I Had Never Seen Air New Zealand Business Class Award Space Until Yesterday

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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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2 COMMENTS

    • Different miles, different rules. Depends on the miles you book with. However PPT to SFO would not be possible with Star Alliance miles. You’d want to use AA or Delta miles to book Air Tahiti Nui.

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