Last week I needed to redeem a very last minute ticket going from Bangkok to Auckland and managed to snag some of the coveted Air New Zealand award space through United Airlines Mileage Plus.
Air New Zealand Business Class award space must be some of the most difficult to come by, they rarely release any into the Starnet availability which you can book with partner airlines,
The routing from Thailand to New Zealand/Australia costs 30k United Miles in Business and 40k in First Class. My preference would have been to fly First Class to Sydney and connect in Air New Zealand Business to Auckland, however the SYD-AKL route almost never has availability such as in this case as well.
I was surprised when I was offered the routing Bangkok-Hong Kong-Singapore-Auckland with the first two sectors being in International First Class for only 5,000 miles more. This routing was practical in many ways as I needed to drop something in HK with a friend and ended up attending a function during the nightly layover in Singapore.
The quality of the United Airlines Global First flight was utter garbage compared to the much shorter Thai Airways one (I ranted about this here already) and the Air New Zealand flight was great even though I found the seat/cocoon on the 787 Dreamliner way too tight and uncomfortable to sit.
It’s important to always keep a few miles in reserve for last minute ’emergency’ bookings such as this. United dramatically tuned up the required mileage for premium partner awards on most routes. The South Asia to Austral-Pacific is one of the exceptions where Mileage Plus provides excellent value.