We may receive a commission when you use our links. Monkey Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Monkey Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Monkey Miles is also a Senior Advisor to Bilt Rewards Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Welcome new readers!
We’ve been getting a lot of activity on Miles’ Instagram account and I thought I’d take a little time to describe the process of how I went about finding and ultimately booking tickets from the US to Australia in Qantas First Class with points. It’s one of the most difficult to tickets to find, but it isn’t impossible. In fact, I’ve noticed recently that Qantas is releasing seats a bit more frequently. I’ll do a full review soon, but it was an incredible experience, and I’d say one of the most under-rated first classes out there.
It all started late last year when Qantas released a bunch of space between the States and Australia. It’s VERY rare that they do this, and at the time neither me nor my girlfriend had any plans of making a trip down under. I blogged about it, and filed it away in the back of my head as something to reinvestigate if I’d need to find tickets for an award booking client, or for my family. Here’s what the calendar looked like in December for this summer searching on Alaska Airlines:
Then, a couple of months later our plans changed, and we would need to get to Australia in April. Most of that inventory was gone, but the fact that it had once existed meant it could open up again. It’s also worth noting that Qantas First Class is the single best way to fly from the US to Australia.
Which program to book with:
In order to get the most value out of your miles you need to know which program offers access to the best cabins and routes.
In 2017, both my girlfriend and I switched our loyalty to Alaska Airlines from American. We were both top tier Executive Platinum, and matched our status into Alaska at their top tier status, MVP Gold 75k. The main reason was AA was making their program revenue based, and Alaska still gave a mile for every mile your flew. In addition to that, if you got to their top tier ( which I requalified for in 2018) you get a bonus 50k miles just for hitting that status. Not to mention the insanely generous partner earn rates that they have been running since early 2017.
To put it in perspective, here are a few programs that you can use to get Qantas First to OZ:
- Alaska is 70k miles.
- American Airlines is 110k
- British Airways is a whopping 200k ( and that would have only gotten us to Melbourne – we ultimately laid over there before connecting to Sydney)
- Cathay Pacific is 120k
- Japan Airlines 135k
- Qantas: a staggering 325k miles
How to get Alaska Miles
We both earned over 200k+ miles flying last year, but you can do it other ways too. In fact, I have two businesses, and both of them have Alaska Airlines credit cards from Bank of America. Each card got a 30k points sign up bonus after spending just $1k in 90 days. That’s almost enough miles for the ticket right there. Additionally, Alaska puts their miles on sale a few times a year. Typically they are close to $0.02 a point – meaning this $15k plane ticket could be purchased for around $1500.
Searching for availability: Qantas, Alaska, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Expertflyer
All of those websites will show you availability; however, I’ve noticed that Expertflyer has been a bit wonky, and if you’re going to use Alaska miles, it’s best to double check space on Alaska. Alaska isn’t given the same access to award space as the One World partners, so always double check.
If you’d like to read a more in depth description of how I found the space click this link
Since we would be using Alaska miles, I started the search on Alaska’s own site. There weren’t any seats available so I set alerts over at Expertflyer. Expertflyer is a subscription service whereby you can search for award space, seat maps, and have emails sent to you when seats free up that you’d like to book. If you’re looking for Qantas First Class seats, as I mentioned above, it has been a bit wonky. You’re still able to set alerts by following the below process…
Ultimately, I used the Alaska calendar daily to try and pin down any sort of pattern, and stumbled upon 2 seats that didn’t fly direct to Sydney. Instead, I found tickets that would route us via Melbourne. We ended up flying from LAX to MEL to SYD, with the long haul leg in First, and the intra-Australia flight in business ( on the A330 featuring their new business class).
These tickets were super easy to book online – just click and purchase. No need to call in.
This is just an example, but illustrates how easy it is. It’s also worth noting that you can cancel Alaska award tickets free of charge as long as you do so 60 days in advance of departure. If you have MVP Gold status, it’s free cancellation no matter what.
You’ll get an Alaska confirmation and a Qantas confirmation. Use the Qantas record locator and go to Qantas.com. We selected seats 1A and 2A
This meant we got to sit on the “A” line of the aircraft which is the most private. Only 5 seats share the aisle so you get much less foot traffic.
Any questions? Feel free to comment! Looking for help, don’t forget we offer award booking services – we do all the work, you enjoy the perks!
Affiliate link via Card Ratings
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based.
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.