When variable points pricing with Airpoints can offer good value

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GUIDE: Using Points
DIFFICULTY: Easy
TIME TO READ: 5 minutes
POSTED: January 27, 2020
UPDATED: January 27, 2020
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Air New Zealand Airpoints

A common critique of Air New Zealand’s Airpoints programme is that its points offer poor value on flight redemptions.

While this is a myth in some scenarios, particularly where you use Airpoints on partner redemptions, it is true that using Airpoints Dollars for Business Class seats with Air New Zealand itself is usually not the way to go.

However there are exceptions where variable points pricing does come out ahead.

For example, because each Airpoints Dollar is worth the equivelent of $1 when redeemed on flights with Air New Zealand, this can make cheap grabaseat fares a great redemption opportunity, particularly in Economy Class.

There are also select routes where using Airpoints Dollars on Premium Economy or Business Premier seats can offer better or equal value when compared to other frequent flyer programmes.

This guide explores where this value can be found.

All points pricing in this guide is ‘from’ and is based off the lowest fares found on 17 January 2020. Blanks mean that the specified cabin class is not offered on that route.

Quick links

Understanding how we show points pricing in this guide

The tables in this guide show converted points pricing only, rather than the specific Airpoints Dollar (APD) amount.

The reason for this is that the converted amount provides the point of comparison with other frequent flyer programmes.

To work out how many Airpoints Dollars you would need, just divide the number shown by 59.

You can find out more about how we’ve calculated these values in our guide to understanding Airpoints.

New Zealand

New Zealand Image

Using Airpoints on domestic flights will almost always be cheaper than a redemption with any other programme, unless booking at the last minute when only fully flexible fares remain available for sale.

There are also no taxes or charges to pay for domestic redemptions made using Airpoints Dollars.

By comparison, all flights listed in these tables would cost:

The points listed are based off the lowest grabaseat fares available at the time of writing this guide.

Route (ex Auckland)Economy
Tauranga1,711
Kerikeri1,711
New Plymouth2,065
Taupo2,065
Rotorua2,065
Napier/Hastings2,065
Gisborne2,065
Whangarei 2,065
Blenheim2,301
Christchurch2,301
Palmerston North2,301
Wellington2,301
Nelson2,655
Dunedin4,071
Queenstown4,071
Invercargill4,661
Route (ex Wellington)Economy
New Plymouth1,711
Palmerston North1,711
Napier/Hastings2,065
Blenheim2,065
Nelson2,065
Dunedin2,065
Auckland2,301
Queenstown2,301
Hamilton2,655
Rotorua2,655
Tauranga2,655
Gisborne2,655
Timaru2,655
Invercargill2,891
Route (ex Christchurch)Economy
Dunedin1,711
Nelson1,711
Queenstown2,065
Hokitika2,065
Auckland2,301
Napier/Hastings2,301
Invercargill2,655
New Plymouth2,655
Hamilton2,891
Rotorua2,891
Tauranga3,245
Palmerston North3,481
Route (ex Hamilton)Economy
Palmerston North1,711
Auckland2,655
Christchurch2,891

Australia

Australia image

Flights to Australia are a bit of a mixed bag. Here are the rules that seem to apply when Air New Zealand fares are on sale:

  • Airpoints are cheaper than KrisFlyer for all routes in Economy, except Perth. They are about on par for flights to Melbourne and Sydney in Business Premier, though less so when there are no fare sales.
  • While KrisFlyer come out ahead of Airpoints on other routes for Business Premier redemptions, standard reward availablility is often little to none.
  • Airpoints is cheaper than using Qantas Points for all routes in all classes, except the Gold Coast and Adelaide, where Qantas are ahead for Business Class redemptions.
  • Airpoints is cheaper than Velocity for all routes in all classes, except the Gold Coast, Perth and Adelaide, where Velocity are ahead for Business Class redemptions.
  • If you have AAdvantage miles, these will be better value to use all routes in Business Class with Qantas, and to Perth in Economy.
  • If you have Asia Miles, these will be better value to use on all routes in Business Class with Qantas, except Perth.
Route (ex Auckland)EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness PremierTaxes
Brisbane5,13818,88534,225$71.91
Sydney5,298 17,09831,258$69.21
Sunshine Coast5,380 $67.81
Melbourne5,92917,729 31,889$58.51
Gold Coast6,189 25,18749,082$54.11
Adelaide10,389 23,01546,616$58.91
Cairns11,038$61.91
Perth17,51138,16155,860$52.21
Route (ex Wellington)EconomyTaxes
Brisbane5,138$71.91
Sydney5,339$68.51
Melbourne5,970$57.81
Route (ex Christchurch)EconomyTaxes
Brisbane5,213$70.65
Sydney5,372$67.95
Melbourne6,003$57.25
Route (ex Queenstown)EconomyTaxes
Sydney8,041$72.72
Melbourne8,672$62.02
Brisbane14,135$75.42

Pacific Islands

Pacifc Islands image

With the exception of flights to Papeete, Airpoints offer competitive redemption rates in all classes for flights to the Pacific Islands. Fares to these destinations are frequently on sale, making it easy to find travel dates that suit.

Route (ex Auckland)EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness PremierTaxes
Apia11,52223,20432,644$35.71
Nadi12,58421,43432,644$35.71
Niue13,174$35.71
Noumea13,174$35.71
Nuku'alofa13,17421,43432,054$35.71
Rarotonga13,76422,61432,054$35.71
Papeete15,23956,83474,534$35.71

Asia

Japan image

Economy redemptions to Asia using Airpoints are generally equal or better value compared to most frequent flyer programmes.

Premium Economy redemptions are competitive compared to the likes of Qantas, and about equal with KrisFlyer on most routes.

Business Premier redemptions are pricey, so steer clear. Instead consider an Airpoints partner reward. Most redemptions to these cities can be found at around the 90,000 point (1,550 APD) mark.

Route (ex Auckland)EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness PremierTaxes
Singapore^27,21681,142135,717$35.71
Denpasar27,33456,83498,134$35.71
Shanghai29,51770,817118,017$35.71
Taipei32,46770,817135,717$35.71
Tokyo34,53282,617177,017$35.71
Osaka34,53282,617177,017$35.71
Hong Kong~35,41773,767177,017$35.71
Seoul36,24370,817129,817$35.71
Beijing#36,89285,567141,617$35.71
Route (ex Christchurch)EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness PremierTaxes
Singapore^27,23182,160135,732$34.45
Hong Kong~35,37388,473192,313$34.45

^ Operated by Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines
~ Operated by Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific
# Operated by Air China

North America and Hawaii

Chicago Image

Economy and Premium Economy redemptions to North America and Hawaii using Airpoints are generally equal or better value compared to most frequent flyer programmes.

Though as is the case with most long haul lights, Business Premier redemptions are often disproportionately expensive due to the revenue cost of these seats.

Again, consider better value Airpoints partner rewards for flights to North American in Business Class.

An example includes Air Canada to Vancouver, which costs only 94,400 points (1,600 APD). This is only slightly more than a Premium Economy redemption on Air New Zealand.

You may also like to read our top tips for securing reward seats on these routes.

Route (ex Auckland)EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness PremierTaxes
Honolulu9,392#35,942#83,142#$89.81
Los Angeles30,39684,971174,946$89.81
San Francisco^30,39688,865195,065$89.81
Houston32,81588,865195,065$89.81
Chicago41,665106,565218,724$89.81
Vancouver42,08492,234204,334$35.71
New York44,613112,462230,462$90.85

^ Operated by Air New Zealand and United
# Rate per grabaseat sale on 21 January

South America

South American Peru Image

You could redeem your Airpoints Dollars for an Economy Class seat to Buenos Aires and feel comfortable that you’ll generally be getting better value compared to a similar redemption made with other frequent flyer programmes.

However the points cost of a Premium Economy or Business Premier seat is excessive, so you’d be better off looking at these other options for Business Class travel to South America.

Route (ex Auckland)EconomyPremium EconomyBusiness PremierTaxes
Buenos Aires44,014102,719231,929‬$35.71

Other

Sydney Image

These are some of the more obscure Air New Zealand routes, also known as fifth-freedom flights.

Flights to Norfolk Island are often expensive, but the rates shown below are quite competitive, and cheaper than if you made a redemption with KrisFlyer.

Also, on the assumption that KrisFlyer cannot see any standard reward availability on Air New Zealand, a Business Premier redemption between Sydney and Rarotonga is also great value.

This is especially so considering the monopoly they have on this direct flight, and that the distance flown would cost a lot more if Qantas or Virgin Australia also flew the same route.

Flights between Rarotonga and Los Angeles fall into the same rule category as for North America above.

RouteEconomyPremium EconomyBusiness PremierTaxes
Sydney to Norfolk Island9,251$83.20
Sydney to Rarotonga10,26027,48842,297$96.10
Brisbane to Norfolk Island14,697$85.90
Rarotonga to Los Angeles36,62182,641132,790$127.31

Summing up

The single best advantage of frequent flyer points is to get into Business and First Class without paying the kind of money that an outright ticket purchase requires.

This is because a redemption for a Business Class seat usually costs little more than double the number of points of an Economy Class redemption.

However the same rule does not apply to standard Airpoints rewards with Air New Zealand. In fact, you get more value from an Economy Class redemption, on the basis that the points required for Business Class is tied to the cash amount of the fare, which is often 4-5x more.

So, in summing up, here are the common rules to take from this guide:

  • It’s usually safe to use your Airpoints Dollars on flights to Australia and the Pacific Islands in all cabin classes, but time your redemption around when the fares are on sale.
  • On long-haul routes, always start with a search for a partner reward. These will usually always offer better value than a standard Airpoints redemption flying Air New Zealand.
  • Where this fails, remember that a redemption in Economy Class will usually be cheaper than having made the same redemption with any other frequent flyer programme, and will be the better value use of your points. Premium Economy may also be good value if this class is on sale.

Have you used your Airpoints Dollars for travel on any of the routes above? Or do you have any other suggestions for how to get good value from variable points pricing redemptions? Share in the comments below!

When variable points pricing with Airpoints can offer good value was last modified: January 27th, 2020 by Daniel Kinnoch