Rare Deal: Air New Zealand Biz Awards From Just 49k Points Each Way
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
It's usually near impossible to find Air New Zealand business class award availability between the US and New Zealand. But that isn't the case today. Air New Zealand is currently offering a ton of award space for travel from July through August. And because it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, you'll be able to book accommodations at attractive low-season prices.
The cheapest way to book one of these awards is through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. The program charges just 62,500 miles each way for business class awards from the US to New Zealand on Air New Zealand. However, thanks to the 30% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, you can pay just 49,000 Membership Rewards points one-way or 97,000 points round-trip.
If you'd rather burn your Citi ThankYou points after Monday's devaluation announcement, you can transfer them to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio. Alternatively, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring at least 60,000 points, though these transfers take around 48 hours to complete. Fortunately, Virgin Atlantic allows you to hold Flying Club awards for up to 72 hours.
The one bummer about booking Air New Zealand awards through Virgin Atlantic is that it can't be done online — you must call Virgin Atlantic's reservation center at 800-365-9500 to book. If you'd rather book your award online, you can do so through Air Canada Aeroplan for 80,000 miles (transferred from Amex or Capital One), Avianca LifeMiles for 80,000 miles (transferred from Amex, Capital One or Citi) or United for 90,000 miles (transferred from Chase). Although United is the most expensive option listed, this redemption could still be a great use of your miles considering that United miles will soon become a lot less valuable. All programs charge the same low taxes and fees so there's no difference on that front.
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 or log into your preferred program to book.
Airline: Air New Zealand
Routes: IAH/LAX/SFO to AKL (and beyond)
Cost: 62,500 Virgin Atlantic miles, 80,000 Avianca LifeMiles or Air Canada Aeroplan miles or 90,000 United miles each way, plus taxes and fees
Travel Dates: July-August 2019
Pay Taxes/Fees With: Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel plus excellent travel protections) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel plus travel protections)
Here are a few examples of what you can book:
Los Angeles (LAX) to Auckland (AKL) nonstop in Air New Zealand business class for 80,000 Air Canada Aeroplan Miles one-way:
Los Angeles (LAX) to Auckland (AKL) nonstop in Air New Zealand business class for 80,000 Avianca LifeMiles one-way:
Houston (IAH) to Auckland (AKL) nonstop in Air New Zealand business class for 90,000 United miles one-way:
San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL) nonstop in Air New Zealand business class for 90,000 United miles one-way:
Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) in Air New Zealand business class for 90,000 United miles:
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 Chase Sapphire Reserve, (3x on airfare) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.