As I mentioned in the Introduction Post, Chase Ultimate Rewards points (much like American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points) are great points to stockpile because they are so versatile. Chase URs are getting a little more difficult to earn thanks to Chase’s 5/24 Rule, but if you already have the points or are new to the credit card game, they can be quite useful for getting you to Australia or New Zealand!
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Introduction – Getting To Australia/New Zealand Using Your MRs, URs or TYPs
Part I – Getting To Australia/New Zealand Using Your MRs
Part II – Getting To Australia/New Zealand Using Your URs
Part III – Getting To Australia/New Zealand Using Your TYPs
Part IV – Getting To Australia/New Zealand Using Your SPG Starpoints
Chase offers only one personal card that allows for the transfer of Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners – the Sapphire Preferred card. Chase is pretty strict with their approvals for this card, so if you have picked up more than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months, chances are good you will be denied if you apply for this card, so plan accordingly/carefully. Chase also offers the business Ink credit card, which has been offering some great sign up bonuses lately.
Now that you know how to earn the URs, the more complicated process is how to use those hard earned URs to get you to Australia/New Zealand!
Your URs will transfer to 7 different airlines across all 3 major airline alliances. Those airlines include:
|Airline||Alliance||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Korean Air||SkyTeam||1:1||Same day|
|Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)||SkyTeam||1:1||Same day|
|British Airways||OneWorld||1:1||Same day|
|Singapore Airlines||Star Alliance||1:1||Same day|
|United||Star Alliance||1:1||Same day|
|Virgin Atlantic||N/A||1:1||Same day|
As I said before, the transfer times are just an approximation based upon data points I could find (as well as personal experiences), but it is important to be cognizant of these transfer times when you are planning your award booking(s).
Also keep in mind that you should always be looking at the paid ticket prices for tickets through the Chase UR portal – especially if you are looking to fly economy class – as your URs can be redeemed towards a paid ticket.
Another caveat is that although I will be including general advice for getting to Australia/New Zealand on your URs, your home airport will play an important role in finding availability or determining cost. For example, since British Airways operates under a distance based award chart, the cost for someone traveling from the East Coast is generally going to be higher than the cost for someone traveling from the West Coast. I will also assume for purposes of this post that you would be flying into either Sydney (SYD) or Auckland (AKL).
Korean Air is a SkyTeam alliance member, which means you can redeem your SkyPass miles for travel on Delta and Korean Air flights to Australia/New Zealand.
Korean Air uses a two-tier system where award tickets solely on Korean Air flights are one rate, and award tickets on partners are another rate. Both the Korean Air specific and partner specific award charts have Australia and New Zealand in the same award zone.
For itineraries solely on Korean Air flights, Korean Air operates under a peak/non-peak season award chart. Those dates are very specific and depend on where you are flying so you are better off checking out the chart here.
A roundtrip on Korean Air flights between the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand will cost you 110k/165k miles in economy, 195k/290k miles in business and 240k/360k miles in first class. The rates reflect off-peak/peak rates. One-way awards are allowed at half the quoted rates.
For a roundtrip ticket on partner flights between the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand, you can expect a cost of 110k miles in economy, 185k miles in business class and 260k miles in first class. Korean Air does not allow for one-way awards on partner redemptions.
You are also allowed one stopover on a one-way award ticket and two stopovers on a roundtrip award ticket.
While Korean Air Skypass miles generally offer pretty good value, that is not really the case for redemptions between the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand. To complicate matters further, it can be difficult to work with Korean Air. If you are planning to use your miles to book an award ticket for another person, that other person has to be a family member (mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, wife, husband or child). You will also need to call in to Korean Air to book your partner award and the process is somewhat arduous. I would strongly recommend that you call in to make sure space is available and then place a hold on your award ticket(s) before transferring your URs to your Skypass account. If you are looking for a premium cabin seat, you are probably better off searching via United instead.
Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)
Air France and KLM share a frequent flyer program called FlyingBlue. Since FlyingBlue is a SkyTeam alliance member, you can redeem FlyingBlue miles for travel on Delta flights. FlyingBlue can be finicky to work with, but they offer some decent value for flights to Australia/New Zealand. FlyingBlue groups Australia and New Zealand into the same award zone.
Roundtrip award tickets in economy will cost you 100k miles and in business class will cost you 250k miles. Due to the SkyTeam alliance not having a strong presence in the area, I would expect to encounter some difficulties with finding low level saver space that partners can book. While the economy class rate is fairly reasonable, availability is going to be sparse. Availability for business class was non-existent even 10 months out.
One-way award tickets are allowed at 50k in economy and 125k miles in business, but no stopovers are allowed. While the rates for economy class are about average, the rates for business class are just outrageous. Factoring in the extremely poor availability, I would say cross FlyingBlue off your list unless you can find availability nowhere else.
British Airways and Iberia somewhat share an award program where both have a distance based award chart, so your home airport is really going to make the biggest difference here in how much an award ticket to Australia or New Zealand will cost you. As both British Airways and Iberia are members of the OneWorld alliance, you can use your Avios to book Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines or American Airlines flights to Australia or New Zealand.
The upshot of using Avios is that you can build in an itinerary that flies from the U.S. to Hong Kong (HKG) or Tokyo (NRT/HND), and then on to Australia or New Zealand if you wanted. That actually opens up a lot more possibilities as award space between Asia and Australia or New Zealand tends to be much better than to/from the U.S. The downside of this is that due to the distance based award chart, routing through Asia will cost you substantially more Avios.
Assuming you booked a direct flight between the U.S. and Australia or New Zealand on Qantas or American from New York (JFK), you can expect a one-way award cost of 62.5k Avios for economy, 100k Avios for premium economy, 137.5k Avios for business class and 200k Avios for first class.
It is worth noting that you could cut these rates down a bit if you found space on the Qantas flight from JFK due to this interesting trick.
If you are connecting between Australia and New Zealand, you can expect an added cost of 10k Avios for economy, 15k Avios for premium economy, 20k Avios for business class and 40k Avios for first class.
Assuming you booked a direct flight between the U.S. and Australia on Qantas or American from either Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) or Los Angeles (LAX), you can expect a one-way award cost of 50k Avios for economy, 75k Avios for premium economy, 100k Avios for business class and 150k Avios for first class.
If you were traveling between Los Angeles (LAX) and Auckland (AKL), you can expect a one-way award cost of 35k Avios for economy, 52.5k Avios for premium economy, 70k Avios for business class and 105k Avios for first class.
Again, keep in mind that these are price ranges for flights to either Sydney (SYD) or Auckland (AKL), so your award ticket cost may vary from these numbers depending on your home airport, number of connections needed and destination. Also keep in mind that British Airways does not levy their usual hefty fuel surcharges on partner redemptions.
Award space tends to be best on these routes either very close in, or very far out. Premium cabin award space on these routes is nearly non-existent at the time of writing, though Qantas and American do occasionally open the flood gates on space. It is also worth noting that for some reason the British Airways search tool tends to have issues with allowing you to book Qantas flights online. It will show availability, but you will get an error message when you try to select that flight. Your best bet is to call in and have the British Airways agent book the flight for you. Ask that they waive the phone booking fee since you were unable to book online.
In light of the cost, unless you are based out of a hub airport where you can find a direct partner flight to your Australian/New Zealand destination or have a glut of Avios you want to burn, you are better off transferring your URs elsewhere for a redemption to Australia/New Zealand – especially if you are looking to travel in a premium cabin.
Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your KrisFlyer miles for Air New Zealand, Air Canada, United, ANA and Singapore Airlines (among others) flights to Australia/New Zealand. Again, in other words, you are going to have a ton of options!
Singapore Airlines is one of several airlines that utilizes a separate award chart for partner awards. Both the Singapore Airlines specific award chart and partner award chart put Australia and New Zealand together in the same award zone, so your award cost will remain the same regardless of which you opt to travel to.
For Singapore Airlines operated flights from the East Coast of the U.S., you can expect roundtrip prices of 105k miles for economy, 180k miles for premium economy, 205k miles for business class and 265k miles for first class.
For Singapore Airlines operated flights from the West Coast of the U.S., you can expect roundtrip prices of 95k miles for economy, 170k miles for premium economy, 190k miles for business class and 270k miles for first class.
For Singapore operated flights, one-way award tickets are allowed at half the price. Also keep in mind that the quoted rates do not factor in the 15% discount you would receive from booking your award ticket online. With that said, even factoring in the 15% discount, these rates are not especially competitive.
For roundtrip partner redemptions between the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand, it will cost you 110k miles for economy, 195k miles for business class and 255k miles for first class.
Overall, Singapore is not really very competitive when it comes to award ticket prices to Australia and/or New Zealand. There are much better redemptions to be had elsewhere with your URs, so I would not transfer them here.
United is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your MileagePlus miles for Air New Zealand, Air Canada, ANA and Singapore Airlines (among others) flights to Australia/New Zealand. As with Singapore Airlines, that means you are going to have a ton of options!
United includes both Australia and New Zealand in the same award zone, so your award ticket price will be the same to both countries.
United uses a two-tier award system for their awards. Economy tickets are the same cost regardless of whether you are on a United flight or a partner flight. A roundtrip saver economy award ticket will cost you 80k miles.
Business and first class award tickets on the other hand will differ in price depending on whether you are flying on a United operated flight or a partner operated flight. For United operated flights, a roundtrip saver business class award ticket will cost you 140k miles, while a saver first class award ticket will cost you 160k miles.
Alternatively, for partner operated flights, a roundtrip saver business class award ticket will cost you 160k miles, while a saver first class award ticket will cost you 260k miles.
When booking a roundtrip award ticket, United allows you one stopover. United also allows one-way award tickets (though you would lose out on the free stopover) at half the rates cited above.
As you can see, the much better value when redeeming for premium cabins is with United operated flights – though the actual product is going to be far less enticing than what some of United’s partners such as ANA offer. Economy award tickets through United definitely offer the best value for economy redemptions of all of the UR transfer partners though. If you are interested in a premium cabin redemption, it is probably best to look elsewhere while keeping United in mind.
Virgin Atlantic operates out of a very small market in the U.S., but they do partner with Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand and Delta for award tickets to Australia/New Zealand. The major downside to this program is that the taxes and carrier imposed fees/surcharges are outrageously high – especially on premium cabin redemptions.
For partner redemptions on Delta between the U.S. and Australia/New Zealand, you are looking at a roundtrip cost of 100k miles in economy and 150k miles in business class. Virgin Atlantic however requires that you call them to determine the taxes, fees and surcharges on these tickets.
For partner redemptions on Virgin Australia or Air New Zealand, you need to call Virgin Atlantic at least 14 days prior to departure at 1.800.365.9500. From what I have been able to find, you can expect pretty outrageous taxes, fees and surcharges on these redemptions (think $1,000+ for business class redemptions).
Although the mileage redemption rates (ignoring the outrageous taxes and fees) for Delta are actually not horrible, the fact that your URs transfer to Virgin Atlantic at only 1:0.5 makes Virgin Atlantic the single worst UR transfer partner for award tickets to Australia/New Zealand in my opinion. When you factor in the outrageous taxes and fees, I would strongly recommend you avoid this option at all costs unless you literally have no other option.
Unfortunately, Southwest does not currently fly to Australia or New Zealand, nor do they have any partners that fly to Australia or New Zealand. If you have a Chase co-branded Southwest credit card, there is a way around this to use your RapidRewards points for international travel, but the value is usually exceedingly poor and I will not get into how to do so here as it will rarely work out in your favor.
As you can see, the UR transfer partners do not offer a lot of options for finding award availability to Australia and/or New Zealand, though they do offer some of the less expensive options among MR, UR, TYP and SPG transfer partners in limited situations. Good premium cabin redemptions utilizing your UR though are pretty difficult to come by though. Hopefully this guide has helped to shine a little light on how to utilize and maximize your URs for a trip to Australia and/or New Zealand!
Stay tuned for the next installments on your best redemption options for TYPs and SPG Starpoints!
What is your favorite way to redeem URs to get to Australia/New Zealand?
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