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

Stephen Au's image
Stephen Au
Stephen Au's image

Stephen Au

Former Senior Content Contributor

485 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 24U.S. States Visited: 22

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used...
Edited by: Juan Ruiz
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Juan Ruiz

Senior Editor & Content Contributor

114 Published Articles 716 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 41U.S. States Visited: 28

Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been ...

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Air New Zealand doesn’t have the largest route network by any stretch of the imagination, but it provides 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 its 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 jump into 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 of Air New Zealand’s U.S. route network, along with corresponding flight numbers, aircraft, cabin classes offered, and flight frequencies:

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NZ RouteFlight No.AircraftCabin ClassesFrequency
Chicago (ORD) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 27787-9Business, Premium Economy, Economy3x weekly
Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 9787-9Business, Premium Economy, EconomyUp to 6x weekly
Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 29787-9Business, Premium Economy, Economy4x weekly, then daily from late March 2023
Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 5787-9Business, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily
New York City (JFK) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 1787-9Business, Premium Economy, Economy3x weekly
San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)NZ 7777-300ERBusiness, Premium Economy, EconomyDaily

Best Points To Earn To Fly Air New Zealand

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

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, Avianca LifeMiles, and United Airlines MileagePlus.

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 its long-haul flights to/from the U.S. Not to fret, however — its business class is very impressive.

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! Image Credit: Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand has a reputation for being one of the more exotic airlines around. The allure of its 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

Air New Zealand 787-9 Business Class

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 of 1-1-1 on the 787-9.

Each business class seat is generously spacious, measuring 22 inches in width, 79 inches to 80 inches in pitch, and 79.5 inches long in bed mode. The seats are completely lie-flat and feature direct aisle access.

For context, most first class cabins don’t even have this configuration — so this is a massive advantage 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 Credit: SeatGuru

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 to 6.

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

Currently, you’ll find Air New Zealand operating the 787-9 on most U.S. flights:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)
  • New York City (JFK) – Auckland (AKL)

Air New Zealand 777-300ER Business Class

Our second-place winner is the 777-300ER, which used to be the most common aircraft used by Air New Zealand on its flights to/from the U.S.

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 Credit: SeatGuru

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 shown in the summary chart, you will find the 777-300ER on this route:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)

Bottom Line: The 787-9 business class 1-1-1 arrangement is unbeatable on Air New Zealand, but the 777-300ER option would work just fine as well. 

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Class Options

Air New Zealand premium economy class
Air New Zealand premium economy class. Image Credit: Air New Zealand

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

  1. 777-300ER
  2. 787-9

Air New Zealand 777-300ER Premium Economy Class

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

This huge space upgrade, along with the great inflight entertainment and other benefits of Air New Zealand makes its 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 Credit: SeatGuru

The lavatories are located at the back of the premium economy cabin, so the best seats are 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 rows 29 and 30 due to their proximity to the lavatories and galley.

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

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)

Air New Zealand 787-9 Premium Economy Class

The next player on our list is the 787-9, where your premium economy seats will be a whole inch narrower (which is 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 Credit: SeatGuru

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)
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)
  • New York City (JFK) – 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 class
Air New Zealand’s economy cabin is a great way to go. Image Credit: Air New Zealand

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. 787-9
  2. 777-300ER

Economy seats on Air New Zealand offer 4.7 inches of recline, which is fairly decent.

Hot Tip: One little-known secret about Air New Zealand is that it offers Economy Skycouch, which is essentially a private row of 3 economy seats that you can use as a bed. 

Air New Zealand 787-9 Economy Class

Next up is the 787-9, with slightly narrower seats at 17.2 inches 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 Credit: SeatGuru

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)
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Houston (IAH) – Auckland (AKL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Auckland (AKL)
  • New York City (JFK) – Auckland (AKL)

Air New Zealand 777-300ER Economy Class

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

The seats are quite narrow, measuring at 17.1 inches wide and 32 inches to 33 inches 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 Credit: SeatGuru

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 the 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 the following U.S. route operated by Air New Zealand:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Auckland (AKL)

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

Final Thoughts

We’ve seen Air New Zealand’s impressive business class offerings as well as its premium economy seats, which are among the best in the business. The airline has even introduced the Skycouch on certain equipped planes, a cutting-edge seat concept in economy where a row of seats can be turned into a couch or bed.

Air New Zealand’s fleet is pretty straightforward. Because it operates extremely long flights, aircraft swaps and operational changes are uncommon. For this reason, Air New Zealand operates a relatively small mix of aircraft types, which benefits customers in terms of seat comfort and route predictability.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Unfortunately, Air New Zealand does not offer a first class product on its 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% to 100% more using other miles!

Other round-trip options are using as few as 150,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points, 135,000 Lufthansa Miles & More Miles, 160,000 Avianca LifeMiles, or 198,000 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 any mainstream frequent flyer programs that offer premium economy awards on Air New Zealand.

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, 88,000 United MileagePlus miles, and 100,000 to 120,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points.

Stephen Au's image

About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.

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