Great New Zealand Business Class Award Availability, Just 49,000 Points Each Way

Historically awards between the US and New Zealand have been one of the toughest things to book. Years ago Air New Zealand used to open up business class awards 60 days prior to flight. Then they stopped. With a couple of brief exceptions there really hasn’t been meaningful Air New Zealand business class award space in years.

Up until today, this was a unicorn. Or snuffaluffagus. There were rumors of Air New Zealand business class award space, but no one knew if it actually existed.

The Northern summer is low season for travel to New Zealand to be sure, but this July there’s great availability for 2 business class award seats:

  • Los Angeles – Auckland
  • Houston – Auckland
  • San Francisco – Auckland

    “Bayswater Marina Auckland New Zealand” by Bayswater marina, Creative Commons

Here’s Los Angeles – Auckland in July: Dotted lines indicate business class award space non-stop for two passengers.

Aeroplan charges 80,000 miles each way (American Express transfer partner). United charges 90,000 miles each way (Chase transfer partner).

But the amazing value is Virgin Atlantic redemptions:

  • They charge just 62,500 miles each way for non-stop business class
  • Both American Express Membership Rewards and Citi Thank You Rewards are running 30% transfer bonuses to Virgin
  • That means 49,000 Amex or Citi points is enough for a one-way business class award between the US and New Zealand.

Points from Amex and Citi generally transfer instantly to Virgin Atlantic. The best practice is to put the award on a 24 hour hold and then make the transfer, or to have the Virgin Atlantic agent set up the award and then transfer the points while still on the phone with them. You cannot include other partners or connecting flights on the itinerary at this price, this is just for non-stop travel.

(HT: Gamesst)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gary — How are you getting the old UA award calendar to display? Please share the link!

  2. “They charge just 67,500 miles each way for non-stop business class”

    @Gary it’s actually 62,500

  3. I’m not a big Citi guy, but I have about 70K points there just sitting. Would you recommend transferring to Virgin just to take advantage of the 30% bonus even though I don’t have a specific plan for them? Unfortunately, I literally just transferred 300K from Amex the week before to Virgin for some flights to Europe. Seems like Virgin is a good enough and flexible enough point to make it worth the risk to get that 30% bonus from Citi. Decent idea or stupid since I don’t have a plan for them and may devalue?

  4. @Gene – well if you want to fly non-stop from the US to New Zealand you’re unlikely to wind up with something better

  5. @Gene – it comes up with a search from the front page of for me, but then the new calendar shows up if i change that search, but when i go to advanced search it’ll come up.

  6. I finally found two seats, rang up and the Virgin Atlantic call center couldnt find it on any dates that I found (saw the availability on united and lifemiles)

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