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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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