Getting New Zealand award tickets in first class or business class is tough, especially if you're looking to travel during the peak summer season of December to February, or even the shoulder season before and after that. TravelSort reader Michael writes “Your posts on New Zealand, especially that flight and cruise in Milford Sound and those amazing lodges, Matakauri Lodge and Otahuna Lodge, have me wanting to go to New Zealand. What are the best ways to get there on award tickets?”
1. Etihad First Apartment on the A380 via Abu Dhabi to Sydney + Flight to Auckland
Granted, it can be tough to score Etihad First Apartment on both the New York to Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi routes except for last minute award availability, but this is a great product in many ways. It will be two awards, 90,000 from the U.S. to Abu Dhabi and another 60,000 miles from Abu Dhabi to Australia, so 150,000 AAdvantage Miles Each Way. You'll also need to get a cheap ticket from Australia to New Zealand.
2. Qantas A380 First Class Dubai to Melbourne or Sydney + Flight to Auckland
This is how my son and I flew to New Zealand, though we did a rather circuitous routing via Europe, to fly Qantas all the way from London, also because I had a meeting in Paris before London. If you're not originating in Europe or don't need to go there first, I'd recommend flying Emirates First Class to Dubai (90,000 Alaska miles) then Qantas from Dubai to Melbourne or Sydney, which similar to Etihad First Apartment above is 60,000 AAdvantage miles each way, before the 2016 AAdvantage Award Chart Devaluation. As above, you'll also need to get a cheap ticket from Australia to New Zealand.
3. Air New Zealand 777-300 Business Class LAX to Auckland for 80,000 Aeroplan Miles One Way
Air New Zealand flies nonstop from Los Angeles to Auckland, and if you have Aeroplan miles (or AMEX Membership Rewards points, which transfer instantly to Aeroplan) you can sometimes find Air New Zealand business class award availability for two people for 80,000 miles per person and ~$30 in taxes. It's a fun airline to fly (you've probably seen the quirky safety videos) and hard to beat for a nonstop.
4. American 787 Business Class to Auckland for 62,500 AAdvantage Miles One Way
American just announced this new route, which launches June 23, 2016, and I've been busy reserving several awards for clients traveling to New Zealand. This is a great option for those who want to travel nonstop to New Zealand (a 12 hour flight) and have AAdvantage miles to use before the devaluation. Note that at the moment most of the saver award availability is gone, and is likely to continue to be very scarce for peak season, but if you can find availability, it's a great deal pre-devaluation at 125,000 miles per person roundtrip vs. paid fares of ~$8000 per ticket.
5. Cathay Pacific Business Class via Hong Kong for 60,000 Alaska Miles One Way
If you can find award availability (you need to call in to book Cathay Pacific awards with Alaska miles) this is a great deal. You could even build in a free stopover (even on a one way award) in Hong Kong, giving you a chance to explore two very different destinations.
6. Fiji Airways Business Class via Nadi for 55,000 Alaska Miles One Way
This is even more scarce, since Fiji business class award space is rare even for the longest route, LAX to Nadi. In fact, if you even manage to find business class award space to Nadi, you're most of the way there, as it's just a 3 hour flight between Nadi and Auckland and you can often fly roundtrip NAN-AKL-NAN in economy for under $500 or in business class for under $1000 per person.
What's your favorite way to fly to New Zealand with first class or business class award travel?
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