Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® or 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs.
There’s now lots of space for awards in Business Class on Air New Zealand flights from Los Angeles to Auckland if you want to fly between May and September, according to the View from the Wing blog. That’s because United recently discontinued flying the route during those months and Air New Zealand is picking up some slack.
Air New Zealand’s Business Class is all aisle access and a great treat on such a long flight, with lots of connections in Auckland to the rest of New Zealand and onward to Australia.
The cheapest way to book this if you have Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points isn’t via United MileagePlus, which charges 160,000 points roundtrip, but via Virgin Flying Club, which lets you book the LA – Auckland route for just 125,000 points roundtrip in Business Class. Virgin and Air New Zealand are longtime partners, with an award chart that hasn’t changed in many years, and seen little use since Air New Zealand award space can be so hard to come by.
That award includes a free stopover (you can head to Australia for the same price with a stay in New Zealand).
You’ll need to call Flying Club on+1 800 365 9500 to book, and they’ll ping Air New Zealand for ‘I’ space, which is the fare code Air New Zealand uses for Business Class awards. They’ll also place the award on hold for up to 24 hours while you transfer points.
Air New Zealand doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on this route, so no nasty surprises there when using Flying Club or any other miles, and this might be the highest value way to use your Virgin Flying Club miles out there, netting you about 5 cents per mile in value.
The other best way to play this is if you have Amex points is to book using ANA miles (a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards). You can grab a roundtrip on Air New Zealand for just 120,000 miles, and that also includes one stopover, but transfers to ANA aren’t instant so this space could be gone by then. Virgin might be a better bet at 125,000 miles.
But May – September is New Zealand’s colder season, so don’t go if having the best weather is important.
There’s another opportunity to take advantage of some award space on United that keeps coming.
For a few weeks it’s had good availability in November on its nonstops from San Francisco to Auckland in First Class for 80,000 United MileagePlus miles one way (160,000 roundtrip).
Now, that availability is carrying over as far as mid December, which lets you pick one of the best times of year to head down there, and you get First Class, which is roomier than Business Class.
There’s a chance United changes planes, and you end up on one that only has Business Class, instead of both First and Business, but you’ll get 20,000 miles refunded, since Business Class on United flights to Australia runs just 140,000 miles roundtrip.
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