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Preparing For The NZ Travel Bubble - Best Ways To Book Air New Zealand With Points

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Immanuel Debeer | 26/03/2021

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On April 6 we will know when/if a travel bubble with New Zealand (a quarantine free one that is) will be established. Considering this has been overdue for almost a year, it’s inevitable that the conditions are acceptable for our bureaucrats to open the gates and, with that, establish the first international travel corridor.

Update: We now know that the travel bubble will commence on April 18 11:59 Pm… so really April 19th (which was my prediction based on Google flights data). Now we will just need to wait and see what our state “leaders” say about the travel bubble and which guidelines they put in place. That said, now is an excellent time to plan!

Last week a few people in the aviation sector messaged me saying that Air New Zealand had started selling flights again to a range of Australian destinations which had previously been suspended.

Of course, I jumped on my computer and started looking for reward seats, and to my surprise, almost every day, there was business and economy class award space with Air New Zealand – in the past, this would be somewhat impossible to find.

I would never suggest booking flights speculatively with cash in these situations, but points offer an extra layer of flexibility since we can cancel and modify our flights at a very low price.

For that reason, I decided to take a punt on some Air New Zealand business redemptions from Perth to Auckland at the start of May.

When will the NZ travel bubble open?

My prediction is late April, after the announcement on April 6. I’m not alone on this theory because Air New Zealand has scheduled its first flight from Perth to Auckland on April 7… wishful thinking, maybe. After that, there’s another flight scheduled on April 14, and then we can see daily flights from April 19. Could April 19 be D-day for the bubble? Maybe Air New Zealand has some intel that isn’t available to the public yet? Who knows!

Best Ways To Use Points To NZ

Using points during a global pandemic is one of the smartest ways to ensure you don’t get shafted by the airlines when it comes to refunds/travel vouchers etc. Points redemption are very flexible by nature, so it’s just as easy to cancel them if nothing happens.

Air New Zealand Exclusive Discount 2

Best Business Redemptions To NZ:

5) Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles:

  • East Coast to NZ: 31,000 miles + $147 taxes
  • West Coast to NZ: 31,000 miles + $115 taxes

4) LifeMiles:

  • East Coast to NZ: 33,000 miles + taxes
  • West Coast to NZ: 33,000 miles + taxes

3) United MileagePlus

  • East Coast to NZ: 27,500 miles + $147 taxes
  • West Coast to NZ: 27,500 miles + $115 taxes

2) Air Canada Aeroplan

  • East Coast to NZ: 30,000 miles + $183 taxes
  • West Coast to NZ: 45,000 miles + $151 taxes

1) Virgin Atlantic Miles

  • East Coast to NZ: 15,000 miles + taxes
  • West Coast to NZ: 15,000 miles + taxes

Bonus: Aegean Airlines Miles + Bonus
This is one of my favourite Star Alliance programs, and I usually credit my paid flights here. Hence, I have a stash of points that I redeemed for Air New Zealand business class flights. The cost? 21,000 miles each way and around $109 in taxes.

How To Get The Air Miles?

Let’s start with the transfer partners; Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are both American Express transfer partners, so sending points across will be at a 2:1 ratio, meaning 30,000 Membership Rewards will net you 15,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles.

Best Credit Cards For Singapore Airlines & Virgin Atlantic Miles?

American Express is by far the best option when it comes to earning Singapore KrisFlyer & Virgin Atlantic Miles. For an entry-level card, check out the Platinum Edge or the Amex Explorer. If a premium card is what you’re after, the Platinum card is your best bet and earns the most amount of miles per $.

Buying Miles – Aeroplan, LifeMiles, United MileagePlus

Aeroplan has an incredible 100% bonus sale right now, so you can snap up points with a huge bonus and use these to redeem Star Alliance flights. For example, buying 90,000 Aeroplan Miles right now would only cost you $1399, and this would be sufficient for a return trip from Perth to Auckland in business. Around 50% discount compared to buying a cash fare.

LifeMiles and United often run bonus sales as well, so keep an eye out for those or learn more about buying Lifemiles here and United MileagePlus here.

How To Book Air New Zealand With Virgin Atlantic Miles?

Virgin Atlantic awards on Air New Zealand can’t be booked online, so you will need to call Virgin Atlantic (once you have your miles) and book over the phone. Your first step is to determine availability; researching is easy using the United Airlines website search tool, but I also find Singapore Airlines and Air Canada give accurate award space availability.

Once you’ve found the flight you want, call Virgin Atlantic on +1-800-365-9500 and book your seats using your Virgin Atlantic miles.

How To Redeem KrisFlyer, Aeroplan, United & LifeMiles for Air New Zealand Flights?

With the exception of Virgin Atlantic, all the other programs mentioned allow you to book Air New Zealand flights with miles online via their award booking engine. In each instance, make sure you have the option to book with points checked on the site before searching, and you should have no trouble finding the flights you want. On occasion, LifeMiles won’t show award space whereas others do; in this case, you can contact LifeMiles via phone or WhatsApp to book this way.

Summing Up – Book Now?

The beauty of frequent flyer points is the option to cancel or change your flight with little effort and cost. With that in mind, I think those keen to get across the ditch could make a smart play by speculatively booking some reward seats now that availability is good.

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Immanuel Debeer

Chief points nerd and travel hacker at Flight Hacks

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  1. Great article! Can you tell us the redemption rate for Asiana Club miles on the West and East coast – NZ routes?

    • Thanks Antony! If I’m not mistaken Asiana has a flat rate for all of the South Pacific region at 22.5k in business one way + taxes. Not a bad rate from WA!

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