The Cheapest Ways to Fly From the U.S. to Australia

Various frequent flyer programs offer cheap flights to Australia, including United MileagePlus and American AAdvantage.
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Australia is on the bucket list for many travelers, but getting there can be expensive. But rest assured, there are still ways to save.

Are you looking for cheap flights to Australia? It doesn’t get much cheaper than using points and miles for your flight. While cash prices can fluctuate dramatically depending on the season, award flights tend to favor more steady pricing. Savvy travelers can take advantage of this to head to the Land Down Under for cheap. Here's how.

The cheapest ways to fly from the U.S. to Australia

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

What airlines fly to Australia? Quite a few do, including Qantas Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. One of the best ways to book a flight to Australia, however, is via Alaska Airlines, the newest member of the Oneworld alliance. Because of its partnership with Qantas Airways, Alaska members can redeem miles for flights at an extraordinarily generous rate.

Alaska charges 40,000 miles for a one-way economy class flight, but you'll pay just 55,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for a one-way business class flight on Oneworld partner Qantas. This is one of the lowest amounts you’ll find anywhere.

Because Alaska features no major credit card transfer partners, Alaska miles aren’t the easiest to earn. However, you can earn miles with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, which rewards your purchases with Alaska miles. Otherwise, you can opt to buy points (often with a bonus amount attached) or transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer.

Avianca Lifemiles

Although Avianca LifeMiles aren’t as cheap as Alaska Airlines redemptions, they’ll still charge you just 40,000 miles one-way in economy class or 80,000 miles in business.

This is a fairly standard rate for Australia flights, and Avianca won’t charge you more whether you’re departing from the East Coast or the West Coast. The biggest reason Avianca is on this list is due to the program’s strong transfer partnerships, making these miles simple to earn.

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles and Citi ThankYou points to Avianca LifeMiles at a 1:1 ratio, meaning one point becomes one mile.

A neat loophole within the LifeMiles program is that you can book yourself mixed-class awards and Avianca will discount the redemption price accordingly.

For example, you can book a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, in business class for 80,000 LifeMiles.

However, that price can fall when booking a trip from San Francisco to Brisbane. The total cost of your redemption drops to 72,880 miles, even though you'll be taking three separate flights and traveling all the way to Australia. That’s because the two shorter legs are in economy, and LifeMiles adjusts the price downward — even though you’re in business class on the long haul leg.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Another member of Oneworld, American Airlines is one of the “Big Three” U.S. airlines. The question is: How many AAdvantage miles are needed to fly to Australia? Like Avianca, American charges 40,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in economy and 80,000 miles in business class.

These flights will tend to be on Qantas Airways or American Airlines, and you won’t pay more if you need a connecting flight from the East Coast.

American Airlines has a variety of co-branded credit cards with which to earn miles, including options from both Citi and Barclays. In particular, the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® helps you earn a large sum of points with its welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.

All Nippon Airways Mileage Club

Our second-cheapest option on the list is All Nippon Airways, or ANA. As a member of the Star Alliance, ANA features flights from United, Air Canada, Lufthansa and Swiss, among others.

ANA is unique in that you cannot book one-way flights with points. This means you’ll need to find award availability in both directions to book your flight. Your patience will be rewarded, however; ANA charges 75,000 Mileage Club miles for economy class tickets and 120,000 miles for business class tickets. This comes out to 60,000 miles one way for a business class ticket.

And if you’re trying to figure out: How much does a first class flight to Australia cost? ANA has you covered: It’ll charge 225,000 miles round trip to sit in the fanciest part of the plane.

ANA has its own co-branded credit card, but it doesn't offer a great return on your spending. Happily, it also partners with AmEx, meaning you can transfer over your AmEx points to ANA at a 1:1 ratio.

United Airlines MileagePlus

The last option on our list is another Star Alliance carrier, and although it’s not the most exciting option around, it can still provide solid value for customers.

So, it's how many United miles to fly to Australia? United will charge 40,000 United miles one way in economy and 80,000 miles one way in business. It’s important to note that United charges more for flights on partner airlines rather than its own; these 40,000 and 80,000 figures are specific to United.

If, instead, you were to fly on a partner, you can expect to pay either 44,000 or 88,000 miles for flights. These aren’t great rates, but United is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

There is a wide variety of Chase cards that earn transferable points — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® — making these points reasonably easy to earn. These points can then be transferred to United at a 1:1 ratio.

Consider travel insurance to protect your upfront costs

If you're worried your Australia flight plans may change or are at risk for cancellation, travel insurance might help. This optional standalone insurance can be purchased separately from your airfare, and certain plans include coverage for award flights.

But you might not even need to pay out-of-pocket for trip insurance because many credit cards offer travel insurance as a built-in benefit to customers who pay for travel expenses on that card.

Cheap flights to Australia recapped

How much does it cost to fly to Australia? With the right strategy, it doesn’t have to be much.

Everyone should visit Australia at some point, though it can be more expensive than you’d like, especially if you’re paying in cash. Using points and miles can save you a lot of money, with plenty of airlines from which to choose. For the best rates in business class, look either to Alaska Airlines or ANA and enjoy those (many) hours on the plane in relative style.

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