Suggestions for Australia to Canada, Europe or Japan using Qantas Points and/or AAdvantage Miles

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Hi Team,

I have read so much information that I am totally confused so would like some advice if possible. My husband and I have (between us) approx 212,000 American Airlines points & 250,000 QFF points. I have been saving forever!

I am hoping to fly from Sydney to Vancouver (or Seattle) to tour Canada for approx 1 month, then fly to the east coast either Canada/USA then on to Sydney via a stopover in either Europe or Japan. If we could fly via New Orleans to the East coast that would be a bonus.

We are cheap so happy to fly economy :), but noticed we could use 60,000 points to fly from London to Sydney in Business with AA. Exciting – would love a treat like that!

I am really flexible on dates and cities, but am struggling with all the logistics. I tried a dummy booking through AAdvantage, but couldn’t get it to work for me. I have previously booked three business/economy flights using AA points within Australia and I could do that online without any problems. (Although I haven’t actually taken the flights yet!)

I also want to pay the least amount of taxes as possible, so advice on this is very welcome.

Looking forward to your suggestions.

Cheers Deb

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Best Response

EK is the IATA code for Emirates.


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QF is a distance based program, so it is better off used for shorter flight. Their problem is hefty fuel surcharges (YQ). However, if you use QF points on AA flights, no fuel surcharge. So in your case, I would recommend that you use QF points for transcontinental flights in USA. Or use it on flights where AA miles are not good, such as flights on Emirates or Jetstar.

As you don’t mind flying in economy, I would suggest using AA miles for SYD to YVR on QF if you can find seats, as it will only cost you 37500 miles pp (75000 for 2), so you will still have 137000 AA miles left. QF will charge YQ for about $400 pp. (Forget about flying business, it will be like trying to find a needle in hay stack, especially if you need 2 seats.)

Then use your QFF for transcontinental flights across USA, it will cost about 18000 points pp (+$2.50 in tax). This will leave you 214K QFF points. Of course you have more than enough points to go to New Orleans if you want to.

Then the question is really where you want to stopover on the way back to SYD.

1. Stop over in Japan:

– Why not consider a bit of luxury and fly JAL for 50K/62.5K on Business/First respectively (plus $5.60 in tax)? You should be able to find spaces from JFK to NRT on JAL quite easily. Of course you can always fly economy for 37.5K miles.

– On the way back from Japan to SYD, you can use QFF points for Qantas, JAL or Jetstar. On QF flights, it should be about 70K/55K/35K each for business, premium economy and economy. However the YQ will be about $300. Since you have enough points, and Tokyo (Haneda) to Sydney business seats are wide open on QF, you might as well treat yourself with business class, as you will pay the same YQ anyway.

2. Stop over in Europe

– It’s not easy to find award flight on premium cabins from US to Europe, and on BA flights, they will charge YQ. So you might have to look for economy class on AA flights for about 20k AA miles each. But you will run out of AA miles if you want to fly on QF business class for 60K miles each.

– So you might want to use QFF points for USA to Europe flights, it costs around 25-28k pp on economy (AA and BA flights respectively), or 50-55k pp on business, but you will need to pay expensive YQ even on AA flights (like $235USD pp, more with BA)

– Then leaving LHR, even though its nice to fly QF business class for only 60k miles each, you will need to pay APD (some sort of luxury tax for departure on premium cabin out of UK). That’s usually about $200-300 pp.

So the bottom line is, unless you really want to go to Europe, stop over in Japan is the obvious choice.

But if you really want to go to Europe, consider flying the other way, that is, SYD-DXB-LHR on business, then you don’t have to pay APD. The fly economy when you depart from LHR to USA, or depart from another country and transit in LHR, then you won’t have to pay APD.

  • Michael, I am speechless. What a fantastic and comprehensive answer to my query! Thank you so much. Luckily I am more than happy to visit Japan, having never been there yet.

    "However, if you use QF points on AA flights, no fuel surcharge." Just to be clear about the above statement, would these flights be booked through Qantas or AA using QFF points? What I mean is, is it possible to combine or transfer ALL points from the One world carriers into one bucket or do I have to make separate bookings with each airline using only the points from that carrier?

    Cheers Deb

  • For QFF points, you need to book through Qantas. Can be easily done online. I did a booking from LA to Toronto, only 36000 pt +$2.50 on business class on AA. For AA miles, you need to call AA for most OW partners. Only a handful of airlines (incl. AA, QF and BA) can be booked online. To check JAL availability, you need to use either BA or JAL's website to look for it. Or simply call the agent and find out what are available if you are flexible with dates.

    Unfortunately you can't combine different FFP points. They are completely different currency of their own. Only exception being Virgin and Singapore, which allow you to convert the points between both programs.

  • Hi again Michael Kao :) I have spent the last two hours looking for the JFK to NRT flights on JAL, on both QFF and AA, but can't find either for the amount of points you stated above.....(50K/62.5K) I was searching for anytime in July/August. Can you tell me where you saw these please? Sorry to be so clueless.

  • Hi Deb:

    It's ok, it took me at least 6 months of researching to get use to the game. So I am happy to help!

    To search for JAL space, you can't use QF or AA site, they don't display JAL space. And you can't book online. You need to call to book.You can always ask the phone agent to search space for you, but for most of us, we search the space ourselves and feed it to the agent to make everybody happy.

    To search for JAL award space, You need to search it through JAL's own site. I'll take you step by step: 1. Go to Register with JAL Mileage Bank (JMB). It's free. 2. Once registered, log in, then it should take you to JMB page. 3. At JMB page, select "International Award Ticket Seat Availability Check Calendar" 4. Then just search New York to Japan, and the class you want. 5. Select the month you want to check and it will show the whole 2 months if seats are available. If it is, it will show in circle. 6. Click on the circle and just randomly select any return date (even if its waitlist, don't worry about it. It's irrelevant to you. JMB needs you to select return flight because their program only allows award in roundtrip). 7. You will see how many seats are available for grab. 8. Once you found the one with 2 seats availability, record the date and flight number. Then call AAdvantage and book the flight with them with phone booking. Sorry I forgot to say that 50k/62.5k is actually AA miles. You can do the same with QFF but it won't be that cheap, and you pay YQ.

    I had a random look, First class is pretty much all gone in Jul/Aug, the only date with space is 7th Aug, but only one seat. There are a lot more in business class. So its up to you if you want to travel together and both in business, or one in first and the other in business, and if somehow the space becomes available later, then you can call again to upgrade the other to first class. IMHO, JAL business class sky suite is almost as good as first class.

    In point game, TBH, 6 months out is a bit late and many spaces are already taken. But sounds like you are very flexible, then it's still OK. JAL is actually good because it is not easy to find the space (as you can see above), but the good thing is that less people will grab the space. If it's as easy as Qantas, it's gone in 2 days as soon as the seat is released 12 months out.

  • Michael, you deserve a gold medal for that answer!

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That’s a great start, thanks.

Sorry to ask, but what does EK stand for?

  • EK is the airline prefix for Emirates

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Look at the oneworld route map tool to see who flies where.

How about Cathay Pacific to HKG, stopover, then Cathay to Vancouver or Seattle…

Then AA or BA from USA to UK/Europe (but BA will charge large fuel surcharges)

Then can look at QF or Emirates home from Europe. (QF points for Emirates)

Use AA Miles where you can to avoid fuel surcharges but use QF points for EK flights (will cop fuel surcharges but can’t use AA miles on EK)

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