Air New Zealand Airpoints Program Review

Air New Zealand Airpoints Program Review

As New Zealand’s flagship carrier, Air New Zealand has great strengths domestically. Like its neighbor Singapore Airlines, this island-based carrier also covers a lot of ground beyond its shores.

Air New Zealand’s 4,000 weekly flights are split between 26 domestic destinations and 27 destinations abroad. It offers connections to western North America, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver. Due to its membership in the Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance, the power of Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars expands to 18,000 daily flights.

While there have been a lot of complaints about U.S. carriers unbundling fares and offering too many fare options, Air New Zealand has allowed passengers to pay for exactly what they want and nothing more for years. In 2004, it was one of the first airlines worldwide to award points based on dollars spent rather than miles flown.

A quick glance at Air New Zealands award charts can set you in a tailspin, especially if you’re new to the points and miles game. Air New Zealand prices their awards in hundreds of points instead of thousands of points. Their system equates one Airpoints Dollar with one New Zealand dollar for redemptions.

This transparent award approach paired with the airline’s healthy dose of Kiwi flavor, such as Hobbit-inspired safety videos and national rugby team-themed black planes, have twice earned Air New Zealand the Airline of the Year award from Air Transport World.

Hubs:
  • Auckland Airport
  • Wellington International Airport
  • Christchurch International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
How Can You Use Airpoints Dollars?

While Air New Zealand ties Airpoints Dollars at a one-to-one rate with the New Zealand dollar, the price is also related to the type of fare purchased. Complicating matters further, there are also different types of fares depending on what region you’re flying in.

Generally, for international flights you can choose from:

  • Economy Global Saver
  • Economy Global Flexi
  • Premium Economy
  • Business Class

Domestically, your options are:

  • Grabaseat
  • Smart Saver
  • Flexi Plus

Air New Zealand does not have capacity controls on award flights because you can use your Airpoints Dollars to buy any seat on any flight. The same is not true for partner airlines and companion awards, which operate on separate, fixed-priced award charts. Prices for partner flights and companion fares are very similar.

Program perks:
  • Awards can be redeemed 12 months in advance
  • Airpoints Dollars can be used to pay taxes and fees on flights within New Zealand
  • Discounted companion tickets can be purchased with Airpoints Dollars in concert with revenue tickets
  • Sharepoints accounts are available, combining point balances of up to four members
  • Any seat on any flight can be booked with Airpoints Dollars
  • One-way awards available
  • Seat assignments and extra baggage can be paid for with Airpoints Dollars
  • Airpoints Dollars can be redeemed for car rentals, hotel nights and club membership
Booking quirks:
  • Airpoints Dollars expire four years after they are accrued
  • Only members of the same household enrolled in the gifting register are eligible to give or receive award flights and transfer points
  • Awards are priced per segment, so you can pay dramatically different prices for travel to or within the same country, especially in New Zealand

Airpoints-earning-rates-table
The number of Airpoints Dollars earned per flight

Best value awards:

Air New Zealand’s partner award chart was recalibrated in 2014, matching the award price more closely to the typical cash price of each flight. There is still some value to be had, though, particularly with flights to Hawaii and Tahiti. Economy flights are 450 Airpoints Dollars between Auckland and these destinations. Business class, which is usually triple the economy price, is a very reasonable 795 Airpoints Dollars.

Worst value awards:

The worst way to use Airpoints Dollars is on last-minute flights operated by Air New Zealand. As the price of all redemptions on Air New Zealand-operated flights are tied to the cash price of the ticket, the cost will be significantly higher than if you’d booked a few weeks earlier.

In these cases, you would be better off using miles from a different Star Alliance partner, or using a different airline entirely.

The Good Stuff: Upgrades and Elite Status

Airpoints upgrades are available on both Air New Zealand-operated flights and flights with Star Alliance partners. They are applied per flight, and not on the entire journey. Upgrades are not available for companion tickets, Grabaseat fares or other discounted fares.

On international flights, members can bid on OneUp upgrades. If a member has elite status, or if the flight is with a Star Alliance partner, upgrades can be purchased for a fixed rate using Airpoints Dollars.

Upgrade-chart_star-alliance
Airpoints Elite Levels and Perks

Each subsequent level includes the perks of the previous level unless stated otherwise.

  • Silver: Two lounge passes per year, special business class award fares available
  • Gold: Lounge access, points do not expire, early boarding with access to Premium Seating, ability to nominate two people who do not live in your household to your gift registry, Star Alliance lounge privileges, priority check-in and boarding on Star Alliance flights, additional baggage allowance on Star Alliance flights
  • Elite: Elite card for partner, gifts when meeting mileage thresholds, complimentary valet parking, status points roll over, ability to bank an elite year, ability to nominate four people who do not live in your household to your gift registry
Associated Credit Cards

No Air New Zealand co-branded credit cards are available in North America. The airline offers several MasterCard options through Kiwi Bank in New Zealand.