Will American’s New Service To Sydney Open Up Any Premium Cabin Award Space?

Update, 3pm: American will indeed add daily Los Angeles-Sydney service on their new 77W aircraft featuring lie-flat business and first class effective 12/17/15. Qantas will also be adding S. Francisco-Sydney service effective 12/20/15.  Tickets are not yet on sale for either route.

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American is poised to announce at 3pm that they will finally begin flying from Los Angeles to Sydney, duplicating a route currently served by Delta, Qantas, United, and Virgin Australia.  Well, they didn’t announce that they will be flying that route or even that they will fly to Australia, but the Kangaroo in their tweet is a bit of a giveaway and it’s only logical route for them to serve.

Oh how I wish they flew to Australia 10 years ago when I had several American systemwide free tickets thanks to the AVNYC promotion…

 

Park Hyatt Sydney and Sydney Opera House. Picture taken from Sydney Harbour Bridge:

 

Business and first class saver award space between the US and Australia can be difficult to find.

Delta rarely has saver award space on their own planes, though you can use 80K Delta miles for a one-way business class award on Virgin Australia, which has decent availability.

United has decent premium cabin award space within a few weeks of travel on their own planes, and the value is pretty good, 40K coach, 70K business, and 80K first.  United also allows you to route from the US to Australia via Asia and allows for a free stopover and a free open jaw.  That means you can get very creative at opening award space as long as you don’t mind the extra travel time.

If you’re already in a place like Hong Kong (say you used 67.5K American miles to fly in first class on Cathay Pacific) you can actually take advantage of one of the best awards in the entire United system.  It’s just 30K miles to fly business class or 40K miles to fly first class from Hong Kong to Australia via Thailand.  In Bangkok you’ll be shuttled from your plane to a free hour-long massage in the Thai first class lounge.  On a round-trip you can even stopover in Thailand and have an open jaw between Sydney and Melbourne for free.

It only costs 37.5K American miles in coach, 62.K in business, or 72.5K in first class to fly from the US to Australia.  However American has much stricter routing rules, not allowing to you to fly via Asia to Australia without purchasing a 2nd award.  American doesn’t currently fly to Australia, which leaves Qantas as the only good option for which you can redeem American miles on.

It wasn’t always this way.  In 2010 I redeemed for an around-the-world OneWorld award in first class and wrote about our experiences in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Melbourne/Great Ocean Road, and Sydney, though I never did finish writing about Tasmania, Hamilton Island, and Hong Kong. We flew Qantas first class from Hong Kong to Melbourne as part of that 20 segment journey around the world.  That award allowed you to route however you wanted but the option was eliminated as part of the AAdvantage MAAsacre (That was just part 1. Parts 2 and 3 will come later this year or next with the switch to revenue based mileage earning, a devalued award chart, and possibly systemwide upgrades that have a fare class requirement)

Unfortunately Qantas is notoriously stingy with the premium cabin award space. They do sometimes release some space within a week of the flight, but for the most part they only release award space 355 days before the flight when they open their schedule.  American only allows booking 330 days into the future, meaning that people with British Airways Avios or Qantas miles can snap up those award seats before people with American miles can.  However British Airways and Qantas both charge insane amounts of miles and fuel surcharges for premium cabin awards to Australia, making that a poor solution.  One workaround would be to book an award with British Airways 355 days into the future, pay the $55 cancellation penalty, and hope that the award goes back into inventory so that you can rebook it with American miles.  But aside from the $55 gamble, that approach takes a whole lot of BA Avios, 2 one-way first class seats from Los Angeles to Melbourne would require that you are sitting on 400K Avios in addition to 145K American miles.

It seems from American’s tweet that this will be a joint venture with Qantas:

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Is it realistic to hope that American will release premium cabin award space on a joint venture with Qantas? At this point we don’t even know if the route will be served by a 77W with first class or by a 772 or 787 with just business class.  Either way there probably won’t be much award space, but hopefully it will be more than Qantas has.  American’s top-tier elites are sure to be delighted with the new route, thanks to their systemwide upgrades working on a more valuable route than ever before.

The best odds for premium cabin award space may be hoping for a glitch when they load the inventory for the flights.

Twice earlier this year we saw glitches open up tons of premium cabin award space on tough routes like Tel Aviv.  I booked 6 awards on that glitch for us to fly with our in-laws to Israel for Purim in business class using American miles.

Can we hope for another glitch like that to occur when this route goes for sale?

If I can hope that the Cavs can pull off an against-all-odds miracle to bring Cleveland its first championship in 51 years, then surely we can hope for wide open award space down under as well 🙂

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16 Responses to “Will American’s New Service To Sydney Open Up Any Premium Cabin Award Space?”

  1. high end hobo Says:
    1

    how are you so sure that american will follow Dl and Ua and switch to revenue based mileage earning? AA picked up alot of elites from the other legacy carriers who are pissed off with the other airlines. maybe they’ll stay mileage based? or is that just wishful thinking?

    ReplyReply
  2. zack Says:
    2

    Would that only be LA-SYD?
    Any other cities in either country a possibility?

    ReplyReply
  3. shoobi Says:
    3

    great article dan.
    btw Alaska also has a great value, 80K for one way from North America to Hong Kong and then Sydney, all on Cathay 1st, they let a free stopover even on one-ways, a rarity these days

    ReplyReply
  4. Dan Says:
    4

    @high end hobo:
    Wishful thinking.
    Revenue earning can’t be stopped. American simply hasn’t been able to move over to it because they’re too busy with the integration.

    @zack:
    I don’t think so, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

    @shoobi:
    Thanks.
    That Alaska award is indeed a great value, though Cathay doesn’t operate first class to Australia.

    ReplyReply
  5. Bochur Says:
    5

    I’m actually looking for award tickets to SYD at the end of December, but seems everything for the most part is blocked. Will additional rewards tickets open today with this announcement?

    ReplyReply
  6. Dan Says:
    6

    @Bochur:
    Not with the announcement, but when the flight are loaded into the GDS there should be.

    ReplyReply
  7. Bochur Says:
    7

    Would you know how long that might take?

    ReplyReply
  8. Sam Da Man Says:
    8

    GO CAVS!Bring it home Reb James.

    ReplyReply
  9. shoobi Says:
    9

    @Dan
    Oh, so you would recommend the Thai 1st over the Cathay flight?

    ReplyReply
  10. Dan Says:
    10

    @Bochur:
    Probably within the next couple weeks.

    @Sam Da Man:
    It’s a long shot, but here’s hoping.

    @shoobi:
    Definitely if you’ll take advantage of a stopover and go to Chiang Mai or Koh Samui…

    ReplyReply
  11. Username Says:
    11

    Update?

    ReplyReply
  12. Dan Says:
    12

    @Username:
    See post update 🙂

    ReplyReply
  13. zack Says:
    13

    American Airlines will begin daily direct flights between Los Angeles and Sydney from December 17.
    The new flights will operate on American’s flagship Boeing 777-300ER, with eight first class suites, 52 business class seats and 250 seats in economy, of which 30 are wider ‘Main Cabin Extra’ seats with extra legroom.
    Qantas will also restart direct Sydney-San Francisco flights six days a week from December on its Boeing 747.

    ReplyReply
  14. eli Says:
    14

    Dan is it confirmed that AA will start a devalued award chart. I trust your expertise, just wandering if it is confirmed. Although the AAdvantage mAAscare came totaly out of the blue.
    I wander what the proposed devalued chart will look like?

    ReplyReply
  15. Dan Says:
    15

    @eli:
    Nothing is confirmed, but the chart is just too generous compared to Delta and United and is therefore ripe for a devaluation.

    Only reason it’s been spared this long is because they’re preoccupied with merging the programs.

    I’d be very pleasantly shocked if there isn’t an AA devaluation by the end of 2016. It might not be as extreme as United’s partner rates, but it will be in the ballpark.

    ReplyReply
  16. when o when Says:
    16

    when can we see american go Mia-Tlv ?? why does it seem that no one wants to touch this route ?

    ReplyReply

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