One advantage of the former US Airways frequent flyer program was the uncanny opportunity to take advantage of its frequent flyer redemption zones. While some members were able to travel to take advantage of a loophole that allowed for travel to Japan for around $500 – in first class – another such travel opportunity was New Caledonia. As New Caledonia was part of a single zone that encompassed Australia and various other South-Pacific countries, a trip from Perth to Noumea had excellent value written all over it.

One AFF member recently travelled from Perth to New Caledonia in Qantas business class, having taken advantage of this US Airways loophole, and buying the miles at a 100% bonus.

Finally have the last of my USDM redemptions this one is PER-SYD-NOU-SYD-PER with a short domestic flight added with cash on Air Caledonie to get to the Ile des Pins in between. Not a bad value redemption as the points were part of a 100% bonus offer.

After a flight across the country to Sydney, a night was spent at the Rydges Hotel in Sydney Airport. The Rydges is a popular choice was passengers transiting through Sydney due to its very close proximity to the international airport terminal. The hotel seemed to meet expectations and the convenience was much appreciated, especially given the early start required the next morning.

The Rydges Sydney Airport was clean quiet and in good condition. As a no status member of their loyalty program we were given 2 free drinks in the bar which was a nice touch. I would recommend it if you have a short overnight transfer but I still would prefer to head into the city if I had more time.

Arriving to a beautiful day in Noumea, our correspondent headed over to Ilot Maitre, a small but picturesque island of New Caledonia. The accommodation on the island appears to be anything but ordinary, comprising of bungalows situated above the water.

A short flight on an Air Caledonie “puddle-jumper” then brought our member to Ile des Pins, where more great scenery and an equally luxurious hotel awaited.

New Caledonia is not a “cheap” destination once you’re there, but according to our member, travelling there was worthwhile.

We had a fantastic time at the Le Meridien Ile des Pins but you definitely need to budget for the expense otherwise you may not enjoy it as much. As a guide I would say it is equivalently priced to Perth. Certainly not cheap but I would happily go back in an instant.

Unfortunately the US Airways frequent flyer program no longer exists, but all hope is not lost. Qantas and Aircalin fly to Noumea from several Australian cities, and Qantas points can still be used to fly there. If you do plan to use Qantas points to get to Noumea, our tip would be to fly out of Brisbane instead of Sydney, as fewer points are required for the Brisbane-Noumea sector.

In the meantime, savvy frequent flyers can still take advantage of a similar loophole in the American Airlines AAdvantage program, whereby Australia and New Zealand are considered to be a single “zone”. While New Caledonia is not part of this zone, travel between Western Australia and New Zealand using AAdvantage miles is still particularly excellent value. American Airlines can even be bought outright, with the airline often handing out bonus miles of up to 60% on top of purchases. Unfortunately the value of this strategy has fallen with the recent decline in the Australian dollar, but there are still some good deals to be had.

View the full trip report HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]