Guide to Air New Zealand Reverse Auctions – how to get cheap flights for a last minute vacation

Unfortunately Grabaseat reverse auctions are no longer running, I will update if anything changes in the future.

Air New Zealand’s Grabaseat site run a weekly reverse flight auction which is ideal for any of you bargain hunting Kiwi adventurers who are either fortunate to have a certain degree flexibility in your holiday calendar, or enjoy the uncertainty of picking your destination last minute.

Auctions take place every Tuesday, and include options to many of Air New Zealand’s short and long haul destinations. Each individual auction includes mainly return flights to a particular destination in specific cabin class, with fixed travel dates and a set number of passengers (mainly 1 or 2, but occasionally up to 4).

To demonstrate examples of the flight options available and the potentially savings to be gained, I have followed 5 auctions with different destinations, cabin classes, and passenger numbers in an attempt to run comparisons of the auctions vs buying the fares outright. Here’s how it all works.

About Air NZ Reverse Auctions

While many of you are likely aware of the good value Greenlight fare deals run daily on the Grabaseat site, the reverse auctions are not so commonly known or used.

I think this is a missed opportunity for many as these auctions can provide great savings (even up to 50% discount) on flights to many destinations and the only catch being that you need to be capable of travelling at short notice with your dates set for you.

I have provided screen shots through the process and included flight and seat details, relevant booking and points earn info, and final auction reserve price. To provide a value comparison I have also displayed details of the same flights if they were booked through Air New Zealand’s own search engine.

How to use the Reverse Auctions

As the name suggests these auctions run in reverse – they start at a high value then as the auction clock runs down, the price gets less and less until either the timer runs out, or someone hits buy.

To provide some perspective to the time between auctions and the departure dates, the following auctions that I have used as examples took place during Grabaseat’s reverse auctions on Tuesday 19th April 2016.

Auction examples we followed

Auckland to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

AKL-SGN Y MAP

From June to October this year Air New Zealand will commence seasonal flying from Auckland to Hi Chi Minh City in Vietnam, in their quest to find new destinations and expand their network.

DEPARTS: NZ269 (767-300) – TUESDAY 14th JUNE 2016

RETURNS: NZ268 (767-300) – TUESDAY 21st JUNE 2016

AUCTION DETAILS: 2 PASSENGERS – ECONOMY CLASS

AKL-SGN Y RESERVE

The final reserve price for this auction finished at $1,699, or effectively $850 per person, which is a great price for full service Air NZ economy to South East Asia.

Because it is a new destination that will not commence flights until June, the time to prepare for the trip was 56 days from the auction, which is pretty good in comparison with many.

The only drawback with this itinerary I see is that it’s on one of Air New Zealand’s aging 767-300 aircraft. This is fairly standard for new destination that Air NZ want to try out before committing new aircraft.

AKL-SGN Y SEARCH

Booking through the Air NZ search engine on the same day, this trip would have cost $2,402, or $1,201 p.p.

Purchasing these flights through the Grabaseat’s reverse auction, would have saved $351 or 29% per passenger, which is a decent saving given the reasonable amount of time to prepare for departure.

Auckland to Buenos Aires, Argentina

AKL-EZE P MAP

A fairly new long haul destination for Air NZ, and currently one of very few ways to fly direct to South America from New Zealand.

DEPARTS: NZ30 (777-200) – SUNDAY 1st MAY 2016

RETURNS: NZ31 (777-200) – SUNDAY 15th MAY 2016

AUCTION DETAILS: 2 PASSENGERS – PREMIUM ECONOMY CLASS

AKL-EZE P RESERVE

The final reserve price for this auction finished at $4,498, or effectively $2,249 per person, which is a good price for 12-13 hrs each way in Air NZ’s highly regarded 777-200 premium economy product to Argentina.

What I like most with the details of these flights is that there is a whole 2 weeks between departure and return flights, often many of these auctions only offer 7-10 days between.

The main drawback with this itinerary I see is that the departing flight is on the 1st May. This would leave a mere 12 days to prepare for the trip, not a lot even if you could drop everything at the last minute.

AKL-EZE P SEARCH

Booking through the Air NZ search engine on the same day, this trip would have cost $8,566, or $4,283 p.p.

Purchasing these flights through the Grabaseat’s reverse auction, would have saved $2,034 or 48% per passenger, this is a massive saving although I would expect most people wouldn’t pay over $4,000 for a premium economy to South America.

Auckland to Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is a great destination on it’s own but also provides great flight access to many other areas of Asia.

DEPARTS: NZ87 (777-200) – SUNDAY 1st MAY 2016

RETURNS: NZ268 (777-200) – MONDAY 9th MAY 2016

AUCTION DETAILS: 2 PASSENGERS – BUSINESS CLASS

AKL-HKG J RESERVE

The final reserve price for this auction finished at $8,490, or $4,251 per person, a great price for long haul in Air NZ’s excellent 777-200 business premier product to Hong Kong.

There’s 8 days between departing and returning flights with this auction, which is fine if you’re just looking for a week off but it is a little restrictive.

The main drawback with this itinerary I see is that the departing flight is on the 1st May. This would leave a mere 12 days to prepare for the trip, not a lot even if you could drop everything at the last minute.

AKL-HKG J SEARCH

Booking through the Air NZ search engine on the same day, this trip would have cost $12,604, or $6,302 p.p.

Purchasing these flights through the Grabaseat’s reverse auction, would have saved $2,051 or 32% per passenger, this is a great saving although I would expect most people wouldn’t pay over $6,000 for even Air NZ business to Asia.

Auckland to Houston, Texas USA

AKL-HOU J MAP

Another recent addition to the Air NZ network, and 3rd option direct to the US. This flight provides great access to New York or Florida with Air NZ partner United Airlines.

DEPARTS: NZ28 (777-200) – SATURDAY 28th MAY 2016

RETURNS: NZ29 (777-200) – SUNDAY 5th JUNE 2016

AUCTION DETAILS: 1 PASSENGER – BUSINESS CLASS

AKL-HOU J RESERVE

The final reserve price for this auction finished at $4,489, a great price and likely the best I’ve seen to the US in Air NZ’s excellent 777-200 business premier product.

There’s 8 days between departing and returning flights with this auction, which is perfect if you’re on a business trip to the US or just looking for a week off.

With the departing flight on the 28th May this provides 39 days to prepare for the trip, not bad and a lot better than many of the other long haul options in the auction.

AKL-HOU J SEARCH

Booking through the Air NZ search engine on the same day, this trip would have cost $8,661.

Purchasing these flights through the Grabaseat’s reverse auction, would have saved $4,172 or 48% per passenger, this is a massive saving and a great price in business direct to Texas, although I don’t imagine anyone would pay over $8,000, even for Air NZ business to the US.

Auckland to Apia, Samoa

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Somewhere a little local this time, and a beautiful South Pacific vacation destination. Samoa is a popular winter time destination, and home to family of many New Zealand residents.

DEPARTS: NZ296 (777-200) – SATURDAY 14th MAY 2016

RETURNS: NZ295 (777-200) – SATURDAY 21st MAY 2016

AUCTION DETAILS: 2 PASSENGERS – SEAT ONLY

AKL-APW Y RESERVE

The final reserve price for this auction finished at $451,or effectively $225 per person, a great price and that’s return too, it’s also flying on Air NZ’s 777-200, which is much better than the standard A320’s that normally ply the pacific .

There’s 1 week between departing and returning flights with this auction, which is perfect if you’re wanting a few days of sunny beach action, or jetting back to celebrate a special family event.

With the departing flight on the 14th May this provides 25 days to prepare for the trip, not bad and should be enough to prepare yourself.

While the flights are Seat Only, once you log into a booking on the Air New Zealand site it’s usually simple to add luggage or other items to the booking after purchase.

AKL-APW Y SEARCH

Booking through the Air NZ search engine on the same day, this trip would have cost $846, or $423 p.p.

Purchasing these flights through the Grabaseat’s reverse auction, would have saved $198 or 47% per passenger, this is a massive saving and a great price for a week in the sunny Pacific.

For those who have a larger contingent to look after, many of these auction flights to Air NZ’s Pacific Island destination also come with 3 or 4 passenger itineraries also, this Samoa trip included.

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This auction for passengers travelling on the same dates to Samoa as the other finished with a reserve of $1,049, or effectively $262 p.p.

Summing up

If you have a flexible lifestyle and an accepting boss, the Grabaseat reverse auctions can get you flights to a number of holiday destinations for extremely good value.

The pick for me would have to be the return flights to Apia. For $225 per person return for a week on a beach in sunny Samoa, I think I’ve just found my next winter escape!

Guide to Air New Zealand Reverse Auctions – how to get cheap flights for a last minute vacation was last modified: June 15th, 2016 by Clayton Tremain