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This month, United launched nonstop service from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand, operated by the 787 Dreamliner. Currently, the flight operates a few days each week, but as of next year it’ll be daily. Round-trip business-class fares start at $4,900, while a round-trip business award will run you 140,000 United miles plus $73 in taxes and fees, giving you a redemption value of about 3.5 cents per mile — which is pretty fantastic, even if you have to transfer in Chase points to boost your balance.
Of course, the challenge is actually finding award space to book — on a premium route such as this, that can be fairly difficult to accomplish, especially if you’re hoping to fly with a group. Fortunately, United is offering some pretty spectacular Saver award availability in both economy and business for travel in May and June of next year, so if you’re thinking about a trip to New Zealand (or a connecting flight to Australia), now’s the time to book.
Availability for eight passengers (below) more or less matches what you’ll find when searching for just one:
You can book the one-way flight for just 70,000 miles + $32:
Or you can book a family of eight:
Availability isn’t quite as good on the return, but if you’re able to fly back in late-May or early June, you should be in luck:
Completing a search with United’s Expert Mode enabled reveals that there are at least nine award (and upgrade) seats on each date:
Award availability like this doesn’t come around every day, so if you’re thinking about making the trip, I’d book sooner than later. United Premier Platinum and 1K members can cancel and redeposit awards for free, while fees for other members run $100 to $200 per person, depending on status level.
H/T: View from the Wing
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards