Historically, Air New Zealand has been one of the stingiest airlines in the world when it comes to releasing business class award space. There were often times where there wasn’t a single business class award seat for the entire schedule across the Pacific. There’s a positive update regarding that, as flagged by Frequent Miler.
Air New Zealand releasing award seats close to departure
Air New Zealand now seems to consistently be releasing a significant amount of business class award space on transpacific flights within four weeks of departure. For example, today is August 10 in New Zealand, and currently I see award availability through September 7… and then it suddenly dries up.
I imagine that this pattern will continue going forward. For what it’s worth, I’m seeing this availability to most of Air New Zealand’s gateways in the United States, including Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), and San Francisco (SFO), though I’m not seeing the availability to New York (JFK).
For flights where there is availability, it’s generally wide open, with multiple seats.
I suspect that this is a new pattern we’ll see from Air New Zealand, and that this isn’t some one-time opportunity. After all, Air New Zealand isn’t cornering the long haul market to New Zealand as in the past, as American, Delta, and United, now all at least offer seasonal service to the country.
Now, it’s possible that availability dries up over peak season (around December through March), since that’s by far the period of highest demand. Only time will tell.
The best programs for booking Air New Zealand awards
Air New Zealand belongs to the Star Alliance, so what are the best programs for booking these awards (there are no fuel surcharges for any of these options)?
- The single best way to book Air New Zealand business class awards is through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club; you’ll pay just 62,500 points one-way, and Virgin is transfer partners with Amex, Capital One, Chase, and Citi
- With Air Canada Aeroplan you’ll pay 75,000 points one-way if flying a distance of 5,001-7,500 miles, or 87,500 points one-way if flying a distance of 7,501-11,000 miles; Air Canada is transfer partners with Amex, Capital One, and Chase
- With Avianca LifeMiles you’ll pay 80,000 miles one-way; LifeMiles is transfer partners with Amex, Capital One, and Citi
- You can also redeem United MileagePlus miles for 110,000 miles one-way, which I wouldn’t consider to be a great value compared to the alternatives; United is transfer partners with Chase
Air New Zealand business class isn’t great
While New Zealand is an absolutely gorgeous country, definitely manage your expectations when it comes to Air New Zealand business class. I recently reviewed Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787 business class from Auckland to Los Angeles, and found the experience to be subpar, especially the seats.
Fortunately Air New Zealand will soon be introducing a new business class in 2024, though any bookings now obviously wouldn’t be in that product.
If you’re headed to New Zealand, Air New Zealand now seems to be making business class award seats available in the weeks leading up to departure. This can be an incredible value with points, especially if you book through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which charges just 62,500 points one-way. Just manage your expectations when it comes to the onboard product.
Anyone snapping up some Air New Zealand business class awards?