Good News For Award Travel! Air New Zealand Announces Service To Chicago

New Zealand is one of the toughest places for folks from the US to get to using award miles. There just aren’t that many flights. Australia is a little bit easier but still pretty tough.

That’s why I was so excited to hear that Air New Zealand was launching service to Chicago.

One flight (operated 3X weekly) doesn’t make a massive difference. But, New Zealand is a tough place to find award space to, especially for families.

I haven’t been keeping an eye on award availability on the Air New Zealand flights been Los Angeles and Auckland. But, adding a 787-900 3 times a week means almost 1,000 extra seats a week from the US to New Zealand.

I like the flight times for the newly announced flights from the US. You depart at 7 or 8pm Chicago time, which gives you time to eat before sleeping. Flight time clocks in at around 15 hours, so plenty of time to eat, watch a movie and still catch a good night’s sleep.

According to my reading of the United Airlines Polaris lounge access rules, you should have access to the Polaris lounge in Chicago if you’re ticketed in business class on Air New Zealand. After recent cuts that’s about the last piece of Polaris service hanging around at this point.

The Final Two Pennies

One of the reasons I really like the Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards (Sapphire, Ink) is for announcements like this. You can generally move Ultimate Rewards points over to United pretty much instantly. From there, you can redeem for Air New Zealand flights.  That means folks who don’t travel a bunch can still save up for great award flights using the points they earn from credit card spend.

We’ll have to wait to see if award space opens up on this flight (or flights from LAX or SFO). For now, I’ll chalk this one up as a win for US folks looking to get to New Zealand or Australia (and vice versa).

The post Good News For Award Travel! Air New Zealand Announces Service To Chicago was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. Access to the Polaris Lounge at ORD is really dependent on whether NZ can use UA’s Terminal 1 gates for departure, or if it’s using Terminal 5.

    NZ opens up J award space roughly about 2 months before departure only.

  2. Isn’t Air New Zealand kind of famous for not releasing decent award space in business? I really, really want to be wrong on this one.

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