Trip Report: Australia (part 1) First Time Down Under!


British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’sThe Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX


I started planning our trip to Australia about 11-12 months out to make sure I could find premium cabin award space to and from.  I was not positive we were going to take the trip but started the planning and worse case scenario we could cancel the flights and redeposit the miles for around $150-$300.  I also figured it made the most sense to visit Australia when its cold in Wisconsin and warm down under!  January is summertime for Aussie’s and the last two weeks is when the Australian Open takes place thus I narrowed down the timeframe for sometime in those last two weeks of January being the tennis fan that I am.

We traveled to Australia in a kind of round about way but it was a nice chance to fly in our favorite first class cabin with Cathay Pacific!

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Enjoying Cathay Pacific’s First Class meal service

We then had a quick overnight in Hong Kong in which we averted a near disaster to start our trip!! I will cover that issue later in the trip report.  We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong on Hyatt points and were upgraded to a Harbor View room.

Hyatt Regency Hong Kong exterior

We then flew Cathay Pacific Business Class to Kuala Lumpur.

Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class

We then had almost two full days in Kuala Lumpur but my wife was slightly ill and tired so we didn’t venture out as much as we hoped but it was a nice and very relaxing time in Kuala Lumpur.  We stayed at the Grand Hyatt using Hyatt free night certificates!

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur 

Me in front of the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur

I then booked a separate award ticket to actually get down to Melbourne.  Booking my flight this way (via Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur) was more expensive but more luxurious and we got to visit a city we have never been to before (Kuala Lumpur). And as I mentioned I couldn’t find a direct flight to Australia.  I found award availability very easy on Malaysia Airlines and I actually booked this award ticket a few days before the disappearance of Malaysia’s MH370 flight that vanished. I booked two Business Class tickets using my American Airlines miles.

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My wife sitting in Malaysia Airlines Business Class

We enjoyed four nights in Melbourne at the Radisson Flagstaff Gardens courtesy of our Club Carlson points and credit card!

Our room at the Radisson Flaggstaff Gardens in Melbourne

We enjoyed Melbourne quite a bit and got to attend the Australian Open on two of our four days! We also took a full day excursion to see the 12 Apostles and the beautiful Australian coastline!

Inside Rod Laver Arena in between matches

After our 4+ days in Melbourne we headed to Sydney via Qantas Airlines economy class! I was able to use our stockpile of British Airways Avios points to redeem this flight! I am not going to review this hour long economy class flight in my trip report but know it only cost us 9,000 Avios points and $30.08 for two people!

Our Qantas aircraft to Sydney

We stayed our three nights in Sydney at the luxurious Park Hyatt Sydney! Hands down the best luxury hotel in Sydney.  These three nights were courtesy of a combination of Hyatt free night certificates and Hyatt points.

Myself outside the Park Hyatt Sydney

We enjoyed Sydney the best we could considering it was the rainiest two days (out of our three there) in over two years and the coldest Australia Day (Jan 26th) in 50 years!

My wife outside the iconic Sydney Opera House

After a lovely week in Australia it was time to bid it farewell! I found some decent Business Class seats on Qantas to the US with a quick connection in Brisbane and LA before our final destination of Chicago (the last leg on AA domestic first class).  It is hard to find premium cabin seats to and from Australia from the USA especially during their summer months!! I was happy to grab the seats to have a comfortable flight home!

My wife hanging out on Qantas Business Class

We had more ups and downs this trip than many others! Some almost disasters, bad weather, and illness helped to try to put a damper on the trip but in the end we had a good time and enjoyed our trip!  We are very blessed and thankful to get to see beautiful places on Earth!  Follow along the trip report installments for many more details, pictures, tips and my PointsPinnacle Breakdowns to see how we paid for and what/how many miles we used to redeem for this vacation!

Thanks for reading!



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