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Fly United Airlines Business Class To America For $487

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Tom Goward | 12/01/2024

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In Australia, accumulating frequent flyer points is a breeze. In fact, it’s almost too easy, with the real challenge arriving when it comes time to redeem those credit card points.

Novice cardholders will typically find themselves debating between redeeming some cheap product like a toaster, or seizing the opportunity and booking a business class flight. Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone loves a good piece of toast, but last time I checked, toasters don’t serve champagne or transport you halfway around the world.

Once you’ve taken the step to learn how to redeem that dream 14-hour journey in the lap of luxury, you’ll never consider redeeming for points-mall products again. Intrigued? You should be, and after stumbling upon this guide, it’s time to make that scenario more than just a daydream.

Enter the star of the show – the American Express Velocity Platinum, a credit card that stands out for a multitude of reasons, especially the fantastic offer of 100,000 bonus Velocity Points; enough to get you to America in United’s Polaris Business Class.

What’s United Business Like To The US?

United Airlines is currently running up to eight daily flights between Australia and the United States, with plans to increase services during peak travel seasons. United operates from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles and San Francisco in America, alongside a daily flight between Sydney and Houston.

United Airlines Routes To Australia

Those flights are operated by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and Boeing 777-300ER jets, both of which offer the brilliant Polaris Business Class product. Although they don’t have closing doors, the seats offer a decent degree of privacy, and the entertainment system is quite comprehensive.

You’ll also get to enjoy some of the best business class bedding out there, with every passenger receiving a gorgeous Saks Fifth Avenue bedding kit. Inside is a mattress topper, a duvet, a day blanket, a regular pillow and a cooling gel pillow. Like most aircraft the footwell is narrow, but if you’ve had enough wine, you’ll barely notice it.

United Polaris Business Class

The Offer: Amex Velocity Platinum

Amex has just dropped their first Card bonus offer for 2024, and it’s quite the temptation! For a limited time, you can get a massive 100,000 bonus Velocity Points when you apply online for the American Express Velocity Platinum Card by 15th May 2024, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.

To earn 100,000 bonus Velocity Points, you will need to apply via this link, before May 15th.

In addition to the bonus Velocity Points, the Amex Velocity Platinum comes with;

  • 2.25 Velocity Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases within Virgin Australia
  • 1.25 Velocity Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases
  • Complimentary return domestic Virgin Australia flights per year
  • 100 Velocity Status Credits after spending $50,000 during your membership year
  • Two Virgin Australia Lounge passes each year
  • Two entries to The Amex Centurion Lounge each year
  • Included travel insurance
  • Included shopping insurance

Want to know more? Check out our detailed Amex Velocity Platinum guide!

So How Do I Book United Business For $487?

When it comes time to redeem your United Business Class flight to the United States, you can expect to pay 95,500 Velocity Points, plus a small tax component in cash. The only exception is if you want to fly from Sydney to Houston, which is a longer flight, and will cost 111,500 Velocity Points plus taxes.

Below is the tax component you will pay, depending on your Australian departure;

  • Sydney: $117.98 taxes
  • Melbourne: $111.70 taxes
  • Brisbane: $121.01 taxes

Right now, American Express is charging an annual fee of $375 for the Velocity Platinum Card. Considering the bonus points and complimentary flights, it’s a fair price to pay. Once we add the $375 annual fee and $111.70 in taxes for your flight, the result is $486.7 for fourteen hours in United Business.

The best part? United regularly charges $1,500 in economy!

Booking Your Flights: Step By Step

Step 1: Apply for the Amex Velocity Platinum, meet the minimum spend requirements and wait for the bonus points to land in your Velocity Account. In most cases, this will be on the statement in which you meet the minimum spend, but it can take up to 10 weeks.

Step 2: Visit the Virgin Australia website, and search for your preferred route and dates, ensuring the ‘Use Velocity Points’ checkmark is toggled red.

Booking Velocity Business Reward Seats

Step 3: Locate your preferred flight that has Velocity Business Reward seating available (tip: it can be easier to find dates using Seats.Aero). Remember to look for flights that show “Reward Seats available” in purple – flights that cost millions of points ARE NOT reward seats!

Booking Velocity Business Reward Seats

Step 4: Once you find a seat, select it and progress through, entering your personal details. On one of the final screens, there is a slider to adjust the number of points vs cash you want to pay. To extract the best value, slide this to the left and click “apply”, so you’re paying as little Velocity Points as possible.

Booking Velocity Business Reward Seats

Step 5: Enter your credit card details and complete the payment.

Help! I Can’t Find Any Reward Flights

If your chosen flights aren’t available, you might need to be more flexible. Because Velocity Business Reward seats are so cheap, airlines limit the amount of seats on each flight.

It’s normally best practice to plan your trip well in advance, but sometimes, you can see Business Rewards pop up a few days or even weeks from departure, as other travellers cancel their own bookings.

If flexible dates aren’t helping, try searching for a different route. After all, it’s easy to book a cheap cash fare for your shorter flights and enjoy Business Class on those mammoth ocean-crossing journeys.

Our Secret Weapon

If you stuck around until the end, here’s our secret weapon to finding award seats in seconds! The tool we use is called Seats.Aero, we actually wrote a whole guide on seats aero here but in short, this tool allows you to see ALL the award seats up to a year in advance with Velocity Frequent Flyer. So here’s what you do:

  • join seats.aero (you’ll get a month free with our link)
  • Click routes
  • Click Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Enter your departure and destination airports Ie: MEL-LAX
  • Filter by business class
  • Voila! You’ll see hundreds of seats that are available for you to book!

Seats Aero even allows you to set alerts so if your preferred dates aren’t yet available, the site will monitor them for you and send you a text when they pop up. This way you’ll beat everyone to it when it comes to booking reward seats. Enjoy!

Ready to apply? Unlock your 100k Amex offer here!

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Tom Goward

Chief Operating Officer & Aviation Nerd at Flight Hacks

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