Australia and New Zealand are two places that aren’t exactly easy to get to with points in business class or first class. If you’re willing to connect via Asia it’s not too difficult to piece together an all premium itinerary but it’s much harder to book direct flights from the continental US to New Zealand or Australia because you don’t have a lot of options due to limited award inventory.
However, Air New Zealand is showing a lot of open awards for flights between New Zealand and the US and even connecting to Australia. This definitely qualifies as “unicorn” availability and as far as I can tell there haven’t been issues with phantom awards.
You can search for the awards on United’s website where you’ll see the open premium awards show up with a dotted blue line as the award calendar shows below. This route is for LAX to AKL but I also saw awards open from IAH to AKL and vice versa.
How can you book this?
Air New Zealand is in the Star Alliance and has other partners such as Virgin Atlantic as well. Here are some of the Air New Zealand partners and their redemption rates for an award in business class one way:
- 62,500 Virgin Atlantic miles
- 67,500 Lufthansa Miles & More miles
- 80,000 Air Canada (Aeroplan)
- 80,000 LifeMiles
- 90,000 United miles
- 117,000 Singapore miles
Virgin Atlantic at 62,5000 is the sweet spot that I really like. Virgin Atlantic is a partner of Citi, Amex, and Chase, so it’s incredibly easy to earn points to transfer to their loyalty program. Moreover, you can put awards on hold up to 24 hours while waiting for your points transfer to hit. And finally, fees using Virgin Atlantic miles on Air New Zealand should be very reasonable.
Again, it’s very rare to see premium availability on this route with Air New Zealand, so if that destination is in your plans, highly consider this chance to book them.
I do want to bring up that Air New Zealand’s business class is in a herringbone configuration, which is one of my least favorite business class configurations for a number reasons. It’s virtually identical to the Virgin Atlantic 787 seats which you can read my review on here. Also, there have been aircraft swaps with Air New Zealand, so I’d verify which type of aircraft you’re flying on just in case.
H/T: No Mas Coach
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.