Business class award space on Air New Zealand has been quite sparse lately. In the last several months, I’ve seen business class award space to/from Los Angeles (LAX) on Air New Zealand pop up here and there, but not chunks of space.
However, No Mas Coach found that they have released a nice block of award space in June and early July. On some days, you can even continue to Australia.
There are tons of ways to book these awards, but I’d go with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. A non-stop business class award from LAX to Auckland (AKL) is 62,500 Flying Club miles while adding a connection to Sydney (SYD) — or other cities in Australia — will be an additional 15,000 miles.
Virgin Atlantic requires additional miles for connections or stopovers.
Not only does Virgin Atlantic Flying Club require the fewest number of miles but it’s also a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and SPG Starpoints. So, even if you don’t have enough points in one program, you can transfer from multiple.
To top it off, you can put awards on hold for at least 24 hours to give you time to transfer points without fear of the space disappearing. I’ve personally transferred Membership Rewards points and Ultimate Rewards points for myself and family members. Neither took more than a few hours to transfer.
For those new to booking awards with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, here’s a step-by-step guide to booking — it worked for my brother:
- Join Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Find space on United
- Link Flying Club account to Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards or ThankYou Points
- Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 800-365-9500
- Tell the agent you’d like to put an award ticket with Air New Zealand on hold
- Provide departure/return dates and airports
- They will search for space. It could take a couple minutes for them to confirm space since it’s a partner booking.
- Once confirmed, ask them to hold the award for you
- Take down the booking reference
- Transfer points
- Confirm miles are in your Flying Club account
- Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- An agent will confirm the dates and route with you then explain change/cancellation policy
- Provide credit card info
- You’ll receive an email confirmation and it will show in your Flying Club account
Too detailed? Perhaps. But, I take no chances when teaching family!
There are plenty of other ways to book these awards, too. While they require more miles, you might already have some with a particular airline that you’ve been wanting to burn. Here are some of those options:
- 67,500 Lufthansa Miles & More miles
- 80,000 Aeroplan miles
- 80,000 LifeMiles
- 82,500 Asiana Club miles
- 90,000 United MileagePlus miles
Miles & More comes close but the miles aren’t as easy to earn as Flying Club miles. However, if you have some sitting around, it’s a nice opportunity to use them without getting hit with sky-high surcharges.
While it was certainly disappointing to see Virgin Atlantic gut their sweet spot for first class on Air China between London Heathrow (LHR) and Beijing (PEK), this is a great reminder that there are still plenty of fun awards to book.
For those in the northern hemisphere, don’t forget that June and July aren’t summer in New Zealand and Australia! I just visited both countries a few weeks ago and it was starting to get cool — especially in Queenstown. However, I still think it’s worth a visit to these beautiful countries.
If you’ve been itching to visit either, this is a great chance to book your trip without needing a connection in Asia.
And, don’t forget Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are your friend. Now, get to booking!
Who’s ready to book this one? What miles are you going to use?