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Moving to NZ: Is Airpoints the Best Choice?

Moving to NZ: Is Airpoints the Best Choice?

Old Oct 20, 07, 12:31 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: WLG New Zealand
Programs: NZ *E, AA Lifetime Gold
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Question Moving to NZ: Is Airpoints the Best Choice?

I originally posted this in the Star Alliance forum, but the only reply so far suggested I would get a better response here...

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So I am relocating my family from Texas to New Zealand in January. I'm Platinum on AAdvantage (and have lifetime AA Gold status in case I don't fly oneWorld so much once I move).

I'm about to make a few business class trips to NZ and I'm wanting to boost my non-existent status on a *A FFP. But which one?

My #1 desire is to get free/cheap upgrades between NZ/Australia and North America.

My #2 goal is to get status - having no status sucks in seat allocation, boarding, bumping, etc. you know what I mean.

I figure once I'm in NZ my work will pay for 5-10 trips each year within NZ most likely on Air NZ, and a few trips across the Tasman to Australia on whoever is cheapest - Qantas or Air NZ, and most likely economy. I'll also probably pay for 1-2 trips per year in business class out of my own pocket to the US and/or Asia.

So given my #1 and #2 goals - is Air NZ the right choice? What I need to know is if Air NZ gives preferential access to Airpoints members for upgrades, or if other *A members can get upgrades just as easily, coz if that's true then my business class flying might make another *A FFP a better choice.

I'm expecting to stay in NZ for five years and then return to the U.S. I wish there was an easier way to get lifetime status like AAmerican on a *A carrier.

Please advise... Thanks!!
Caractacus is offline  
Old Oct 20, 07, 2:25 am
  #2  
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Sounds like United is the best choice for you (but to maximise your benefits you'll need to fly via SYD/MEL to get to/from USA). UA has million mile lifetime status (equivalent to lifetime PLT on AA) but this is based only on UA metal.

Once UA rejoins the *A-wide mileage upgrade scheme you'll be able to use UA miles to upgrade on NZ flights - although availability is extremely limited especially on flights to/from USA.

NZ airpoints may be a bad choice as cheap economy fares earn little or nothing, and status is really geared to full economy and business fares.
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Old Oct 20, 07, 5:46 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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I would agree with you Kiwi Flyer - the big issue with Air NZ is the lack of Airpoints for economy flights, and there can be quite a price difference to get the fare that gives you Airbucks.

That being said, however, as an American who pretty much lives permanently in NZ, I still stick with the program, as I tend to pay for my J class flights typically 3 times a year between AKL and LAX. One thing I will say is that if you pay for premium fares, it's pretty fast to get to Star Alliance Gold status, at least it seems that way, compared to how many miles/segments you need to rack up to get similar with the US-based programs. I could be wrong on this, however...

Another trick I use, by the way, when I'm doing some work in the US (and thus earning USD), is to book my round-trip flights starting from AKL, but use a US credit card to pay. They didn't used to let me do this, but lately I've had no problem. For example, if I outright buy a J class ticket at $7,500 NZD, it works out to around $5,500 USD. But if I try to buy the same ticket starting from LAX, it's priced at $7,500 USD! So you can see, it's a way to shave a bit off the ticket price.

At any rate, I've waffled back and forth about UA versus AirNZ and still tend to prefer the latter. Just watch out for Air NZ's evil tendency to drop earned Airpoints Dollars if you happen to connect from LAX/SFO on a UA or *shudder* US Airways flight - especially in J class!

Domestically, Air NZ has the lion's share of routes, but Qantas and now Pacific Blue (Virgin) are competing on some of the bigger routes (AKL, CHC, WLG primarily). The fares can be unpredictable and widely different at times, at least in my own limited experience. I used to be a loyal Qantas FF member, but jumped ship as soon as the new Business Premier seats came out - as I travel alone mostly, it was hugely nicer than paying so much to sit next to someone I didn't know.

Enjoy your time in NZ - it's a beautiful country and I think highly of the people down here!
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Old Oct 20, 07, 7:55 pm
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer View Post
Once UA rejoins the *A-wide mileage upgrade scheme you'll be able to use UA miles to upgrade on NZ flights - although availability is extremely limited especially on flights to/from USA.
Do you think they ever will re-join ?
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Old Oct 20, 07, 8:35 pm
  #5  
tht
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
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I am NZ based, and decided to go for *G with BMI, if you are flying paid C with NZ, you will get to gold very quickly. You won't be able to upgrade with NZ, but you can book cash&miles in C with them. The BD *G will also get you in to lounges in the US, but no E+ on UA.

Another good point about BMI in NZ is that if you earn miles on internal flights (cheap ones earn none) you will get 600 miles per sector, so by way of example, UA gives me 93 miles from AKL-WRE, BMI gives me 600.

Might be worth taking a look in the BMI forum for more details.

tht
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Old Oct 21, 07, 6:42 am
  #6  
DCF
 
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I've thought long and hard about this reply.......

You are saying that your travel will be:

1) employer-funded economy Trans-Tasman - which won't generate many points on any airline.

2) self-funded business class to the USA and Hong Kong or Shanghai.


You say that what you want is status and upgrades....

OK, here is my recommendation.

1) Make Air NZ Airpoints your primary program and attempt to make all Tasman travel on Air NZ flights.

2) Book one of your long-haul trips in Business Premier each year, and the second in Premium Economy. That will get you up to NZ Gold, and give you two free Upgrades from Premium Economy to Business Premier, which covers your second return trip. (DON'T book Economy, as Economy to BP one way uses up both free upgrades.

3) If you can get up to Gold Elite, you'll score an extra 2 free annual upgrades- and GE ones are transferable - but make sure you then fall back to Gold before getting back up to GE, otherwise if you stay GE you only get the 2.

If you use BMI you'll never get free upgrades, and if you use United Mileage Plus you will, but you'll have to route via Sydney and fly on their dire aircraft.
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Old Oct 21, 07, 4:14 pm
  #7  
tht
 
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[QUOTE=Caractacus;8591047]I originally posted this in the Star Alliance forum, but the only reply so far suggested I would get a better response here...

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So I am relocating my family from Texas to New Zealand in January. I'm Platinum on AAdvantage (and have lifetime AA Gold status in case I don't fly oneWorld so much once I move).
QUOTE]

Not sure if NZ do it, but sound like you might want to get your :-:A status rolling with a status match. BMI may do this, but not sure about NZ, UA should do a once in a lifetime one.

Agree with DCF, if it's upgrades you want NZ, I just misread that because I always think in terms of free tickets rather than upgrades.

Which ever way you choose to go, I thing is clear, you are in for a treat flying with NZ in any class (compared to the US carriers). The flip side of this is that flights can be busy / sold out in C, so you may not be able to use your upgrades, unless they confirm at the time of booking? (I deffer to other on this).

tht
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Old Oct 21, 07, 5:06 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by tht View Post
The flip side of this is that flights can be busy / sold out in C, so you may not be able to use your upgrades, unless they confirm at the time of booking? (I deffer to other on this).

tht
Depends on the upgrade method and status.

Using airbucks you can get confirmable upgrades (subject to availability) at the time of request. These cost a lot.

Using airbucks you can also request standby upgrades. These may or may not confirm immediately, after some time, or never.

Using status evouchers upgrades are standby, and processed by status. Gold Elite up to 12 months (so can confirm immediately but won't necessarily do so), Gold shorter period and Silver shorter again. These seem to have higher priority than airbucks standby upgrades, which makes sense given the evouchers expire.

Using *A miles upgrades are standby only. I don't know but suspect these have lowest priority of the lot.
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Old Oct 21, 07, 6:54 pm
  #9  
 
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I have to say that I were in the OP's position I would stick with QF (and not bother with *A) and continue crediting to AA. I don't believe that with the amount of travel contemplated and upgrade availability being what it is converting to NZ would be worthwhile

I think, although I am biased, UA would be the next best option. B fares from NZ on UA to the US are much the same as premium economy on NZ. B fares cost only 15K to upgrade to C from SYD/MEL to the US. Once you make 1P (premier exec) with the 100% RDM bonus you would earn about 15K each way. Only downside is that you'd have to fly in E trans-tasman (the flight is relatively short) and you would not be able to upgrade to Asia

Jeff
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Old Oct 21, 07, 6:54 pm
  #10  
 
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If you are going to make NZ*G within 3 months, you can purchase Koru Club membership and they will refund your fee when you get to NZ*G. That would solve any problems you might have when travelling Domestically around New Zealand or in cheapiee's to Australia.

Originally Posted by DCF View Post
3) If you can get up to Gold Elite, you'll score an extra 2 free annual upgrades- and GE ones are transferable - but make sure you then fall back to Gold before getting back up to GE, otherwise if you stay GE you only get the 2.
I have always wondered if you made a habit of this whether they would stop dropping you back to G?
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Old Oct 21, 07, 8:28 pm
  #11  
tht
 
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Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer View Post
Depends on the upgrade method and status.

Using airbucks you can get confirmable upgrades (subject to availability) at the time of request. These cost a lot.

Using airbucks you can also request standby upgrades. These may or may not confirm immediately, after some time, or never.

Using status evouchers upgrades are standby, and processed by status. Gold Elite up to 12 months (so can confirm immediately but won't necessarily do so), Gold shorter period and Silver shorter again. These seem to have higher priority than airbucks standby upgrades, which makes sense given the evouchers expire.

Using *A miles upgrades are standby only. I don't know but suspect these have lowest priority of the lot.
Hence my preference to collect miles, and buy confirmed awards in C when I want to fly up front... And its looking like I may hit another 55k with BMI this year (I did 55k to hit *G), which will mean 625% of flown, if I fly in F, so a TG LHR-AKL-LHR, may be worthwhile if a good offer comes up... That will pretty much net me 2 x C class cash&miles return on NZ... subject to finding a seat.....

tht
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Old Oct 21, 07, 11:43 pm
  #12  
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OT but is TG F LHR-AKL even cheaper than AKL-LHR?
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Old Oct 22, 07, 7:49 am
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by jswong View Post
I think, although I am biased, UA would be the next best option. B fares from NZ on UA to the US are much the same as premium economy on NZ. B fares cost only 15K to upgrade to C from SYD/MEL to the US. Once you make 1P (premier exec) with the 100% RDM bonus you would earn about 15K each way. Only downside is that you'd have to fly in E trans-tasman (the flight is relatively short) and you would not be able to upgrade to Asia
I can think of another, fairly serious, downside: you'd be flying UA not NZ
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Old Oct 22, 07, 5:02 pm
  #14  
 
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Originally Posted by mad_atta View Post
I can think of another, fairly serious, downside: you'd be flying UA not NZ
My last biz class far on UA included a seat that would not recline properly, no audio on the headset despite several replacements, and a meal that was worse than anything I have ever been offered in cattle class on ANZ or AC.
So I would also recommend going with ANZ. Also as someone else pointed out, *A upgrades are the last to be considered by ANZ if at all from what my friends on AC and UA tell me.
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Old Oct 22, 07, 5:15 pm
  #15  
tht
 
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Originally Posted by mad_atta View Post
I can think of another, fairly serious, downside: you'd be flying UA not NZ
OT: I am fine with US (P.S and International 777's) however I would agree that avoiding 12 hours in Y with no Avod, and a poor seat are a good idea. On the other had since the OP is looking for UG's SWU (confirmed at the time of booking assuming he can get to 1K) and a much higher chance of other UG's clearing are worth considering. But would you want to risk 12 hours even in E+ on the 747....

In my book, NZ now have the best long haul Y product I have flow, SQ is getting a little tired now. With the New Canada flight you will also have 3 options of entry / connection point for getting to the North-side.

Back OT: It is my read of the OP thou that he wants to know where to credit miles, for status and UG's not decide which airline to fly on...

tht
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