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Air New Zealand has become infamous in the points and miles world for being extraordinarily stingy on releasing award availability between the US and New Zealand. But today, one of the rarest awards has been sighted in the wild, originally discovered by Gamesst on Reddit and signal-boosted by View From The Wing.

This just so happens to be occurring at a time where Air New Zealand awards are effectively on sale. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is a partner of Air New Zealand — and there’s currently a 30% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and a 30% transfer bonus from Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Flying Club’s award rate for business class awards from the US to New Zealand on Air New Zealand is 62,500 each way. That’s already a deal compared to AA’s 80k rate, United’s 80k rate and whatever Delta feels like charging.

But thanks to these transfer bonuses, Flying Club’s reasonable award rates make for some downright-cheap award rates. The 30% transfer bonus means that you need to transfer just 49,000 Membership Rewards or ThankYou points to get enough Flying Club miles to book a one-way award. Or, transfer just 97,000 points to get enough to book a round-trip award.

The easiest way of searching this award availability is on United’s award availability calendar. Search one of the three routes that Air New Zealand flies to the US: Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL). Then, limit the award search to nonstop itineraries and look for the dates that have five dots — indicating premium cabin awards. Finally, call Virgin Atlantic’s reservation center at 800-365-9500 to book your award.

If you don’t have enough Flying Club miles in your account, you can put the award on hold. I’ve recently had success holding Flying Club award for 72 hours, leaving you enough time to transfer points from Amex or Citi.

Airline: Air New Zealand
Routes: IAH/LAX/SFO to AKL (and beyond)
62,500 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles each way (49k Amex or Citi points)
Travel Dates:
June-July 2019
Pay Taxes/Fees With: Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare on plus trip delay insurance), Citi Premier CardChase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)

Here are a few examples of what you can book:

Houston (IAH) to Auckland (AKL) in Air New Zealand business class — via United calendar award search:

Los Angeles (LAX) to Auckland (AKL) in Air New Zealand business class — via United calendar award search:

San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL) in Air New Zealand business class — via United calendar award search:

Maximize Your Purchase

While we typically recommend using a credit card that maximizes your earnings on airfare purchases, the taxes and fees on these awards are so cheap that it’s worth focusing on the cards that offer excellent trip delay and cancellation insurance — such as the Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare), Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Premier Card (3x on airfare) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

Featured image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card



CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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