Loyalty Lobby reports that Qantas Airlines intends to continue to offer availability of 50% more international award flights using points for travel over the next 6 months (including all cabins). Extra availability is expected to be released at 11am Sydney time on Friday, February 24, 2023 — which is 7pm Eastern time on Thursday, February 23, 2023. Based on the press release, it sounds like the extra availability will be for Qantas Frequent Flyer members, so I don’t know whether this will lead to additional partner availability — but it’s worth keeping an eye out if you’re hoping to head down under.
Again, I don’t know that we’ll see a noticeable change in partner availability, but it might be worth taking a look around/after 7pm Eastern time tonight in case some of these newly-available seats get released to partners.
You can of course transfer to Qantas from Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, and Capital One Miles. Qantas charges 41,900 miles + about $210 in taxes and fees one-way for economy class from Sydney or Brisbane to Los Angeles or 108,400 miles + about $335 one-way for business class. Those award rates aren’t necessarily the cheapest options to/from Australia, but if Qantas only releases the additional availability to its own members, it could certainly still be worthwhile since it is otherwise quite difficult to snag nonstop awards between the United States and locations Down Under.
If these seats are available to partners, the best value would be via Alaska Mileage Plan, which charges just 55K miles each way in business class between the US and Australia (and allows a free stopover on a one-way, so you could plan a stopover in Australia on either end of your award). Just be careful to watch out for mixed-cabin availability, which is very very poorly marked on the Alaska website (and almost impossible to identify if searching on mobile).
American Airlines AAdvantage would theoretically also be a good deal, though we’ve recently seen that some Qantas availability isn’t showing up online at AA.com. You may want to search the British Airways website and then try calling American Airlines to see if they can book the availability you find (British Airways charges far more Avios than Qantas is charging in Qantas points). Cathay Pacific Asia Miles would be another worthwhile program to consider if partner availability opens up.
I’m going to keep an eye on this as I currently have an AAdvantage award booked from Australia to the United States during the next 6 months. If availability opens up for my dates, I might consider rebooking via Alaska — though I probably won’t transfer to Qantas at 108,400 miles in business class.
I should note that skeptics here will tell you that 50% more than 0 available awards is still 0 available awards. There is no denying that snagging Qantas business class between the US and Australia is really tough. You are probably more likely to find one of their non-US routes available, but I’ll still take a look and see what I can find if anything.