Is There Any Solution for Air New Zealand Nonexistent Awards?

Air New Zealand must have the worst award availability of any alliance airline.

I often hear grumbling about trying to get a business class award on the prized Los Angeles – Auckland flight. At least there are alternatives to get you there.

What I want are monopoly routes where the alternatives are yacht or swim.

Awards do exist on domestic New Zealand flights that are generally cheap to pay cash. Awards turn up on Asia routes with heavy competition. On Pacific monopoly routes there may never be a seat. I monitored the Norfolk Island flights for two years and never saw a seat. Same for Niue.

Here’s typical award availability for Auckland – Rarotonga, Cook Islands, in business and economy, which runs two flights a day. Pick any month and it is the same.

Air New Zealand AKL-RAR Business

Air New Zealand AKL-RAR Economy

I wish Star Alliance would force member airlines to make some amount of awards on all routes available to partners. The alliances are mostly toothless, I hear, and this kind of thing will never be a priority.

Air New Zealand’s frequent flyer program, Airpoints, is a revenue-based program where 1 Airport = 1 NZD. The only transfer partner I know I have access is Starwood, which transfer at a rate of 65:1. For the roughly 2,000 NZD the tickets I want would cost, I would need to spend 130,000 StarPoints.

I can use points such as Citi ThankYou or CapitalOne for the cash tickets, though those have tradeoff costs for my other uses.

Readers, is there some secret here or do I have to find bags of cash under the sofa cushions?

Any Star Alliance flights that make sense to credit to Air New Zealand to earn Airpoints?

Any convoluted daisy chain transfers to Airpoints that make sense?

Anything?

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  • Lee

    I have have made a couple trips to NZ this year and have seen the same. Some on AA, and before Virgin Australia slowed down LAX awards I had succes. One discovery I made is that intra-NZ flights are much cheaper booking off the NZ home page than the USA one for ANZ. More the. 50pct less with the flights I booked.

  • iv

    This post is perfect timing for my exact situation. I have been searching for 1 seat either Y/J using Aeroplan miles AKL-NAN for travel in Nov. and have found ZERO. Checked every-day from now until then and nothing!

    I totally agree, Star-Alliance should force member airlines to release X amount of seats on every route. Be it in Y/J/F or combination.

    The only other alternative for me is to redeem for Fiji Airlines via Alaska Mileage Plan which is way better than the Starwood option. Personally I value each Starpoint at 2.2 US so using that conversion 65-1 ratio I’d be paying 1.43 USD for 1 NZD? NO GO!

  • Erik

    Is this “no availability” also true for economy? Air New Zealand flies HNL-AKL and the flight duration is similar to a US->Europe flight. I always thought this might be a decent way to get to New Zealand by blocking out a few days layover in Hawaii each way. Thoughts?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Erik – the Pacific routes I mentioned are no availability in any cabin, including LAX-RAR, if I recall LAX-AKL occasionally has economy seats, I have not studied HNL-AKL, guessing it might be the same, use the Aeroplane website to search.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Lee – great point and to add, some regional flights I have seen Virgin Australia sell the Air New Zealand flight cheaper as codeshare than direct from NZ, I have gotten Star Alliance benefits with those but not the miles. NZ website does not do well on complex itineraries, I find.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @iv – I have recently taken a number of Fiji flights and that is the way to go, especially if you can take advantage of Alaska allowing a stopover on a one-way. I have been having trouble with Fiji availability the past few weeks, it used to be most any flight in economy, some in business, now nothing for most of the summer and only some routes back in September, if you see what you want, get it.

  • Jonathan

    I snagged a seat on the IAH-AKL flight a few months ago in economy. It was dumb luck, I think. It was the only flight available for months and just happened to be when I needed it.

  • john

    Agree that airlines should be forced to release something. However, AKL-IUE is about ~$600 roundtrip for dates in June. Thats not thaaaaat bad. I mean its affordable. I am just sort of shocked that they only have flights to AKL from IUE since there are so many other islands around it.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @john – I believe IUE is government subsidized and otherwise might not exist even that much as a route, usually once a week, two right now because of NZ winter holidays, most islanders now reside in mainland NZ, and go home for a visit. All considered that alone would be tolerable, though adding Cook Islands, the Chathams Air flights, and a way back to NY, it is pricing out of my means.

  • Luckywinner

    Air New Zealand indeed has almost non-existent availability close to the departure but it is not that bad 9-12 months in advance. We scored 2 seats in economy on AKL-RAR and RAR-SYD for September 2015 (and there were multiple dates available) but booking was completed in November 2014. I’m afraid it is now too late for the Southern Hemisphere winter awards on routes where winter is high season (tropical destinations).

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Luckywinner – I am getting a sense, after seeing the New Zealand school holiday calendar, of the magnitude of the problem, I thought avoiding Delta partner blackout dates was tough, these kids never seen to be in school for more than a few weeks at a time.

  • iv

    After looking into using my Alaska Airlines miles for a Fiji Airlines award AKL-NAN-AKL the dates were not avail for redemption. I ended up buying a RT Business Class ticket on FiJi Airways which cost me $1056 NZD (all in) which is better value vs. using 65K miles and taxes. Especially considering I used 70K miles for First Class on Qantas AKL-MEL-LAX-JFK (first and last segment in J)