If I had to pick one destination and topic that seems to come up on a constant basis from people looking to redeem their Avios, it would be:
“What is the best way to redeem Avios to Australia?”
The BA forum on Flyertalk is peppered with numerous variations of the same question – “I’m looking to go to Australia next year, I’ve got x amount of children/Avios/2-4-1 companion voucher(s), what’s the easiest way of doing it?”
What is it about Australia?
There’s a good reason this subject crops up so often. Australia can be particularly tricky to get to using Avios for a number of reasons. For a start, Sydney is the only Australian city served ‘directly’ by BA. Add the fact that many people are keen to avoid travelling in economy on such long flights and competition for premium cabin Avios seats is fierce.
To make matters worse, as the flight stops in Singapore en route to Sydney, you’re also competing with people trying to redeem Avios directly to Singapore, plus those who just want to fly Singapore to Sydney.
A quick check on BA Redemption Finder shows just one date between now and September 2019 with Avios availability in business class between London and Sydney!
So what are your (other) options for getting to Australia in business/first class using Avios?
If using a BA 2-4-1 voucher…
Let’s get this one out of the way first. People often look to use a British Airways 2-4-1 companion voucher when travelling to Australia as a way of reducing what is a pretty expensive redemption.
The key factor here is that the 2-4-1 voucher can only be used on actual BA flights. Flights with oneworld partners or even codeshare flights with BA flight numbers are not permitted.
That means you’re actually only left with one possible routing if you want to use your voucher all the way to Australia. Yep, on BA to Sydney via Singapore.
So, realistically you’ve got two options:
- Plan well ahead of time and book the ‘direct’ route as soon as seats are released
- Use your companion voucher for part of your journey
British Airways release a guaranteed 4 economy and 2 business class seats 355 days before every flight. Planning a trip enough in advance allows you to snag those seats as soon as they’re released. But it’s not foolproof. You may need four seats in business class, or only have enough Avios for premium economy. Or you may simply not be able to book flights a year in advance.
In that case, option two is your best bet. You should use your companion voucher to book a round trip or even an open-jaw redemption on BA to any one of the following cities:
- Hong Kong
- Kuala Lumpur
- Los Angeles
From there you can pick up a good cash deal, redeem Avios with a partner airline (such as those listed below) or even use other airline miles to continue onwards to Australia.
The non-BA options
If you’re not tied down to redeeming a BA companion voucher, there are actually multiple ways of using Avios to fly from the UK to Australia.
Qatar Airways offers an excellent range of options for getting to Australia with flights to Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.
Cathay operates multiple services from London Heathrow and Gatwick to Hong Kong daily. You can also utilise their flight from Manchester – operated by their newish Airbus A350. From there it’s really easy to pick up a connection on Cathay or even Qantas to Australia.
Earlier this year, Qantas reintroduced the concept of non-stop flights from the UK-Australia, with a direct service to Perth. With a flight time of over 17 hours, you’re going to want to do this comfortably. It should be very easy to then bag an Avios redemption on Qantas over to Melbourne/Sydney.
Alternatively, I noted the Qantas flights from Tokyo Narita and Haneda to Melbourne for example, had excellent business class Avios availability. You could use BA/JAL to get to Tokyo and then Qantas from there.
They’re flying their much talked about new A350 aircraft between London and Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur to Sydney these days.
These are also good options if you’ve redeemed a 2-4-1 voucher for the first leg from London and are now looking for the best way of heading down under.
Note: Since the Avios changes in 2015 and the introduction of peak/off-peak pricing, all partner redemptions using Avios are charged at peak rates. If you’re flying over a BA ‘peak period’ this won’t matter as the Avios cost will be the same if flying Cathay Pacific as with BA for example. But it’s something to be aware of nonetheless.
How to book
The best place to search for Avios availability on flights involving BA’s Oneworld partners such as Qantas and Cathay Pacific is actually on the BA website itself. In most cases, these flights should be bookable online.
If you’re using a 2-4-1 companion voucher to book when seats are released, you can book the outbound leg online as normal. You will have to call the BA call centre though to add the return leg to your original booking as and when those seats are released down the line.
You’ll also need to call if making an open-jaw booking.
Interestingly, purely in terms of value, Sydney offers the largest possible saving from a 2-4-1 companion voucher. You can save a whopping 400,000 Avios if you managed to book peak first-class return flights. And that’s quite a big if.
For the rest of us, this guide should provide some options in terms of still being to fly to Australia with Avios while not competing for the same, highly in demand, reward seats.
Have you ever redeemed Avios to Australia?