Getting to Australia using American Airlines miles is no easy task. But two relatively obscure partners increase your odds of finding a way there for a reasonable price.
When searching for award space using your AA miles you must look beyond aa.com. Key partners, both inside the one oneworld alliance and out, do not display on the American website. We’ll just focus on the South Pacific here.
Using your AA miles you can to Australia or New Zealand the following ways:
- American (LAX-SYD/AKL)
- Air Tahiti Nui (LAX-PPT-AKL)
- Cathay Pacific (LAX/SFO/YVR/ORD/YYZ/EWR/JFK/BOS-HKG-PER/CNS/BNE/ADL/MEL/SYD/AKL)
- Ethiad (LAX/SFO/DFW/ORD/YYZ/IAD/JFK-AUH-SYD/MEL/PER/AKL)
- Fiji Airways (SFO/LAX/HNL-NAN-AKL/MEL/BNE/SYD)
- Hawaiian (HNL-SYD/MEL/BNE/AKL)
- JAL (LAX/YVR/SAN/SFO/ORD/DFW/JFK/BOS-TYO-SYD)
- LATAM (SCL-AKL-SYD)
- Qatar (LAX/DFW/IAH/ORD/YYZ/BOS/JFK/IAD/ATL/MIA-DOH-SYD/MEL/ADL/PER/AKL)
- Qantas (LAX/SFO/DFW/HNL/JFK-SYD, LAX-BNE/MEL)
How many of those appear on aa.com?
Only the American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Qantas space. While Cathay Pacific, JAL, Etihad, and Qatar offer a great product, because of AA’s arcane routing rules you rarely save points flying on these carriers because the “out of the way” routing means AA charges extra miles. As a general rule, American does not let you transit a third region between origin and destination. For example, flying to the USA (region one) to Australia (region two) via Asia (region three) will be billed as two awards: USA to Asia, then Asia to Australia.
Qantas is great in theory, but rarely releases space. Hawaiian Airlines is charged as two awards because Hawaii is considered a different zone.
Two Hidden Partners: Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways
Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways do not take extra miles–you can connect through these cities for no additional miles. That alone makes them attractive options, but even better is the ample award space routinely available.
Both offer excellent award space when booking in advance, no fuel surcharges, and schedules specifically tailored for transferring to Australia or New Zealand. Air Tahiti Nui only flies as far as Auckland, but you can add a Qantas connection to anywhere in Australia for no additional miles.
As a reminder, economy class is 40K one-way in economy class and 80K one-way in business class.
How to Check for Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways Award Space
Both Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways space can be checked using ExpertFlyer. Not only can you check award space, but if space is not available on your desired flight you can set an alert so ExpertFlyer can monitor the space for you. Should the space later open, you will receive an email alert.
AA does not permit complimentary stopovers (a connection of 24 hours or more) on award bookings, but you can always pay extra miles to spend a few days in either Fiji or Tahiti during your travels between the USA and Australia/New Zealand. Both are beautiful countries with friendly people. Fiji is much more reasonably priced than Tahiti.
Getting to Australia is tough using your AA miles, but if you aware of the many hidden partner options it becomes more manageable. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the AA website offers all available award space, because it does not. Instead, note the partner options I have listed above and call AA to book space. In terms of value, Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti Nui are difficult to beat.
Great way to redeem AA Miles, thank you for the info. Can you recommend the business classes in either fiji or air tahiti?
Business class is nearly identical on either carrier. Both have recently updated their business class to an “angled lie-flat seat”. The seat is 100% flat, but rather than parallel with the floor slopes downward.
Since when can you get to from the US through a third region on AA with miles?
Delete my comment please. No idea how I missed that paragraph haha. Such a pain of a rule.
It was my understanding (Please correct me if i’m wrong) that you could fly let’s say JFK-DOH-SYD in one award ticket on Qatar as Qatar has an exemption for the third region rule with American. Just as your allowed to connect through Doha on Qatar on your way to Africa. Is this a misunderstanding of the rules on my part?
I think that exception is only good for Europe to Oz via Doha on Qatar. Don’t think you can go US mainland to Oz via Doha as 1 award.
Ironic that an old post is being rehashed but I am looking at trying to use American miles to get home (ORD) on jal or Qatar from Sydney.
Wish could transit japan as alaska doesn’t allow you to use jal home to America 🙁
Are there any other ways to use points through Asia or the Middle East that make sense? I have a ton of prestige and UR points
Very helpful. I did a search from BKK to NYC. Option was between Cathay or Qatar. Though I give Qatar a try even though it wasn’t QSuite. When I called AA they said, I cannot do that for 70k Biz. That route is longer than allowed as 1 award ticket.
so do i go on to Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti to find award flights first and then contact AA to book my flights or contact Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti directly?
You can now search for Fiji Airways award space directly on American Airlines’ website. For Air Tahiti Nui, check Expert Flyer first, then call once you have found “F” space for business class.
What am I missing? I can fly from Atlanta to Sydney for 80 k miles round trip on AA. Is that too much? I cannot find it cheaper through Fiji.
Fiji isn’t cheaper. But often, especially if you are looking for business class, it provides saver award space to Australia when AA and Qantas have no saver space.