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I have been getting several questions by email that I want to share with other blog readers.  A few weeks go it was Rich who asked about what to put for income on credit card applications if you’re a stay-at-home mom (or dad).

Today’s question comes from reader Betty, who asks:

I am new to miles and points and recently read an article where you helped a family of five with their trip to Berlin. Can you give me some advice to help me and my daughter get to Australia?
My daughter will graduate from college in December and when she was in high school I promised her a trip to Australia (her choice;not mine) as a graduation present. We want to go in December right after graduation and hopefully, before she starts a new job.
Please help me with a strategy for earning miles and points to help offset our flight
She continues to say
Between August – December 2014 I got the following cards:
AA Citibank – 50K
US Air – 40K
IHG – 60K
Southwest Premier and Plus – 50K each (will qualify for Companion Pass in a few months). Already had the Marriott Visa; have about 30-40k points; about 30K Hilton points, and about 60k Delta miles.
My daughter has the US Air mastercard with 50k and about 50k Delta miles.
Further conversations with Betty said that they are based in Atlanta and want to leave as early as Friday December 11, staying around 10 days, and having to be back to Atlanta by Mon Jan 4 2016.

Using the Mile Matrix for travel to Australia

Last week, I announced the introduction of the Mile Matrix, an app that tries to answer the question of how many miles it takes to go from any country to any other country on any airline.

(SEE ALSO: Mile Matrix: Any country to any other country on any airline)

(SEE ALSO: Mile Matrix: FAQs on how to use the app to check the mile price between any countries on any airline)

Plugging in the United States and Australia into the Mile Matrix, we get


Since the US Airways miles that she has will be transferring to American miles, it seems American Airlines would be the way to go.  Delta would be another option

Finding American Airlines availability to Australia

But can we find 2 seats on American Airlines to Australia in December?  The good news is that availability to Australia in economy is a LOT easier to come by than business or first class availability.  But on the other hand, traveling over the Christmas / New Year’s makes things trickier.


american-availability-australia-3(Note the airport change in New York).  This is one option – I saw a couple other possibilities

What about Delta?

Delta has some availability for 50,000 miles which is the lowest availability.  Note that I have only searched for SYD-LAX.  The #1 rule for booking long trips like this is that you concentrate on your longest (usually over-water) flights first.  Once we get back from Australia to Los Angeles, there are a lot more options for getting back to Atlanta.  If there is no Delta availability, Betty might be able to use her Southwest points or other options.


As you can see, there’s a bit better availability with Delta / Skyteam.  Actually, the 12/24 flight is SYD-BNE (Brisbane)-LAX, so that might be an option (fly into Sydney, make your way to Brisbane by other means, and then fly out of Brisbane back to the US)

The best of both worlds?

Based on Betty and her daughter’s current mileage levels, it may make sense to do a split itinerary.  Now that Delta allows one-way awards, one option would be to fly outbound on American and then return on Delta.

A possible itinerary that is currently bookable, as of the writing of this post

AA 3682 : Dec 15 10:10am – 12:32pm ATL-LGA

QF 18: Dec 15 6:35pm – 9:40pm JFK-LAX

QF 18: Dec 15 11:55pm – Dec 17 9:35am LAX-SYD

This should be 37,500 American miles + $27.50 in taxes per person

<Travel Australia>

VA 1: SYD-LAX Dec 29-11:40am – Dec 29 6:30am (timezones are weird!)

This prices out to 50,000 Delta miles + $104.62 in taxes, fees and charges, per person

There are a couple of options to get Betty and her daughter back from LAX to their home in Atlanta, but for now I’ve left it here.  I hope that this has been helpful to Betty or anyone else who is planning a

As always, you can learn from the Traveler’s Triangle, which talks about the flexibility in time, location and price.


The more flexible you are on time and location, the better price you can get. In this case, Betty is not flexible on location, and has minimal flexibility on time / date, so it’s a bit trickier to find award seats at the lowest level of availability.  Still, if she had exact dates it would be even harder (as you can see from the award calendar)



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