Getting to Sydney on SkyMiles: Inside the Numbers


LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards including connections
LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards including connections

Yesterday I introduced a bunch of data related to Delta SkyMiles award availability and prices, focused mostly on the New York City market because, well, I’m biased towards where I happen to live. Several of you asked for other routes and markets and one of the more popular requests was for information about getting to Sydney on SkyMiles. I threw resources at that problem and came up with some data. I looked only at the Los Angeles to Sydney market because that’s the only place where Delta has service so it helps to temper the calculations and make for comparisons against partner inventory a bit easier.

Non-stop Flights

LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on Nonstop Flights
LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on Nonstop Flights

Want to get to Sydney non-stop from LA? Be ready to pay more or demonstrate some serious flexibility. Fortunately there are some dates with a seat available at the 50k level in coach or 80k in business but only about 10% of the time. Most dates with the lower level award prices involve travel on Virgin Australia, not Delta.

LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on Virgin Australia
LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on Virgin Australia (including connections)

Connecting Flights

LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards including connections
LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards including connections

If you’re willing to connect there are a few more options available at lower rates thanks to partners. Korean is actually one of the more generous partners for low-level award inventory to Sydney from Los Angeles for SkyMiles passengers.

LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on Korean Airlines
LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on Korean Airlines

China Airlines offers a decent bit of space if you’re looking to connect in Taiwan rather than Seoul.

LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on China Airlines
LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on China Airlines

Delta-operated flights

LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on Delta Air Lines
LAX to Sydney SkyMiles Awards on Delta Air Lines

But if you’re insistent on getting the non-stop flight and a Delta-operated trip the numbers are not so pretty. A whopping 274 dates for DL metal LAX-SYD come in at 175,000 points one way, the highest rate Delta prices that award at.

SkyMiles or SkyPesos??

Yesterday I raised the question, “Does this mean that SkyMiles really are shaking off their SkyPesos moniker?” And, quite frankly, I’m still not sure what the answer is. Partners help improve the value of any program and the data here shows that to be true again. The fact that Delta has integrated more partners into its online search options should make bookings easier for many members. And yet I’m still hesitant to declare victory for those members based on the limited premium cabin options, especially when looking at Delta metal. Yes, the data I have here is only a snapshot in time. But the lack of low level (or even anything other than the absolute highest level) premium rewards is disheartening. Of course this is only one route and the data is better elsewhere. A little bit, anyways. But I’m not yet completely sold that the program has completely turned the corner on award availability. Yet.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

9 Comments

  1. I would love to see data on this for oneworld and Star Alliance carriers. I’ve already burned through all my Delta miles but I am planning a ATL-SYD-ATL trip in February/March 2016 using either United, USAir, or American miles. I’m already nervous about whether I’ll be able to get two seats in business at the low level even if I connect through Asia. Been studying and plotting my strategy for months. Will be able to book in about 3 weeks and I’ve already rubbed as many lucky rabbit’s feet and picked as many four leaf clovers as I can.

    Awesome article and data. Just happens to be the wrong alliance for my personal situation!

  2. Sydney is crazy for SkyPesos! We’re booked on a spring vacation (leaving in a few days – yay) to Brisbane (connecting through Sydney) at it was 295,000 Skypesos per person! Outbound is on Virgin Australia, so I hope it’s nice. Never flown them before.

  3. I have been trying to get to Australia from LAX on Virgin Australia for a while. Even when I find an 80k saver award level for Business class two things happen….It is no longer there when I go to book it a few minutes later or even if it is there, I go through all the screens and even hit the “Complete Purchase” button only to get the “sorry just sold out” error message. My point is, I think, you assume what you see is what you get which is further from the truth. Also, same with calling. By the time I get to a rep, it magically goes up by the time they pick up the phone. Which makes Skymiles, imho, a program run by criminals by what they have been doing, especially lately. Skypesos is too generous, I say Skydrachmas!

  4. One small suggestion — make all the graphs in the article have the same scale. It makes it a lot easier to compare graphs to graphs if they all have a 200k maximum.

  5. Nice post but you leave out the most important point: this is only THEORY unless you can click through the screens and actually TICKET IT. As mentioned above, an 80k VA booking nearly always times out! Even though it is definitely available. Then Delta reps seem as though they’ve been instructed not to book if the computer won’t book. Give us real data beyond theoretical availability. Delta will con everyone that it cannot be booked.

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