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Premium cabin award space to Australia and New Zealand is notoriously hard to come by using any type of miles. So when you see as many as Business Class award seats available as we’re seeing right now flying United Business Class to New Zealand, it’s worth mentioning.

About to be flush with Ultimate Rewards from the 100k sign up bonus on your Chase Sapphire Reserve®? Book yourself a flat bed Business Class ticket to New Zealand by transferring your Ultimate Rewards to United! It will cost you 70,000 United miles in each direction.

United Business Class Award Space to New Zealand

Below are award space calendars from united.com between San Francisco to Auckland in July and August of 2017. Days with a solid line have economy saver level space and days with dotted lines have Business Class saver level space.

Outbound Award Space

The following calendar shows award space for two travelers.screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-3-20-22-pm

This calendar shows award space for four travelers.screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-3-21-26-pm

And finally, this calendar shows award space for eight travelers. screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-3-17-51-pm

Award Space for the Return

The following calendar shows award space for two travelers.screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-3-32-45-pmThis calendar shows award space for four travelers.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-3-33-17-pm

This calendar shows award space for six travelers.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-3-35-57-pm

How good is United’s Business Class to New Zealand?

United’s flight between San Francisco and Auckland is flown on their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which currently has their best Business Class product. It won’t be Polaris by the time you fly it in 2017, but it’s still a decent Business Class product.

screen-shot-2015-09-02-at-1-21-16-pm

The United 787-9 Dreamliner has 48 beds in Business class in a 2-2-2 configuration. In 2-2-2 configurations, I always choose a middle seat, since both have direct aisle access. If you choose a seat on either side of the plane, you’ll either need to climb over your seatmate or be climbed over during the flight.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.14.20 PM

Each seat converts to a fully flat bed with 6’6″ of sleeping space.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.14.40 PM

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 some carriers, but not 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 United Business Class from San Francisco to Auckland.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-32-28-pm

There is no YQ or YR fee listed there, so no fuel surcharges. That means ANA and Lufthansa, whose loyalty programs have the cheapest miles price, will not collect any fuel surcharges–good news! You’ll just pay the standard taxes you’d have to pay using any type of miles.

It’s likely that you have more United miles, but if you have Membership Rewards or SPG Points you can transfer those to ANA and use 20,000 less miles overall for the roundtrip. Or you could transfer your SPG Points to Lufthansa for a one way award that is 3,000 miles cheaper than using United miles.

Searching and Booking 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 on Air New Zealand if using United miles.

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

And of course, you can add any leg (as long as it’s Saver level space) flying United to get to San Francisco without changing the cost of the award.

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.

United Plan B

Want to travel to New Zealand with your United miles in Business Class but the day you want to fly doesn’t have award space? Book a United Plan B award that allows you to book an economy award, 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 unlikely event of not upgrading. More on United Plan B awards here.

How to Get the Miles

The easiest way to get a lot of United miles fast is via the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It’s a brand new card that offers 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months. Read our review of the Sapphire Reserve. You would earn at least 104,000 Ultimate Rewards from meeting the minimum spending requirement for the Sapphire Reserve.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Read 10 Reasons to Get the Sapphire Preferred to learn more. You’d earn at least 54,000 Ultimate Reward from meeting that card’s minimum spending requirement. 

Armed with at least 158,000 Ultimate Rewards you would have plenty to transfer to United and book this flat bed Business Class award space to New Zealand.

Bottom Line

We are consistently asked via our Free Credit Card Consultation Service for help collecting miles for award travel to Australia and New Zealand. Our Award Booking Service gets emails all the time asking for help booking award travel to the area. Our responses are always prefaced the same way– don’t get your hopes up for premium cabin award space.

That being said, take note that United actually has some flat bed Business Class award seats available at the moment for travel in July and August of 2017, and it’s not just for one person. There’s plenty of dates for two travelers, less but still a decent amount for four travelers, and a limited amount of days for up to eight travelers.

Book the Star Alliance Business Class space with either:

  • 70,000 United miles per direction
  • 120,000 ANA miles roundtrip
  • 67,000 Lufthansa miles per direction
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!


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