Air New Zealand Business Class Awards are available for several dates May-July, at just 67,500 Virgin Atlantic Miles, per No Mas Coach. New Zealand is one of our favorite destinations, for its otherworldly scenery (no wonder the Lord of the Rings movies were shot there), great walks and outdoor adventures, incredible luxury lodges with gourmet tasting dinners, such as Otahuna, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, and Matakauri Lodge, and friendly people. Just keep in mind that June-July is the Southern Hemisphere winter, so for example in Queenstown, expect temperatures in the 30s-40s and a good number of rainy days.
Air New Zealand Business Class Award Availability
Here's a current snapshot of dates showing at least one seat available for Los Angeles LAX to Auckland AKL:
And here's AKL to LAX:
Booking with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points, AMEX Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. SPG Starpoints transfer as well, but I don't recommend this for these Air New Zealand Business Class awards, as Starpoints take longer (Chase UR points and AMEX MR points transfer quickly, within a few hours) and the space could disappear.
First, I recommend calling Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 800-365-9500, after finding award availability on United. If the Flying Club agent is able to confirm availability for your desired date and award, ask for it to be placed on hold, confirm the required miles and expected taxes, and get the booking reference number.
Next, transfer the requisite points to Flying Club. Once you can see the miles in your Flying Club account, call Flying Club again to secure your award and pay the taxes with your credit card (I recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve, since you'll earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points, plus get travel insurance by using the card to pay the taxes. You could also use the personal AMEX Platinum, but you won't get the travel insurance benefits you would with the Chase Sapphire Reserve).
Alternatives to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
While Virgin Atlantic Flying Club charges the least for this award, you could also use other miles if you have miles that will be expiring or that you want to use up in other programs. Lufthansa Miles & More charges 67,500 miles, Aereoplan and LifeMiles charge 80,000 miles, and as seen above, United MileagePlus charges 90,000 miles.
Air New Zealand Business Class Seat and Bed Comfort
In our short Air New Zealand Business Class flights between Auckland and Nadi, Fiji, I was struck by how sleek the cabin looks, but also by how incredibly uncomfortable these seats are when upright. Definitely form over function. The seat does, of course, go to full flat bed position, but is incredibly firm without the mattress pad (which I assume is only provided on the long haul flights). If you share my preference for a plusher bed, I'd bring a Therm-a-rest mattress pad just in case.
Our ex-Auckland meal was fine, but entirely forgettable. So I'd manage expectations for this product, although without question if you're seeking to avoid routing via Asia to New Zealand, and willing to visit during the New Zealand winter, it's hard to beat this deal.
If you've flown Air New Zealand Business Class between LAX and Auckland, what was your experience?
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