How to fly to Australia on miles and points

Feb 9, 2022

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Australia will once again welcome foreign tourists and other visa holders this month as its borders reopen after almost two years.

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From 21 February 2022, vaccinated travellers will be allowed to enter Australia with relatively few restrictions, provided that they have proof of full vaccination.

Australia has long been a popular destination for British travellers, just as the U.K. has been for Australians. As a result, there have been dozens of airlines flying between the two countries. While the so-called ‘Kangaroo Route’ between London (LHR) and Sydney (SYD) cannot be flown nonstop due to the massive 10,573 mile distance, there are plenty of options for a one (or two) stop journey.

Australia has several major airports you can fly into – the largest three are Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL) and Brisbane (BNE) but there is also Adelaide (ADL), Gold Coast (OOL) and Darwin (DRW), as well as Perth (PER) though Perth, unlike the others will not be welcoming back foreign tourists from 21 February.

Before booking your trip make sure you’re aware of 8 things to know before visiting Australia right now.

With Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane receiving the most international flights, here is how you can fly to these three airports on miles and points.

Related: Visiting Australia — is Sydney or Melbourne better?

Melbourne Park during the Australian Open Tennis tournament. (Photo by: Brett Price/VW Pics via Getty Images)

Avios

  • British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Sydney via a quick stop in Singapore (SIN). Note while this is probably the most difficult route to redeem Avios on it is also BA’s longest route so one of the best value long-haul Avios redemption options.
  • Cathay Pacific flies from London Heathrow and Manchester (MAN) to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Hong Kong (HKG) though note flights are currently suspended;
  • Japan Airlines flies from London Heathrow to Sydney via Tokyo (HND) and Melbourne via Tokyo (NRT);
  • Malaysia Airlines flies from London Heathrow to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Kuala Lumpur (KUL);
  • Qatar Airways flies from London Heathrow, Edinburgh (EDI) and Manchester (MAN) to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, via Doha (DOH). You can even fly Qsuite the entire way;
  • Qantas flies from London Heathrow to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Darwin (DRW); and
  • Sri Lankan Airlines flies from London Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne via Colombo (CMB).

Related: Second Cities: Destinations to add on to a trip to Melbourne, Australia

The cheapest Avios redemption option is flying British Airways as it is technically one flight though it has a quick refuelling stop in Singapore. You will need the following Avios, per person, each way:

  • World Traveller: 32,500 off-peak / 50,000 peak
  • World Traveller Plus: 65,000 off-peak / 100,000 peak
  • Club World/Suite: 125,000 off-peak / 150,000 peak
  • First: 170,000 off-peak / 200,000 peak

If you choose to redeem Avios to fly a partner airline of British Airways instead, the Avios required will vary from airline to airline as the route lengths differ depending on which airport you connect in. You can generally expect to pay significantly more than the Avios amounts listed above for a partner airline flight as they are (at least) two separate flights, and priced as such.

For example, flying Qatar Airways you will be charged 72,250 Avios in economy and 216,500 each way in business class each way (Qatar does not operate premium economy or first class between the two countries). Cathay Pacific is a slightly better deal at 61,000 Avios in economy, 124,000 in premium economy, or 185,500 in business each way.

Fees, taxes and surcharges apply.

Related: Which airports are the best to connect in when flying to Australia?

(QSuite. Photo by Zach Honig/TPG)
Qatar Airways Qsuite. (Photo by Zach Honig/TPG)

Virgin Points

You’re more limited in your options using Virgin Points. Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly to Australia, and unfortunately, some of their partners don’t either. Those that do, however, include:

  • Air China from London Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne via Beijing (PEK). But it is worth noting that Flying Club only allows Virgin Points redemptions to Beijing and not all the way to Australia and we would not recommend transiting China on separate tickets anytime soon.
  • ANA from London Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne via Tokyo (HND) which would be 62,500 Virgin Points one-way in economy or 92,500 miles in business class.
  • Singapore Airlines from London Heathrow and Manchester to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Flying Club only allows economy class redemptions on Singapore Airlines between Europe and Asia, which would be 35,000 miles one-way, with the Asia to Australia leg priced as 27,500 miles in economy, 42,500 miles in business class and 62,500 miles in first.

Related: A plane of my own: A review of Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-200 in business class from Singapore to Hong Kong

ANA 777 business class. Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy

Other points and miles

If you have points or miles in another Oneworld airline programme such as American Airlines AAdvantage, you can use them on the same airline as you can with Avios. AAdvantage uses a zone-based award chart so you won’t have to be calculating the length of each flight — it’s the same mileage required from anywhere in Europe to anywhere in Australia. In this programme, you’ll need 60,000 miles in economy 70,000 miles in premium economy, 85,000 miles in business and 115,000 miles in first (where offered), per person, one-way plus fees, taxes and surcharges.

For Star Alliance miles, there are options via Asia on the likes of Thai Airways via Bangkok (BKK) or Air India via Delhi (DEL), in addition to the Singapore Airlines and Air China routes mentioned above. Both United MileagePlus and Singapore KrisFlyer also use zone-based redemptions.

Related: What is the fastest route to fly to Australia?

United MileagePlus charges one-way per person, plus fees, taxes and surcharges, though United no longer published an award chart for United-operated flights:

  • 60,000 miles in economy, 90,000 miles in business and 115,000 miles in first class one-way (where offered) for flights operated by Star Alliance partners.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer charges, one-way per person, plus fees, taxes and surcharges:

  • 53,000 miles in economy, 91,500 miles in premium economy, 116,000 miles in business and 163,000 miles in first class on Singapore Airlines-operated flights; and
  • 56,500 miles in economy, 105,000 miles in business and 148,000 miles in first one-way, where offered, on flights operated by Star Alliance partner airlines.

If you collect miles in a SkyTeam programme, like Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue or Delta SkyMiles, there are several redemption options from the U.K. to Australia. Korean Air flies between London and Sydney via Seoul (ICN). Delta SkyMiles and Flying Blue no longer publish award charts.

Emirates and Etihad both have extensive route networks to Australia if you wish to redeem Emirates Skywards or Etihad Guest miles.

Related: Emirates is bringing premium economy to the Boeing 777

Thai Airways A350 Business Class. Photo by Javi Rodriguez / The Points Guy

Bottom line

Australia is a long distance from Europe, so a trip there takes some planning – you can’t just pop over there for a weekend. Fortunately, even two years into the pandemic there are a lot of options for flying to Australia on points and miles on some of the world’s best airlines.

With Australia finally reopening after two years there is likely to be a huge pent up demand for award seats so if you want to fly to Australia on miles and points you should book as soon as possible.

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Featured image by Sean Scott / Gettys

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