Great United First Class Award Availability to New Zealand
Typically it's very difficult — if not impossible — to find decent award availability on flights between the US and Australia or New Zealand, but we're seeing a solid amount of Polaris First availability on United's nonstop flight between San Francisco (SFO) and Auckland (AKL) in November and December of this year — including over the Thanksgiving holiday.
United normally operates a 2-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this nonstop flight but has swapped in a Boeing 777-200 outfitted with a Polaris First cabin as well, which has opened up quite a bit of space up front. A one-way ticket in Polaris First will cost you 80,000 MileagePlus miles plus about $30 in taxes and fees. If United happens to switch back to the Dreamliner, you'll be rebooked in the business-class cabin and you'll be eligible for a refund of 10,000 miles since UA charges 70,000 for a one-way ticket in business class. Note that each example below reflects availability for 2 passengers.
If you'd prefer to go to Australia, there's also a decent amount of award availability on Star Alliance partner Air Canada on its Dreamliner flight between Vancouver (YVR) and Brisbane (BNE) in April and May of this year. United charges more for business-class awards on partner airlines, so these will cost you 80,000 miles each way plus about $50 in taxes and fees.
If you're in need of some United miles, you can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to MileagePlus to give your balance a boost. If you're interested in the Air Canada flights to Australia, you can also book using 80,000 Aeroplan miles that you can transfer from Amex Membership Rewards. Note, however, that awards booked through Aeroplan are subject to hefty surcharges.
Will you be booking one of these awards to Australia or New Zealand?