As Air New Zealand has announced that it will stop flying to London (via LA) from October 2020, the important question for loyal Air New Zealand clients and airpoints members is how they fly Business Class or Premium Economy to London with Air New Zealand.
The flight via LA to London is the only Air New Zealand route to the UK and Europe where passengers solely fly on an Air New Zealand aircraft with Air New Zealand crew. This appeals to passengers who want the complete Air New Zealand experience on the long journey, and to airpoints members looking to maximise their Status Points (or try to use an upgrade).
Although Air New Zealand is dominant in the New Zealand market, when we prepared our latest ranking of Business Class to the UK and Europe, Air New Zealand did not feature in the top 5. From our clients' feedback there are a number of reasons for this:
- A desire to avoid flying via LA - despite significant investment, the Tom Bradley airport still has a terrible reputation.
- A desire to avoid flying via the USA - increased security measures, the need to apply and pay for an eSTA and a volatile political landscape made other routes more appealing.
- Air New Zealand's Business Premier and Premium Economy airfares on this route were consistently the most expensive available - even when on sale.
- The Business Premier herringbone seat design is less appealing than it once was when compared to more modern designs (Air New Zealand is unlikely to upgrade the Business Class cabin until 2022 when the new Dreamliners join the fleet).
It was therefore not a particular surprise that Air New Zealand decided on a different approach.
What Happens Now?
Air New Zealand's stated international strategy is to focus on the Pacific Rim and direct services to North America - reinforced by the announcement of a direct flight from Auckland to New York from October 2020.
From these cities where Air New Zealand has direct flights (loosely known as "the halfway point"), Air New Zealand has negotiated codeshare and other partnerships with airlines to connect to the UK and Europe.
What are my options to London?
Air New Zealand currently offers a number of routes to London and other cities in the UK and Europe using partnerships. It groups these airfares as: via the East (Asia), via the West (Americas) or Joint Venture fares with Singapore Airlines (via Singapore).
Via the East to London
Options via the East currently include:
- Air New Zealand to Shanghai - Virgin Atlantic to London
- Air New Zealand to Hong Kong - Cathay Pacific (pictured) or Virgin Atlantic to London
Air New Zealand also offers partnership routes to popular European destinations via the East including:
- Amsterdam with KLM via Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo or Seoul
- Paris with Air France via Shanghai, Hong Kong or Tokyo
- Frankfurt, Munich or Zurich with Lufthansa Group airlines via Shanghai, Hong Kong or Tokyo.
Business Class via the West
Once the Air New Zealand service from Los Angeles to London finishes, Air New Zealand may work with other partners from Los Angeles. Currently the only other option from the US to London is to connect with Virgin Atlantic (pictured).
The majority of the connections Air New Zealand offers via the West are with partner airlines into the major European hubs. Examples include:
- Amsterdam with KLM via LA, San Fran, Houston, Vancouver
- Paris with Air France via LA, San Fran, Vancouver, Houston and Buenos Aires
- Frankfurt with Lufthansa Group via LA, San Fran, Vancouver and Houston
Air New Zealand / Singapore Airlines Joint Venture
The Air New Zealand / Singapore Airlines Joint Venture airfares are likely to become even more popular with New Zealand Business Class and Premium Economy passengers travelling to London (Singapore Airlines is one of our top 5 selling airlines). The two airlines work closely together and as they are both Star Alliance members, there is likely to be an appeal for Air New Zealand airpoints members.
Using the Joint Venture fares, guests fly to Singapore (either on an Air New Zealand or Singapore Airlines aircraft) and then connect with a Singapore Airlines aircraft to London (or elsewhere in Europe).
What Are The Practical Implications of these Partnerships?
There are a number of practical implications, and questions, that may arise for travellers looking at an Air New Zealand option to London (or more broadly into the UK and Europe) once the existing service via Los Angeles ends.
You will fly "half way" with another airline
For the first and last "half" of the journey you will still be on an Air New Zealand aircraft with Air New Zealand crew. For the connection to and from the UK and Europe you will be flying with a different airline on a different aircraft.
When choosing your Business Class or Premium Economy airfare with Air New Zealand going forward, its therefore important to consider:
- Are you happy with the connecting airline. If you're avoiding a particular airline after previous bad experiences, you don't want to inadvertently end up flying with them again.
- Do you like the style of the Business Class or Premium Economy cabin of the connecting airline.
- Connection times - Air New Zealand will generally look to minimise long connection times, but as the connection isn't between two Air New Zealand flights, the schedule of the connecting airline is a consideration.
- Airpoints and Status Points will accrue at different rates (and sometimes not at all) depending on the partner airline.
Do I have separate tickets?
Even though you are technically flying with different airlines, you will have a single ticket through to your final destination.
Are my bags checked through to the final destination?
When travelling on a single ticket through to a final destination your luggage is generally checked all the way through.
Choosing the right Business Class Option
The Fine Travel team work closely with Air New Zealand and more generally with Business Class airfares to the UK and Europe so we are well placed to assist our clients with navigating the different options that Air New Zealand presents.