How I Saved $1,400 on Airfare to New Zealand — Reader Success Story
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Owen, who pieced together an itinerary to New Zealand that saved him some serious money. Here’s what he had to say:
I was looking to book a mid-November trip to New Zealand to visit my girlfriend, who will be studying abroad there for the semester, but I anticipated some difficulty given the tight constraints of my student budget. Because the trip was going to take place right before Thanksgiving, I needed to fly from Boston (where I’m in school) to Auckland, and then return to my home in Chicago.
Initially, American Airlines quoted me a round-trip price of $2,181 with a stop in Los Angeles in both directions; that was a bit more than I wanted to spend. Digging a little further, I found that the Auckland to Chicago leg was just $480 — significantly cheaper than the flight from Boston to Auckland. While I was unable to find a comparable fare from BOS-AKL, I did find ample award availability in economy at the MileSAAver price of 40,000 miles one-way. Though I only had 21,000 miles saved up, a family member was willing to help make up the remaining 19,000 miles. The transfer fees associated with sharing miles would typically be a little over $250, but I received a 20% promotional discount that brought the cost down to $205.
I quickly realized that even with the associated mileage transfer fees, booking two separate one-way tickets was going to be my best option. Between the $480 fare for the AKL-ORD leg, the $205 fee for sharing miles and the $28 in taxes and fees associated with my BOS-AKL award, my total came to only $713. That’s $1,468 less than what American originally quoted me for the round-trip ticket!
Owen’s story is a great example of how pricing flight legs individually can help you save on paid airfare. His outbound trip comprised nearly 78% of the total cost of a round-trip ticket, making it a strong candidate for an award redemption, and that kind of imbalance is common. You can use Google Flights to easily check routing alternatives, including one-way and multi-city itineraries, nearby airports, and a variety of airlines. Just beware that splitting your trip onto multiple tickets has some downside, as it leaves you more vulnerable to fees if your plans change.
Paying to share miles isn’t generally a good idea, especially given that most frequent flyer programs let you use miles from your own account to book awards for other people. However, transferring is worthwhile if the redemption value of an award clearly outweighs the cost of the associated fees, as it did in Owen’s case. You might also consider transferring to someone with high-level elite status, since some of their benefits may apply (like fee waivers and increased award availability) even if they’re not the one flying.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Owen for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees