The tradition of ‘Early-Bird’ airfares to Europe has taken a back seat. Whilst there has been several ‘short-life’ offers made by airlines for travel in 2024, the advertising isn’t matched with copious availability.  If you are planning a Europe trip in 2024 we strongly suggest that the best way to save on airfares is to purchase as far in advance as possible. Next winter we don’t foresee any meaningful increase in New Zealand / Europe airline capacity, causing existing flights to sell out quickly.    

Cathay Pacific (CX) has celebrated the 40th anniversary of its inaugural flight to New Zealand. The first CX 747-200 aircraft touched down in Auckland back in 1983. Cathay now operates Airbus A350-1000s on the route to its home base in Hong Kong. The airline builds back to 6 x weekly flights from December, as well as three seasonal flights each week Christchurch to Hong Kong. We’ve been receiving some very good feedback about Cathay Pacific’s on board product and in particular its lie-flat Business Class product. Hong Kong International Airport, which celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year, remains one of the best transit airports on the Pacific rim.

Travellers wanting to try to get upgrades using their frequent flyer certificates or points have been left disappointed. Airlines operating on longhaul routes are generally completely full ‘up the front’ and this leads to significant disappointment. Locally with Air New Zealand your best chance to use your upgrade certificate or points is on the shorthaul Tasman and South Pacific flights where Business and Premium Economy are slightly less busy. The airline operates some flights using widebody 3-class Boeing 777’s and 787’s on these routes.  Qantas also operates larger Airbus A330’s between Auckland and Sydney or Brisbane, these specific flights also being a good target for your Qantas points upgrades. Best to use them this way rather than let them expire. And when it comes to trying to get a points or certificate upgrade, manage your expectations right down!

Our Travel Expert Tanya Warman took a peak at the new Emirates Premium Economy product which has just be launched on the airline’s A380 aircraft to Dubai from Auckland and Christchurch. Tanya commented that the ‘luxe feel’ of the Business Class cabin is carried through to this Premium Economy cabin with its cream leather seats and gold accents. The pitch at around 40” is similar to most other airlines. As the product is relatively new it does not feature on all of the airline’s European network.

United Airlines has returned its popular ice cream sundae cart to service (pictured). The cart had been a staple of the carrier’s Business Class service for many years, with customers able to choose from various toppings and sauces to create their own sundae. It was suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic. United’s northern summer schedule from New Zealand currently sees 3 x weekly non-stop Boeing 787 flights Auckland to Los Angeles and daily to San Francisco. United’s Sundae will be on board their new seasonal flight Christchurch to San Francisco which will operate December through to March.      

Whilst on United Airlines, we like their new family-friendly policy designed to make it easier for families to sit together in Economy Class. Children under the age of 12 will now be able to sit next to an adult in their party for free, including customers with basic economy tickets. Rather than use a manual process to seat families together, the airline has invested in new seat software which automates the process. Travellers should be booked together on the same reservation file.

Qatar Airways (QR) is back to non-stop flying between Auckland and Doha, returning to their pre-Covid one -stop service to Europe. The airline had been operating via Adelaide. Qatar will also operate their newest aircraft, the Airbus A350-1000 which features their renowned Business Class product which is arguably the ‘best in market’. 

Domestic Air New Zealand travellers continue to experience flight cancellations or schedule adjustments. For other airlines who have purchased the new Airbus A320 neo aircraft, their Pratt & Whitney engine issues continue to plague schedules. Air New Zealand has been good at letting us know if the changes are made well in advance and we can re-book clients, however last minute same day changes with little or no advance warning do occur.  

Air New Zealand’s ‘Works Deluxe’ product which has featured on the narrow body A320 aircraft on the Tasman and South Pacific routes has been cancelled. Travellers will recall that it’s the product offering where you have the spare seat between you, a compromise solution for travellers who normally fly Business Class. The categories on board these all-Economy Class flights are now The Works, Seat& Bag, Seat Only. Business Class travellers on the Tasman can fly Qantas (all aircraft), LATAM, China Airlines, Emirates (from Christchurch) or we can book you on Air New Zealand flights operated by their widebody Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft.

The New Zealand summer has seen a number of US airlines arrive on our shores. Delta Airlines (DL) is operating from Los Angeles to Auckland, American Airlines (AA)  is flying two routes, Dallas Fort Worth and Los Angeles to Auckland, United Airlines (UA)  is adding to its existing year-round San Francisco/Auckland flight with Los Angeles to Auckland and Los Angeles to Christchurch. For Canada, Air Canada has added a seasonal service from Vancouver to New Zealand.  The flights are intended to attract valuable US and Canadian tourists to New Zealand, but we’ve also seen some very good airfares for New Zealanders heading to the US, not to mention the fantastic addition to cargo space for our exporters.  

Qantas Frequent Flyer members earn a minimum of 400 Qantas Points on Jetstar domestic flights within New Zealand, including the lowest Starter fares, with points increasing in value with the higher ‘bundled fares’.

Share this post