How to Use Air New Zealand Airpoints DollarsAirpoints, Air New Zealand’s frequent flyer program, is not frequently discussed on our forums. There’s a good reason for this; it’s one of the world’s worst value frequent flyer programs!

Nonetheless, AFF member Cappuccino99 is seeking advice this week on how to spend over 1,000 Airpoints Dollars.

When I lived in NZ, I travelled a lot for work so achieved status quite quickly. I’m no longer living there but still at Silver and with over $1000 airpoints dollars. As I’m now living in Australia with no current plans to visit NZ, I’m ok letting my status drop back but what would be the best use of the dollars? Can I use them on partner airlines originating in Australia? Will they expire if I don’t use them soon?

Air New Zealand’s Airpoints frequent flyer scheme works a little differently to most. Instead of earning frequent flyer points, members earn “Airpoints Dollars”. These are treated like cash, with one Airpoints Dollar worth NZD$1. When redeeming Airpoints Dollars for any Air New Zealand flight, the number of Airpoints required will be the same as the cost of a regular ticket.

Airpoints Dollars can also be used to bid for a OneUp upgrade on Air New Zealand flights. Again, one Airpoints Dollar is equal to a $1 bid.

But Cappuccino99 has no plans to fly Air New Zealand in the near future. Instead, they’re hoping to redeem their Airpoints Dollars to fly on partner airlines.

Air New Zealand Airpoints can be redeemed to fly on any Star Alliance airline, subject to award availability. Award flights on Virgin Australia, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific and Jet Airways are also possible. But the partner airline reward chart is not particularly competitive.

Yes it’s possible to use them on Virgin Australia domestic flights and Star Alliance flights out of Australia however a really bad award chart applies.

One option is flights from Australia to Asia on Star Alliance airlines. But a one-way Economy ticket would cost 800 Airpoints Dollars and Business class costs 1,750 Airpoints Dollars, plus taxes. That is crazily expensive for what’s supposed to be a reward flight! Furthermore, it’s not even possible to use Airpoints for travel to Europe on partner airlines. The program rules state that travel between Australia and Europe must be on a single flight number without a stopover. No such flight exists with any Air New Zealand partner airline.

One member suggests that flights from Asia to Europe are reasonable value.

I’ve always found the Asia-Europe in business class best value for 1090 apd + (usually this means Singapore-IST on TK, Bangkok-Europe on TG or China-Europe on CA), But then you need to find your own way to Asia and own way home …

Ultimately, the best value for somebody in Australia may be to simply redeem Airpoints Dollars for domestic Virgin Australia flights. It’s not a great use of points, but Airpoints is not a great frequent flyer program. It appears that domestic Virgin flights under 2,000km cost 200 Airpoints Dollars in Economy or 450 Airpoints Dollars for Business class.

To redeem Airpoints on an airline other than Air New Zealand, you’ll need to call the Air New Zealand contact centre.

Unused Airpoints expire after 4-5 years.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: What to do with airpoints dollars?


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]