There are more direct flights from Australia to Los Angeles than to any other US city. So when it comes to booking your next trip using points, there are many great ways you can jet across the Pacific.
In this guide, we’ll explore these key options using Qantas Points, Velocity Points and KrisFlyer miles. We’ll also share some insights into another frequent flyer program, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club – including how you could fly Business Class to the US for just 60,000 points.
We’ve got you covered too when it comes to lounge access, savings on hotels and more. Let’s get started.
Flying to Los Angeles on points
In this section, we’ll explore some of the ways you can book every single direct flight between Australia and Los Angeles. As well, we’ll dive into a couple of other savvy ways to travel to LA. These may not be non-stop, but they could actually cost you fewer points, or provide greater choice over when you fly, thanks to greater availability of reward seats.
Using Qantas Points
Qantas offers its own direct flights from Australia to Los Angeles – and so does its oneworld Alliance partner, American Airlines. On top of that, Fiji Airways can be another solid choice for that journey to LAX, as long as you don’t mind changing planes en route in Fiji.
|Using Qantas Points to Los Angeles||Economy||Premium |
|From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on Qantas|
From Sydney on American Airlines
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra via Nadi on Fiji Airways
^Premium Economy is not available on Fiji Airways, or on Qantas’ Brisbane-LA flights.
*First is only available on flights operated by Qantas’ Airbus A380s and American Airlines’ Boeing 777s.
It’s also helpful to know that when it comes to spending Qantas Points, these three airlines are all on the same reward table. This means you can mix and match flights between these carriers, and the pricing remains the same for journeys of similar distances.
If you’re pressed for options, you might consider getting a bit creative. For example, booking with Qantas to Fiji, and connecting onwards with Fiji Airways from there. Or similarly, flying Qantas to Honolulu, and transiting onto an American Airlines flight bound for LA. You could even jump aboard Qantas from Sydney to San Francisco with an SFO-LAX connection on American Airlines. All these options cost no extra points than displayed in the table above.
As a last resort, you might also fly Qantas from Sydney to Vancouver and AA down to Los Angeles. But this option costs extra points, as it’s a longer detour. Choosing Qantas’ other Stateside partner Alaska Airlines (instead of American) for any connection also costs extra points, as Alaska is on a separate reward table from Qantas.
Ways to earn Qantas Points
There are so many ways to earn Qantas Points in Australia – which can help get you to Los Angeles even sooner. Our handy guide has you covered for the basics. But one of the most noticeable ways to earn extra points is to take advantage of well-timed bonus points offers.
Many use the Qantas Wine website to earn easy bonus points when it’s next time to top up the cellar. At certain times, you might even be able to earn 5,000-10,000 bonus Qantas Points per eligible case of vino. Successfully applying for a points-earning credit card during a sign-up promotion can often yield bonus points too. Just be aware of any minimum spending requirements and other conditions.
A single sign-up offer could be all it takes to cover a return ticket to Los Angeles in Economy. Or close to a one-way flight in Business Class. Bonus points are just like any other points in your account. So don’t forget, you could combine the points you already have with those from a credit card sign-up bonus to plan your dream trip.
Using Velocity Points
Virgin Australia no longer flies to Los Angeles, but its old routes – and more – are now covered by its partner United Airlines. On top of that, Virgin Australia and Velocity maintain partnerships with two other North American carriers – Air Canada and Hawaiian Airlines. Both can whisk you to Los Angeles via their home hub airports.
Added to that, there’s Singapore Airlines too. It’s not the most practical way of flying to LA. But we’re including it here to help you compare redemption rates with those in our next section – you’ll see why, soon enough.
|Using Velocity Points to Los Angeles||Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
|From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on United Airlines||44,800||N/A||95,500|
|From Brisbane via Vancouver on Air Canada|
From Sydney via Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines
|From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin|
and Cairns via Singapore on Singapore Airlines
Ways to earn Velocity Points
Again, just one successful sign-up could cover the points required for a return journey in Economy or a one-way flight in Business Class. It’s also good to know that while Velocity has a few direct-earning cards in the market, most bank partnerships provide flexible points. This means you could earn points in a bank’s loyalty program first, and later convert them into Velocity Points when you want to fly. You can check these latest conversion rates here.
Using KrisFlyer miles
Beyond Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer, KrisFlyer is the next-most popular airline program for Australian travellers. And we can see why, particularly when it comes to flying to North America. KrisFlyer counts three practical Star Alliance partners jetting across the Pacific. But if you’re willing to fly via Singapore, the reward rates get even better.
|Using KrisFlyer miles to Los Angeles||Economy||Premium Economy^||Business|
|From Perth and Darwin via Singapore on Singapore Airlines||56,500||N/A||127,500|
|From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Cairns via Singapore on Singapore Airlines||60,500||104,500||136,500|
|From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on United Airlines|
From Sydney and Brisbane via Vancouver on Air Canada
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart
and Cairns via Auckland on Air New Zealand
^Premium Economy is only available on selected flights from Sydney and Melbourne.
As you can see, those journeys via Singapore require fewer KrisFlyer miles compared to Velocity Points. But on the flipside, these itineraries on Air Canada and United cost more KrisFlyer miles than Velocity Points. We’ve included these rates to help you compare the best way to book – especially if you already have points in both programs.
Ways to earn KrisFlyer miles
The most popular way to accrue Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles in Australia is through the credit card space. That’s achieved by earning points in an eligible bank loyalty program first, and later converting these into KrisFlyer miles. That gets even more rewarding when there’s a credit card sign-up offer in the mix.
Another path is to convert Velocity Points into KrisFlyer miles at a 1.55:1 rate. Just make sure you’re getting value from those conversions before shipping any points across. For instance, it wouldn’t make much sense to convert a stash of Velocity Points into KrisFlyer miles to book a flight, if you could have booked that same flight through Velocity for fewer points.
Also, know that KrisFlyer miles usually expire three years after they were earned. Each mile has its own expiry date in your account – even if you earn and spend miles afterwards. Long story short, be sure you can spend your miles before making any transfers, as the clock on their expiry will otherwise start ticking.
Using Virgin Points from Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
We like to keep things creative, so here’s something a little interesting. UK-based Virgin Atlantic – not Virgin Australia – has its own rewards program, Flying Club. As it happens, Virgin Atlantic is part of the SkyTeam Alliance. And even better, the airline also has partnerships with Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines.
This means that through Flying Club, you can spend Virgin Points on Delta’s direct Sydney-LA flights. (Yes, even though Virgin Australia and Delta are no longer partners). But the redemption rates on those other partners are even more interesting. Here’s what we mean.
|Using Flying Club points to Los Angeles||Economy||Business|
|From Sydney on Delta Air Lines||45,000||165,000|
|From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart|
and Cairns via Auckland on Air New Zealand
|From Sydney via Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines||60,000||105,000|
Yes, Business on Delta really is that expensive. But then, yes, Business Class on Air New Zealand really is that cheap – it’s not a typo. This is definitely an option to keep in your back pocket when you’re next heading across the Pacific.
Be aware though, Business Class reward seat availability on both Air New Zealand and Delta can be tight. At any given time, you might be lucky to find seats on just one or two LA-bound flights over the entire coming year. And with Air NZ too, you also need to find connecting reward seats between Australia and New Zealand – although that part is usually a fair bit easier.
Ways to earn Virgin Points through Flying Club
For Australians, Virgin Points are quite difficult to earn (remembering, again, that these are not Velocity Points). That difficulty of earning them is reflected in the program’s more competitive redemption rates for flights in our region. But one easy way to stock up is to simply buy points via Flying Club – especially during promotional periods.
Another good way is to transfer points across from American Express Membership Rewards (MR) directly into Flying Club. For most Australian MR members, that’s possible at a 2:1 conversion rate. For many, that significantly increases the ease of earning, making those attractive redemption rates even more appealing.
We want to be clear on this, so we’ll say it again. Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club are entirely separate from Virgin Australia and Velocity Frequent Flyer. The two airlines are partners, sure, but they’re otherwise kept at arm’s length. You can’t convert Velocity Points into Virgin Points with Flying Club, or vice versa.
Exploring Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
The LA area is home to many public airports. And depending on where you’re headed, flying into or out of places like Burbank or Ontario could be a real timesaver. But for international journeys between Los Angeles and Australia, LAX is where you’ll be.
Transport from Los Angeles International Airport
Many airports have great connections to train services and other public transport. But I can’t say Los Angeles International Airport is one of those. It can be a good airport to fly through, especially given its breadth of lounges. But if LA is your destination, we won’t pretend LAX provides the smoothest arrival.
In terms of public transport, you can take a couple of buses – but you’ll almost certainly have to change services at least once, if not twice, to get where you’re going. After a long flight and with lots of luggage, it’s just not practical. For me, this is one airport where I’ll always take an Uber.
If you’re booking UberBlack, UberBlack SUV or Lux, these cars can collect you from right outside the terminal. For Uber X and all other services, you’ll first need to hop on the ‘LAX-it’ shuttle to a remote pick-up location. These usually run every five minutes, but often take 15 minutes to get there. So yes, that’s up to 20 minutes from being landside with your suitcase before you can even request a driver. It’s not great.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi from designated points outside the terminal itself. Or if you’ve gone to that remote Uber location and have any difficulties securing a ride, there’s a taxi rank there too. Other airport shuttles and car hire facilities are also available. Speaking of shuttles, if you’re staying at a hotel near the airport, you may even be able to hop aboard a free dedicated shuttle service to the front door. Contact your hotel to enquire what’s available.
Lounges at Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport has many great lounges. We won’t list them all – including those where access is gained through your cabin class, as your airline will point you in the right direction. But where lounge access comes by strategy, here are some of your options. Also note, US airlines typically apply more restrictions on lounge access to their own frequent flyers compared to those from partner airlines. We won’t go into those complex rules in this article.
Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge, plus other oneworld Sapphire and Emerald
- Alaska Lounge (Terminal 6).
- American Airlines Admirals Club (multiple locations).
- American Airlines Flagship Lounge (Terminal 4).
- Qantas International Business Lounge (Tom Bradley International Terminal – TBIT).
- Qantas International First Lounge (TBIT, for Platinum/Emerald-tier flyers only).
Virgin Australia Velocity Gold, Platinum and Beyond
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge (Terminal 6, when flying Air Canada only).
- Qantas International Business Lounge (TBIT, when flying Qatar Airways only – collect a lounge pass when you check-in with Qatar Airways).
- United Club (Terminal 7, when flying United Airlines only).
Star Alliance Gold
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge (Terminal 6).
- Star Alliance Lounge (Business Class) (TBIT).
- United Club (Terminal 7).
SkyTeam Elite Plus (when flying internationally)
- Delta Sky Club (multiple locations).
- Korean Air Lounge (Business Class) (TBIT).
American Express Platinum and Centurion
- American Express Centurion Lounge (TBIT).
- Delta Sky Club (multiple locations, when flying Delta).
Earning and using points on hotels in Los Angeles
Los Angeles has so many hotel choices, from the budget-friendly to the outright lavish. Hey, this is the home of Hollywood, after all. Wherever you stay though, here are the most popular strategies to maximise your points.
Book directly with the hotel
This one’s important if you have status with a hotel chain or want to earn it. Most hotels only recognise and reward status when you book directly with that chain or property, rather than via third party. You’re spoiled for choice with hotel locations in LA, particularly those attached to Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. By booking direct, you can also earn points to redeem on a future stay.
Book through a third-party provider
There are plenty of reasons to book directly with a hotel. But for those who don’t travel much, third-party booking sites can have advantages. It can be easier to compare prices across chains from a single screen, for one. But you can also often earn frequent flyer points as well.
If you want to earn Qantas Points
Qantas Hotels is your ticket to earning Qantas Points on accommodation. Earn at least three Qantas Points per AU$1 spent. If you’re a Qantas Points Club member or you book during a promotion, you could earn even more. And for that matter, if you click through the Qantas website to book with Airbnb, you could earn one Qantas Point per AU$1 spent. If it’s your first Airbnb booking, you can also get a bonus 500 Qantas Points on top.
If you want to earn Velocity Points
Eyeing off Velocity Points instead? Make your hotel bookings through Rocket Travel to earn comparable rewards with Velocity. That’s at least three Velocity Points per AU$1 spent on hotels.
If you want to earn KrisFlyer miles
As for KrisFlyer, set your sights on Rocketmiles. It’s completely separate from Rocket Travel, so don’t get confused. But Rocketmiles has its own rewards program. Much like with credit cards, when you earn points in that loyalty program, you can later convert them into KrisFlyer miles – or to points with other partners instead.
If you want a discount on your booking
The US can be an expensive destination, but there are ways to save some coin. Booking.com’s Genius loyalty program can unlock savings of at least 10% at participating hotels.
Don’t forget about American Express Travel either. It’s through this portal that travel credits on selected Amex cards can be redeemed. For instance, the annual travel credits offered on cards like American Express Platinum Edge and American Express Explorer.
Point Hacks’ tips and tricks
All geared up for your Los Angeles adventure? Here are a few handy hints to keep up your sleeve.
- Tipping is customary in the United States. Sometimes, cash is the only way – so bring some with you, and don’t be afraid to ask for change. But for services paid for by credit card, you can usually tip by credit card too. This is particularly handy at restaurants and bars. And for credit cards that can earn points, these are usually awarded on the entire transaction amount – including any tips given.
- Be aware that Qantas single-use lounge passes can’t be used at the Business Lounge in Los Angeles. This is a technicality due to the fact that the lounge here is jointly owned between Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific – even though Qantas takes charge in operating the lounge. Sorry, but there’s no way around this one.
- Also know that even if you have Velocity Gold (or above), there’s no lounge access when departing Brisbane in United Economy. Or for that matter, when departing any Australian port in Air Canada Economy or Hawaiian Airlines Economy. Lounge facilities are available on United from Sydney and Melbourne, though. Or with those other airlines when flying Business Class.
- Another tip for United Airlines. When flying Economy, ‘preferred’ seats usually attract a fee. But if you wait until online check-in opens (24 hours before departure), you may be able to switch to one of these seats at no charge.
- Even if you’re just flying through Los Angeles on the way to somewhere else, don’t forget to get your US ESTA. Be sure to apply via the official site, as there are many imposter websites out there. The same can be said of Canada’s eTA system. You’ll need one of those too, if you plan to fly to or through Canada.
With that said, it’s time to get packing. Enjoy your trip to Los Angeles!
Featured image courtesy of Jake Blucker / Unsplash.