Award travel to Australia - Any ideas to maximize my miles?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by nellie, Feb 4, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. nellie
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    nellie Silver Member

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    Hi everyone! I'm looking to book a 2 week trip to Australia using 80k United miles for one ticket and 45k miles and $4XX cash for the other. Any tips on how to maximize my miles or work the United system? I know I can get a free stopover in another city, but any other tips?

    Thanks!
    Nellie
     
  2. dts
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    dts Silver Member

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    So are you trying to buy two tickets in economy class? The Miles+Cash ties you down to United flights and you won't be able to try any flights on Star Alliance partners. Otherwise, you could fly Air Canada through YVR or even route through Japan if you really enjoy flying. Also, what's your originating city? Instead of a stopover, you're allowed to book an open-jaw trip. So if you start on the west coast, you could finish in the east coast for the same amount of miles. That's all I can think of for now.
     
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  3. ozstamps
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    ozstamps Silver Member

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    If you fly UA to MEL you can have a stopover in SYD in one direction .. or indeed any USA transit city if you prefer.
     
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  4. tjtenor4
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    tjtenor4 Gold Member

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    Hi Nellie!

    A number of questions to help us help you: first, for when is the trip being planned? That will affect the routings / availability. Second, are you doing the 80k on one ticket and 45k + cash on the other ticket because you're short of the 160k total miles needed to do the whole thing as an award? If that's the case, and you're semi-close to the 160k, it may be worth doing an MR or even purchasing the miles (if it's only a few thousand) because of the significantly greater flexibility it would give you (to book *A flights). Third, the answers to dts's questions would actually be quite helpful, too [​IMG]
     
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  5. ozstamps
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    ozstamps Silver Member

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    And remember that oz can run as low as $700 RT, (and you get 15-20K real miles for doing it) so using 80K miles for an award ticket is bad use in my view.

    Unless I get 2 or 3 cents a mile value for miles I consider them badly spent.
     
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  6. MrAOK
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    MrAOK Silver Member

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    I found that the better choice here was to work the system the other way. Instead of going for extra miles, use the open jaw flexibility, by for instance flying into Melbourne and out of Sydney.

    Generally the minimum trip in Australia is Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef (Cairns). So if you are going for other than mile purposes, your likely going to have to do some inter Australia flights and flying into one city and out of another saves you the cost of one leg and time on a short trip.

    You still have to pay for Melbourne to Cairns and Cairns to Sydney, but it's two flights instead of three and, even more importantly, spend less time on flights and more time seeing things.
     
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  7. Lucky
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    Lucky Silver Member

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    nellie, when are you looking at traveling? As stated above, I think the most important question is what the revenue fare would be, as you might be best off booking a revenue ticket assuming you're not going during high season (and if you are going during high season, chances are you won't be able to find saver award space on United).
     
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  8. nellie
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    nellie Silver Member

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    Hi All-

    Thanks for the responses and sorry for being slow to get back to you! We're looking to go this summer, sometime between middle of June and mid August for 2 weeks. I've called United and figured out there's Saver space on flights I'd like at the beginning of July.

    I only have about 100k United miles right now and just signed up for the Visa Signature card to get another 30k so I can do one 80k award and one 45k + cash award. I've been checking fares and the lowest I've found is around $1300 from Seattle this summer. That's 1.6 cents/miles, which I'm comfortable with, especially considering we'd really like to make this happen this summer.

    We'd be flying out of Seattle, so we'd route it either through SFO or LAX. I think I like the open-jaw idea because we are thinking of doing some flying once there. We'd like to fly into either Sydney or Melbourne and also make stops in Cairns and possibly in the outback (either Ayers Rock or Alice Springs, whichever flight is cheaper).

    Thanks for any other tips or advice you guys have!
     
  9. MrAOK
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    MrAOK Silver Member

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    The only other tip I can provide is figure out your trip carefully. I abandoned going to Ayer's Rock both because it was pretty expensive (one company has the hotels there and you have to pay for I believe two nights) and because I was pretty pressed to get in Melbourne, Sydney and the Great Barrier reef in two weeks.

    For instance in Melbourne, if you decide to do the Great Ocean Road, that's a long day. If you go to see the Penguins (which may not be there at that time of year), that's another day. And that doesn't count Melbourne itself which I really liked.

    In Cairns, there is a day on the reef, a day going to the museum/doing the trip with the cable cars, and then the question of one of the safari like things.

    And obviously in Sydney you not only have the city but the nearby areas.

    I finally figured out that in a two week trip, I could do what I wanted only by paying for one night of hotel room I wouldn't use (in Ayer's Rock), and doing this mad dash to do Ayers in 24 hours. It would have been just crazy and would have added nearly 25% to the cost of my trip.
     
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  10. PanAm
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    PanAm Silver Member

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    I know you only asked about United miles, but if you happen to have a bit of AA miles, it might help you save money on an Australian domestic leg. A one-away partner award within Australia is only 10K miles with AA.

    We're looking at an Australia trip soon...hardest part is deciding where to go. For that matter, whether to just focus on Australia or hit New Zealand as well.
     
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  11. nellie
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    nellie Silver Member

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    Thanks MrAOK-

    I've been investigating flights to Ayer's Rock and they are ridiculously expensive. The cheapest I saw was around $400 each for a roundtrip from SYD. But Cairns isn't much cheaper at around $350. I wish I had some AA miles, but I don't. I have a few Alaska miles, but its 25k for an intra-Australia roundtrip through them instead of the 20k through AA and I don't have nearly enough for both of us.

    Anyone have any ideas for what airlines or deals I should be checking for cheap fairs from Sydney to Cairns and Alice Springs or Ayers Rock?

    Thanks again for all your help! This thread has already really helped me focus my research!
     
  12. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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    I'm not sure those are ridiculously expensive, as Australia is about the size of the lower 48 and flying from either the left or right coast into hinterland USA is often more than $500 a ticket.

    Check out booking flights directly on the Virgin Blue and/or Jetstar websites. Be careful about extra fees and charges, but both airlines now allow you to pick the conditions of your ticket and can offer some very cheap options. Check for flights on different times of the day (early flights are often half price) and on different days of the week.

    Also be very careful about baggage limits, as internal flights in Australia often have a lower limit (and its in kilograms, although that's not too difficult to convert to pounds (multiply by 2.2, I think)) and paying for over-the-limit weight can get really expensive, really quickly.

    While I don't mind Virgin Blue, I'm not a fan of Jetstar - it's OK, but it is definitely a budget airline. Don't fly Tiger.

    And have some fun in the land Down Under, OK?
     
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  13. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    You can save time checking fares across all the airlines by using webjet.com.au
     
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  14. jswong
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    jswong Gold Member

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    Of course an award to NZ with a stopover in Australia costs the same miles as an award to Australia

    Jeff
     
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  15. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Just watch out for economy only flights trans-Tasman (ie all A320s)
     
  16. jswong
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    jswong Gold Member

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    Looks like the OP would be on an economy award anyway

    Jeff
     
  17. nellie
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    nellie Silver Member

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    Yep, I'm miles poor so I have to slum it in economy.
     
  18. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Sorry for overlooking. Award tickets on Air NZ A320 get "The Works" product.
     
  19. IMHO, Y class awards are simply not good value. You can pay less than double miles and get a premium cabin ticket, which, in money, costs 10x as much.
     
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  20. jswong
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    jswong Gold Member

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    Agree entirely. Best to save those miles for a premium cabin redemption or use to upgrade

    Jeff
     
  21. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    That assumes you fly/stay/spend enough to accumulate enough miles (in a reasonable period) for a premium award. Many of us can, but some cannot.
     
  22. jswong
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    jswong Gold Member

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    Of course but the OP has at least 125K so already enough to upgrade (plus the co-pay of course)

    Jeff
     
  23. Grace
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    Grace Silver Member

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    Agreed. I'm more miles-rich, cash poor. I'd rather go on vacation often for as little as possible than have a nicer seat. Everyone is different though. I can take 2 vacations a year on miles if I slum it in economy. If I wanted to pay cash or only go premium then I'd only go on 1 per year. Everyone has different goals.
     
  24. Fireball
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    Fireball Active Member

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    Since the AA citicard deal is still going on, and the DFW QF flights are wide open for awards, I'm telling everyone who will listen that now is the time to head Down Under in business class using AA miles. If you don't have enough/any AA miles, just get the AA Amex and AA Visa (apply for them on the same day), spend $1500 on each (buy some coins if you don't normally spend that much), and you'll end up with at least 153k AA miles each. That's enough for a business class ticket to Australia and almost 3 one-way intra-Australia (or Australia-NZ) flights. All for getting 2 credit cards and a few trips to the bank to deposit coins. Seriously, this is a perfect storm for those looking to head down there and this type of opportunity does not come along often. But don't wait too long before jumping on this. The QF flights are getting more full each day, and it'll take at least a few weeks to get all the AA miles in your account.

    Alternatively, just one person can get the AA cards, get the 153k AA miles, and use those for 2 one-way tickets to/from Australia (although I'm not sure what a coach ticket costs in terms of miles) and use the UA miles for the other direction. That way you're not tied down to just the UA or *A availability both ways.

    Regarding the business/first versus coach debate - my feeling is that there will always be ways to score heaps of miles on the cheap if one keeps their eyes/ears open. Just because one doesn't have that many miles now doesn't mean they won't be able to earn a ton easily going forward. That's half the point of forums like this. I used to think a 25k award was the holy grail, but since getting hooked on FT 10 years ago I've earned/burned a few million miles/points. Just keep your eyes open for crazy good deals, and jump on them when you see them (like the AA credit cards).
     
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  25. save till you have points for C
     

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