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Air New Zealand is known for their attention grabbing inflight safety videos.

The airline started with a disco themed one with Richard Simmons (access here), then introduced one with Betty White (access here) and a Hobbit themed one came out less than a year ago (access here).

air-new-zealand-sports-illustrated-swimsuit-video

Now the airline has teamed up with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit to create a new video and get the attention of many travelers. [click to continue…]

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Star Alliance had launched a Gold Game that testes your knowledge of the alliance by asking five questions. You can win one of the 36 prizes of Star Alliance Gold status in one of the participating programs.

star-alliance-gold-game

This offer is valid for all other current Star Alliance members except TAM that leaves the alliance in March and US Airways that is trying to merge with American Airlines and exits the alliance upon merger completion. [click to continue…]

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There has been quite a turmoil recently with airlines making partnerships outside of alliances. Qantas stroke a deal with Emirates that is a rival of Qatar that is set to join Oneworld in late 2013/early 2013. AirBerlin is getting cosy with Air France-KLM, although it is a new oneworld member.

nz-drops-hkg-lhr

Now, Air New Zealand, Star Alliance carrier, is forming a strategic partnership with Cathay Pacific, oneworld alliance member, for flight between Auckland and Hong Kong. The airlines will codeshare each other’s flights on this route and will extend (some of) the frequent flier benefits regardless which airline operates the flight.

Also, the Air New Zealand will drop the Hong Kong to London flight, but continues to operate Auckland to London via Los Angeles.

The last flight from Hong Kong to London on Air New Zealand will depart on March 3 and the flight from London to Hong will depart March 3rd as well. Customers that are booked on Air New Zealand on that route beyond the March 3rd will be rebooked on Cathay Pacific flights.

Conclusion

It is very interesting to see all these partnerships popping up between airlines that are not within the same alliance. Hope that this arrangement works for Air New Zealand. If I would be flying from Auckland to London I would rather not go via Los Angeles due to the rather unpleasant transfer experience.

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When I did the multi-carrier redemption couple of weeks ago using Continental miles on Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, ANA, Thai Airways, and Air New Zealand, I had the pleasure of trying to get all the seats selected for the itinerary.

For this purpose, I requested from Continental all the carrier specific PNR’s. The Lufthansa’s website allowed be to request seat from all the carriers on this Continental ticketed itinerary, but those seat selections didn’t stick.

Virgin Atlantic, ANA, and Thai required me to call their reservations number to have the seats selected. I used ExpertFlyer first to find out what seats were available on the flights that I was booked on. Especially calling Virgin took forever because there was some snow around in the Heathrow area that had led to numerous cancellations. ANA and Thai were both easier.

But the best of all and the easiest was the Air New Zealand. You only needed the record locator and could do everything online without needing to call the reservations. It makes you wonder, why all the airlines don’t have this. For sure it would decrease the number of phone calls to the reservations that are purely for selecting a seat.

Here are the seat selection screens that I just did for two Air New Zealand flights later today.

Apia to Auckland:

air-new-zealand-seat-request

Auckland to Shanghai:

air-new-zealand-seat-request-akl-pvg

 

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My favorite program for complicated one way travel award in business or first class has always been the BMI’s Diamond Club. The program is somewhat difficult to understand, and the economy awards using BMI miles rarely make any sense at all. Lufthansa is in the process of selling BMI to British Airways’ parent IAG. Diamond Club wont be around for too long.

I am right now in Suva on my Continental Airlines issued award ticket that I wrote about two weeks ago. I am flying to Apia (APW) tomorrow on Air Pacific, and was going to issue an award ticket to take me all the way to Colombo, where my next Emirates tickets start, from Apia.

great-circle-award-success

As always, I do my homework in advance. Experflyer is very useful for checking the award availability on Air New Zealand. Getting out of Apia (APW) is borderline impossible using awards on any other day than Thursdays when Air New Zealand flies one of their 767’s there. Getting out of Auckland is somewhat tricky at times too. There are only Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways that are the only Star Alliance carriers serving the country.

My preference was not to have a stopover in Auckland but rather in Bangkok. There were no other redemptions flights available in business class out of Auckland on 23rd than to Narita and Shanghai on NZ.

My first attempt was to ticket APW-AKL-PVG-BKK on Air New Zealand and Thai and then ten days later continue to my final destination BKK-SIN-CMB on Singapore Airlines. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it ticketed at the mileage level I wanted as the Diamond Club was claiming that this wasn’t an allowable Star Alliance routing. I then moved my plan to get to the CMB couple of days earlier on a direct flight from Bangkok, but this still wasn’t an allowable routing according to the Diamond Desk.

At this time I have a longer conversation to see what is the system or tool they use to validate routings. It appeared to be Star Alliance’s website. And it appeared to check the routings to a stopover point.

At this point it was already like 2AM here in Suva and decided to give them a call few hours later when they have another shift working.

bmi-dc-apw-akl-pvg-bkk-cmb

In the morning, I made four alternate award plans that I would try to get ticketed. To my surprise just by changing the stopover point from Bangkok to Shanghai somehow made the same routing that I had tried to ticket the night before permissible.

The final routing was APW-AKL-PVG on Air New Zealand in business class and then after a ten day stopover PVG-BKK-CMB on Thai’s business class.

This is one of the better Diamond Club redemptions at 18750 miles + £127.50 (cash portion of the cash + miles) + £101.30 (actual taxes/YQ’s). Very good value if you ask me.