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The fascinating reason why Air New Zealand's US flights will stop in Hawaii during the pandemic

Jan. 05, 2021
3 min read
The fascinating reason why Air New Zealand's US flights will stop in Hawaii during the pandemic
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The coronavirus has upended airline route networks as we know them.

In addition to adding new leisure-focused destinations for passengers, airlines have redrawn their route maps to minimize the chance that crew members contract the virus.

The latest modification comes from Air New Zealand. Beginning Feb. 2, 2021, the carrier's U.S. flights will operate with a stop in Honolulu for a crew change.

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Air New Zealand explains that the Hawaii stop will allow "our crew members to overnight in Honolulu rather than Los Angeles" in an effort to reduce the risk of crews catching the virus on the mainland, where positivity rates have climbed as high as 15% and up.

While flights will stop in Honolulu, passengers won't be able to get off the plane for an island excursion. The crew that operates the Auckland to Honolulu flight will layover there before returning to New Zealand a few days later.

A new crew will fly from Honolulu to the mainland and back, where they'll rest for a few days. Finally, a third crew will fly from Honolulu to Auckland.

Though New Zealand is closed for tourism, returning citizens and others with pre-approved visas can travel to the country on an Air New Zealand flight.

Due to the significantly reduced demand, the airline has cut its U.S. operations to just two weekly Los Angeles flights, Cirium schedules show. The airline continues to operate multiple cargo-only flights to both Los Angeles and San Francisco. One Mile at a Time reports that the carrier's cargo flights will also stop in Honolulu.

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The new Honolulu stop will add about 500 miles to the Los Angeles flights, which represents an additional two hours or so of travel time.

Air New Zealand isn't the only airline to redraw its route network to accommodate its crewmembers.

More: United has an intricate plan to repatriate COVID-positive pilots

American, Delta and United aren't flying directly to China, citing the lengthy waits crew face on arrival, as well as the other coronavirus-related restrictions placed upon them during layovers. Instead, they've added stops in Seoul, South Korea to avoid staying over in China.

United, for its part, has even detailed a new repatriation process for pilots that test positive for the virus during a work trip. The Chicago-based carrier has promised to ferry infected or possibly infected crewmembers back to the United States on non-passenger flights.

Featured image by An Air New Zealand Boeing 787 shot by Chad Slattery. Image courtesy of Slattery.
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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TPG Editor‘s Rating
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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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023