The Definitive Guide to Air New Zealand’s Direct Routes from The U.S. [Plane Types & Seat Options]

Full Disclosure: We may be financially compensated when you click on links to credit card products from our advertising partners, such as American Express, Chase, Citi & Capital One. Opinions and product recommendations on this site are ours alone, and have not been influenced, reviewed or approved by the issuer. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details. Thanks!

Air New Zealand doesn’t have the largest route network by any stretch of the imagination, but they provide a hugely convenient opportunity to fly to New Zealand nonstop.

This airline focuses primarily on the hub-and-spoke model of aviation, and since all of their flights are long-haul or even ultra-long-haul, there aren’t going to be too many routes to/from the U.S.

Still, Air New Zealand is an intriguing airline — and if you’re going to travel to New Zealand, you might as well do so in the country’s flag carrier! Let’s do some analysis!

Seat Options by Aircraft Type

Air New Zealand is extremely consistent when it comes to flying the same planes to the same destinations. You can almost guarantee that there won’t be any last-minute aircraft changes.

Check out the table below for comprehensive coverage on Air New Zealand’s U.S. route network, along with corresponding flight numbers, aircraft, cabin classes offered, and flight frequencies:

NZ RouteFlight No.AircraftCabin ClassesFrequency
Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 9777-200ERBusiness, Premium Economy, Economy3x-5x weekly, daily in July
Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 1777-300ERBusiness, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 5777-300ERBusiness, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
Los Angeles (LAX) – London-Heathrow (LHR)NZ 2777-300ERBusiness, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
Los Angeles (LAX) – Rarotonga (RAR) NZ 19777-200ERBusiness, Premium Economy, EconomyWeekly (Saturdays)
San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 7777-300ERBusiness, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
Chicago (ORD) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 27787-9Business, Premium Economy, Economy3x weekly
Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 29777-300ERBusiness, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily

Best Points to Earn to Fly Air New Zealand

Since Air New Zealand is a Star Alliance airline, you can use plenty of frequent flyer programs to book your award travel with them.

Without a doubt, using ANA miles presents the best and most cost-effective way to fly Air New Zealand. Other options include Air Canada Aeroplan Miles, Avianca LifeMiles, and United Airlines MileagePlus Miles.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed guide on the best ways to fly to New Zealand with points and miles!

Air New Zealand First Class Options

Unfortunately, Air New Zealand doesn’t operate a first class cabin on any of their long-haul flights to/from the United States. Not to fret, however — their business class is solid!

Air New Zealand Business Class Options

Air New Zealand 787 Business Class
If you have a chance, you should try the Air New Zealand 787 Dreamliner business class product! Regardless of what plane you fly, Air New Zealand business class will serve you well. Image courtesy of airnewzealand.com.

Air New Zealand has a reputation for being one of the more exotic airlines around. The allure of their business class along with the appeal of flying nonstop on an ultra-long-haul route makes Air New Zealand a highly competitive business class product.

Unfortunately, this means Air New Zealand business class award availability is somewhat of a unicorn. Getting availability for 2 is a lot like shooting in the dark — if you manage to locate award availability, we recommend booking it immediately!

In this business class, Air New Zealand uses some innovative seating arrangements, so let’s dissect everything in detail. Our business class ranking for Air New Zealand is as follows:

  1. 787-9
  2. 777-300ER
  3. 777-200ER

Business Class on the 787-9 Dreamliner

We believe that the 787-9 business class cabin is the best product. On top of the added inflight comfort from flying the Boeing Dreamliner, you’ll enjoy a phenomenal seating configuration on the 787-9.

Each business class seat is very spacious, measuring 22″ in width, 79″-80″ in pitch, and 79.5″ long in bed mode. The seats are completely lie-flat and feature direct aisle access. Best of all, the seating configuration is in a 1-1-1 arrangement!

Many first class cabins don’t even have this configuration — it’s a massive plus here. There are a total of 9 rows of business class seats on the 787-9 for 27 seats total.

The seat map looks like this:

Air New Zealand 787-9 Business Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 787-9 business class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

As you can see, the A and J seats face toward the port side of the aircraft, while the K seats face the starboard side. The most private seats will be A seats. Since there are lavatories at the front and back of the cabin, the best seats are arguably going to be located in the middle, particularly rows 4-6.

If you can, reserve the best business class seat in 5A. For couples traveling together, reserving 5J and 5K is the best duo seat choice.

Currently, you’ll find Air New Zealand operating the 787-9 on their longest U.S. flight:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Auckland (AKL)

Flying Business Class on the 777-300ER

Our second-place winner is the 777-300ER, which is the most common aircraft used by Air New Zealand on their flights to/from the United States.

The business class seats on the 777-300ER are identical in size when compared to the 787-9, but the biggest reason why the 787-9 is better is the cabin size.

While the 787-9 contains 27 business class seats, the 777-300ER contains 44 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. This means that the cabin not only has more seats, but also a denser seating configuration.

These 44 business class seats are arranged as shown in the following seat map:

Air New Zealand 777-300ER Business Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 777-300ER business class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best business class seats are likely to be in row 4; they are equidistant from the 2 sets of lavatories. Another possibility is row 12 seats — but since these are right in front of bassinet seats, you could be taking a risk with some noise.

As we said earlier and showed in the summary chart, you will find the 777-300ER on these routes:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – London-Heathrow (LHR)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL)

Business Class on the 777-200ER

The last aircraft that we’ll look at for Air New Zealand business class is the 777-200ER. This is essentially an older version of the 777-300ER, and this aircraft is not operated on many routes. This route constraint is why the 777-200ER is our last choice.

Each 777-200ER business class seat is 22″ wide and 79.5″ in pitch, which is slightly smaller than some seats on the other 2 aircraft. There are 26 seats in a 1-2-1 arrangement that each feature direct aisle access and fully lie-flat capabilities.

The seat map looks like this:

Air New Zealand 777-200ER Business Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 777-200ER business class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best seats will be in the middle rows, specifically toward the right side. Since the front lavatory is located on the starboard side of the plane, the left-hand seats may experience more foot traffic. Putting this all together, the best seating choice is likely 4K or 5K.

You will find the 777-200ER flown on these routes to/from the U.S.:

  • Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Rarotonga (RAR)

Bottom Line: The 787-9 business class 1-1-1 arrangement is unbeatable on Air New Zealand, but the other options are fabulous as well. 

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Class Options

Air New Zealand Premium Economy
Air New Zealand premium economy. Image courtesy of traveller.com.au.

Air New Zealand offers some pretty fantastic premium economy products in addition to their unique business class products. Here is our Air New Zealand premium economy ranking:

  1. 777-300ER
  2. 787-9
  3. 777-200ER

Premium Economy on the 777-300ER

The main benefit of the 777-300ER is the huge premium economy seats. Normally, premium economy seats are considered “average” if they’re 19″ wide and 38″ in pitch. In the case of Air New Zealand’s 777-300ER, the premium economy seats are 20″ wide and 41″-42″ in pitch!

This huge space upgrade, along with the great inflight entertainment and other benefits of Air New Zealand make their premium economy product one of the best in the world.

These premium economy seats are in a 2-4-2 arrangement. Here’s what the seat map looks like:

Air New Zealand 777-300ER Premium Economy Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 777-300ER premium economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The lavatories are located at the back of the premium economy cabin, so the best seats are definitely going to be at the front, specifically in row 23. Couples will have a blast in the side rows with 2 seats together. You’ll want to avoid row 29 and 30 due to their proximity to the lavatories and galley.

You can find these spacious 777-300ER premium economy seats on these Air New Zealand routes:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – London-Heathrow (LHR)

Premium Economy on the 787-9

The next player on our list is the 787-9, where your premium economy seats will be a whole inch narrower (which is actually very noticeable). There are a total of 33 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration as shown below:

Air New Zealand 787-9 Premium Economy Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 787-9 premium economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best seats are 24A and 24B because of the extra legroom from the staggered seat placement. There are no lavatories near the premium economy section, which is great from a noise standpoint for travelers.

Find these seats on the 787-9 by flying Air New Zealand’s longest route:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Auckland (AKL)

Premium Economy on the 777-200ER

Our last spot goes to the 777-200ER premium economy seat. This seat is the smallest, measuring at 18.5″ wide and 41″ in pitch. This width lags behind the industry norm, though it has more legroom to compensate. Still, width is one of the most important characteristics of an airplane seat, which is why we placed this aircraft last.

There are 40 premium economy seats spread out across 5 rows in a 2-4-2 configuration as shown here:

Air New Zealand 777-200ER Premium Economy Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 777-200ER premium economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Since the lavatories are located behind the premium economy section, the seats experiencing the least foot traffic will be row 23. These bulkhead seats also provide more legroom and bassinet access. A tradeoff, however, is that the galley is right in front, so you may experience some noise.

You’ll find Air New Zealand’s 777-200ER on a couple of U.S. routes:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Rarotonga (RAR)
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)

Bottom Line: When flying in Air New Zealand premium economy, choose to fly on the 777-300ER. The huge seats will definitely leave you satisfied.

Air New Zealand Economy Class Options

Air New Zealand Economy
Air New Zealand economy is a great way to go. Image courtesy of the Australian Business Traveler.

Air New Zealand offers the most nonstop flights to New Zealand from America, and there’s some distinction between different aircraft when it comes to economy seating. Our economy class ranking is shown below:

  1. 777-200ER
  2. 787-9
  3. 777-300ER

Economy seats on Air New Zealand offer 4.7″ of recline, which is fairly decent. One little-known secret about Air New Zealand is that they offer Skycouch™, which is essentially a row of 3 economy seats converted into a bed. For more information on this exact configuration, click here.

Economy Class Aboard the 777-200ER

On the 777-200ER, economy seats are 17.8″ wide and 31″-33″ in pitch. There are a total of 247 seats arranged mostly in a 3-4-3 configuration, as shown in the following seat map:

Air New Zealand 777-200ER Economy Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 777-200ER economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The two best seats for legroom are going to be 47B and 47J. We advise against choosing 47A and 47K because of the protrusion of the exit door into your legroom. However, the main drawback of seats in row 47 is that they are right by the lavatories.

You can find the 777-200ER on these routes:

  • Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Rarotonga (RAR)

Economy Class on the 787-9

Next up is the 787-9, with slightly narrower seats at 17.2″ wide. The configuration is slightly less dense, with a 3-3-3 arrangement and 215 total seats. Here’s what it looks like:

Air New Zealand 787-9 Economy Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 787-9 economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best seat is 36C, which doesn’t have another seat in front of it. As a result, you’ll be able to stretch out with more legroom on your ultra-long-haul flight.

If you can’t reserve 36C, row 46 has tons of extra legroom since it’s an exit row. Reserving 46H/J/K is best because there’s only 1 lavatory on the port side of the exit row, as opposed to 2 lavatories on the starboard side.

You’ll find the 787-9 flown by Air New Zealand on this single route:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Auckland (AKL)

Economy on the 777-300ER

Our very last economy choice on Air New Zealand is actually their 777-300ER, which is the main component of their long-haul fleet to/from the U.S.

The seats are quite narrow, measuring at 17.1″ wide and 32″-33″ in pitch. There are 244 seats configured in a 3-4-3 arrangement, which is typical for a 777-300ER.

Interestingly, there are quite a few preferential seats you can reserve to make your inflight experience more comfortable. Let’s take a look at the seat map:

Air New Zealand 777-300ER Economy Class Seat Map
Air New Zealand 777-300ER economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Rows 34 and 48 are exit rows, which provide much more legroom. You’ll want to avoid the A and K seats here because the exit door will hinder your movement. Row 34 is better than row 48 because it’s in front of the cabin instead of near lavatories like row 48.

Additionally, seats 36C and 36H don’t have a seat in front of them, so you’ll have more legroom to sprawl out.

You can find the 777-300ER on most of the U.S. routes operated by Air New Zealand:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – London-Heathrow (LHR)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL)

Bottom Line: All in all, seat width is essential in an economy seat. Air New Zealand’s older 777-200ER wins out in economy, followed by the 787-9 and 777-300ER. 

Final Thoughts

Air New Zealand’s fleet is pretty straightforward. Because their flights are extremely long, making aircraft swaps and changes is more complicated operationally. For this reason, Air New Zealand operates a relatively small mix of aircraft, which benefits us in terms of seat and route predictability.

We’ve seen the innovative business class products that Air New Zealand offers, along with their industry-leading premium economy seats. Air New Zealand also offers Skycouch, which is a cash-available upgrade from an economy class seat. While not in the scope of this guide, it’s a similarly innovative option you can try!


Featured Image: Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

FAQ

What's the best way to book Air New Zealand first class?

Unfortunately, Air New Zealand does not offer a first class product on their long-haul flights.

What's the best way to book Air New Zealand business class?

One of the best ways is by using 120,000 ANA miles to book round-trip business class on Air New Zealand to/from the U.S. This is a huge sweet spot that would normally cost 30%-100% more using other miles!

Other round-trip options are using 160,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles, 135,000 Lufthansa Miles & More Miles, 160,000 Avianca LifeMiles, or 180,000 United MileagePlus miles. One-way awards are half-price.

What are the best ways to book Air New Zealand premium economy class?

There aren’t very many frequent flyer programs that offer premium economy awards. You can use 135,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles for round-trip premium economy or 67,500 miles one-way.

What's the best way to book Air New Zealand economy class?

Booking Air New Zealand round-trip flights in economy to/from the U.S. and New Zealand will cost 75,000 ANA miles, 80,000 Avianca LifeMiles, 80,000 Lufthansa Miles & More Miles, 80,000 United MileagePlus Miles, and 90,000 Air Canada Aeroplan Miles.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions in a six-figure job, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

Advertisement

The Platinum Card® from American Express

SPECIAL OFFER: Do You Qualify for a 100,000 Welcome Bonus with the Amex Platinum?

=====

Want The Best Lounge Access?

The Amex Platinum is the best card for airport lounge access; no other card even comes close. Get into more than 1,200+ airport lounges across 130 countries including the amazing Centurion lounges.

We get ~$1,500+ in value each year with The Amex Platinum.

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Email needed if you'd like comment updates. It will NOT be published.

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. For more information on our advertisers, see here.