How you can fly Star Alliance Business Class for only $250

A guide to short-haul Star Alliance Business Class redemptions using Airpoints

Earth horizon
GUIDE: Using Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 4 minutes
POSTED: May 2, 2019
UPDATED: July 24, 2019
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Air New Zealand Airpoints

With United MileagePlus moving to dynamic pricing, and KrisFlyer devaluing their Star Alliance award chart, I thought it would be an opportune time to publish a guide to one of the best use of Airpoints Dollars—short-haul, single-segment Business Class redemptions.

Partner Awards

As most will know, each Airpoints Dollar is worth $1 when redeemed towards seats on any Air New Zealand flight. While this results in unbeatable award availability—every seat on the plane is up for grabs— it also means that you are the mercy of the revenue cost of the fare.

This is where the Airpoints partner airline partner award chart comes in. For only 250 Airpoints Dollars, you could score yourself a Business Class seat on any Star Alliance airline on one-way sectors under 1,000km.

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

I have run through some examples below on redemptions that fall into this category.

Example 1: Fly EVA Airways Royal Laurel Class between Hong Kong and Taipei

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Aircraft Type: A real mixed bunch – you’ll see Boeing’s 777-300ER and 787-9 on this route, plus Airbus’ A330-200, A330-300 and sometimes more.
What to aim for: Boeing’s 777-300ER and 797-9, with 1-2-1 Business Class with lie-flat seats
Taxes: $63.30
Lowest price found: $592
Cheapest Amex MRP Option: Airpoints at 43,750

Example 2: Fly Air Canada Business Class between Toronto and New York

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Aircraft Type: Embraer RJ-175
Taxes: $71.40 from Toronto, but only $8.50 on the return
Lowest price found: $456
Cheapest Amex MRP Option: Airpoints at 43,750

Example 3: Fly Asiana Business Class between Beijing and Seoul

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Aircraft Type: Airbus A321-200 or A330-300
What to aim for: A330-300, with 2-2-2 angle-flat seats
Taxes: $20.20
Lowest price found: $700
Cheapest Amex MRP Option: Airpoints at 43,750

Example 4: Fly Thai Airways Royal Silk Business Class between Bangkok and Hanoi

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Aircraft Type: Airbus A330
What to aim for: Apparently no choice, but Thai are renown for last minute rescheduling of aircraft
Taxes: $35.50
Lowest price found: $626
Cheapest Amex MRP Option: Airpoints at 43,750

Runner up: Fly Brussels Airlines Business Class between Freetown and Monrovia

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions route

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-300
Taxes: $203 (very high, but a very interesting route)
Lowest price found: $724
Cheapest Amex MRP Option: Airpoints at 43,750

Which airline partners can I book with?

Theoretically you should be able to redeem with any of Air New Zealand’s partners, which we have listed in full here.

However, it is known that several partners are particularly stingy with releasing award availability. For example, when writing this guide, I could find no availability with SWISS and Singapore Airlines.

How do I make a redemption?

Airpoints members based in New Zealand are a lucky bunch and can book award seats on Star Alliance airlines online.

For award seats on other partners (e.g. Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic and Etihad), you will need to call the Air New Zealand contact centre at 0800 737 000.

How can I confirm which flights fall into this distance category?

I use the excellent gcmap.com website to confirm distance between two particular airports. The mapping does however show miles by default, rather than kilometres.

To get around this, click on ‘Dist+Time’ and then change the Unit measurement to kilometres.

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions map

Another tool I find useful is CalcMaps. For example, if I want to find all cities within 1000km of New York, I can simply search for the airport in question—say Newark:

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions map

I then click on the map, and this gives me a circle:

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions map

I zoom out:

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

I then click and hold the red pointer and drag it until it covers just below 1,000km:

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

I now know that I can search for United redemptions from New York, and that I can travel as far south as South Carolina, and as far west as Michigan, for only 250 APD in Business Class.

For example, why pay $904 for a Business Class seat on the 6 May between Newark and Detroit:

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Or a still whopping $756 for Economy Class:

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

When I could pay only $250, plus $8.50 in taxes for Business Class:

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Or an amazing $125, plus $8.50 in taxes, for Economy Class. Insane!

Using Airpoints for Star Alliance Business Class redemptions

Hang on… I can ‘buy’ these seats?

If you have a Kiwibank-issued Air New Zealand Airpoints credit card, then subject to your credit limit, you can ‘top up’ your Airpoints Dollars and effectively ‘buy’ any of the redemptions above, for only $250.

You can read more in our Airpoints Dollars top up guide.

Remember to only buy Airpoints Dollars to cover the cost of the redemption. Any taxes and fees are payable in cash.

Current Airpoints credit card offers

New cardholders of the following cards could earn an Airpoints Dollars joining bonus that would cover the redemption cost of a Business Class seat on any of the flights listed above.

Summing up

Most airlines try to encourage their frequent flyers to redeem points towards seats on their own flights, or with select strategic partners.

They usually do this though pricing these redemptions at a lower amount than you would pay if you redeemed with a partner.

However, Airpoints is that oddball programme that has swapped it the other way around— one of the best uses of Airpoints Dollars is on single-segment flights, particularly short-haul routes such as these.

These redemptions are particularly good value for last-minute travel, when revenue prices are high. Sometimes you may be able to ‘purchase’ a Business Class ticket for cheaper than an Economy Class one.

Have you found a great value redemption with Airpoints? Let us know in the comments section below.

Featured image courtesy of Star Alliance

How you can fly Star Alliance Business Class for only $250 was last modified: July 24th, 2019 by Daniel Kinnoch