Air New Zealand Will Fly 3x Weekly Between Auckland & Chicago

Filed Under: Air New Zealand, United

In early February there was speculation that Air New Zealand would announce a new flight between Auckland and Chicago. Obama was visiting New Zealand, and with Chicago being his hometown and Air New Zealand typically flying to United hubs in the US, this seemed logical enough. This new route has now been confirmed.

Air New Zealand will add 3x weekly flights between Auckland and Chicago as of November 30, 2018. The new flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9, with the following schedule:

NZ26 Auckland to Chicago departing 8:10PM arriving 4:15PM [Wed, Fri, Sun]
NZ27 Chicago to Auckland departing 8:10PM arriving 6:30AM (+2 days) [Wed, Fri, Sun]

At 8,184 miles this is an ultra longhaul flight, though we’ve seen plenty of ultra longhaul flights lately, so it’s not that noteworthy in terms of distance (the world’s longest flight, from Doha to Auckland, is nearly 900 miles longer). The flight will be 15hr5min northbound and 16hr20min southbound.

This complements Air New Zealand’s existing flights to the US, as they fly to Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. This new flight to Chicago will give passengers all kinds of connection opportunities thanks to United’s presence at O’Hare, since they’re the largest airline there.

Air New Zealand and United have a joint venture on transpacific flights, so this isn’t the only part of the announcement. United is also expanding service to New Zealand. United first began flying to Auckland in July 2016, though as of last year they made the flight seasonal. United will be reversing that. Starting in April 2019, United will once again operate year-round flights between San Francisco and Auckland.

In the off season United will operate the flight 3x weekly. They’ll use a Boeing 777-300ER between November and March, and a Boeing 777-200ER between April and October. The 777-300ER will feature United’s new Polaris seats, while the 777-200ER won’t.

In the meantime Qantas has also announced flights between Chicago and Brisbane, launching in April 2020.

Bottom line

I love seeing new ultra longhaul flights. For years we saw airlines cut long flights due to fuel prices and inefficient planes, but thanks to planes like the 787 and A350, we’re seeing that trend reverse. We’re once again seeing more and more ultra longhaul flights, which is great, as it connects the world in fewer stops. While this new Air New Zealand flight only operates 3x weekly, it will no doubt be useful for travelers headed to Chicago and beyond.

What do you make of Air New Zealand’s new route to Chicago?

(Featured image courtesy of Masakatsu Ukon)

  1. I’m sure their are sound operational reasons but EWR is only 800 miles further and one wonders why they didn’t go there. 1 stop to New York would be very popular from Australia.

  2. @ Matt Brown — Unfortunately historically Air New Zealand is pretty stingy when it comes to award availability, so I wouldn’t count on it.

  3. This may be part of a strategy to attract travellers between Aus/NZ and obscure European destinations served by UA from ORD.

    Air NZ used to be a wonderful airline but these days does not really participate in the Star Alliance, not sure why they are still a member actually. Dont waste your time looking for awards here.

    Occasionally Air NZ has had half-decent business fares ex Australia to the USA, but their once-excellent hard & soft product is dying the death of a thousand cuts, not unlike BA.

    Still, IMO a stopover in NZ is the best way to counter jetlag between East Coast USA and Australia.

  4. @Ed the 789’s operation range is about 8780 miles, meaning JFK/EWR isn’t feasible. On paper, the A350 can handle AKL-EWR, but NZ has no firm plans to acquire that aircraft and it wouldnt make sense to do so for one route.

    Would be fun if QF got a subfleet of A359-ULRs as it might make SYD-JFK/LHR direct possible.

  5. @Harry hv: United serves London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Amsterdam and Brussels year round from ORD. In the summer I think they add Dubin, Rome, and Edinburgh. Maybe another. What “obscure” destinations are you talking about? These are all pretty routine / common.

  6. Lucky can you review this in business class please? I can’t remember when you reviewed ANZ, and it sounds like a cool route.

  7. @Ed one stop New York currently is possible from aus if one stops in lax or some other city like that. Not certain which other ones, haven’t looked into it too much, but for example you could take qf Sydney-lax and then connect on their lax-jfk or connect on to American.

  8. Where is Rahm when we need him? I think our great City of Chicago should absolutely and defiantly block this and boycott Air New Zealand for their home country’s racist naming of their rugby team. How can a nation’s flag carrier be allowed landing rights when they blatantly suppress our peoples?

  9. @lucky I think they changed it now but 5 year ago they had a really great Premium Economy service with these great super private seats(

  10. Does anyone know how to fly Air New Zealand on miles? i think SPG transfers to NZ but i cant find out how many miles u need. Y and J class, cant find any info on it

  11. Actually, United began flying to AKL long long before July 2016. I remember flying on United 747’s in the 1980’s to Melbourne and Brisbane via AKL from the USA. It has been a long time on again off again relationship with USA-NZ service.

  12. I believe the longest 787-9 flight in the world is on United’s SIN-LAX nonstop route, which is 8770 miles. I, too, wish it’s possible for a nonstop flight between AKL-EWR as that would be a bigger draw. Hopefully someday that AKL-EWR nonstop (which is 8810 miles) will become a reality.
    As far as award availability goes, I think it’s tricky simply because Air NZ’s own frequent flyer program is so different from United’s in terms of redemptions. Just a theory here but Air NZ probably finds it more profitable to auction off its potential empty business class seats on TPAC flights via its one-up bid program than to make them available as award seats for partner airlines’ frequent flyer programs.

  13. I recently snagged and flew award space – via MileagePlus – SYD – NRT via AKL on Air NZ in J class. Very light load and the seat on the 787 isn’t as wide as on their 777s but still reasonably comfy albeit woefully narrow. The interesting leg was the SYD – AKL. As Air NZ is having issues with their 787s engines the aircraft leased was an ex-Emirates HiFly A340 with a Portuguese crew (as Lucky has previously reviewed). It was like the UN had gone into the airline business and this was the monster they created. The A340 is notoriously late according to Air NZ staff.

  14. @AlbertH Air NZ don’t use a point system like most airlines – basically you accrue in Airpoints dollars and you can purchase any seat with the dollars at the current fare (1:1). This means the earn rate is shitty and they don’t really open a lot of space in miles to partners. Basically even if you fly AirNZ all the time you are often better off with a partner airlines FF program. Transferring from SPG you would convert to Airpoints Dollars at a rate of 65 SPG points per $1. Currently that would mean a one way business ticket is roughly 300 000 spg points thereabouts plus taxes but if you are buying in Airpoints pretty much every seat is open to book. Hope that makes sense – it’s widely regarded as the shittiest FF program in AUS/NZ

    @Paul J – I hope you’re being sarcastic. It’s not a racial slur. Go deal with President Spanky.

  15. @lucky

    So J from AKL to SFO or LAX is 62.5k when booking using Virgin Atlantic miles. Any word on whether it’ll also be the same for the ORD flight? Completely agree J award availability is tight and economy nearly non existent but I managed to book a J seat a couple weeks ago on short notice and I’m flying this weekend LAX to AKL. Excited to try Air NZ long haul for the first time.

  16. Not in the US, but Air NZ also flies to Vancouver if we want to be comprehensive about their NA destinations.

  17. @Tom, you’re right! I was away on vacation last weekend and completely forgot about that groundbreaking flight. I’m not aviation expert but if LHR-PER is 9010 miles and QF is flying its 789 on that route, then why is AKL-EWR not possible for Air NZ’s 789? The distance between AKL-EWR is 8810 miles.

  18. NZ does a fantastic job in PY. The service, food and bev is better than business on LH transatlantic.

    Only thing is, unless it’s changed, could not get UA to ticket PY so no PQD’s

  19. I seem that Hifly A340 in Perth a month back operating air NZ flights to Auckland it was quite a surprise to see that in Perth also

  20. United didn’t first fly to AKL when you say. They flew there for years from Los Angeles, but relaunched when you say.

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