New Zealand and/or Australia - Feb 2020

knick1959

Level 2 Member
Hi gang,

This forum has been very good to me ... my trip to SE Asia is all ready to execute in 2 months. I only asked for minor help with Chile/Iguazu Falls in April and that's ready to go. Thanks. Did my own plans for 3 Washington NPs next summer and Scotland/Iceland in the fall. Next year is quite full and mostly booked barring some hotels. Time to start planning for 2020.

I've done quite a bit of reading and what I find mentioned as carriers/routes to chase seems not to be available or impractical. For example, one article suggested CX to Hong Kong and then onto either of these countries was "easy". I see no awards from HKG to either poking around all sorts of dates. AA and AS are supposed to offer possibilities but I don't see the ones mentioned. using BA's search engine doesn't help either. One route, mainland to Hawaii and then on showed some promise and offered to break the trip up, but to get to Hawaii is somewhat convoluted and greatly increases the total elapsed time to get to NZ or Australia and that's w/out spending any time in HI!

What I did find was a prototype nonstop from Houston (I'd still have to get from CLE to there, but I can do that) - 17:20 elapsed time for 80k UA in J. This either to Sydney or Auckland (with a 2 hour stop in Sydney, which could work out nicely if I can extend that). I did not check for a return flight home yet; I will tonight.

What am I missing? Is UA my best/only option? Flying with my wife from CLE and wanting to get there with the long flights in J and without wasting 3 days each way. We will have 14-15 maybe 16 days total. NZ is more of the priority for me, but if we have to fly through an Australian city and can make it a longer stay, even better. What happens in the middle is still not gelled, I just need to get over there and back over here.

We have:
360k+ UR and 70K UA,
370k + 370k AA (and constantly growing)
200k + 91k AMEX MR
200k + 110k AS
60k Delta + 38k BA
Small, loose change elsewhere that isn't going to help (CX, HA)

So a UA flight would work for us even if it takes most of our UR. But we have miles in other places, I just can't see how to apply them to this trip. Any creative ideas?

Do I have to book a RT on UA to get a stopover in Sydney? Or can I do that on a one-way?

Thanks in advance.
 

Hoosier

New Member
We’re doing NZ in March 2019... We used Alaska miles about 11 months out for our trip. AS and Fiji airline for outbound... DCA/LAX/NAN/CHC (last segment in coach but its relatively short.) Had same issues on return with no CX space out of NZ for the month. There was space out of SYD or MEL but ultimately decided to take the SQ A380 AKL/SIN and then get our AS award on CX return to IAD from there via HK. SQ, the A380, and Changi airport will all be new for us so worth the extra day of travel time to experience. Using Virgin Atlantic miles for this.

Additional thoughts... if you are going in February, there may be additional seasonal flights... I know CX has an extra flight or two to NZ up through February and I did see availability on a couple of those flights but since we are going in March, couldn’t take advantage. Also check CHC (CX has seasonal there) as well as AKL... and perhaps WLG as well for other international connections.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
We’re doing NZ in March 2019... We used Alaska miles about 11 months out for our trip. AS and Fiji airline for outbound... DCA/LAX/NAN/CHC (last segment in coach but its relatively short.) Had same issues on return with no CX space out of NZ for the month. There was space out of SYD or MEL but ultimately decided to take the SQ A380 AKL/SIN and then get our AS award on CX return to IAD from there via HK. SQ, the A380, and Changi airport will all be new for us so worth the extra day of travel time to experience. Using Virgin Atlantic miles for this.

Additional thoughts... if you are going in February, there may be additional seasonal flights... I know CX has an extra flight or two to NZ up through February and I did see availability on a couple of those flights but since we are going in March, couldn’t take advantage. Also check CHC (CX has seasonal there) as well as AKL... and perhaps WLG as well for other international connections.
Which search tool did you use to find the CX flights? I've booked these before (with AA miles) but found them via the BA flight search. Not seeing much offered for the next trip, but I'll keep watching and add the cities you mentioned to my searches. Thanks!

Edit: Ah, I see you didn't find the CX flights you wanted. I'll keep searching and add in additional cities.
 

italdesign

Level 2 Member
I *think* this is still current:

ANA miles to Oceania. J=105-120k RT (one way not possible IIRC). 105=Off peak, 115=Normal, 120=High/Partner. Stopover in Tokyo possible. YQ=~ $200
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
I *think* this is still current:

ANA miles to Oceania. J=105-120k RT (one way not possible IIRC). 105=Off peak, 115=Normal, 120=High/Partner. Stopover in Tokyo possible. YQ=~ $200
VERY interesting, thanks for the pointer. As it is, I can fly the same UA flight over (to SYD) and Air China (via Beijing, which isn't ideal to me but OK) back from AKL for 120k and $284 in fees. This is using Houston as a US base and I'll play around with that some more. And I'll play with making SYD merely a stopover for a couple of days. I did again use BA to search from some of those other recommended NZ cities but it isn't being helpful at the moment. 3+ months before I can book anyway! Will keep looking.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
Funny. The weekends seem to be very quiet on these forums. For whatever reason, I feel more chatty on the weekends (and often end up talking to myself. No problem; people tend to join in later). I'm just rambling here, thanks in advance if you happen to read it.

The @italdesign pointer to ANA had me going search-crazy. "Unfortunately" it's also presented some interesting options that don't really fit into a tight 2 week trip. I guess it could, but I don't want to throw too much in and cheat the primary destination.

First, the ANA option is particularly interesting because it IS only 120k RT (and $300-400 in fees, depending on stopovers). The ~$400 in fees is for IAH->SYD (2 full days)->AKL->IAH. Coming home, the shortest option is via Beijing. From a previous thread I was reminded of how cold this city is in the winter; I'm saving Northern China for a more summer-like trip. But as just a layover city it would work.

The other route offered coming home (and I will see how creative I can get here searching for my own connections) is AKL->SIN->Tokyo->IAH. Singapore averages 88F in Feb and Tokyo 50F, both workable temps. My mind has me thinking both as stopovers ... but that would make 3 total in a 2 week trip! Certainly I can't do this; I'd have to extend the trip (at the expense of another trip that year, possible but I am resisting) or save the Sydney stop for a more-thorough visit to Australia (which has to be done anyway!). And/or only do one of these as a stopover - Singapore seems IMO to be the more bang for the buck as Japan is too large and full of history and also needs a thorough visit. 2 days in Singapore? All to be toyed with over time, and I haven't even fiddled with forcing other cities in. And I'll still keep searching for other carriers.

Too much time and too many options! This, when I thought I only had one choice. Thanks AGAIN!!
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
I feel you on this. I went through all sorts of routes to return from AKL-NYC and eventually settled for AKL-LAX non stop on AA (Y) then on to JFK. Came close to the following routes:

AKL-NAN (paid or points) then NAN-home (LAX non stop-JFK)
AKL-PPT (paid) PPT- home (nothing great)
AKL-HNL (paid) HNL-home (found AA 'F' for ~40K)

It's a hard route to nail down.. I did look at some China airports as options (would be the long way around, but might get business class)

In the end, I kinda gave up on it.. figured that non stop to LA was as good as we could get for this trip, and live to fight another day.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
I feel you on this. I went through all sorts of routes to return from AKL-NYC and eventually settled for AKL-LAX non stop on AA (Y) then on to JFK. Came close to the following routes:

AKL-NAN (paid or points) then NAN-home (LAX non stop-JFK)
AKL-PPT (paid) PPT- home (nothing great)
AKL-HNL (paid) HNL-home (found AA 'F' for ~40K)

It's a hard route to nail down.. I did look at some China airports as options (would be the long way around, but might get business class)

In the end, I kinda gave up on it.. figured that non stop to LA was as good as we could get for this trip, and live to fight another day.
Wow. When I started researching this trip I had all sorts of UA and AA options, and a couple via ANA as @italdesign has mentioned. At this time, where the possibility/need to actually book is a week or less away, the options have changed quite a bit. And your ideas above are very timely!

I just finished showing my wife the current AA J award options (AS's variations are not as good; mixed cabin). We would have to take 2 separate award flights where the long leg to NAN would be the same. But then one would fly to AKL after 2.5 hours and the other would spend 12 hours in Fiji. That doesn't sound too horrible to me, but it does split us up and causes some timing issues in AKL also. There was another option with better timing that had one of us taking LAX->AKL nonstop using an AAnytime Biz award for a whopping 175k! This timed out better, but the cost is so unattractive.

I read your ideas when posted but they didn't register, partly because what I was seeing THEN was so different. Now it all makes sense. The real AH HA moment was considering an actual paid flight past NAN. They currently seem to be at ~$300 and at first I thought we would need 2, but NO, if one award ticket is all the way through, I'd only need to buy one short-leg to match. I'll have to play around with "just" LAX to NAN and see what shows. But this provides an angle to research more tonight. Thanks!

The PPT flights were showing about a month ago (and the NAN connection wasn't). Now its switched the other way; PPT doesn't show, at least not in the AA search tool. I've also been unable to find ANYTHING via the BA search engine except for AA coach flights. Too bad.

The AA calendar shows that there are currently J options (with 2 tickets) reversing and going AKL to LAX, but booking these is 2+ weeks away. Not sure those will continue to list, but fingers crossed. I'll start to research these once I get the outgoing flights nailed down.
 
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knick1959

Level 2 Member
Question Re: Tweaking AA Award flights (on a partner).

Hopefully folks are still listening. Per Matt's example and my long ramble above, I have a scheme. This all assumes the same flights will be available next week (this week's are already gone). So, the short form of the question is:

I book an AA Award (on Fiji Air) that goes LAX->NAN and then, 12 hours later, NAN->AKL. I want to potentially PURCHASE a replacement ticket for the second leg ... I want to buy an earlier flight and cancel out of the second leg. I would also want possession of my bag in NAN when I land (so as to recheck on my new flight).

Anyone have any experience doing this? Can I keep the full ticket but ask for my bag to be checked only through NAN? Then cancel my second leg as I check into my paid flight?

If I try to book the first leg LAX-NAN separately as a non-stop, of course I cannot ... the search tool tried to route me through other cities. Which defeats the purpose. I think that, if I see the 2 flights I expecting pop up next week, I will book them and then try to finagle the one via phone call.

Thanks in advance.

Update: BAGS - I guess I could check 2 bags under the award ticket that goes all the way through and then I'd only have a carry-on for the ticket to be cut short. I know this is sometimes a strategy for cheaper fares ... in this case I'll be adding cash to the till. That's a plan if I cannot somehow engineer a more workable situation.
 
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SanDiego1K

Level 2 Member
If you use AS miles for your award, you can book with a break in Fiji. I did this in December. I booked LAX-NAN and four days later NAN-SYD. This would give you your bag in NAN and you could skip the second flight.

I'm confused by your checked bag plan. It's unlikely that your bags would be left on a plane that you weren't on.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
If you use AS miles for your award, you can book with a break in Fiji. I did this in December. I booked LAX-NAN and four days later NAN-SYD. This would give you your bag in NAN and you could skip the second flight.

I'm confused by your checked bag plan. It's unlikely that your bags would be left on a plane that you weren't on.
The J awards through AS are "mixed cabin". 55k for a 13+ hours in coach and 3:10 in biz. If it were the other way around it would be much more attractive. I'll check again on the day the schedule hits my date (Sunday or Monday).

My wife would be on the ticket that is optimal, and while I haven't checked, I remember biz tickets usually allow 2 bags? I'd check both bags under her name and I'd have only a carry on. That makes skipping the second flight a no-brainer, actually canceling "officially" or not.

It's a bit painful for me to just skip through Fiji and not pay it any attention. But with only 2 weeks and NZ being the big prize, I'm trying to stay focused on NZ. How much time did you spend in Fiji and what did you do, loosely? Of course there are beaches and an island landscape, but googling for things to do netted a popular mud pool and a couple of temples of the more modern variety. My wife would be happy with just the beach but I would be looking for something else to do after a couple of hours.

Once I secure the outgoing flights my research tells me it's likely easier to come home the same route. At least I hope so. I'll have a couple of weeks to ponder a Fiji stop over and see what I would have to cut out of NZ to do it. As always, thanks for the feedback!

Update: Thinking about it, there is no way I would NOT tell the airline I was skipping the flight. But having no checked bag eliminates the need for someone to go find it and (hopefully) return it to me on-demand and in time for the closer-in flight.
 
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SanDiego1K

Level 2 Member
The J awards through AS are "mixed cabin". 55k for a 13+ hours in coach and 3:10 in biz. If it were the other way around it would be much more attractive. I'll check again on the day the schedule hits my date (Sunday or Monday).
Mine was biz to NAN, biz to SYD.

My wife would be on the ticket that is optimal, and while I haven't checked, I remember biz tickets usually allow 2 bags? I'd check both bags under her name and I'd have only a carry on. That makes skipping the second flight a no-brainer, actually canceling "officially" or not.
Got it

It's a bit painful for me to just skip through Fiji and not pay it any attention. But with only 2 weeks and NZ being the big prize, I'm trying to stay focused on NZ. How much time did you spend in Fiji and what did you do, loosely? Of course there are beaches and an island landscape, but googling for things to do netted a popular mud pool and a couple of temples of the more modern variety. My wife would be happy with just the beach but I would be looking for something else to do after a couple of hours.
We spent four days in Fiji. We arrived about 6am and jumped in a rental car. We drop 3 hours to Suva, the capital of Fiji. We went to the National Museum and ate Indian and local food. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, a decent property, for just 15K points/night. We then returned along the south coast and stayed at the Marriott Momi Bay for two nights. There's a gun embankment where a US troop was located during WWII that is now a museum. We saw it as well as enjoying the hotel. We then spent our last night at the Hilton which I thought was dire. We saw the Sri SIva Subrahmaniya Swami Temple, largest in the Southern Hemisphere, on our way into Nadi. You could reduce the visit to 3 days and see what we did.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
I managed to book our flight to AKL this morning and Fiji Airlines has issued tickets. Excellent! Thanks for all of the help, folks.

We won't be spending any time in Fiji this trip; we won't leave the airport. I've looked at all the working days we have and I need them all for NZ. And there will be no Australia stop this trip, either. I will start the planning for a 2+ week Australia trip soon and make sure to allocate some minor island time as a stop over then. Hopefully the Fiji (or Tahiti) route will still be viable then ...

Funny thing with booking this flight. Veterans my not be surprised, but this was my first time booking a flight to this region with a layover after a long segment. As I mentioned previously, I expected the award flight I need to show on the schedule on Sunday. And it did. Even better, there were 2 seats on the ideal flight. So, early in the morning I went to book it but AA threw an error each time I tried. I tried booking the same flight for the day before ... failed. So I tried one a couple of days before and that looked like it would go through. I called AA and the phone rep said they couldn't even see the offering I was asking about.

Interestingly, fiddling with Alaska's calendar I somehow found these flights on the right day and it looked like I might be able to book them. But I didn't really want to use AS miles for this, so I didn't. In my limited experience, the AS calendar is one day behind AA, but somehow I peeked an extra day ahead. Sorry, tangent.

I again could not book the flights I wanted on Monday morning even though the scheduled showed the NEXT day's flights as available. I called AA again and a different rep also had issues. I wondered to him if it wasn't the fact the second leg that was causing the problems. See, the flight I wanted leaves at 10:30pm on a Tuesday. It's a 13+ hours flight that crosses the dateline and, by the calendar, the second, shorter (3:10) flight is scheduled for THURSDAY early in the morning. The rep confirmed that he has seen that before; the second leg has to be within the normal schedule for the entire trip to be bookable.

I tried this morning at 1:10am Eastern (setting an alarm and thinking this was after midnight in Dallas). Nadda. But at 6:30-ish this morning it all worked.

The flight home should be less of a challenge to book as it all occurs on the same day, picking up a few previously lost hours when moving in the "home" direction. As long as the schedule stays working the way I'm seeing for the next two weeks! Hoping that is the case.
 
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