The Best Ways to Fly to New Zealand With Points and Miles [Step-by-Step]

Emirates First Class, A380

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New Zealand is known for its secluded geography, gorgeous scenery, and rich indigenous Polynesian culture — and this blend of culture and nature have it on many travelers’ radars.

As the film location of the Lord of the Rings, New Zealand is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Because of its picturesque landscape and amazing serenity, New Zealand should also be on your bucket list!

But getting there isn’t the easiest endeavor in the world — it’s anywhere from 14,000-17,000 miles away from the United States!

There are several routes you can fly to get to New Zealand, with most of the nonstop routes operated by New Zealand’s flag carrier, Air New Zealand. Fortunately, they have a reputation as a great airline!

As innovators in their own right, Air New Zealand features an interesting “Skycouch” product as well as a solid business class.

Some of your other nonstop options include United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and American Airlines.

In this guide, we will discuss in detail the best ways to fly to New Zealand with points and miles. We’ll talk about your nonstop flight options, in addition to a few connecting routes from Hong Kong, Fiji, and Dubai.

We’ll begin with some of the best sweet spots and work our way down to some alternative booking methods, depending on what type of points you have.

Get ready to learn about the best programs to use for booking flights to New Zealand!

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

New Zealand can be pricey to visit — with economy tickets averaging ~$1,200 per person, it can be quite a tall order to fly to New Zealand from the United States. On top of this, New Zealand is far away from North America, so just getting there is often a great journey.

Since Air New Zealand is part of the Star Alliance, you might infer that most route flexibility will be through Star Alliance partners such as United Airlines.

Here are the airports that offer nonstop Air New Zealand flights to New Zealand from North America:

Airports With Nonstop Air New Zealand Flights to Auckland (AKL)
Los Angeles (LAX)San Francisco (SFO)
Houston (IAH)Chicago (ORD) – As of Nov 30, 2018
Vancouver (YVR)Honolulu (HNL)

United Airlines offers a single seasonal route to New Zealand from late October to late March. Luckily, this flight features United’s excellent Polaris business class:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)

Hawaiian offers a single route to New Zealand on the A330. We don’t recommend flying this route unless you are originating from Hawaii:

  • Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)

There’s also a sole American Airlines route starting on October 28, 2018 featuring the 787 Dreamliner:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)

The above routes are your only nonstop options. However, there are almost infinite connecting options you can take.

We’ll discuss several methods to fly to New Zealand including through Dubai, Hong Kong, Seoul, or even Fiji!

As we jump into each redemption, note that nonstop routes in business class, especially aboard Air New Zealand are extremely difficult to find. Often, looking through United Airlines’ entire calendar (approximately 1 year long) will only yield 1 or 2 dates!

What this means is that you need to be as flexible as possible. Your options will be more plentiful if you are fine with taking connecting flights.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club

Air New Zealand Business Class
You’ll be ready to hit the water swimming when you fly Air New Zealand’s business class. Image courtesy of

As usual, All Nippon Airways continues to impress with their amazing round-trip fares. With some of the most competitive round-trip business class fares in the world, it’s no wonder ANA is at the top of our list in this guide.

Also a Star Alliance partner, booking with ANA will allow you to fly to New Zealand nonstop on United Airlines, Air New Zealand, or Hawaiian Airlines (only if Honolulu is your originating airport).

Best of all, ANA does not pass on fuel surcharges on United!

Check out the chart below to get an idea of what it would cost you to fly round-trip nonstop to New Zealand from the United States:

Cabin ClassAward Cost (Partners)Taxes & Fees

Hot Tip: ANA offers 1 free open jaw and 1 free stopover OR 2 open jaws on their award bookings. You can fit in some optimization here, but again the challenge will be finding award availability.

Using ANA miles on partners is best for flying nonstops, even though it may cost a bit more than flying on ANA’s own metal.

Here are some great example nonstop routes:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL) {seasonal} round-trip for 120,000 miles and ~$107 in taxes and fees on United Airlines’ real Polaris Business Class in their new 777-300ER
  • Chicago (ORD) – Auckland (AKL) {starting Nov 30, 2018} round-trip for 120,000 miles and ~$107 in taxes and fees on Air New Zealand Business Class
  • London (LHR) – Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL) round-trip for 136,000 miles and ~$266 in taxes and fees for 49 hours in Air New Zealand Business Class!

Unfortunately, ANA does not operate any of its own flights to Auckland. Instead, it codeshares with Air New Zealand from Tokyo. Therefore, you won’t be able to use the award chart for ANA’s own flights to save miles.

Regardless, Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand and United have amazing business class products to New Zealand, so you will be in good hands.

When booking United, I would use to search for award space. Searching through ANA is also an option, but it has a clunky website.

Aeroplan might be useful for Air New Zealand flights, but I would use the following workflow:

  1. Search United
  2. Confirm with Aeroplan (ensure United’s availability is real, not phantom)
  3. Call ANA to reserve your ticket (1-800-235-9262 between the hours of 5AM-6PM PST)

Earning ANA Miles

ANA is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott. Membership Rewards points transfer to ANA at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott transfers a bit differently. American Express Membership Rewards points can take 2-3 days to transfer to ANA.

For every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer, you will receive 20,000 ANA miles and a 5,000-mile bonus. Keep in mind that it can take up to 7 business days for your Marriott points to transfer to ANA.

Bottom Line: Extremely attractive award pricing, a variety of nonstop route offerings, and low taxes and fees are among the many reasons you’d want to first look at using ANA miles to fly to New Zealand. Besides their strategic Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand, ANA’s award chart is ripe for optimization with stopovers and open-jaws

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months, worth at least $600.

This is our #1 card for accessing 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass). We leverage ~$2,700+ in value from the card every year. For rates & fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, it's a strong choice. For rates & fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months.

See how we get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks, including access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates & fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month, such as Facebook or Google ads. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates & fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - A super simple, no annual fee card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year. For rates & fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Australia business class
Fly to New Zealand via Australia in style with Virgin Australia in business class! Image Credit:

Virgin Atlantic is also at the top of our list because of Flying Club’s great redemption rates and the fact that it’s the best Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner for business class flights to New Zealand…if you can find award availability.

Virgin Atlantic partners with 2 key airlines for flights to New Zealand:

  1. Air New Zealand
  2. Virgin Australia (Connecting options from Los Angeles (LAX) via Australia only)

The round-trip costs for Air New Zealand booked with Virgin Atlantic miles are:

Virgin Atlantic Award Redemption Costs on Air New Zealand Flights:
Cabin ClassVirgin Atlantic Miles CostTaxes & Fees

Similarly, the round-trip costs for Virgin Australia booked with Virgin Atlantic miles to Air New Zealand are:

Virgin Atlantic Award Redemption Costs on Virgin Australia Flights:
Cabin ClassVirgin Atlantic Miles CostTaxes & Fees

Obviously, the ideal scenario is for you to find Air New Zealand business class award availability and book round-trip business class for only 125,000 miles and ~$107. But since availability can be so rare, you might want to look into Virgin Australia flights too!

Also, Virgin Australia’s frequent flyer program is interesting: you must have an address within Australia or Oceania to open a frequent flyer account with Virgin Australia. It is therefore very difficult to book Virgin Australia awards as an American.

Hot Tip: This method is one of the only ways that you’ll be able to fly Virgin Australia business class, so it might be worth shelling out more miles to try it out! 

Here are some great example routes:

  • Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL) round-trip for 125,000 miles and ~$107 in taxes and fees on Air New Zealand business class
  • Vancouver (YVR) – Auckland (AKL) round-trip for 125,000 miles and $79 in taxes and fees on Air New Zealand business class
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD) – Auckland (AKL) round-trip for 188,000 miles and ~$139 in taxes and fees on Virgin Australia business class (generally better award availability than other Australia cities)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne/Brisbane (MEL/BNE) – Wellington/Christchurch (WLG/CHC) round-trip for 188,000 miles and ~$105 in taxes and fees on Virgin Australia business class

For Air New Zealand flights, follow these steps to book with Virgin Atlantic:

  1. Search United
  2. Confirm with Aeroplan (ensure United’s availability is real, not phantom space)
  3. Call Virgin Atlantic to hold your reservation (1-800-365-9500) for up to 48 hours
  4. Transfer your points to Virgin Atlantic
  5. Call Virgin Atlantic back after points are transferred to confirm your reservation

For Virgin Australia flights, follow these steps to book with Virgin Atlantic:

  1. Search Delta or Virgin Australia
  2. Call Virgin Atlantic to hold your reservation (1-800-365-9500) for up to 48 hours
  3. Transfer your points to Virgin Atlantic
  4. Call Virgin Atlantic back after points are transferred to confirm your reservation

Earning Virgin Atlantic Miles

As we mentioned above, Virgin Atlantic is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. In fact, it is a transfer partner with all 4 of the major rewards currencies: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy!

All except Marriott Bonvoy typically transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Even better, there are often huge transfer bonuses from American Express and Citi! These transfer bonuses range from 25%-30%, so be sure to hold out for the absolute best deal when transferring your points.

On top of this, Virgin Atlantic has their own co-branded credit card offerings with Bank of America.

Lastly, for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer, you will receive 20,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and a 5,000-mile bonus. Keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic miles typically post from Marriott transfers in less than 24 hours.

With all of this in mind, you can potentially transfer 97,000 points during a 30% transfer bonus to book Air New Zealand round-trip business class! This is an amazing deal that you simply cannot pass up.

But it seems like the stars have to line up just perfectly to execute this method, especially with the sparse award availability.

Bottom Line: If you have lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can get an absolute bargain on Air New Zealand business class flights. If you always wanted to try Virgin Australia’s long-haul business class, here’s your chance! Be sure to take advantage of transfer bonuses (Chase has never offered a transfer bonus) that could potentially save tons of miles! You’ll have to take connecting flights with Virgin Australia, but using Virgin Atlantic miles to book on these 2 partners is a no-brainer!

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $550 annual fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Earn 1.5% cash-back on all purchases, but you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and right now comes with a 100,000 sign up bonus after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This no annual fee business card earns up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Emirates First Class, A380
You’ll be able to enjoy all of your time in the air when flying Emirates First Class Suites via Dubai to Auckland! Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Alaska Airlines might not be the most intuitive frequent flyer program for flights to New Zealand, but it is nonetheless a great option for the following airlines:

  1. Cathay Pacific
  2. Emirates
  3. Qantas
  4. Korean Air
  5. Fiji Airways

To start off, Alaska Airlines does not pass on fuel surcharges on any flights, except with British Airways and Icelandair. As a result, we can disregard all fuel surcharges for these routes. You will typically be paying ~$50-$100 in total taxes and fees.

Alaska has some pretty unique travel partners like Fiji Airways, and typically very good redemption rates to boot!

You can fly to New Zealand via Hong Kong round-trip on Cathay Pacific for 80,000 miles in economy, 95,000 in premium economy, 120,000 in business, and 160,000 in first class.

You can also fly to New Zealand via Dubai round-trip on Emirates for 130,000 miles in economy, 240,000 in business, and 450,000 in first class.

It’s important to note that round-trip prices are prohibitively high — if you wanted to try Emirates Airlines, you can shell out 225,000 miles for one-way (~32 hours in Emirates suites if departing from Los Angeles to Auckland via Dubai)!

Additionally, you can fly to Auckland via Nadi/Suva (NAN/SUV) or Christchurch/Wellington (CHC/WLG) via Nadi round-trip on Fiji Airways for 80,000 miles in economy or 110,000 miles in business class.

Another interesting possibility is to fly to Auckland via Seoul-Incheon (ICN) round-trip on Korean Air for 85,000 miles in economy or 125,000 miles in business class.

Lastly, you can fly to New Zealand via Australia round-trip on Qantas for 85,000 miles in economy, 95,000 in premium economy, 110,000 in business, and 140,000 in first class.

Hot Tip: Alaska allows stopovers, even on one-way tickets! Be sure to work-in a vacation within a vacation in Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, Korea, or even Fiji! 

Here are some great example routes:

  • Boston (BOS) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Auckland (AKL) round-trip for 120,000 miles and ~$94 in taxes and fees on Cathay Pacific business class (52 hours in business class!)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Dubai (DXB) – Auckland (AKL) one-way for 225,000 miles and ~$85 in taxes and fees on Emirates Airlines first class (32 hours in First Class Suites!)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Nadi (NAN) – Christchurch (CHC) round-trip for 110,000 miles and ~$153 in taxes and fees on Fiji Airways business class (31 hours in business class!)
  • New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Auckland (AKL) round-trip for 125,000 miles and ~$77 in taxes and fees on Korean Air business class (50 hours in business class!)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Sydney (SYD) – Auckland (AKL) round-trip for 140,000 miles and ~$139 in taxes and fees on Qantas first class and Qantas business class (34 hours in first class and 6 hours in business class!)

For all flights except Cathay Pacific, follow these steps to book with Alaska Airlines:

  1. Go to Alaska’s website
  2. Search for your desired route (make sure you select “Use Miles”)
  3. Select your desired flight and “Add To Cart”
  4. Log in to your Alaska Mileage Plan account
  5. Pay the necessary taxes/fees and complete your booking

For flights on Cathay Pacific, follow these steps to book with Alaska Airlines:

  1. Visit British Airways and login
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service
  3. Note the flight number, date, and time
  4. Call Alaska Airlines (800-252-7522)
  5. Ask them to search for first class award space on Cathay Pacific for the appropriate date
    • You might have to provide the flight number
  6. Provide all necessary info to complete the booking

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

There’s a lot of ways you can earn Alaska miles, and you can get a large chunk mostly through credit card sign-up bonuses. To be specific, you can sign up for their co-branded credit cards offered by Bank of America.

You could also transfer hotel points from Marriott — unfortunately, Alaska doesn’t have transfer partners other than Marriott.

To top off your balances, you can purchase Alaska miles. Though you’re limited to 60,000 miles per transaction, you can buy as many miles as you want. Alaska Airlines often offers discounts of up to 40% on purchased miles, so look to buy miles at those times.

Bottom Line: With Alaska miles, you won’t be paying for fuel surcharges, even on connecting flights! There’s a healthy variety of airlines you can take to get to New Zealand. This is a great sweet spot for Cathay Pacific and Qantas in particular. It’s also one of the only ways to avoid fuel surcharges on Emirates! Unfortunately, there are no transfer partners besides Marriott. 

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 6x per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels plus 3x at U.S restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines. Annual fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

Etihad Guest Miles

American Airlines Business Class Cabin
Enjoy AA business class nonstop from Los Angeles to Auckland for only 125,000 Etihad Guest Miles round-trip! Image Credit: American Airlines

With Etihad Guest, there’s actually only 1 practical route you can take to New Zealand:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL) nonstop on American Airlines’ Boeing 787 starting October 28, 2018

For this route, you will be able to fly round-trip for 75,000 miles in economy and 125,000 miles in business class.

We wouldn’t necessarily suggest booking economy with Etihad Guest, since British Airways offers the same route for 70,000 miles round-trip.

The business class award price is the best available for AA business class with the exception of JAL miles, which are much harder to earn. We’ll talk about Japan Airlines in the next section.

Keep in mind that although this is on AA’s Dreamliner, it is not the flagship business class product. Still, it’s an extremely affordable and solid way to fly nonstop on American Airlines’ sole route to New Zealand.

Availability for American Airlines can be hard to find, but with the right amount of time, you can get extremely affordable award fares with your Etihad Guest miles.

Booking with Etihad Airlines requires a phone call. To book, follow these steps:

  1. Visit British Airways and log in.
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service. (British Airways can sometimes not show award availability. You’ll have to play with dates back and forth and keep refreshing the page if this happens.)
  3. Note the flight number, date, and time.
  4. Call Etihad Airways’ Serbia Call Center (+1-877-690-0767), press 1 for English, then press 4 (don’t press 2 for “first and business class” bookings). Press 1 to book or change a flight, then press 1 to book or change a flight using Etihad Guest miles.
  5. Ask them to search for business class award space on American Airlines for the appropriate date.
    • You might have to provide the flight number.
  6. Provide all necessary info to complete the booking.

Hot Tip: Etihad will not allow award flight holds, so be sure to act quickly once your points transfer to Etihad Guest! 

Need help booking? Check out our step-by-step guide for booking American Airlines business class.

Earning Etihad Guest Miles

You can actually earn Etihad Guest miles very easily since Etihad is a transfer partner of American Express Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott.

AmEx and Citi points transfer and convert to Etihad Guest miles at a 1:1 ratio. There are sometimes bonuses that American Express runs when transferring to Etihad, so keep your eyes peeled!

(The only times this happened were for 1-month periods in May 2016 and October 2016 with a 30% and 20% transfer bonus, respectively. If you pulled the trigger on a 30% transfer bonus, this meant that for 1,000 Amex points, you got 1,300 Etihad Guest Miles.)

Although I wouldn’t count on it happening, a transfer bonus would soften the blow dramatically, bringing down the cost of a round-trip, business class American Airlines ticket to 96,154 American Express Membership Rewards Points! This spectacular booking retails for ~$7,000 and would net you nearly 7.3¢ per point!

Earn ThankYou Rewards with any ThankYou Points-earning credit cards, and you can transfer them to Etihad Guest Miles at a 1:1 ratio.

Note that it can take up to 7 business days for Citi ThankYou points to transfer to Etihad, so you will need to take that into consideration.

Bottom Line: For those who want to try American Airlines business class to Auckland and also live in Los Angeles, Etihad Guest is a spectacular way to do so! With business class redemptions only costing 125,000 miles round-trip and economy for 75,000 miles, you should definitely give this program some serious thought! 

Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank

American Airlines 787-900 Business Class Cabin
With JAL miles transferred from Marriott, you’ll be able to fly American Airlines’ nonstop business class from Los Angeles to Auckland in the 787 Dreamliner! Image Credit: American Airlines

Japan Airlines presents a niche advantage if you satisfy the following criteria:

  1. You have lots of Marriott points and can’t find a better use of them
  2. You prefer to fly on American Airlines
  3. You want to fly nonstop to New Zealand

To fly the same exact American Airlines route as above, you’ll pay round-trip costs of 55,000 miles in economy, 77,000 miles in premium economy, and 110,000 miles in business class.

Again, we wouldn’t endorse this method unless you fit the 3 conditions above.

For better ways to redeem your Marriott points, check out our guides on maximizing value for flights and hotels.

You can book flights on Japan Airlines online by following the steps below:

  1. Go to the Japan Airlines website
  2. Log into your JAL Mileage Bank account
  3. Select JAL International Award Ticket Reservation
  4. Select round-trip or one-way
  5. Select your desired Area of Departure and Area of Arrival
  6. Select your travel dates, departure and destination airports, and class of service
  7. Select Designate Date if your travel must be on the specific dates you have selected, or Award Reservation Calendar if you have flexible travel dates
  8. Click Next
  9. If you selected Designate Date, you’ll be taken directly to your flight options
    • Make sure the flights you select have seats available and do not require waitlisting
  10. If you selected Award Reservation Calendar, you will see 7 dates for your departure and 7 dates for your return
    • Select the dates, and you will be taken to your flight options for those dates
  11. Confirm the Mileage Bank miles and taxes/fees required
  12. Select your desired flights and hit Next (assign seat now) so you can select your seat and complete the booking process

Hot Tip: When you select your flights, make sure there is availability, since Japan Airlines will also show flights you can be waitlisted for.

Earning Japan Airlines Miles

Again, JAL’s only transfer partner is Marriott.

JAL has a co-branded credit card, but it lacks a strong welcome bonus and bonus categories that increase earnings. It’s best to save them for other redemptions, such as booking their own first class!

British Airways Avios

For those who want to make their miles stretch further and don’t mind flying in economy, look no further!

British Airways also provides competitive economy or short-haul fares. It also happens to be a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, which bolsters the value of this method.

Since New Zealand is a relatively inaccessible destination, cash prices on tickets can often go sky-high!

To fly on AA’s nonstop Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL) service, you will pay only 70,000 miles round-trip. You also won’t pay any fuel surcharges, as they are not levied in New Zealand.

Keep in mind that their premium economy costs 140,000 miles and business costs 210,000 miles, making this an unattractive redemption for premium classes.

You can book awards completely online using British Airways Avios. Here’s how:

  1. Visit British Airways and log in
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service
  3. Note the flight number, date, and time
  4. Provide all necessary info to complete the booking

Earning British Airways Avios

British Airways is a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate RewardsAmerican Express Membership Rewards, and Marriott!

Amex is offering a 40% transfer bonus until November 15, 2018! This would bring the effective cost of a round-trip economy award booked with BA Avios down from 70,000 miles to 50,000 Amex points! This is an absolutely killer value on a ticket that could range anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500 if paid with cash!

Although British Airways is known for levying fuel surcharges on its own flights, it does not do so on Iberia and AA flights.

You can also earn lots of Avios by looking at the Chase co-branded British Airways credit card as well. However, it’s much easier to earn through Chase Ultimate Rewards, so we recommend looking there first.

Bottom Line: Want to fly economy and make your miles stretch further? Have lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex points? Look no further! 50,000 Amex points for round-trip economy during the 40% transfer bonus makes travel to New Zealand a no-brainer! 

United Airlines MileagePlus

United Polaris Middle Seats
Flying nonstop from San Francisco to Auckland is easy in United’s amazing Polaris business class! Image Credit: United

Similar to Etihad Guest, this method of booking travel to New Zealand is perfect for 1 routing:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL) round-trip for 160,000 miles and ~$54 in taxes and fees on United Airlines’ real Polaris Business Class

For those who only have Chase Ultimate Rewards points and not Amex points, this will be the cheapest way to fly business class to New Zealand.

To make things even better, you won’t pay any fuel surcharges!

The cherry on top is that this route is nonstop and features United Airlines’ REAL Polaris class. United tends to lump all Polaris business class cabins together; this is not necessarily accurate since the new seats are only offered on a few routes.

But the soft product (including bedding and food) will be the same regardless of which version of Polaris class you fly on.

Need help booking? Check out our guide on the best ways to book United Polaris Business Class.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

Chase offers several United co-branded credit cards capable of directly earning United miles.

Also, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott are transfer partners with United.

The current Marriott transfer ratio is 60,000:27,500. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you will get a bonus of 15,000 Marriott points, bringing this transfer ratio to 3:1.1.

Again, this is the best option to fly business class for those who only have Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Bottom Line: An extremely solid business class product, reasonable Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption rates, and a simple booking process — what more could you ask for? We love the San Francisco to Auckland route on United Airlines for these reasons.

American Airlines AAdvantage Program

American Airlines Flagship Lounge
Relax in one of American Airlines’ Flagship lounges before your flight when flying AA Flagship Business Class. Image Credit: American Airlines

Some readers have a lot of AA miles and want to use them. Although the redemption rates aren’t as nice as the rates you’d find booking with Etihad Guest Miles, it’s definitely still an option to consider if you’re sitting on loads of AA miles.

Here’s the award chart for the LAX-AKL nonstop route on AA’s 787:

Cabin ClassAA Miles CostTaxes & Fees

Here’s how you can book on American Airlines:

  1. Visit the British Airways website.
  2. Log in using your BA username and password.
  3. Hover over the Executive Club banner and click on Spending Avios.
  4. Click Book a Reward Flight.
  5. Enter your departure city, destination city, travel dates, desired class, and number of passengers.
  6. Click Get Flights.
  7. Note the flight numbers, airlines, and times.
  8. Try to confirm award availability and book online. If you can’t pull up the flight, call American Airlines and make the reservation (1-800-433-7300). Be sure to ask to waive the $25 telephone booking fee.

Need help booking? See our step-by-step guide for booking American Airlines business class.

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

AAdvantage Miles are easy to earn, especially in the short term through welcome bonuses.

First, you should consider applying for the Barclays Aviator Red Card, since Barclays is more “sensitive” to hard inquiries and newly opened accounts than Citi. On top of this, they offer welcome bonuses after just a single purchase!

Using Citi’s AA cards are also great ways to earn even more AA miles.

If you’re short on AA miles, you can top your account off with Marriott points, but it’s not the best option unless you’re short from Barclays or Citi points. It can take up to 2 business days to transfer Marriott points to American Airlines.

Bottom Line: If you’re waiting for an opportunity to spend your AA miles, look no further. For 160,000 miles, you can book round-trip business class from Los Angeles to Auckland on AA’s 787 Dreamliner. The process is very simple, and you can earn AA miles quickly with Citi and Barclays co-branded credit cards.

Avianca Vuela (AV) LifeMiles

Air New Zealand 787 Business Class
If you have a chance, you can also try the Air New Zealand 787 Dreamliner Business Class product! Regardless of what plane you fly, Air New Zealand business class is one of the best in the world. Image courtesy of

The last method we want to mention is useful if you fall into this group of travelers:

  1. You have a lot of Citi points
  2. You want to fly United or Air New Zealand business class to New Zealand

So far, the only way to book flights to New Zealand with Citi points has been with Etihad Guest Miles, a transfer partner of Citi. However, there’s only 1 flight you can book, which departs from Los Angeles.

With LifeMiles, you have access to Star Alliance flights that depart from other airports like San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, etc.

You may be willing to shell out more miles to either fly from a different airport or fly the more solid product on Air New Zealand.

Besides using Etihad Guest Miles to book AA business class from Los Angeles to Auckland with 125,000 points, Avianca Vuela LifeMiles is the most affordable way to use Citi points to book award travel to New Zealand.

The award chart for flights to New Zealand from the United States is as follows:

Cabin ClassAvianca Vuela LifeMiles CostTaxes & Fees

Hot Tip: Don’t have enough Citi points? There are often huge bonuses of 125%-150% on purchased miles! You might have to spend around $1,000, but you’ll still come out way ahead compared to paying with cash! 

You can book awards completely online. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Avianca Vuela website.
  2. Click LifeMiles in the bottom right corner of Avianca’s homepage. You will be redirected to the LifeMiles external website.
  3. Once you’re on the external LifeMiles page, hover over Use and click on Airlines.
  4. Enter your desired destination, origin, and travel dates. Hit Continue. The next screen shows availability and costs for those dates, as well as for 2 days before and after.
  5. Select your flight.

Earning Avianca Vuela LifeMiles

As alluded to earlier, the best way to earn Avianca Vuela LifeMiles is with Citi ThankYou Points-earning credit cards at a 1:1 transfer ratio.

Besides Citi credit cards, you can transfer from Marriott; move 60,000 Marriott points and you’ll get 25,000 LifeMiles.

There are 2 other ways to earn LifeMiles:

  1. Directly from the co-branded Banco Popular card
  2. Purchase LifeMiles. Be sure to only purchase miles when there are huge sales (125%-150%)!

Bottom Line: Have lots of Citi points? Don’t feel like flying AA booked through Etihad Guest miles? Found Air New Zealand or United award availability? Use Avianca Vuela LifeMiles! It’s your next best use of Citi points besides AA via Etihad.

Final Thoughts

Even though New Zealand is relatively remote compared to the United States, there are still a lot of ways to fly there. Whether you want a nonstop, want connecting flight to save money, or want to also visit another country — you have loads of options!

New Zealand does not permit fuel surcharges, so you don’t need to worry about that at all.

In this guide, we’ve analyzed nonstop and connecting flights in detail. Award availability can be somewhat of a unicorn, especially from cities like Los Angeles. But if you do your due diligence and plan far enough in advance, it’s definitely worth it!

There are a variety of ways to fly to New Zealand on points and miles: ANA, Virgin Atlantic, Alaska Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Etihad Guest each have their own drawbacks, sweet spots, and benefits!

Just remember: there is a ton of value to be had when flying to New Zealand, since it’s a remote region and typically very costly to pay with cash.

Now you have the full picture on the best ways to fly to New Zealand with points and miles.

Frequently asked questions

Which airlines include carrier-imposed surcharges on award flights to New Zealand?

None! There are no fuel surcharges when flying to New Zealand.

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book an economy class award flight to New Zealand?

You can spend 70,000 British Airways Avios to fly AA economy from Los Angeles to Auckland starting October 28, 2018.

Combine this with the 40% American Express transfer bonus to Avios (through November 15, 2018), and you’ll only spend 50,000 AmEx points round-trip!

You can use 55,000 JAL miles, but they are typically more valuable since they are mostly transferred from Marriott, and there are better uses of Marriott points.

What is the fewest number of miles required to fly business class to New Zealand?

You can use 120,000 ANA miles to book round-trip business class on Star Alliance flights to New Zealand.

You can also use 110,000 Alaska miles to fly Fiji Airways to New Zealand via Nadi/Suva, or Qantas to New Zealand via Australia.

Another redemption worth mentioning is Cathay Pacific business class to New Zealand via Hong Kong for 120,000 Alaska miles round-trip.

Lastly, you can use 110,000 JAL miles to fly American Airlines nonstop from Los Angeles to New Zealand.

What is the fewest number miles required to fly first class to New Zealand?

There aren’t any nonstop routes to New Zealand that offer first class from the United States.

You can book Qantas via Australia in first class/business class (from Australia to New Zealand) for 140,000 Alaska miles or 220,000 AA miles.

You can book Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong in first class for 160,000 Alaska miles or 220,000 AA miles.

You can also book Emirates First Class Suites for the expensive price of 225,000 miles one-way via Dubai.

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, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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.


  1. Why search Alaska Airlines site for Virgin Australia availability? I have never seen them as any kind of partner with Alaska, nor have I seen any of their flight options come up with similar searches previously. What am I missing? Can you clear this up for me? Thanks


    • Hey OR97,

      This was a typo. It’s been updated. Thanks for reading and providing us feedback.


  2. CericRushmore August 4, 2019

    This article is awesome! Thank you so much!


    • We are glad you enjoyed it, Ceric! Thanks for reading!


      • CericRushmore December 4, 2019

        I’ve started to look at using Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific from IAD to AKL via HKG. Cathay is showing that they have a codeshare with Air New Zealand on the HKG to AKL route as one option. Can Alaska miles use that flight on Air New Zealand (Cathay Code Share) when I’m booking the trip? It looks like the HKG to AKL is a better schedule for getting to AKL then waiting for the Cathay flight.


        • Hi Ceric,

          If the flight options are showing as a codeshare with Cathay then yes it should be bookable. I would call Cathay to confirm this though!


  3. This is very thorough, thanks! Do you all have any contacts with travel hackers that can help search these options and take in account client preferences and points? I have a points across Chase UR, AA, Amex – wondering how/if I can combine them to get the most value for me and my partner.

    Thanks in advance!


  4. Hello Stephen,

    My fiancee and I are planning a honeymoon to New Zealand and Fiji. However, I was trying to look for the flights using the alaska air website and it doesn’t show! LAX-NAN-CHC
    Do you know what the problem might be?


    • Andrew Kunesh September 18, 2019

      Hi Tomas, there may not be flight availability for the dates you’re searching. Generally, Fiji flights with availability will show up on Alaska’s site without issue. Try searching on alternative dates and you may have more luck in your search. Thanks and good luck!


  5. CericRushmore November 5, 2019

    Great article. I’m trying to use Expert Flyer to set up alerts for United and AA, but I can’t quite figure out which Fare codes to use. Would you do an article on how to set alerts on ExpertFlyer for New Zealand to the US.


    • Hi Charles,

      Thanks for reading. Keep in mind that we are Upgraded Points, which is a travel and educational resource for learning how to earn and use points. If you’d like one-on-one, customized help booking your trips, there is a service available that will help you achieve this. You can contact me at [email protected] for more information.


  6. Thank you for this article. I’m interested in the ANA/United info as I have a lot of Marriott points and AmEx points. When I search United, I find award space in business class for 200K one way (SFO-AKL). Are you saying if that space is actually available, I can transfer the points to ANA, then call ANA to book at a lower redemption rate? I am new to this and finding the whole process pretty confusing.


    • Hi Juliet,

      Thanks for reading. In order to book these flights with ANA miles, you’ll need to find a specific type of availability, known as “Saver” availability. If the availability doesn’t fit the type of ticket that ANA has access to, then you can’t book it.

      If you still need additional assistance using an ultra-personalized points wealth management and travel concierge to take the guesswork out of your points travel, please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] to inquire about a monthly subscription service.


Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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