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We Settled on an Itinerary to Get Five People to Australia for Free

In my last post, I was mulling various itineraries for getting our family of five to Australia and back using frequent flyer miles. After studying the alternatives a little more and with some help from my miles expert friend, I settled on an itinerary:

San Francisco-Syndey Rount Trip on Qantas, using American Airlines miles

Beautifully simple, right? Most of the miles our family has already are American miles, and there were opportunities out there to grab more American miles, and Qantas is part of American’s OneWorld alliance, meaning that American miles are good for Qantas flights. So here we go! Now I’m racing the clock to get the 375,000 miles needed for the trip before frequent flyer seats on the dates we want are all claimed. Oh, and I have another deadline, too: American frequent flyer seats will cost more miles starting March 22.

At the moment, we have 214,523 American AAdvantage miles (135,171 in my account and 79,352 in Erik’s account). So we are more than halfway to the goal. Because you can’t combine two frequent flyer accounts to “buy” one itinerary, I’m aiming to get about 187,500 miles into each account so that all our tickets outbound can be booked with my frequent flyer account, and all five return tickets can be booked on Erik’s.

But what about our American Express Membership Rewards Points?

The main reason I was considering more complicated itineraries before is that I wanted to use not just my AAdvantage miles but also my 74,000 Amex MRPs. However, after spending a lot of time researching different itineraries and ways of transferring MRPs to different airlines, I decided it was just easier to earn more AAdvantage miles and save the Amex MRPs for something else. Like maybe putting them towards our accommodations in Sydney. We’ll see.

A Correction

In my last post, I said that American would let me reserve our itinerary before I had the requisite miles in my account. I was wrong about that. The best you can do is to hold an itinerary for a few days. So yes, the time pressure is really on to get those miles before the FF seats dry up. Fortunately we are actively working on that, as I’ll share in my next post.