Rare: Peak Season Air New Zealand Business Class Awards

Filed Under: Air New Zealand, Awards

Historically Air New Zealand is one of the stingiest airlines when it comes to making business class award seats available, in particular for travel between the US and New Zealand. There are many times where there’s not a single business class award seat available in the entire schedule.

Several months back we saw a fair amount of business class award space for travel between the US and New Zealand, though it was only for travel in July and August, which isn’t exactly peak season for those visiting New Zealand.

Well, for those looking to visit in peak season, there’s some good news.

Air New Zealand Peak Season Business Class Awards

While I wouldn’t say there’s a “ton” of award space, Air New Zealand has a respectable amount of business class award space for travel between the US and New Zealand in December, even for travel for two people.

In particular, we’re seeing lots of award space from New Zealand to the US (the other direction Is a bit tougher, though you can always find a different way to get to New Zealand on miles). To give you a sense of December availability, the dates with the 90K price have nonstop business class space from Auckland to Houston:

And here are the dates for Auckland to San Francisco (ignore the dates that show 200K, because that’s the higher level award pricing on United’s own flights):

And here are the dates for Auckland to Los Angeles:

Unfortunately availability isn’t quite as good in the other direction, but there are still some options. Here’s availability from Los Angeles to Auckland, for example:

And here’s availability from Houston to Auckland:

Right now I only see availability through late December, though it’s possible we’ll soon see some availability for January and February.

How To Redeem Miles For Air New Zealand Business Class

You have a lot of options for redeeming miles for Air New Zealand business class. Among the major programs that may first come to mind, here are one-way business class costs:

  • 80,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles
  • 80,000 Avianca LifeMiles
  • 90,000 United MileagePlus miles

Air New Zealand 777

There’s one other value that’s especially good, that is often overlooked. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club charges just 125,000 miles for a roundtrip business class ticket between New Zealand and North America.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Air New Zealand Award Chart

You can also book a one-way for half of the mileage requirement, which would be 62,500 miles one-way. You’ll just be on the hook for taxes and fees, as there are no carrier imposed surcharges.

Not only does Virgin Atlantic Flying Club require the fewest number of miles, but it’s also a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Marriott Bonvoy.

To book a ticket via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club you need to call, but you can put your ticket on hold for 24 hours while you transfer points (which should be an instant process).

If you want to book using this method, I’d recommend:

  • Joining Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Using United’s website to find dates with Air New Zealand award availability
  • Calling Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 800-365-9500, and telling the agent exactly which flights you want
  • They should be able to tell you the exact mileage requirement and put the ticket on hold, and they’ll give you a booking reference
  • Then link your Amex or Citi account to your Virgin Atlantic account, and transfer the points
  • Then call back to ticket the reservation

Bottom Line

While I wouldn’t say availability is “amazing,” seeing any substantial amount of business class award space on Air New Zealand in the Southern Summer is extremely rare. So this is a great opportunity to redeem miles, in particular through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, given the cost of just 62,500 miles in each direction.

The niche redemptions available through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club never cease to amaze me, between this and the ability to efficiently redeem miles on both All Nippon Airways and Delta.

Anyone plan to take advantage of this award availability on Air New Zealand?

(Tip of the hat to Ricky at Prince of Travel)

  1. the niche redemptions on VS are not long for this world. No way are DL going to leave this ‘as is’

  2. Booked AKL – LAX in business on Air New Zealand with 62.5k flying club miles. $40 in taxes. Thanks!

  3. I’ve spent a lot of time shopping on VS for DL availability to Europe out 200+ days and have always come away frustrated. Is VS availability only good close in or to other corners of the globe?

  4. Not sure why the middle of the year shouldn’t be peak season for US residents to visit NZ. The kids will be on the summer holiday, and the southern hemisphere winter is the ideal time to go skiing.

  5. Does anyone knew if you can transfer multiple accounts (Amex and Citi) to your Virgin account? Or does it have to be just one account?


  6. @Lucky – do you know if Virgin will allow domestic flights on United on same award? I have a combo of LAX-AKL-SFO on hold with them but would love to tack on the domestic legs to round it out (likely from IAD or EWR).

    If not and I book the United legs separately with sufficient layovers, will Air NZ protect us in the event of issues with the United flights? And would we get Polaris lounge access due to same day LAX-AKL in business even if flying EWR-LAX in Y?


  7. Just buy it!! Is everyone so cheap that the only way they can afford premium cabins is with points! I use my points but not a big deal to just buy a First or Business class seat if I want. I mean my average variance in the stock market is $20-$30K a day so buying a $5-$10K ticket is really no big deal

  8. @Jason – yes
    @Max – No domestic connection on UA. You should be protected on NZ (Star Alliance membership). No Polaris lounge at arrival at LAX.

    A boarding pass for travel in long-haul international business class on a Star Alliance member airline. Customers may only access a United Polaris lounge at the departure airport for their international business class flight.

  9. I had a saver award consisting of 3 flights and an overnight layover routing home from Auckland to Newark in mid-November booked with UA miles (AKL-SYD in Y, SYD-SFO in J, SFO-EWR in Y). But I started checking for something better around 10 days ago on a once-twice daily basis. Yesterday morning I got 2 seats AKL-IAH in J, so I smiled when I saw this post. Had no idea this is usually a rare find.

  10. @Donna — Now that you mention it — I was on the same seats on a Cathay Pacific flight (upper deck) between Manila and HKG in 2012. But I haven’t seen that configuration before or since.

  11. @Max
    So you would have Polaris lounge access for LAX-AKL because you are departing. Just not on return, unfortunately.

  12. I just booked EWR to AKL via LAX for Feb 2020, 80,000 miles one way, economy to LAX and business class on United to AKL. Then bought one way back with Air NZ with skycouch to LAX and economy to Newark for $1,230.

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