Traveling to the worlds smallest continent to dive the Great Barrier Reef is not beyond your reach. You don’t have to spend $1,500 for a plane ticket to Australia. There are plenty of airline programs that will get you to the land down under with miles.
Using the Oneworld Alliance and Hawaiian Airlines
The most obvious choice is the Australian flag carrier Qantas Airlines, a oneworld partner. You can use American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book. Qantas flights appear on the carriers website so its easy to find availability. Qantas hubs in the U.S. are New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Honolulu. Australian hubs are Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. It will cost 37,500 miles one-way or 75,000 miles roundtrip.
You can also fly to either Sydney or Brisbane from Honolulu on American Airlines partner Hawaiian Airlines. In the past, I might have advised this because American used to allow a free stopover in a North American gateway city. However, since American ended this perk, go this route only if it fits your schedule since you can’t stop in Hawaii for free on the way anymore.
United and Star Alliance
If you live in Los Angeles or San Francisco, your best bet is a nonstop flight to Sydney on United. You can also fly to Melbourne from Los Angeles.
Other than that, there are a number of United partners that will take you to these or other Australian cities with a layover. The cost is 40,000 miles one way or 80,000 miles per roundtrip.
Delta and SkyTeam
Delta flies to Sydney from Los Angeles, while Delta partner Virgin Australia also flies out of Los Angeles to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Finding a Saver seat with Delta is not easy, but they do exist. If you manage to find one for the dates you want, you will pay 100,000 roundtrip.
How About Premium Class?
It takes about 15 hours, so a premium cabin award would be ideal, but finding a Saver business- or first-class award seat to Australia is not an easy task.
Not only will you pay double the miles or more, but availability is tight, more so than Europe, Asia, or Latin America. Finding two or more award seats on the same flight can really be an adventure.
If you can’t find a business- or first-class award seat to Australia or if you don’t have enough miles, consider breaking your flights into shorter segments and paying for a leg of the flight with miles. I’m all for nonstop, but with a flight that long you might be better off spending a little more time on the the ground during the journey.