China Southern, which is a member of Skyteam along with Delta, announced last month that they will begin A380 flights from its hub at Guangzhou to Sydney beginning October 27th. This is great news for people with Delta Skymiles, since you can route from North America to Australia via Asia (China Southern publishes fares from many American cities to many cities in Australia/New Zealand). Partners always price at the low-level, so Australia is 100,000 miles roundtrip in Economy and 150,000 miles roundtrip in business.
The airline currently flies to Los Angeles with its A380, so it would be possible to have an “all-A380″ journey. China Southern offers First Class (not redeemable with Skymiles, though redeemable with Korean Skypass) as well as Business Class on the A380, and Business Class is the same setup currently on Emirates and Thai A380s, so not bad! Lucky has photos of the business class cabin (which is actually class First Class) on his blog.
Not only that, but business class availability is pretty good. You can check ExpertFlyer for availability, but keep in mind that the fare codes are changing the day before this flight goes into effect, so you want to look for “O” class (which is currently labeled Economy). You’ll have to call in to Delta to book these flights. Their number is 1-800-323-2323 for general Skymiles members.
A380 services begin from Guangzhou to Sydney on October 27th, with the Sydney-Guangzhou service beginning on October 28th. Timing it with the Los Angeles flights, you’d get:
North America to Australia
CZ 328: Los Angeles to Guangzhou
Departs LAX 11pm, arrives Guangzhou at 5:30am (+2)
CZ 325: Guangzhou to Sydney
Departs Guangzhou 9:05pm, arrives Sydney at 8:30am (+1)
Australia to North America
CZ 326: Sydney to Guangzhou
Departs Sydney 10:50am, arrives Guangzhou 5:00pm
CZ 327: Guangzhou to Los Angeles
Departs Guangzhou 9:30pm, arrives Los Angeles 6:00pm
As you can see, the outbound connecting in Guangzhou seems terrible, at about 16 hours. The transit visa afforded to those connecting in Shanghai or Beijing isn’t applicable to Guangzhou at the moment, so you can’t leave the airport without a Chinese visa. However, the return connection from Sydney to Los Angeles is pretty reasonable at about 4 hours and 30 minutes, and is decently timed for a morning departure from Sydney and an early evening arrival in Los Angeles.
However, China Southern does operate another A330 service, flight #301, from Guangzhou to Sydney and meshes better with the Los Angeles arrival. That leaves at around 8:20am and gets to Sydney in the evening.
Keep in mind that Virgin Australia is also a Skymiles partner of Delta, and there’s pretty decent availability directly from Los Angeles to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. You can mix and match Virgin Australia and China Southern on one Delta redemption and still expect to pay 150,000 miles in business class for a round-trip at the partner/low level (remember, no one-ways with Skypesos).
In addition, Skymiles itineraries on China Southern have fuel surcharges while Virgin Australia redemptions currently do not. Via ITA Matrix, you can expect to pay in the realm of $326 in fuel surcharges for a Los Angeles to Sydney redemption.
However, if you need to get a family of 4 from the USA to Australia in the southern summer, and all on the same flights, this isn’t a bad option!