I’ve had a few emails recently asking about cheap cash flights to Australia over Christmas. As this is a non-starter for Avios – and anyway is terrible value given the taxes – you need to look for good cash deals.
The fall-back is China Eastern out of Amsterdam. Last year I checked this in early December and they were still selling seats for £1900 for Christmas and New Year travel.
You can do better, in terms of price and quality of carrier.
Etihad has launched an excellent deal from Stockholm to Sydney, Melbourne or Perth for around SEK 20,000 (£1700). Availability is excellent all year, including Christmas and New Year.
The one pain is that Etihad does not fly to Stockholm. You are looking at three flights each way – Stockholm to somewhere in Europe on another airline, somewhere in Europe to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Australia.
Here is a typical routing for SEK 20970 (£1770):
Out 8th December – Stockholm to Heathrow (SAS), Heathrow to Abu Dhabi (Etihad A380), Abu Dhabi to Sydney (Eithad A380)
Back 8th January – Sydney to Abu Dhabi (Etihad A380), Abu Dhabi to Brussels (Etihad A330), Brussels to Stockholm (SAS)
Is this a messy routing? Yes. Is it EXCELLENT value for money for the peak Christmas and New Year period? Yes. Is the Etihad A380 Business Class seats very very nice? Yes – here is my review of Etihad A380 Business.
The best thing to do is have a play with dates on the Etihad site here and see what routings come up. You can credit the flights to Etihad Guest or American Airlines amongst others. AA would give you the opportunity to redeeem on BA or another oneworld carrier.
If you don’t have a credit card with 0% foreign exchange fees, your best option for paying is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers triple points – 3 per £1 – when you book flight tickets in a foreign currency. This is because the transaction triggers the ‘double points for airline spend’ and the ‘double points for foreign spend’ bonuses.
In addition, if you are not already an Etihad Guest member, you can sign up here and receive 500 bonus miles.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (September 2021)
Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These are:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two free airport lounge passes. 30,000 points is a special offer which expires on 9th November 2021.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 60,000 Etihad Guest miles. 60,000 points is a special offer which expires on 2nd November 2021.
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 5,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.
Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent).