Australia has always been on the top of my travel wish list. Growing up on the East Coast, I figured I would never have the chance to travel across the world. Not only was it so far away, but I didn’t think my 6’3” body could sit in a little airplane seat that long. [How do airlines get away with those tiny seats!] The only way I figured I would physically be able to fly for 15+ hours was if I was fortunate enough to do it in Business Class.
Flights to Australia can be expensive and business class flights are exponentially more. My only hope was to utilize airline or credit card points. Airlines don’t typically like to offer many “free” seats in premium cabins to protect their bottom line. Alaska Airlines is a partner with the largest airline in Australia, Qantas. I started saving up my Alaska miles and was able to find a Business Class ticket to Sydney, and even better, the elusive FIRST Class ticket for the flight back home.
I have read countless airline blogs and testimonials that basically confirm finding a first class seat on Qantas is nearly impossible. Somehow I was able to find one on the exact time I wanted to go to Australia which was over Thanksgiving Break.
Pro Tip: If you have limited vacation days, consider traveling over Thanksgiving and utilize the 2 free days off of work. Combine those 2 free days with 5 days of “vacation/PTO” the following week to make a nice 11 day vacation trip.
For 50,000 Alaska Airline Miles and $29 I flew from San Francisco (SFO) to Sydney (SYD) in Business Class on the now retiring Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet (being replaced by more fuel efficient planes). Not only did I get to fly the route I wanted in a Premium Cabin but I got to fly in the big jumbo jet I always dreamed of as a kid.
For 70,000 Alaska Airline Miles and $54 I was able to book a return flight and fly from Brisbane (BNE) to Los Angeles (LAX) in first class on the new (bigger) jumbo jet, the Airbus A380. Not only did I get this elusive seat, but I was also able to book a stopover in Melbourne (MEL) and get to see an extra city for Free. Alaska Airlines lets you book a free stopover on flights purchased with award miles on their partner airlines (Note, stop overs are only allowed in their Hub cities). I essentially got another few hundred dollar flight, in business class, between two Australian cities for FREE. This trip would have cost me well over $10,000 if I was paying for a ticket with cash.
Flying for free on airline award miles can be an amazing experience. If you don’t mind flying in Economy, there are usually many available seats on many different routes daily. If you are looking to fly in a premium cabin like Business or First Class, the award availability becomes very hard to come by. A lot of times these prime award mile flights are only available mid week on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Flexibility is key when trying to snag one of these amazing trips (plus a lot of luck).
Alaska Airlines is a great airline for the West Coast with large hubs in Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles. They do have a few East Coast routes but they all arrive or depart at their Hub west coast destinations. One of the best benefits that makes Alaska Airlines such a great loyalty program is their list of partner airlines including: British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, and Qantas to name a few.
Fly on Cathay Pacific to Asia and get a free stop over in Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific has cheaper award offers on their premium seating which often rank as one of the best airlines.
Fly Emirates to the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and get a free stopover in Dubai. Emirates has been known for some of the fanciest planes in the sky with the largest fleet of A380 planes. Those A380 planes feature first class cabins that have SHOWERS in their bathrooms and even a large lounge/bar for all First and Business Class Customers.
Fly Singapore Airlines to Asia and get a free stopover in Singapore. Singapore is often ranked as one of the best airlines due to their renowned service in the air. Singapore is also a great stopover location as a beautiful city but now even more so with the completion of the amazing Changi Airport which is a destination in itself.
Fly Qantas Airlines to Australia and get a free stopover to a 2nd city down under. You could fly to Sydney and get a stop over to see the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns (CNS) or maybe even add a trip to Bali. Qantas is also the only airline that flies the A380 from the US directly to Australia.
The Airbus A380 is a beast and a true luxury in the sky. You need to see the size of the A380 as it goes by normal planes to truly understand the size. The extra wide and full double decked body allows for a very spacious cabin (even in Economy). If you are flying to destinations where the A380 is available, I can’t recommend the experience enough. Be sure to check out the flights seating chart or aircraft to see if you are lucky enough to book a trip on the A380.
So how do you earn miles/points to get a FREE flight in first class? Here are the best ways to get you on your way to your bucket list destinations.
1) Sign up for the Alaska Airlines Credit Card
[If you are interested in applying for the credit card, email me at
Contact.TheMTGallery@gmail.com for a referral code for bonus sign up miles!]
Get 40,000 Bonus Miles when you're approved and meet the purchase requirements on the card.
BONUS: in addition to the large amount of instant miles, you also get the Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare (once a year you can have a companion join you for $99 + taxes). This comes in handy when you want to fly to far away destinations or during peak holiday travel. If you are smart, you can use this companion pass on Flights to Hawaii over Christmas when the flights can go for $800+. You can save hundreds of dollars with this deal! You can also gift this to someone else if you aren’t going to be flying.
2) Use the Alaska Airlines Credit Card
Use the credit card to purchase flights and earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on Alaska Airlines Purchases. If you purchase a flight for $800 from LAX to SYD you will earn 2,400 miles coming to you instantly.
Use the credit card for daily purchases. All other purchases are in a 1:1 Ratio (Pro Tip: I wouldn’t recommend using this card as an everyday card for non-Alaska purchases as this isn’t the best way to maximize your dollars spent unless you’re trying to earn points quickly for a free trip!).
Consider signing up for the American Express Platinum Card for everyday travel card.
[Use this link for bonus miles when applying
3) Fly Alaska Airlines
Earn 1 mile for every mile flown in the air on Alaska Airlines. Flying cross country from LAX to JFK round trip? You will get about 5,000 miles added to your account. Even better, you can earn additional BONUS miles when you fly with an Alaska Airline partner like Qantas, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and more..
4) Buy miles on Alaska Airlines
Alaska lets you buy miles online although it isn’t the best use of your dollar. Only utilize this option if you are in need of a few extra miles instantly to get you a premium cabin seat. They do offer bonus miles when purchasing miles from time to time so be sure to keep a look out. They usually offer a 50% bonus on purchased miles at the end of Fall/ early Winter months)
5) Use the Alaska Airlines Shopping Portal
If you are buying anything online you should always check first if it is available on an airline’s shopping portal. Many times there are bonuses offered to help you earn even more miles! Looking to buy Nike shoes for the gym? Buy online and log in to the shopping portal first. You can earn bonus miles such as 10 miles / $1 spent just by starting in their shopping portal (all you need is an Alaska Mileage Plan Account and you are good to go).
6) Use RocketMiles
Although this won’t yield the cheapest rates on Hotel Rooms, this is an amazing way to earn miles quickly. Booking a trip to Vegas? How about a free 30,000 points for booking the same room you were already going to book? Exactly.
Use my referral code to earn bonus miles on your first hotel purchase!
Utilizing all of these methods I was able to bank enough Alaska Airline miles to pay for my round trip flight to Australia for under 120,000 Alaska Miles and less than $150!