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Using AA Miles for ticket to New Zealand or Australia

Using AA Miles for ticket to New Zealand or Australia

Mar 4th, 2008, 03:38 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 387
Using AA Miles for ticket to New Zealand or Australia

I've also posted this on the Australian Forum...but I thought I might get more exposure on the U.S. board~

It is my understanding that American Airlines has a 329 day policy for booking flights. So, today, March 4, I thought I would be able to book a flight departing on January 28 or 29 of 2009.

Since we want to use miles, I called the Aadvantage desk to see what flights/options are available from LAX to New Zealand, with a week-long layover in Australia.

The agent started checking for me and couldn't find ANYTHING on Qantas. She started with January 29 and went all the way back to January 1. She thought is was possible the flights weren't "loaded" into the system or Qantas hadn't released seats to them yet.

I'm able to go on the Qantas website and PURCHASE a ticket all the up until February 21, 2009. Of course, we'd rather use miles with the hopes of flying Business or First since the flights are sooooo long.

Does this sound correct to anyone? Do you have any hints on how to secure a ticket to NZ/Oz using miles?
jewelhawg is offline  
Mar 4th, 2008, 04:01 PM
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If you don't get answers here, post on "Airlines" board -- I guarantee AAFF will answer you in detail if he's at his computer.
Mar 4th, 2008, 04:06 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,342
Three years ago, I secured two RT business class tickets from the USA-Australia and back.
Here is what I learned:

1. 329/330 days out is critical.

2. Be flexible on your dates, in both direction.

3. Consider a open jaw itinerary. We flew into SYD and home from BNE.

4. When you call AA, try to call the very minute those Qantas flights are loaded. This means 12 A.M., in the particular time zone where their reservation center is open, not necessarily your time zone.

5. Be persistent. Call over, and over and over if necessary. You are trying to go during high season in Australia - Summer.

6. Business/First class is well worth it.

Good luck! It can be done.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Mar 4th, 2008, 04:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Of course, we'd rather use miles with the hopes of flying Business or First since the flights are sooooo long.

Does this sound correct to anyone? Do you have any hints on how to secure a ticket to NZ/Oz using miles?

If you asked the AA rep about a Qantas award in business or first in January and they didn't laugh outright (nicely, not in a derogatory tone) then you got a newbie.

In all of American Airlines' award options, getting a business award on Qantas across the Pacific is generally regarded to be the hardest seat going. The fact is that even elite Qantas frequent flyers have very hard times scoring these seats, since so many Aussies and Kiwis travel in business class on paid tickets (often in Circle Pacific or Round the World plans.) Qantas FFers also get an additional month of lead time over AA flyers (360 days v. 329) so mid-summer flights can be gobbled before the rest of us poor mortals can pull the trigger.

Here's one possible work-around. Phone AA and ask about a "Oneworld" award to Oz/NZ. This is a different award product than the "partner" award and has much different rules. Basically it requires that you use flights operated by at least two Oneworld airlines in addition to American, if American is used at all, e.g. American, Japan and Qantas, or just Japan and Qantas.

Oneworld awards are based on the distances flown, not the continents visited. While, for example, a business seat to Australia/NZ requires 125,000 miles for an AA "partner" award, you can fly between 15,000 and 20,000 miles in business class on a 130,000 mile Oneworld award.

Until later this year (when the rules change) your award distance is only measured between stopover points, not counting connection points. So, for example, say a Los Angeles - Sydney - Auckland - Los Angeles itinerary comes to 15,400 miles or so. If it was available, that would be 125,000 miles on an all-Qantas award. But Qantas seats aren't available, so what to do?

Well, flying LAX - Tokyo - Sydney - Auckland - Hong Kong - Tokyo - Los Angeles, with just plane changes and not stopovers in Tokyo and Hong Kong, is legitimate with a Oneworld Award, and would require 130,000 miles - based on the 15,400 "direct" miles, not the nearly 24,400 "butt in seat" miles you'd actually fly on that itinerary.

What this does is open numerous alternate routing possibilities that works around the lack of Qantas J or F award seats. Worth a call to AA to explore.

One other thought - Air Tahiti Nui is an AA partner and goes where you want. Be sure to ask about that when you phone back, too.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 4th, 2008, 11:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,067

Gardyloo offers some good advice on the OneWorld option. We were unable to find award seats to Australia in November, a period that included Thanksgiving, using our AA miles. However the OneWorld option added Cathay Pacific airlines and a Hong Kong stopover to the itinerary and that opened up the exact dates we wanted.
Clifton is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 387
You all aMaZe me with your wealth of knowledge and information. Thank you!

Looks like I've got some planning to do to put this puzzle together!

Clock is ticking...
jewelhawg is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 36,752
Wow, I guess it's been a few years, but we must have been lucky. We called the appropriate number of days ahead and instantly got our first choice of 2 free Business Class tickets on Quantas from LAX to Aukland, and then on a return from Cannes to LAX. And our connecting flights in first class from Florida to LAX with stopovers there were easy. We went the end of February to the middle of April.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
Two years ago another couple and we wanted to go to NZ with BC seats. I had USAir FF points, he had AA. We wanted to on Feb. 26.

So we called 331 (I think) days in advance, at midnight. No luck. No seats. So we each called every night, for about 3 weeks. No seats. Finally, one night both of us got BC seats, his on Qantas, ours on NZAir, for March 19. We figured that neither simply wasn't giving seats until Mar. 19. That's the way it is.
Jed is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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NP, although it is indeed much harder to obtain QF business award seats over the Pacific now than in years past, I didn't want to leave the impression that it's impossible. Far from; however it's extremely difficult to obtain 2 or more seats together traveling in January, which is the peak period for travel to/from Oz/NZ.

I just looked on the Qantas website award availability screen (which one can do if one registers in QF's frequent flyer program) and there are no business class seats on Qantas metal available between LAX and AKL on any days in January 2009, and only a few available (mostly via Brisbane) in mid-late February. There are a couple of LAX-AKL awards available on Air Pacific (a Qantas partner) in early-mid February, but also nothing on FJ metal in January.

Any that might have been available for January have been consumed, and the airlines don't make that many available in the first place, since they can sell them for thousands of dollars each.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 5th, 2008, 04:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,051
GArdyloo knows his FF stuff/ I would add be sure to use teh Fflyer reservation number and I am not kidding: if you get someone who doesn't know how to help HANG UP and dial right back to get another one.. we have gotten more FF tickets this way.

One other thing if Airline staff is female put your male husband or significant other on and let them flirt until they get you what you want:
1JAR is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 05:56 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 387
I know what you mean. Sometimes I can call with the same question and get a different answer each time. Perhaps it's because the rules are everchanging.

Unfortunately, it's becoming more rare to get a friendly, helpful agent...even at the Platinum Desk FF number. I don't mean to slam them as a whole. I'm sure answering the same questions over and over again from John Q. Public gets old.

I realize I can sometimes be a "pain in the butt" because I try to figure out all the options and many don't want to be patient with me. I ask for various routes and dates and I can tell by their tone, they're ready to get off the phone.

But, when I do get that friendly, knowledgeable agent on the phone that's willing to look up ALL the routes, give me options and help me...it's great. I make it a point to send in or handover those AAplause certificates when I do receive outstanding customer service.

I've often thought of just hanging up, but I was afraid they'd make a notation beside my FF account!
jewelhawg is offline  
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