How New Zealanders can makes the most of other airline frequent flyer programs.
Fancy taking a mesmerising journey aboard Etihad’s groundbreaking First Class Apartments? Or perhaps a trip onboard Singapore Airlines’ slick A380 Business Class? Whilst you may never fly these airlines regularly, these trips are completely within reach. Most New Zealanders are loyal supporters of Air New Zealand and Qantas, for obvious reasons. Here’s a quick look at how they work and what their frequent flyer systems can do.
Air New Zealand – Our trusted friend
Air New Zealand partners with 31 airlines, giving you immediate access to the entire globe for your AirPoints redemptions. As well as Star Alliance partners, Virgin Australia, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Jet Airways and Virgin Atlantic are reciprocal partners, recognising AirPoints status and allowing you to earn/ spend miles with them.Using your AirPoints on Air New Zealand is simple, yet dynamic. 1 AirPoints Dollar equates to NZ$1, so the redemption cost is equivalent to amount you would otherwise pay for a flight (i.e. a NZ$1000 flight would cost 1000 AirPoints Dollars). However, in the case of partner airlines, the cost of tickets is fixed in a given redemption table (found on the Air New Zealand website). As such, AirPoints can take you far and wide, with First/ Business Class fares on partners starting at just 450 AirPoints Dollars for flights less than 2000km within any one zone.
One of the most extravagant things that you could experience with your AirPoints is the “flying apartment” – Etihad’s A380 First Class. Etihad doesn’t fly to New Zealand, but a quick trip to Sydney can land you on the airline’s flagship suite to Abu Dhabi. Whilst a one-way fare can cost around NZ$12,000, the same sector will set you back just 2,195 AirPoints Dollars. These sweet-spot redemption situations can be found throughout the partner airline network. This program is best suited to passengers doing most AirPoints-earning travel on Air New Zealand only, as partner airline earn rates are low.
Qantas – Our pals across the ditch
Qantas Frequent Flyer is an especially valuable system thanks to its range of earning/ redemption options. They also open up carriers such as Emirates, China Eastern, WestJet, Jetstar and Alaska Airlines, along with all 15 OneWorld members. Whilst an economy ticket from Auckland to Sydney costs just 36,000 points, it also results in a very low value of 0.7 cents per mile (CPM). Where/ how you travel really impacts value, with a flight to Dubai, for example (on either Emirates or Qantas), coming in at just 96,000 points in Business or 144,000 in First, equating to 3.9CPM and 5.7CPM value respectively – a much better situation.
This is an excellent program for passengers regularly travelling in the OneWorld network, or with desires to travel to Europe and USA. Aside from this,19 international carriers operate to New Zealand: Air New Zealand; Qantas; Singapore Airlines; Air China; Thai Airways; United Airlines; China Southern; China Airlines; LATAM; Cathay Pacific; Malaysia Airlines; American Airlines; Virgin Australia; Jetstar; Emirates; Air Asia X; Fiji Airways; Air Vanuatu; and Philippine airlines – with each of their partner networks opening up access to more than 60 other airlines. Stay tuned for greater detail on these airlines in future articles.
So which of these is most valuable and relevant to you?
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Offering the entire Star Alliance network plus 6 other carriers, this valuable program provides high earn rates across all partners, and very competitive redemption rates. Domestic and Trans-Tasman Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia flights will earn miles, with the former also providing Elite miles, to qualify for Silver/ Gold status. Note that the cheapest ANZ fares (V, W, T) do not accrue miles on domestic/ Tasman services. Thanks to the simply organised system, the value in redemptions can be as high as 7.5CPM, providing very high return. This is a very useful program for people travelling anywhere in the Star Alliance network.
China Airlines Dynasty
Dynasty Frequent Flyer has limited application in this part of the world (however do actually operate a Trans-Tasman service), but belongs to one of only 2 SkyTeam Alliance airlines flying to New Zealand. Perhaps one of the main benefits is the super-simple redemption system. The airline charges a flat redemption fee for “long haul” travel, meaning flights from Asia to New Zealand cost the same as longer sectors to Europe or the US. This program is valuable if the majority of your travel is on SkyTeam airlines in other parts of the world, namely China, the US and South America.
Whilst these miles may not be valuable in any one alliance, Emirates’ extensive network of 14 partners opens up a wide range of earning and spending options. On partners, you’ll earn between 1.25 and 2 miles per actual miles you fly, with flight awards starting from as low as 7,500 miles. Considering these earn rates, flight costs are relatively competitive, with Auckland – Dubai costing 154,500 miles in Business Class. The only downfall is that Tier Miles (used to attain Silver, Gold, Platinum status) are only earned on codeshare flights with an Emirates flight number (this could be a Qantas operated flight, for example, but you must be on an Emirates ticket). Any regular long-haul passengers within the Emirates network would be well suited to this program.
Despite having a fairly conservative number of airlines and direct destinations, New Zealand’s expansive partnership networks enable immense connectivity and frequent flyer possibilities. Loyal Qantas or Air New Zealand travellers are not bound by travel within the South-West Pacific region, and can take their hard earned miles anywhere in the world, on virtually any airline, in any class.
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