Historically awards between the US and New Zealand have been one of the toughest things to book. Years ago Air New Zealand used to open up business class awards 60 days prior to flight. Then they stopped. With a couple of brief exceptions there really hasn’t been meaningful Air New Zealand business class award space in years.
Up until today, this was a unicorn. Or snuffaluffagus. There were rumors of Air New Zealand business class award space, but no one knew if it actually existed.
The Northern summer is low season for travel to New Zealand to be sure, but this July there’s great availability for 2 business class award seats:
- Los Angeles – Auckland
- Houston – Auckland
- San Francisco – Auckland
“Bayswater Marina Auckland New Zealand” by Bayswater marina, Creative Commons
Here’s Los Angeles – Auckland in July: Dotted lines indicate business class award space non-stop for two passengers.
Aeroplan charges 80,000 miles each way (American Express transfer partner). United charges 90,000 miles each way (Chase transfer partner).
But the amazing value is Virgin Atlantic redemptions:
- They charge just 62,500 miles each way for non-stop business class
- Both American Express Membership Rewards and Citi Thank You Rewards are running 30% transfer bonuses to Virgin
- That means 49,000 Amex or Citi points is enough for a one-way business class award between the US and New Zealand.
Points from Amex and Citi generally transfer instantly to Virgin Atlantic. The best practice is to put the award on a 24 hour hold and then make the transfer, or to have the Virgin Atlantic agent set up the award and then transfer the points while still on the phone with them. You cannot include other partners or connecting flights on the itinerary at this price, this is just for non-stop travel.