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I love Australia – it’s such an amazing country, however flying within Australia on traditional carriers like Qantas and Virgin Australia can get expensive. Qantas flights are often outrageously expensive and Virgin isn’t too far behind (although cheaper). The good news is that both Qantas and Virgin do release a good amount of award availability in both Business Class and Economy Class on domestic Australian routes, which means that various flights can be booked with miles and points – sometimes saving you hundreds.

Australian Domestic Flights Can Be Expensive

Flights on traditional airlines within Australia can be expensive – especially in Business Class and on cross-country routes. You can definitely find good deals if you book in advance, but don’t expect them to be nearly as cheap as flights within the US or Europe. Both Qantas and Virgin’s flights are on the more expensive side and Qantas is often the most expensive (but their fares do include a free bag, a snack and drink, free seat selection, etc.).

If you want to save money and fly on a low-cost airline within Australia, you can – the biggest one is Jetstar… but they suck and should be avoided at all costs. Yes, they are a little better than American and European low-cost airlines, but not much better. Best to avoid.

Booking Qantas Australian Flights with Miles & Points

You can redeem any oneworld miles for Qantas flights as well as any Qantas partner that allows mileage redemption on Qantas flights (like Emirates, for example). I’ve researched some of the best and most accessible options in terms of redeeming miles and points on Qantas domestic flights and here is an example:

Qantas flight from Sydney to Brisbane (467 miles distance), can be booked with miles as follows (list does not represent all possible airlines) and the format below is Economy/Business:

  • Air France: 7.5k / 20k
  • American Airlines: 10k / 20k
  • British Airways: 6k / 12.5k
  • Cathay Pacific: 10k / 20k
  • Emirates: 10k / 25k
  • Qantas: 8k / 18k

The way you would read this is, for example, it will cost you 10k American Airlines miles to fly Qantas in Economy from Sydney to Brisbane, one-way.

In this example, British Airways is the winner since you can redeem the fewest amount of points, through their program, for this flight – both in Business and Economy.

Booking Virgin Australia Flights with Miles & Points

Virgin is a great airline and they’re fun to fly with and they also release seats last minute as awards whereas Qantas doesn’t in most cases.

The Australian Virgin doesn’t belong to any major alliance and instead they have individual partnerships with many airlines and the good news is that you can use miles from some of those airlines to fly on Virgin Australia.

It is important to note that Virgin often has very attractive fares on some routes and it may not make sense to redeem miles if you can buy a cheap ticket, so always check the cash price first before booking an award.

Let’s take a look at redeeming miles and points on Virgin Australia: a one-way flight from Adelaide to Melbourne which covers a distance of 399 miles flown, can be booked as an award ticket through the following, Economy / Business format:

  • Air Canada: 8k / 20k
  • Etihad Airways: 6k / 20k
  • Qatar Airways: 6k / 12.5k
  • United Airlines: 8k / 25k
  • Virgin Atlantic: 8k

The way you would read this is: you require 8k Air Canada miles to fly Virgin Australia in Economy Class one-way from Adelaide to Melbourne.

Remember that this list doesn’t include all of Virgin Australia’s partners, so there are other ways to book awards on Virgin (but may not necessarily be of the best value).

In the example above, both Etihad and Qatar have the best price for Economy Class on this route and then Qatar has the best price for a Business award ticket – 12.5k miles.

All in All

Flights within Australia can get expensive on traditional carriers like Qantas and Virgin, but the good news is that both airlines have many partner airlines which means it is possible to book awards on both Qantas and Virgin at great rates through some of their partners. This also means that if you have flexible and transferable points, those can be used to book a flight within Australia.

Remember to always check the cash price of the ticket first as it may be reasonable if you are booking in advance and then if it is, you should probably decide which option is better – cash or miles? Lastly, keep in mind that the rules of the frequent flyer program that you are using to book your ticket will always apply when it comes to changes or cancelations for your award tickets, so be sure you are familiar with those prior to booking should your travel plans change.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.