SYD-LAX-SYD Fares Deconstructed on Qantas and Virgin

It has only been probably no more than a year since we Aussies have seen airfares between east coast Australia and west coast USA fall below $1000 return in economy class. It wasn’t too long ago that a ‘cheap’ return ticket was at least $1500 but today, you can net a ‘cheap’ ticket for about A$750.

With airfares this low, many people have asked me whether it is still worthwhile to use points instead of paying cash for flying to the US of A in economy class. Whilst my recommendation has always been to avoid using points to travel in economy class (for some other reasons which I will explain next time) I have done some research and came up with a comparison between the two elite frequent flyer programmes  – Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Velocity.

Dates Route Virgin Australia Qantas
15 March 2017 SYD – LAX A$1048 Return $1349 Return
22 March 2017 LAX – SYD
Award Ticket 89,600 miles + A$214 taxes + fees
$0.009 per mile
90,000 miles + A$433 taxes + fees
$0.01 per mile


Looking at the tables above, Virgin may seem to offer a cheaper way to get to the USA with less points required and significantly less money outlay for taxes and fees. But Qantas on the other hand seems to offer slightly “better value” per mile.

Allow me to explain.

Say if you travel between Melbourne and Sydney very often, an average Melbourne to Sydney fare will cost around the $150-mark on either carrier.

Hence, you will require 120 Virgin flights between these two cities to earn enough points to exchange for an economy class ticket to the United States on Virgin. However, do bear in mind that Virgin points are earned based on the dollar amount spent. So if one travelled on a few heavily discounted tickets, then the miles earned would be significantly lesser on those flights.

Alternatively, if you opted to fly on Qantas, Qantas offers a minimum point guarantee of 800 points (one way) and thus one could earn a reward ticket on economy class to the USA with only 112 flights.

Verdict? Qantas is probably the better way to fly!

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Andrew is a self-confessed guru when it comes to frequent flyer programmes. He claims that he is more familiar of the terms & conditions than the one who came up with the terms & conditions. His dream is to be able to feast on cookies day and night without getting fat.