year (not including bonuses) and they have regular sales throughout the year.
Here is the standard cost of purchasing 25,000 AAdvantage miles when not on sale:
|Route (Business Class one-way)||Miles required||Total cost $USD (points + taxes)||Total cost $NZD (points + taxes)|
|Qantas/LAN Airlines New Zealand to Australia (any origin and destination points)||25,000||$743.53 USD||~$1030.53|
Qantas points and status
It’s worth remembering you won’t earn any points or status credits for Qantas flights booked using partner miles.
You will however be able to use any existing status benefits such as lounge access (or Qantas Club) on your ticket – just call Qantas to have them update your ticket with your frequent flyer number to your ticket once you have made the booking.
There’s some excellent value to be had by purchasing miles with AAdvantage to redeem on Business Class travel on Trans-Tasman flights with Qantas and LAN, especially if you’re wanting to travel to Central Australia, or the West Coast.
You’ll probably need to value the comfort of travelling in Business Class for these flights over Economy, as the cost is usually going to be higher than paying for a discounted sale Economy fare.
Having said that, if you are prepared to pay a little more and search for availability, you could save a fair amount against the cost of a paid fare.