With New Zealand opening back up to travellers from Australia, but flights looking quite expensive, now could be a good time to redeem your frequent flyer points for a trip to New Zealand!
Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand are all running flights between Australia and New Zealand. This provides plenty of choices for Australians redeeming points to get across the “ditch”.
This article explores five of the best value ways to redeem frequent flyer points from Australia to New Zealand.
Redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points for Qantas flights
Perhaps the most obvious option for most Australians is to redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points to book Qantas flights to New Zealand. On all current Qantas trans-Tasman routes, an Economy Classic Flight Reward will cost you 18,000 Qantas points + taxes each way. For Qantas Business class, you could expect to pay 41,500 Qantas points + taxes each way.
The taxes on flights to New Zealand are quite high at the moment, so redeeming points for an Economy class ticket isn’t always such great value. That’s because, in addition to the points, you’ll need to pay all the taxes and a Qantas carrier charge of $14 each way. So, once you add on all the taxes & carrier charges, it’s often not that much more expensive to buy a ticket. But using points can still work out to be good value if flights are expensive (e.g. to Queenstown), or if you’re booking a Business Class ticket.
If you’d like to travel to New Zealand next week, Qantas award availability isn’t a problem either as Qantas has made every seat on its trans-Tasman flights available to book with points for the first three days of the trans-Tasman bubble.
One great trans-Tasman “sweet spot” is Qantas’ new direct Cairns-Auckland flight, which still comes in at 18,000 points in Economy or 41,500 points in Business class, even though it’s a longer flight than most of Qantas’ other trans-Tasman routes.
If you’re booking a Qantas Business class ticket, you may wish to choose an Airbus A330 flight as you’ll be flying in a Qantas Business Suite with a fully lie-flat bed. The Qantas A330 product will be available on all Qantas flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns to Auckland, and some flights from Brisbane to Auckland.
You can redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points for Qantas flights to New Zealand on the Qantas website.
Redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles for Qantas flights
Although fewer Australians are likely to have access to American Airlines AAdvantage miles, there are some key advantages (pardon the pun) to using these instead of Qantas points.
Firstly, as American Airlines is a partner of Qantas in the Oneworld alliance, it’s possible to redeem AAdvantage miles for Qantas flights. You can book on the American Airlines website and, as an added bonus, American Airlines doesn’t pass on Qantas’ carrier charges.
The great thing about using American Airlines miles is that Qantas award flights from anywhere in Australia to anywhere in New Zealand are the same low price. You’ll pay 25,000 AAdvantage miles (plus taxes) for any one-way Qantas Business Class itinerary across the Tasman. This even includes crazy routings like Karratha-Perth-Melbourne-Auckland.
Even if you don’t already have any AAdvantage miles, you can buy miles directly from American Airlines. The price you’ll pay for the miles (especially if there’s a discount or bonus available) is likely to be much lower than the regular price for a Qantas Business Class ticket to New Zealand!
Redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points for Air New Zealand flights
Virgin Australia no longer partners with Air New Zealand, and its Velocity Frequent Flyer program isn’t currently allowing members to redeem their points for any international flights anyway. But Virgin Atlantic, which happens to be an American Express transfer partner in Australia, does partner with Air New Zealand.
Not only is it possible to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points for Air New Zealand flights, but the value on trans-Tasman award bookings is excellent.
According to the Flying Club award chart for Air New Zealand bookings, it costs just 15,000 Flying Club points (plus taxes), one-way, to book a Business class award seat on any Air New Zealand route between Australia and New Zealand. This includes longer routes like Perth-Auckland and Adelaide-Auckland. (Economy awards are also available for 10,000 points each way, plus taxes.)
Air New Zealand award availability can be limited and, unfortunately, the only way to book a seat is by calling Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. But if you can find an award seat, it’s worth the effort!
Before transferring points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, we highly recommend checking that award seats are available when you want to travel. As Air New Zealand is part of Star Alliance, you can easily get an indication of Air New Zealand award availability by checking on the United or Air Canada websites. If an Air New Zealand award seat is available to book on those websites, it should also be available to book through Flying Club (but you’ll need to call Virgin Atlantic to be 100% sure).
Redeem Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles for Air New Zealand flights
As a fellow Star Alliance member, you can also use Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles to book Air New Zealand flights. The KrisFlyer pricing isn’t quite as sharp as with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, but KrisFlyer miles are also much more accessible to Australians and you can easily book on the Singapore Airlines website instead of having to phone a call centre in the UK.
With Singapore Airlines, you’ll need to pay 12,500 (plus taxes) KrisFlyer miles for a one-way Air New Zealand Economy award on any trans-Tasman route. Again, this includes Perth-Auckland. For Business class, the price is 31,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way (plus taxes).
Redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points for Jetstar flights
Although this is not always such great value, it’s worth mentioning that you can also redeem Qantas points to fly with Jetstar. The price is 14,400 Qantas points (plus taxes) on any trans-Tasman route. You can even add-on a New Zealand domestic connection with Jetstar for no extra points and just a few dollars more in taxes. Bookings can be made on the Qantas website.
Jetstar award tickets include 20kg of checked baggage. But you should compare the cost of booking a Classic Flight Reward ticket on Jetstar with the price of a regular ticket. Once you account for the taxes & carrier charges when redeeming points, it’s often not much more expensive just to buy a Jetstar ticket. If that’s the case, you’re probably better off saving your hard-earned Qantas points.
Honourable mention: Redeem Etihad Guest miles for Virgin Australia flights
Although Virgin Australia has not yet resumed trans-Tasman flights, this final trick is too good not to mention.
Recommended by the Australian Frequent Flyer
Etihad Airways is a partner of Virgin Australia, and you can redeem Etihad Guest miles to book Virgin Australia reward flights in Economy and Business class. Although the value of redeeming Etihad miles for Virgin flights varies by route, the Sydney-Queenstown route is a great “sweet spot”.
It costs just 6,900 Etihad Guest miles one-way in Economy class, or 13,800 Etihad Guest miles in Business class (plus taxes) to fly Virgin Australia from Sydney to Queenstown.
You can transfer Amex points to Etihad Guest, or simply buy Etihad Guest miles directly from Etihad Airways. Something to keep in mind when Virgin resumes its own flights to New Zealand!