Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Secret To Cheap Domestic Australia Travel Is British Airways Avios

Having been traveling through Australia for the past few weeks, I've really begun to appreciate just how useful British Airways' Avios are when it comes to domestic travel on obscure routes. Qantas has a virtual stranglehold on many of these non-stop flights, and as such, prices are sky high even for short hops.

Luckily, OneWorld partner British Airways has a distance-based award chart, with the best redemption values typically found on the shortest flights. Just for comparison, I did a quick search for the current cheapest prices on some of these Qantas-monopolized routes, and here are the results:

Hamilton Island (HTI) - Cairns (CNS):
Cheapest price online: $459
BA award redemption: 4,500 Avios

Cairns (CNS) - Uluru (AYQ):
Cheapest price online: $642
BA award redemption: 7,500 Avios

Uluru (AYQ) - Alice Springs (ASP):
Cheapest price online: $284
BA award redemption: 4,500 Avios

Alice Springs (ASP) - Perth (PER):
Cheapest price online: $549
BA award redemption: 10,000 Avios

When I booked this award last year, total taxes and fees for the four segments combined came out to $201.22. Compare that to the $1934 I would have paid out of pocket for booking the exact same flights with Qantas. That converts to a redemption value of more than 6.5 cents per mile, which is ridiculously good when it comes to economy tickets! 

Be aware that most of these flights are operated by individual carriers such as Eastern Australian Airlines and Sunstate Airlines under the QantasLink brand. QantasLink routes still do not show up on the British Airways website award search, so bookings need to be made over the phone, which will incur an additional fee of $25.

If you are in need of some extra Avios, British Airways and Chase are currently running a decent promotion for their co-branded Visa. You will receive 50,000 Avios after spending $2000 within the first 90 days of account opening, with the annual fee waived for the first year ($95). Here is the landing page. As always, this is not an affiliate link.


  1. Battling through the same QantasLink process, though trying to do it for Lord Howe Island which does not have any award within months of the dates I need, will need to plan this one out way in advance.

    Even worse award availability for Norfolk Island which is a Star Alliance redemption, using ANA have no come across a single award seat out of the three cities that fly to Norfolk.

    1. First of all, I am ridiculously jealous that you're headed to Lord Howe Island. I watched a documentary about the Lord Howe Island stick insect, and became fascinated with Ball's Pyramid.

      Good luck with the QantasLink redemption. I booked it almost a year in advance for that exact reason. Award seats seem to be fairly scarce on these obscure routes.

      Never even heard of Norfolk Island till now. Someday (maybe when I'm 80) I'll make it out to all these crazy places you're hitting up.