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New Zealand deal: $1,800 premium economy round trips from most of US

Sept. 04, 2022
6 min read
cathedral cove new zealand
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Tourism in New Zealand continues a major rebound after the country shut its doors to international visitors for years during the pandemic, and now we're seeing a resurgence of nonstop flights from the U.S. to Auckland. Last month, travelers had the chance to jump on some great economy fares to the bucket list destination.

There are again some fairly decent economy fares to New Zealand right now — below $900 round trip from what appears to be most U.S. markets with American Airlines service.

But what you really might want to consider is the premium economy option. If you live in a city with American Airlines service, there’s a good chance you can find a fare to Auckland for between $1,800 and $1,900 round trip for late October, November or early December.

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Considering that premium seats on American Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliners often go for well over $3,000 round trip, and considering a flight to Auckland will take some 15 hours each day (not including your positioning flight for the long-haul portion of the trip), it might be a good idea to invest in a bit more comfort.

Scott’s Cheap Flights was the first to point out the great premium economy offerings. For premium memberships starting at $49 annually, the site will flag great economy deals. For $199 annually you get alerts on premium economy and business class deals.

After years where visits to New Zealand were not possible, travelers again have the opportunity to embark on what is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many. A deal like this could be a way to make it both feasible and comfortable along the way.

Mount Cook in New Zealand. ED FREEMAN/STONE COLLECTION VIA GETTY IMAGES

Deal Basics

Airlines: American

Routes: New York, Washington, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and many other U.S. markets to Auckland

Travel dates: Late October through early December, with some Thanksgiving availability

How to book: Directly with the airline

Like the economy deals to New Zealand TPG wrote about in August, you’d be traveling during the latter part of fall. There isn’t a ton of availability at this price point in late October, although you may find some if you look closely enough. November seems to have wide-open availability, and the deals extend into the first week or so of December.

What’s so remarkable about this deal is not just the premium economy round trip price — potentially thousands in savings compared to what you’d often pay — but how widespread and consistent the availability and fares are. From large American Airlines hubs to other airlines’ major hubs and the smallest of U.S. airports I checked, I found round trips in premium economy priced at $1,840.

The other thing that’s very consistent is the itinerary which will bring you through Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), where you’ll board a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the 15-hour flight from DFW to Auckland. It’s a shorter, 13-hour, 45-minute flight on the return trip to the U.S.

Here’s one example of what you can find, out of the New York area. Departing on a Tuesday evening in early November from Newark/Liberty International Airport (EWR) aboard an American Boeing 737, you’ll arrive just before 9:30 p.m. central time at DFW. After a brief 77-minute layover, you’ll take off at 10:44 p.m. central time on the Dreamliner, and arrive after the 15-hour haul to Auckland at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday.

Departing on the return trip, you’ll leave mid-afternoon from Auckland and fly overnight back to DFW, arriving in Texas mid-morning. For this itinerary, it’s a layover of just under two hours before your much shorter, three-plus-hour flight back to Newark.

GOOGLE FLIGHTS

Los Angeles travelers can catch a mid-afternoon flight to DFW and have two hours or so on the ground to prepare for the long flight to New Zealand, before getting just over an hour and a half at DFW in the morning hours after arriving back in the U.S.

GOOGLE FLIGHTS

Meanwhile, here’s an itinerary out of O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago with similar timing options, but take note that this is an example of a trip that spans the Thanksgiving holiday, giving you a chance to maximize days off from work.

GOOGLE FLIGHTS

Related: Should you visit New Zealand now?

Maximize your purchase

When you pay with The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Meanwhile, consider the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card to earn 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel. If you’re loyal to American Airlines, you might want to go with the Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® which earns you 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases, along with a host of other benefits you’ll be able to enjoy when flying with American.

LINGXIAO XIE/GETTY IMAGES

Bottom line

It’s not every day that good deals become available to New Zealand, particularly those that allow you to fly in something other than coach. It’s even less likely for those deals to be available to flyers across such a wide swath of the U.S.

If you can find a window on the calendar to travel late this fall, it could be a great time to travel to this epic destination in some comfort at a fraction of what you might otherwise pay.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases