Air New Zealand

2

Air New Zealand is now flying a 787 Dreamliner between Auckland and Honolulu.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 2.25.24 PM

This is great news because the Air New Zealand Dreamliner has flat beds in Business Class in a 1-1-1 configuration. The 767, which previously flew the route, and which I reviewed in Business Class, featured recliners in a 2-2-2 configuration.

Unfortunately at the moment I see no award space in economy or Business Class between Honolulu and Auckland.

All the award space I see on united.com features a stop in Tokyo, which more than doubles the travel time (although you do get to fly Business Class on the Air New Zealand Dreamliner from Tokyo to Auckland.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.09.10 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.10.20 AM Even connecting space is sparse over the next two months with none from July 18 to the end of the schedule.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.10.46 AM

 

The lack of award space is surprising to me because Air New Zealand–for the first time in years–starting releasing Business Class award space between Auckland and the continental United States in February. The lack of award space is disappointing because something like USA to Hawaii to Auckland to Southeast Asia would be an amazing United Three One Ways Award.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

Last year I predicted that award space to Air New Zealand would be much improved in 2016, especially in Business Class, because several new flights were coming online and more seats means more unsold seats means more award space.

My prediction came true and Air New Zealand began to release flat Business Class award space between the United States and New Zealand, something I had never seen before. In February, Air New Zealand was releasing Business Class award space only within three months of departure. Is that still the pattern?

Current Air New Zealand Business Class Award Space

In a word, no.

I see Business Class award space from the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Houston to Auckland up to six months out. Unfortunately I don’t see much on the Houston route, don’t see nearly as much award space on the return legs from New Zealand, and don’t see many days with space for 2+ people.

Direct Los Angeles-Auckland Calendars for One Person

There is Business Class award space (green and blue days) on 11 of the next 42 days from Los Angeles to Auckland. If you’re flexible about day of the week, you can easily snag it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.44.54 AM The space extends all the way through the end of September.Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.45.06 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.52.55 AM For farther out dates, there is great economy award space, but no Business Class award space.Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.53.23 AMDirect San Francisco-Auckland Calendars for One Person

San Francisco to Auckland shows a similar pattern, but with less award space, and it only runs through the end of August.
Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.48.29 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.48.33 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.48.48 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.49.06 AM

Direct Houston-Auckland Calendars for One Person

Houston to Auckland’s space is rarer still and only runs through July in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 12.00.26 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 12.00.41 PM

Unfortunately…

All of the routes showed substantially less award space for two people, meaning most flights with award space for one person in Business Class have exactly one Business Class award seat.

There was almost no Business Class award space from Auckland to San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Houston.

How good is Air New Zealand Business Class?

Air New Zealand Business Class on its 777s is a world-class flat bed with four seats per row in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.47.23 AM

I would very happily fly the product for 12-15 hours.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.48.27 AM

How Many Miles Does the Award Cost?

In “Comprehensive Spread Sheet of 8 Star Alliance Award Charts: Cheapest Awards to Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania,” I published this chart of one way prices from the United States to Australia and New Zealand:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.06 AM

ANA and Lufthansa have the cheapest miles prices.

A couple of notes:

  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.
  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges on awards.
  • Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air Canada and Air New Zealand flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on United flights.
  • Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.
  • Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.
  • You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Here are the taxes and fuel surcharges for a roundtrip in Business Class from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.41.12 AM

That means Aeroplan, Asiana, ANA, Singapore, and Lufthansa collect $780 in fuel surcharges on a roundtrip Business Class ticket to New Zealand on Air New Zealand. United, Copa, and LifeMiles just collect about $109 in taxes roundtrip.

Taking into account the miles price, fuel surcharges, and ease of getting the miles, United miles are the clear best choice in Air New Zealand Business Class from the United States to New Zealand at 80,000 miles one way and no fuel surcharges.

How Can You Search and Book the Award Space?

Search on united.com. Here’s how.

This space is not just valuable to Auckland. You can connect to more interesting places in New Zealand like Wellington and Queenstown easily.

Here are Air New Zealand domestic flights from Auckland.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.37 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.47 AMHere are there international connections from Auckland. The eight in Australia can be added for zero extra miles.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.58 AM

If you use United miles, book on united.com.

If not, note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you like and call the airline whose miles you’re using.

Bottom Line

The pattern for Air New Zealand Business Class award space is different than it was in February. Award space is being released farther out, up to six months, but mainly to New Zealand not from New Zealand.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

I’ve been in this hobby for about five years. In that time, I have never seen Air New Zealand Business Class award space from the United States mainland to New Zealand. Starting yesterday, Air New Zealand is releasing flat bed Business Class award space on its three daily flights between the United States and New Zealand from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Houston.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.41.45 AM

There are great connection options to the rest of New Zealand, Australia, and South Pacific.

  • Why now?
  • How good is Air New Zealand Business Class?
  • Where does Air New Zealand fly?
  • How many miles do you need and why is this such a good deal?
  • How can you search for and book the award space?

Why Now?

I don’t think this is an aberration or space that will disappear quickly. Two months ago, I predicted “AWARD SPACE TO NEW ZEALAND WILL BE MUCH BETTER IN 2016,” and it looks like I was right.

The reason for my prediction was the busting of Air New Zealand’s monopoly on direct flights to New Zealand with the announcement of an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Auckland and United flight from San Francisco to Auckland that are slated to begin in June and July 2016. (By the way, that American Airlines flight is finally releasing Business Class award space that is cheaper than this Air New Zealand space.)

Competition is good for people with miles. It means more empty seats, which often find their way into the award pool.

How good is Air New Zealand Business Class?

Air New Zealand Business Class on its 777s is a world-class flat bed with four seats per row in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.47.23 AM

I would very happily fly the product for 12-15 hours.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.48.27 AM

How Many Miles Does the Award Cost?

In “COMPREHENSIVE SPREAD SHEET OF 8 STAR ALLIANCE AWARD CHARTS: CHEAPEST AWARDS TO AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, AND OCEANIA,” I published this chart of one way prices from the United States to Australia and New Zealand:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.06 AM

ANA and Lufthansa have the cheapest miles prices.

A couple of notes:

  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.
  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges on awards.
  • Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air Canada and Air New Zealand flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on United flights.
  • Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.
  • Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.
  • You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Here are the taxes and fuel surcharges for a roundtrip in Business Class from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.41.12 AM

That means Aeroplan, Asiana, ANA, Singapore, and Lufthansa collect $780 in fuel surcharges on a roundtrip Business Class ticket to New Zealand on Air New Zealand. United, Copa, and LifeMiles just collect about $109 in taxes roundtrip.

Taking into account the miles price, fuel surcharges, and ease of getting the miles, United miles are the clear best choice in Air New Zealand Business Class from the United States to New Zealand at 80,000 miles one way and no fuel surcharges.

How Can You Search and Book the Award Space?

Search on united.com. Here’s how. For the moment, there is award space over the next 90 days on all three routes in both directions. You’ll see all of the award calendars abruptly run out of green and blue dates (with Business Class space) in mid-May. Dates beyond that are not for the direct flights to New Zealand; they have connections in Asia.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.34.54 AM

It’s too soon to say award space within 90 days is “the pattern,” but let’s keep an eye on whether that becomes a pattern.

Beyond 90 days out, Air New Zealand continues its pattern of great economy award space.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.32.29 AM

Business Class award space on the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston routes

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.31.43 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.34.59 AMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 10.36.24 AM

This space is not just valuable to Auckland. You can connect to more interesting places in New Zealand like Wellington and Queenstown easily.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.13.46 AM

Here are Air New Zealand domestic flights from Auckland.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.37 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.47 AM Here are there international connections from Auckland. The eight in Australia can be added for zero extra miles.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 11.10.58 AM

If you use United miles, book on united.com.

If not, note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you like and call the airline whose miles you’re using.

Bottom Line

For the first time in at least five years, Air New Zealand is releasing Business Class award space between the United States and New Zealand. I see space on all three routes between the United States mainland and Auckland in both directions over the next 90 days.

Award space to New Zealand is way up in 2016 as I predicted last year when American and United’s new New Zealand routes were announced.

Enjoy your 2016 vacation to the Antipodes flying Air New Zealand Business Class or American Airlines Business Class.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Right now, Air New Zealand has a monopoly on direct flights between the United States and New Zealand with flights between Auckland and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu. It adds an Auckland to Houston flight on December 15, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 1.18.47 PM

The good thing about booking Air New Zealand award space is that you have access to the whole country through connections instead of just Auckland. Air New Zealand is a Star Alliance member, so you can book its flights for 40,000 Unites miles plus taxes one way in economy or 80,000 miles in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 1.25.59 PM

The problem with Air New Zealand is that they never release any Business Class award space to the United States, and they don’t release economy space over the heart of New Zealand’s summer.

Here is the award calendar for two passengers from San Francisco to Auckland. You can see that there is no space in February (peak time), but space most days in April and May (off peak, Fall). There is also no Business Class award space (Blue and Green, March 15 connects in Sydney after flying United Business.)

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 1.25.28 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-11 at 1.24.37 PM

In just a few months, Air New Zealand’s monopoly will end. United will begin flying San Francisco to Auckland on July 1, 2016 three times a week with a 787-8 Dreamliner. On October 28, the service expands to daily flights on the 787-9. Both Dreamliners feature flat bed Business Class in a 2-2-2 configuration and no First Class.

American Airlines has just announced that it will begin flights from Los Angeles to Auckland “starting in June 2016.” American will fly the route with the 787-8 Dreamliner with flat bed Business Class in a 1-2-1 configuration, which means every seat has direct aisle access unlike United’s Dreamliners.
Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 1.19.08 PM

The United flight is better for connecting in Auckland to the rest of New Zealand on Air New Zealand flights. It will cost 40,000 United miles in economy no matter where you start in the United States or end in New Zealand or 70,000 miles in Business Class. The United flight is also good if you want to see New Zealand and Australia on a single roundtrip with a stopover. For instance, this award would be 85,000 United miles in economy with a free stopover in Auckland en route to Sydney.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 4.21.10 PM

 

The American Airlines flight is better because it is cheaper at only 37,500 American Airlines miles one way in economy or 62,500 in Business Class. It is also better for upgrades if you are a top tier elite, since you can use an American systemwide upgrade to upgrade even the cheapest paid fares if you are an American Airlines Executive Platinum. The American Airlines flights offer no connectivity in New Zealand beyond Auckland. You can connect in Auckland to Australia on Qantas flights, but since there are no free stopovers on American Airlines awards, I don’t see much value there.

Award Space

Currently Air New Zealand opens no Business Class award space between the United States and New Zealand. That has been going on for a few years.

United has only recently started selling seats on its new route to New Zealand. So far it has opened up good economy award space and no Business Class space.

American hasn’t started selling seats yet on its new route to New Zealand, so we can only speculate on award space. Based on the award space on American’s new Los Angeles to Sydney route, I expect American to release some economy space to and from Auckland but zero Business Class space.

At least initially.

Hopefully this huge increase in the number of seats flying daily to New Zealand quickly increases the number of award seats on the route. It would be nice to be able to lock in Business Class awards on the United and American Airlines flights several months in advance or at least have award space consistently opened up within a few weeks of departure.

Until that happens though, the way to fly Business Class on direct flights to New Zealand will be to book the little-known United Plan B awards that allow you to book economy awards, pay the Business Class miles price, get first priority on the waitlist as a “displaced Business Class passenger,” and even get your extra miles refunded in the very unlikely event of not upgrading. More on United Plan B awards here.

Bottom Line

With United and American ending Air New Zealand’s monopoly on direct flights to New Zealand from the United States, I am hopeful for more Business Class award space eventually. For now, though, expect only economy award space and Plan B awards.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

9

Singapore Airlines charges only 12,500 Singapore miles one way for awards within the Southwest Pacific, which includes Australia, New Zealand, and a bunch of island paradises.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 2.54.39 PM

Singapore Airlines’, Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand, flies extensively in the region from its hub in Auckland. Here are its flights to tiny islands.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 2.44.39 PM
Source: gcmap.com

And here is its route network from Australia.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 2.50.13 PM
Source: gcmap.com

Air New Zealand also has an incredible route network within New Zealand. Any award that starts in Australia, New Zealand, or a Pacific Island, and ends in Australia, New Zealand, or a Pacific Island is only 12,500 Singapore miles. That’s a steal considering Fiji to Perth is nearly 11 hours of flying!

Singapore awards normally have fuel surcharges, but Air New Zealand flights do not have fuel surcharges, so you pay just the miles and the taxes on these Singapore awards.

  • What is the award space on Air New Zealand intra-South Pacific?
  • How do you search and book the award?
  • How do you get Singapore miles?
  • For people not in Australia or New Zealand, how do you combine these awards with other cheap awards as part of a big trip?

Award Space

Economy award space is fairly open on Air New Zealand flights throughout the South Pacific. Business Class award space is non-existent, which is a shame because some flights are long and Singapore charges only 17,500 miles one way intra-Southwest Pacific in Business Class. The following calendars come from united.com, and yellow dates have economy award space for one passenger.

Auckland to Perth

This is a nearly eight hour flight!

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.15.28 PM

Award space is fairly good in economy, even during peak summer season.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.15.22 PM

Nadi to Perth

What about adding a connecting flight, so the award begins in Fiji? Award space on the two flights stays pretty good if you’re flexible.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.16.49 PMThat’s almost 11 hours of flying, and still for 12,500 Singapore miles.
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.16.44 PM

There are way too many routes to look at, so search the routes that interest you on your own. I think you’ll find intra-New Zealand space is excellent and New Zealand to Australia space and New Zealand to Pacific Island space are good if you have flexibility +/- a few days. All that’s in economy. If you find any Business Class space at all, post it in the comments.

How to Search and Book the Award

Search the award on united.com

Singaporeair.com only displays Singapore Airlines award space, so search united.com, which displays nearly all of the Star Alliance, including Air New Zealand. Here’s how to search united.com.

Any Air New Zealand award space on united.com is bookable with Singapore miles. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space to later give to a Singapore agent. Ignore the miles price on united.com. United charges more miles for the exact same flights, which is exactly why we’ll use Singapore miles to book the space.

Book by calling Singapore Airlines

Once you find space, transfer your Chase, AMEX, Citi, or SPG points to Singapore miles. The credit card points take 24-48 hours to post. The SPG points take longer.

To book the award, call Singapore Airlines at 213-404-0301 and give the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you found on united.com. There is no phone fee for booking Singapore Airlines partner awards.

Pay your award taxes with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of the major transferable points programs: Chase, AMEX, Citi, and SPG. Cards I like that earns points that transfer to Singapore miles:

After meeting the minimum spending requirement on one of those cards, you’ll have enough for four one-way tickets within the Southwest Pacific on the Singapore Airlines award chart.

Combing This Award Into a BIG Trip

In 2015, there are no good round-the-world awards. You construct your big trip from the cheapest awards on several award charts. Here are some cheap awards you can hook up to a Singapore intra-Southwest Pacific award (everything below comes from How to Book a RTW Trip in 2015. Use These Underpriced Awards):

From United States:

To Fiji

To Australia/New Zealand

From Southeast Asia

To Australia/New Zealand

  • with 17,500 United miles
  • in Business Class with 35,000 United miles
  • in First Class with 40,000 United miles, try for Thai First Class
From North Asia

To Oceania

Bottom Line

Singapore Airlines miles are the best miles to hop around between Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania at only 12,500 miles one way with no fuel surcharges and good award space in economy to many interesting places.

Search united.com and book the award space by calling Singapore.

Hook up the award space to other cheap awards from the region to Southeast Asia, North Asia, or the United States to form a big trip.

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

3

Two months ago I wrote that US Airways would be losing five of its Star Alliance partners over the course of 2014.

Another one bites the dust in five days! June 29, 2014 is the last day to use US Airways miles to book Air New Zealand flights.

Note that Air New Zealand flights need only be booked by June 29. You can book US Airways awards up to about 335 days in advance. That means you can fly awards containing Air New Zealand flights until about May 30, 2015.

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is currently offering 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase. You can’t get the miles in time to book Air New Zealand, but you can get them in time to book the other partners US Airways is losing like Turkish and Singapore at the end of July.

  • What are the current restrictions on booking Air New Zealand flights with US Airways miles?
  • What if you want to change your US Airways/Air New Zealand award later?
  • How is Air New Zealand award space?
  • What other partners is US Airways losing soon?
------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I wanted to take a look at the options to use Star Alliance miles to Australia and New Zealand during their next summer (December 2013 to March 2014.) I went overboard though and looked up the options for the next 11 months on the five direct Star Alliance routes from North America to the Antipodes:

  • Los Angeles to Sydney* (United, three-cabin 747)
  • San Francisco to Sydney* (United, three-cabin 747)
  • Vancouver to Sydney (Air Canada, two-cabin 777)
  • Los Angeles to Auckland (Air New Zealand, two-cabin 777)
  • San Francisco to Auckland (Air New Zealand, two-cabin 777)

*Continuing Service to Melbourne

What’s the award space picture?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Pre-departure services and the Global First Lounge

United Global First Los Angeles to Sydney

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I’ve included a brief report on Air New Zealand business class because the plane I flew operates some key routes you might want to fly like Honolulu to Auckland and Shanghai to Auckland. Because getting to New Zealand in business class with United miles is tough, you might find yourself on one of those flights.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I’m a newly minted New Zealand evangelist, but it’s not an easy place to get to with miles–at least not on a decent itinerary.

The only flights operated between the US and New Zealand are on Air New Zealand, which flies:

Auckland <-> Los Angeles

Auckland <-> San Francisco

Auckland <-> Honolulu

Air New Zealand is a member of the Star Alliance and has a world-class business class product on the California routes, but there’s a problem. I never see any business class space on the California routes. And the Honolulu route, which has some award seats available has a recliner seat in business class.

So if you want to get to New Zealand, you have two choices: fly an indirect premium-cabin itinerary (like I did on United Global First via Sydney) or fly directly to New Zealand in economy class.

Here’s the award space for getting to New Zealand in Air New Zealand economy class.

San Francisco to Auckland

Dates that are shaded yellow have at least one economy class award seat available. There is literally no business class space available for the next 11 months, and economy class space disappears after July.

If you can’t get the February 23rd flight, your options are limited to the North American spring, which is New Zealand’s fall. New Zealand never gets particularly hot, so by April it’s quite cool in Wellington, the capital.

Los Angeles to AucklandLos Angeles to Auckland shows almost the exact same pattern. Space is currently available from April to June.

Auckland to San Francisco

Coming back shows the same pattern of availability except worse.

Space is only available coming back from New Zealand starting in May.

Auckland to Los Angeles

The AKL to LAX flight shows the same pattern, May and June availability in economy.

Best Strategy to New Zealand

You aren’t getting from the continental US to New Zealand on a direct flight in business class. You can get there routing through Asia or Australia in business or first class. Or you can fly direct in economy, but only during late fall, not during New Zealand’s summer.

Which you prefer will depend on your mileage balance, preference strength for direct flights, and your dates.

I would generally recommend taking an indirect routing through Australia as the best option for a few reasons.

  1. Business class is better than economy.
  2. You don’t really want to fly into Auckland. You want to go to Queenstown, Wellington, or some isolated part of New Zealand nature. LAX to Queenstown via Auckland (15:00 + layover) is not much less flying than LAX to Queenstown via Sydney (17:30 + layover).

If you skipped Auckland and flew to Wellington to start the trip, you could easily do it through Sydney in United BusinessFirst, which is a world-class business class seat.

Booking the Tickets

All the flights I’ve mentioned in this post operated by United and Air New Zealand can be booked with either United or US Airways miles. United charges 40k/67.5k/80k miles each direction to New Zealand in economy/business/first. US Airways charges 70k/110k/140k roundtrip in economy/business/first. If you’re booking a roundtrip, US Airways is quite a bit cheaper–especially in business class. But if you’re booking one way, you should book with United since US Airways charges the roundtrip price for oneways.

To construct your award, find the transpacific space first, then the intra-Oceania flights, then the domestic US flights. Once you’ve found it all, you can book on united.com with your United miles. If you are having trouble booking online, hold one segment online then call 800-UNITED-1 to finish the booking and avoid the phone fee as outlined in How to Avoid the Phone Fee on Award Bookings. To use US Airways miles, call 800-622-1015. (Or skip it all and hire the MileValue Award Booking Service for only $99 per person.)

Don’t forget to add a free oneway onto your award!

Master Thread: Free Oneways on United Awards

Master Thread: Free Oneways on US Airways Awards

Getting the Miles

You can get 100k+ United miles from two credit cards that you get on the same day, enough for a roundtrip to New Zealand with one way in business.

The card to apply for now is the Chase Ink Bold (or if you’ve gotten the Bold, the Chase Ink Plus.) The Chase Ink Bold is a business card that comes with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after $5,000 in spending in the first three months.

Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to United at a 1:1 ratio, so this is an easy 50,000+ miles–possibly many more since the card earns 5X points on telecom, cable, and internet bills and at office supply stores.

The reason to get it now is that the spending requirement used to be $10,000 and may go back to that soon.

The Chase Ink Bold is a business card. You may own a qualifying small business without knowing it. See How to Be Approved for a Chase Business Card for information on what business qualify and how to fill out a business application.

I got the Ink Bold months ago and the Ink Plus in December to maximize my own Ultimate Rewards earning.

On the same day as your Ink application, pick up a Chase personal card. Your first choice should be the United Explorer card with a 50k mile signup bonus after $1k in spending in the first three months.

There is no public offer for the card, but many people see it when they sign into their United accounts here or at united.com. If you get the card, be sure to add an authorized user for a quick 5k more miles.

Another option is to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earns 40k Ultimate Rewards after spending $3k in the first three months. You also earn 2X on all dining and travel purchases with the card. I like this card so much that I actually paid the annual fee to keep it last month–a rarity for me.

There isn’t quite as quick of a way to rack up 110k US Airways miles for a roundtrip in business. You can get 40k US Airways miles on first purchase with the Barclay’s US Airways MasterCard, but the card has an $89 annual fee the first year. You can also get the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express with a 25k bonus that transfers 1:1 to dozens of airlines with 5k bonus miles for every 20k points transferred.

 

Recap

The only way to go directly from the US to New Zealand is on Air New Zealand, which only releases economy space on its direct routes from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

If you’re going to Auckland, you might take those economy class seats to enjoy a direct journey. Since I would skip Auckland on a short trip to New Zealand, though, I would recommend connecting through Sydney flying United business to Sydney on your way to a more interesting New Zealand destination. It’s only a bit more flying, and a much better way to fly.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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