Business Class availability for Qantas flights to the US are known as one of hardest points seats to find out there – we’ll look at ways to get a seat on these flights, as well as other options for using your Qantas Points to the US, such as the more direct routes with Fiji Airways and American Airlines.
We’ll cover off:
- An overview of the award options and points required for redemptions
- What the best uses for your points are to get the most value
For the purpose of this guide, we’ve picked three example cities favoured by Kiwis to use as comparison points – Los Angeles, Honolulu and New York.
Costs summary – using Qantas Points with American Airlines, Qantas, or on partner airlines
|Route (one way)||Airline / Cabin||Qantas Points needed|
|Auckland||Los Angeles||American Airlines Business Class||84,000|
|Auckland||New York via Los Angeles||American Airlines Business Class||112,000|
|Auckland via Hong Kong||New York||Cathay Pacific Business Class||139,000|
|Christchurch (Dec 2017) via Hong Kong||New York||Cathay Pacific Business Class||139,000|
|Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch via Nadi||Honolulu||Fiji Airways Business Class||60,000|
|Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch via Nadi||Los Angeles||Fiji Airways Business Class||84,000|
|Auckland, Christchurch via Dubai||New York||Emirates Business Class||196,000|
|Auckland, Christchurch via Dubai||New York||Emirates First Class||294,000|
|Auckland via Santiago||New York||LATAM Business Class||139,000|
|Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Wellington via Australia||Los Angeles||Qantas Business Class||112,000|
|Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Wellington via Australia||New York||Qantas Business Class||128,000|
|Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Wellington via Sydney||Honolulu||Qantas Business Class||84,000|
|Auckland via Doha||New York||Qatar Airways Business Class||213,000|
Using Qantas Points for travel on Qantas to the USA
Qantas flies from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown via Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles, and from Sydney to Los Angeles and Dallas Fort-Worth.
One of the Sydney flights connects onward to New York JFK from Los Angeles, and back to LA to connect back to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane return flights, and onwards to New Zealand.
There are also flights from Sydney to Honolulu with Qantas.
Finding availability on Qantas operated flights to the US
Business Class seats on Qantas flights, especially for multiple passengers, is like finding a needle in a haystack. You’re also flying to Aussie, and then back in the same direction in which you just came from – in my opinion, Fiji Airways and American Airlines are the more preferable options for US flights from New Zealand, they usually have good availability (especially Fiji Airways), and they also require less Qantas Points for a redemption. Read more further below for these alternative redemption options.
The general consensus is that it’s worth knowing the following:
- Look when the award redemption calendar first opens up at 353 days away from your day of travel – this is the most likely time to find available seats. Usually this is around midnight GMT, or mid-morning AEST each day
- If you missed out previously, if someone cancels their Qantas Points booking the availability usually goes back for rebooking by others within around 24 hours – so it’s worth monitoring award availability (I prefer awardnexus.com or ExpertFlyer.com for this)
- The likelihood of cancellations increases the closer you get to the flight, so keep checking back to see if availability has opened up
- If you have Qantas Gold or above status, then you may stand a chance in the points upgrade lottery, otherwise it’s probably not even worth considering
- The Sydney – San Francisco route as a new option may have a little more availability, although this is not guaranteed
- Qantas availability to Honolulu is very, very limited
- Remember to check availability out of alternate cities to home (i.e. check Auckland via Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, rather than just sticking to Sydney)
Using Qantas Points for travel on Qantas’ airline partners to the USA
There a number of Qantas partner airlines that will also get you to the USA when using your Qantas points – and as above, Fiji Airways and American Airlines are the ones that shine in terms of availability and points cost:
- Fiji Airways, to Los Angeles and Honolulu via Fiji
- Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong
- American Airlines – arguably the best ‘value’ for your Qantas points when it comes to time in the air, given they fly direct to Auckland from Los Angeles (albeit only seasonally now) and have a pretty decent hard product.
- LATAM via Santiago
- Emirates and Qatar Airways (flying the ‘long-way’)
All redemptions with Qantas’ partners attract a fuel surcharge, though notably much less than with the Red Roo themselves – particularly if you’re flying Fiji Airways, Cathay Pacific or American Airlines. In fact, the surcharges are so low, that Economy flight redemptions with these airlines are not bad value if you’re trying to snag last minute seats that have a high revenue cost.
Fiji Airways via Nadi
Adding a stop in Nadi sounds like a great option compared to flying backwards to Australia – and Fiji Airways’ relatively new Business Class cabin (if you can snag an A330 operated flight) is fairly comfortable, with an angled-flat bed.
Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific are a good option for flights to East Coast USA (and Chicago), where the connection in Hong Kong adds a few hours to the overall flight time.
You’ll get to travel in one of the world’s best and most consistent Business Class products on Cathay’s A350 and 777 fleet.
To Los Angeles, Cathay Pacific are less practical, with a significant amount of extra travel time.
Cathay fly from Auckland via Hong Kong to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, JFK, Boston and Chicago. They will also fly from Christchurch starting December 2017 (though I am yet to find any award availability through Qantas for this route).
American Airlines fly direct to Los Angeles from Auckland, and have great connections onto a large number of US cities. These flights have good availability, a low points cost – and have the lowest taxes/surcharges of any partner. While they will be dropping out of flying to New Zealand from 7 August to 6 October 2017, they will be back, with their larger Boeing 787-9, which will include a Premium Economy cabin, and new Business Class suites.
LATAM via Santiago
If you’ve ever wanted to fly via South America, you can fly LATAM via Santiago in Chile. They connect through to New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Miami.
Emirates via Dubai
Emirates fly via Dubai to the US from Auckland and Christchurch.
While they have a great Business and First Class product, none of their USA flights fall within the maximum 15,000 mile upper limit in the top band for redemptions – because you’re obviously travelling the long way around! This means that you are effectively redeeming a flight between Auckland and Dubai, and Dubai onwards to the USA. I would only recommend Emirates as an option if you are wanting to experience their onboard product (particularly First Class), have plenty of Qantas Points to spare, and don’t have any time pressure!
Qatar Airways via Qatar
With Qatar now flying from Auckland, you can use Doha as a connecting port to the USA in the same way as Emirates – however as above, you’ll be paying for the privilege to do so. You could fly return to the US on Fiji Airways or American Airlines for far less Qantas Points than you’ll chew up by flying Qatar, so this won’t be a redemption option for the faint-hearted.
Summing up – using Qantas Points to the USA
The point of this post is to demonstrate the other options for flying to the USA beyond redeeming your Qantas Points on Qantas metal via Australia.
The best uses of points are, of course, on the most convenient flights for you to get to your destination, and there’s no doubt that American Airlines have that nailed with their direct option from Auckland. Fiji Airways are the follow up contender, with great availability, and the benefit of direct flights to Christchurch and Wellington (the latter is seasonal) in addition to Auckland.
If you just can’t find availability on these airlines for your dates, however, then knowing about the other options gives you a head start in finding alternative uses for your points (particularly if you have a lot of them).
If you’re willing to be more flexible about your routes and travel time then there should, hopefully, be some availability with some partner airlines on indirect routes.