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Qantas first and business class awards to Australia are a lusted-after prize in trans-Pacific flying.
The Qantas award I have sough for several years is the 2-hour QantasLink flight over to Australia’s Lord Howe Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and lauded retreat. With limited capacity at 400 tourist beds on the island and about that many residents, it is both pristine nature and country club feel. It is also darn expensive. Accommodation rates roughly halve in May-September off-peak when the migratory birds are away. The flights stay expensive, roughly around US$1,000 roundtrip from any of Sydney, Brisbane or (seasonal) Port Macquarie.
You can more or less forget about OneWorld award availability. American Airlines displays Qantas awards and you are lucky to find as much as a seat in either direction on any given month.
Citi ThankYou’s addition of Qantas as a transfer partner gave me hope. To their own members they release a few flights a month in either direction. Qantas does not have award holds and the Citi transfer is not instant, mine was overnight, so if you are determined you might want to move points in advance.
Qantas’ award pricing is some combination of distance and segments. You want to search Classic Flight Awards. A one-way on these routes without connection is 8,000. Connecting brings the price up to 10,000 or more. I found Lord Howe Island – Brisbane – Auckland for 10,000, moved the points and then it errored out so I had to stick to Brisbane.
Also, if doing something complex, Qantas awards don’t let you connect twice in the same place so you would need to book separate tickets. For instance Sydney – Lord Howe Island – Brisbane – Sydney – Auckland would not work because crossing Sydney twice on the same award.
Is Lord Howe Island worth it? That’s next.