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.
The Northern summer is low season for travel to New Zealand to be sure, but this August there’s great availability for 2 business class award seats using three routes:
- Los Angeles – Auckland
- Houston – Auckland
- San Francisco – Auckland
“Bayswater Marina Auckland New Zealand” by Bayswater marina, Creative Commons
Here’s Los Angeles – Auckland in August: Dotted lines indicate business class award space non-stop for two passengers.
And the return flight:
There’s some space on the Houston flight:
And a few dates for the San Francisco flight:
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
- American Express Membership Rewards is running a 30% transfer bonuses to Virgin
- That means 49,000 Amex points is enough for a one-way business class award between the US and New Zealand.
Points from Amex 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.