Australia with Miles and Points

By | April 11, 2016

I had an amazing time flying around the world on Alaska miles this past February for my birthday.  The news of Alaska’s doubling the cost of some partner airline redemptions, I decided it was time to plan my next big trip while my miles still had strong value.  I like to earn and burn miles and points.  My philosophy is that miles have no value until they have been redeemed.  There is only one continent (besides Antarctica) that I haven’t been to; it was time to plan a trip to Australia with miles and points.

I was in the Southern Hemisphere last Christmas and loved it.  However, redeeming miles around the holidays can be a bit difficult.  But I love a good challenge when booking trips.  It is like a puzzle to me.  Here is how I planned my trip to Australia with miles and points.

Australia with Miles and Points

Australia with miles and points

Quantas Business SEA-YVR-SYD-MEL – 55,000 Alaska Miles

The first flight I booked was my long haul to get to Australia.  No flights go direct from Seattle, so I knew I would have to position to either LAX, SFO, DFW or Vancouver.  After trying out a number of combinations; I was able to find one seat YVR-SYD on Qantas Business Class (no First, I guess I will survive…) for 55,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles plus $41.20 in taxes and fees.  Alaska allows a positioning flight in N. America PLUS one stop over with it’s award redemption.  So my 55k miles also got me to Vancouver from Seattle (a quick 49 minutes on Horizon, Alaska’s regional airline) and from Sydney to Melbourne on Qantas Business Class after 2 nights in SYD.

When priced out with cash the flights would have been the following prices:

  • SEA-YVR (Coach) – $173 US

Australia with Miles

  • YVR-SYD (Business) – $7,565 CAD (roughly $5,823 USD at time of booking)Australia with Miles
  • SYD-MEL (Business) – $770 AUD (roughly $581 USD at time of booking)Australia with Miles

Redeeming 55,000 miles for $6,536 worth of flights means I got about 12 cents worth of value for each Alaska mile.  Granted I would never have paid cash at those prices, but even if I found a deal for $1,200 for all the trips it would still value my Alaska miles at over 2 cents each.

Park Hyatt Sydney – 30,000 Hyatt Points per Night

For me the Park Hyatt Sydney has been an aspirational property for some time.  I can’t imagine a better location than on Sydney Harbour across from the Opera House.  It is one of only seven properties in Hyatt’s category top category — and the redemption cost reflects it.  However the nights I am staying at the property have a member rate of $761 USD a night, so 30,000 points per night is better than paying cash for sure — roughly 2.5 cents per point value.Australia with Miles

Grand Hyatt Melbourne – Chase Free Night & C+P

I am planning on staying at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne for two nights.  As it is a Category 4 property, I can use my annual free night that comes with the $75 annual fee of the Hyatt Chase Visa card.  The rack rate is $223 USD per night during my stay.  I will stay two nights so the second night I booked using Cash + Points (7,500 points plus $96 USD) at a value of 1.7 cents per point.Australia with Miles

Quantas Coach MEL-CNS – $250 USD

There was no award space on the direct Melbourne to Cairns flight so I ended up paying cash to fly Qantas (which earns miles on Alaska!).  Unfortunately I accidentally booked the incorrect route so I had to pay a $60 change fee.  Oops, that’s what I get for booking at 1:00am.

Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort – 10,000 SPG Points per Night

Port Douglas is gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.  There are no Hyatt properties but there is a beautiful beach front Sheraton so I can’t complain.  The advance non-refundable rate is $251 + 10% tax per night.  I value SPG points at a bit over 2 cents a piece, so not an amazing deal but still a decent redemption at a value of 2.8 cents per SPG point.  I’ve heard December can be quite raining in this region but I’m from Seattle.  I can handle some rain!Australia with Miles

Qantas Business CNS-SYD – 20,000 American Miles

I needed to get back to Sydney for the next portion of my trip.  I don’t typically collect American Airlines miles but have about 25,000 from a status mileage run.  I found a Business Class direct flight on Qantas at a cost of 20,000 AA miles plus $19.90 taxes and fees.  The ticket’s cash price was $895 AUD (or $675 USD at time of booking) which means a redemption value of 3.3 cents per AA mile!

Australia with Miles

Getting back to the USA from Australia proved to be a bit more difficult.  Qantas has blocked out all their award flights over the holiday time frame.  So I had to get creative 🙂

Singapore First SYD-SIN – 64,000 Membership Reward Points

Another one of my aspirational redemptions is to try out the Singapore Airlines Suites, unfortunately the plane for SYD-SIN (at least on the flight that was available) is a 777-300 which means there are no Suites.  Still, they have a new First Class product that looks pretty nice (and similar to my favorite Cathay Pacific First Class), so I guess I will have to make due for the 8 hour flight!

I was able to transfer 64,000 of my Membership Reward points to Singapore’s KrisFlyer program.  I only needed 63,750 but you have to transfer in increments of 1,000.  The 8+ hour fight costs 75,000 points but if you redeem online you get 15% off the redemption cost.  If I were to pay cash, a Suite would be $4,019 AUD ($3,035 USD).  Unfortunately they charge a fuel surcharge  on award bookings.  This values my Membership Reward points at 4.7 cents a point.

Australia with Miles

Hyatt Grand Singapore – 20,000 Hyatt Points per Night

Due to the holiday season, there were no Points + Cash redemptions available but there was a straight points award available.  If I were to pay cash it would be $418.77 USD per night after tax.  The 20,000 points per night redemption gets me a value of 2.1 cents per point.

Australia with Miles

Cathay Pacific Business/First SIN-HKG-LAX-SEA – 70,000 Alaska Miles

My favorite airline class so far is Cathay Pacific First Class. Before the flight starts you get access to fantastic lounges.  The First Class cabin on the 777 only has six seats.  Each seat is huge, private, and offers a very comfortable bed.  The service is amazing and the food delicious.  I believe 70,000 miles (plus $90.46 taxes and fees) is one of the best uses of Alaska miles.

Unfortunately there is no First Class on the Singapore to Hong Kong leg, but it will give me my first chance to experience Cathay Business.

I decided not to use my free stop over in Hong Kong as I need to be back for work, but I do have a long layover so I will be able to enjoy The Pier and The Wing lounges at HKG.

When priced out with cash the flights would have been the following prices:

  • SIN-HKG (Business) and HKG-LAX (First) – 19,042.50 SGD (roughly $14,106 at time of booking)Australia with Miles and Points
  • LAX-SEA (First) – $188

Australia with Miles

Redeeming 70,000 miles for $14,203 worth of flights means I got about 21 cents worth of value for each Alaska mile.

Summary

A total distance of 24,686 miles on 9 flights (4 in Business, 3 in First, 2 in Coach) for 209,000 miles/points and $619 USD cash. Australia with Miles and Points

8 nights in hotels (6 Hyatt, 2 SPG) for 127,500 points and $96 USD cash.Australia with Miles and Points

13 days of travel for 336,250 miles/points and $715.00 in cash.  Had I paid all cash it would have been $28,93.84.  Getting to go to Australia with miles and points, this is why I love this hobby!

4 thoughts on “Australia with Miles and Points

  1. Peter Allemano

    What a splendid trip! Thanks for sharing your thought process on booking it and the reasons for your decisions. (And belated “Happy Birthday” wishes to you too!)

    Reply

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