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2015

For many years Australia has been on my bucket list.  Just last week I finally was able to book my dream trip which will also be a honeymoon trip.   About 18 years ago I signed up for my first frequent flyer program (Delta Skymiles) and at the time I thought it was likely the best airline choice for me as their frequent flyer miles do not expire. The majority of my Delta miles accumulated came from leisure travel and over the 18 year period I was able to accumulate over 110,000 Skymiles.  Within the last few years I became more active with reading travel blogs and learning about all the different rewards programs.  I was disappointed to learn that Delta Skymiles have one of the lowest redemption values in the industry when compared to other airlines and that I would still require lots of miles to obtain 2 business class tickets to Australia.

 

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So after doing much travel research I figured out a way for eclektech and myself to fly to Australia in Business Class without breaking the bank.  I wanted to make use of the Delta miles I accumulated to help get us to Aussie land.  Normally Delta charges 175k miles for one way Business Class seats on Delta operated flights from LAX to SYD.  Then I learned that Delta has a partnership with Virgin Australia and I could book one way Business Class seats for 80k miles.   So if I was able to obtain 50k more Delta Skymiles it would cover both of us one way in Business Class in Virgin Australia.

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Since I already had a Delta Credit Card I wasn't eligible for a new signup Bonus.  I determined the best way for me to obtain the additional 50k Delta Skymiles I needed was to exchange Marriott Points for Delta Miles which I was able to do for 140k Marriott Points.

 

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So we were officially covered to get to Australia one way Business Class on Virgin Australia using 110k Delta SkyMiles, 140kMarriott Points, and $56 Award Fee charged by Delta Airlines.  By the way while doing this research I also discovered that there was also Virgin Australia Award availability on one way flights from Brisbane Australia to LAX but not the opposite.

 

I knew the return flight I would have to definitely have to shell out some cash for.  I decided to look for a way to use points/miles to get confirmed business class upgrades on purchased economy tickets.  I found that United Airlines offered the option of using miles to upgrade to Business Class at time of booking.  A one way Business upgrade to/from Australia on United would cost 30k miles plus a $500 fee in addition to the Economy fare.

 

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I checked my United Account and I had a little over 15k miles and I needed to get to 60k miles to use the upgrade.  I decided to sign up for the United Explorer Credit Card which had a sign up bonus of 30k miles plus another 5k if you added a user.  The same card now has a 50k mile sign up offer which came out shortly after I earned my 35k miles.  Afterwards I submitted a request to Chase for the additional bonus miles (I'll know if my request is approved after my next statement).  For the additional 10k miles that I needed to book our United Flights I decided to use 24k Marriott Rewards Points.

 

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I was then able to book our return flight home from Melbourne to LAX flying Business class on a United Dreamliner Plane for $2572 plus the 60k United Miles I obtained from the United Credit Card and Marriott Points.  This made my grand total cash expense $2628.00 for two round trip Business Class tickets.   Definitely took some extra work to obtain all the miles/points needed but well worth it.

 

While in Australia we plan to spend 7 Nights in Sydney and thanks to a certificate obtained earlier in the year from a Marriott Travel Package our hotel expense there will be free.  We also plan to book a flight later from Sydney to Melbourne where we will stay an additional 3 nights before coming home.  Looking forward to our 2016 adventure and sharing our experience with my fellow Insiders!  I also welcome any advice/tips on that others may have on Australia travel.