Tutorial – Use AAdvantage Miles For Cheaper Qantas Redemptions

Without a doubt, my favourite frequent flyer program would still have to be American Airlines AAdvantage. The program offers some fantastic value, always has miles on sale and has some brilliant redemption partners.

I’ve talked about the program a little bit for Etihad first class redemptions, but today I am going to talk about redeeming these miles for Qantas redemptions.

First of all here are the award charts from the Pacific for Oneworld and partner airlines:

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How to find availability

To find Qantas availability you have a few options:

AAdvantage

AAdvanatge has an award calendar that is simple and easy to use. However, the calendar often shows “Phantom Space” which means that it will show seats available, but they aren’t actually there, to confirm double or triple check on British Airways, Qantas, and Expertflyer. You’ll want to select the blue tabs which are saver awards.

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British Airways

British Airways is what I normally use to confirm that the seat are actually there, In this case, they are there.

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What Qantas flights can I redeem for?

The big difference between using Alaska miles and AAdvantage miles is that with AAdvantage you can redeem points for any Qantas flight, unlike Alaskan where you can only redeem for Qantas flights domestically and USA flights.

How do I get AA miles?

There are two main ways to get AA points in Australia.

  • Crediting QF flights to AA

Crediting QF flights to AA used to be quite valuable, but with changes this year, you won’t get that many points which is disappointing.

  • Buying miles

This is how I afford most of my long-haul travel. American constantly offer very large bonuses when buying miles. You can buy 150,000 miles a year but look when the sales are on, and you could get much more for the same price.

American are currently offering a large bonus of 100,000 miles which alone is enough for Qantas first class to Dubai.

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Bottom Line

If you are planning travel soon and want to travel in business or first with Qantas or any other AAdvanatge partner, I would definitely recommend purchasing miles. The offer ends November 28, and you must have an account older than 30 days.

What I *Now* Use For International Calls And Data (I learned the hard way)

This is a post I’ve meant to write for sometime, and I’m happy to finally be able to write it. A question I get asked often is “what do you use for calls, texts, and data overseas” well I’ve learned the hard way, and now I know what to do without going broke. Thanks, Telstra :/

Previously I have just used my home sim which is with Telstra because It was simple and easy and the plan I have gives international data, calls, and texts. What I didn’t realize was how fast the cost of international data could rise… Now this wasn’t using it all day; this was an hour worth of browsing.

How nice of Telstra to send me travel pass information at the end of my trip!

How nice of Telstra to send me travel pass information at the end of my trip!

So after nearly having a heart attack I decided to investigate and find a plan or sim that wouldn’t make me go broke. And I decided to try a T-mobile pre-paid sim.

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I decided to purchase an Unlimited T-mobile sim which includes the following:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data starting with up to 3GB of 4G LTE
  • The freedom to buy a new device or bring your own
  • Coverage on T-Mobile’s Nationwide 4G LTE network
  • The ability to stream as much music as you want with Music Unlimited
  • Great prices for bigger data appetites

I paid just over $100 for the sim, and I can happily say that I won’t ever be using Telstra overseas again. The data is LTE, so it’s lightning fast, and the coverage is absolutely fantastic!

I would recommend this sim to anyone from other countries, and if I were a U.S citizen I would switch to T-mobile (Don’t worry I tried but I need to be a citizen)

Bottom Line

After spending time with the sim, I have been so impressed by how well it works, and I am a very satisfied customer.

How To Travel In Business Or First To The USA From Australia With Points

It’s no secret getting flights from Australia to the USA, or the opposite is getting extremely difficult to travel to, especially in a premium cabin. The route is popular with both tourists and business people making it an extremely popular route.

The route can be VERY expensive for both off-peak and peak seasons which isn’t affordable for many. Luckily points bring down the price dramatically. However, it takes some patience, persistence, and flexibility.

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  • Routing through a different country 

Flying directly to the USA from Australia in Business class is almost impossible but there are some great way’s to get there but it’ll take some more time.

As an example lets look at this Singapore Airlines flight. This flight goes from Singapore – Seoul – San Fransisco. This flight is available in business class; all the direct flights were ‘waitlisted’ which is like a lottery.

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This is another example originating in Seoul. The availability on Asiana and Air China was wide open in both business and first which is amazing! This is a fantastic way to have a better chance for redeeming points for US-bound travel.

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Another tip is to look for other capital cities in Australia like Brisbane or Melbourne as they often have more availability.

For Oneworld flyers, these are airport to look at Hong Kong, Tokyo Narita/Haneda, Kuala Lumpur.

For Star Alliance flyers, these are airports to look at Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo Haneda/Narita, New Zealand.

For Skyteam flyers, these are airports to look at Taiwan, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Seoul, Xiamen.

  • Be flexible!

This is possibly the most important rule of award travel. Flying a family to the U.S in first or business over the school holidays is impossible (trust me I’ve tried it 😉 ), But if you’re flexible with timing, it will be a lot easier to get those golden seats.

Below is an example of 24 hours before departure for Cathay Pacific and AA, yes there is business seats wide open and first class available. Award seat’s open at different times some are a full year out, and some are last minute. Cathay Pacific release consistent availability last minute which I’ve taken advantage of many times.

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  • Use Expertflyer alerts

I talked a little about this in my Expertflyer post. An excellent feature of Expertflyer is the ability to set alerts for award seat’s opening. This will save time for people constantly looking for seats. This doesn’t work for all airlines but will for Qantas, Korean, Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines just to name a few.

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  • Learn Availability trends

Many airlines release different amounts of seats at different times. Some release very generous amount all year round then there are some that are nearly impossible to get and you have to book a year out.

I heavily recommend you go and read Ben’s post on One Mile At A Time which can be found here –  When Do Airlines Open Award Seats?

I also recently wrote about when Virgin Australia release long haul business class award seats.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, these tips and tricks help you to find and book business or first class seats to the U.S. It is definitely worth the effort to find the seats.

 

How I Take/Edit Photo’s On The Blog

One question I get very regularly is how I take photos on my blog. This post will explain the full process of taking the pictures I use on this blog.

Disclaimer – DO NOT BUY AN EXPENSIVE CAMERA IF WON’T USE IT TO IT’S FULL POTENTIAL (I LEARNT THAT THE HARD WAY)

To start off, I’ll explain how I started. When I was 14, I discovered a hobby called ‘Plane Spotting,’ Which is mainly watching planes take off, land, etc. There are many types of spotter’s, ones that would take photos, collect registrations and some that would just go and see special liveried aircraft. I found it incredibly fascinating and bought a new camera a few weeks after starting in the hobby.

This is when I found out photography can be a VERY expensive hobby.

I first started off with a Canon 7D which is a crop sensor DSLR. I loved it and used it for a majority of the time I was spotting. However, the camera itself was quite old and a few months passed, and a MkII came out, but I didn’t get the MKII I got a 6D. This is when I found out how powerful a camera can be.

I chose the 6D mainly due to the low light capabilities and the sharpness of the picture which proved to be the hardest part of cabin shots.

I also use a GoPro and Sony RX100 for some other shots.

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As an example of the low light ability and the sharpness of the 6D, these are 2 of my favorite photo’s I’ve taken.

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Top – QF25 Taxiing to departure for Haneda

Bottom – An Emirates A380 departing Dubai for somewhere (they have too many destinations 😉 )

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After a few months of spotting, I decided to fly down to Sydney on the weekends and meet new spotters and learn a lot from them. One spotter who is a huge inspiration and help with the photography is my good friend Bernie. Make sure you check out his Instagram and Flickr for some incredible photos.

Anyway…

How do I edit my photos?

I use three programs to edit and enhance my photo’s which are Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik software. You can get both lightroom and photoshop on a plan which cost’s around $10 per month which is well worth it. Nik software is now completely free and is integrated with Lightroom and Photoshop

Lightroom

I use Lightroom for 90% of editing for adjusting white balance, exposure, shadows, and clarity, etc. Lightroom is very easy to use once you get the hang of it. If you would like the preset, I use to edit photo’s very quickly feel free to email me, and I’ll send you the preset.

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Photoshop

I don’t use Photoshop much at all. When I do I use it to edit the size of the photo’s and add some sharpening but I leave most of that to Lightroom.

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Nik Software

Lastly, I use Nik to do some sharpening, add filters and change different effects if need be. The programs are simple once you get the hang of them.

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Bottom Line

Photography can be expensive however very rewarding. The camera doesn’t make the photo, its the person behind the camera.

My Flickr Page