Airpoints is the frequent flyer program of Air New Zealand. It has relevance to Australian frequent flyers thanks to Airpoints Dollars (APD) earning reach with credit cards, Air New Zealand and Star Alliance flights, and other partners including hotels, car hire companies, and retail outlets.
It is a somewhat unique program, as when travelling with Air New Zealand, it is completely revenue-based – the ‘points’ you earn are directly tied to the fare you pay, and the rate at which you can redeem them is directly related to the cost of the flight.
This can be quite consumer-unfriendly as it doesn’t offer good value compared to some of the other frequent flyer programs that we talk about on this site, i.e. it is hard to earn enough APDs to redeem on high-cost Business Class flights with Air New Zealand.
Conversely, using APD on partner airlines is based on a fixed-price award chart, like the majority of frequent flyer programs – that’s where the best value redemptions lie.
This article explores the basics of the Airpoints program, including:
- How to sign up
- How to earn and redeem Airpoints Dollars with Air New Zealand
- A look at the Australian credit cards that have Air New Zealand Airpoints as transfer partner
- Key partner and Star Alliance airlines
- Earning Status Points
APDs can be redeemed for travel in Virgin Australia Business Class
How to sign up for an Airpoints account
It is free to sign up and hold an Air New Zealand Airpoints account.
Earning Airpoints Dollars on Air New Zealand flights
You can earn Airpoints Dollars on almost every Air New Zealand flight, excluding greenlight grabaseat fares via ‘grabaseat.co.nz‘ and fares purchased using Airpoints Dollars.
Simply enter your Airpoints membership number when you book a flight:
Look out for this part of the ‘enter passenger details’ page when booking
If you’ve got upcoming travel with Air New Zealand already and you haven’t already entered an Airpoints number, you will have the chance to do so when checking in online, or by providing your card or number at the airport.
You could also message Air New Zealand via their Facebook or Twitter account and they’ll also be happy to input your account number for you. I have used both and have always found the staff to be really helpful.
If you’ve already travelled and forgotten to use your Airpoints number when booking, you may be able to claim missing Airpoints Dollars after the flight.
Air New Zealand have a really helpful calculator that let you see how many APD you could earn for a specific flight. The APD earn rate is also confirmed before you book – if you’re using a desktop computer, look out for the top right-hand corner of the screen.
As the earn rate is variable depending on the fare (i.e. sale or flexible), price and route, it is always best you either use the calculator or do a flight search to confirm.
Redeeming Airpoints Dollars on Air New Zealand flights
You can spend your APD on any available seat on any Air New Zealand flight. If there is a seat for sale, you can buy it with APD.
1 APD equals $1 NZD spent on flights with Air New Zealand.
The flight part of your booking needs to be paid in full with APD. For any associated airport or government costs you can choose to pay for these by credit card or POLi.
You can book in any of the following three ways (the first is the most simple):
- Book online: Simply sign in to your online account with your Airpoints details before or while you are booking your flight and select to pay with Airpoints Dollars at the payment stage
Book by phone: Have your Airpoints number ready when you call the Air New Zealand Airpoints contact centre in Australia on 1800 803 298
Book via a travel agent: Provide your travel agent with your Airpoints number at your time of booking
Select ‘Use Airpoints Dollars’ on the online payment page to use your APD to pay for a flight
If you plan to purchase a Business Class, Premium Economy, Economy Flexi, Flexi Works or Flexi Works Deluxe ticket, you’ll also have access to specially priced ‘Companion Tickets’ that you can purchase with APD. This is a good way of reducing the average price of two revenue fares between yourself and a travelling companion – you can read more about these here.
Earning Airpoints Dollars on everyday spend with credit cards
One of the most available methods to earn APD is from credit card spend.
There are a few different ways to earn APD into the Airpoints program from credit card spend in Australia, with a few bank rewards program having Airpoints as a transfer partner:
- American Express Membership Rewards cards: Platinum Charge, Platinum Edge and Explorer, among others
- Westpac Altitude Rewards cards: Altitude Black, Altitude Platinum or Altitude Classic and Westpac Altitude Business Rewards cards
- NAB Rewards cards: NAB Rewards Signature, NAB Rewards Platinum, NAB Rewards Classic and NAB Rewards Business Platinum
- ANZ Rewards cards: ANZ Rewards Black, ANZ Rewards Platinum, ANZ Rewards Classic and ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures Card
Star Alliance and Partner Airlines
Your APD can also be earned and used on a range of flights with Air New Zealand’s airline partners, including with Star Alliance.
Contrasting with redemptions on Air New Zealand flights, awards on partner airlines are fixed-price based on region. You can check how many Airpoints Dollars you’d need on their partner airline reward chart.
The key thing to note about APD redemptions with partner airlines is that while they’ll be in shorter supply, they can be much better value, particularly for long-haul Business and First Class flights.
The airlines that APD can be redeemed on include (with those that fly direct from Australia in bold):
- Aerolíneas Argentinas
- Adria Airways
- Aegean Airlines
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air India
- Asiana Airlines
- Austrian Airlines
- Avianca Brasil
- Brussels Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Air
- Jet Airways
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Virgin Australia
Status Points and Frequent Flyer Tiers
Holding status with Air New Zealand means that you can skip lines, enjoy complimentary food and drink in lounges, and receive a range of other complimentary benefits that will generally make flying more enjoyable, including with Star Alliance members and select partner airlines. Below is a run-down of the different status tiers and the benefits that accompany each.
There are four membership tiers with Air New Zealand, from lowest to highest:
Complimentary seat upgrades clear in reverse order, starting with Elite down to Silver.
The figures for achieving and maintaining each status level are based on membership year.
To achieve: 0 SPs
To maintain: 0 SPs
There are no substantial benefits to this entry status level. It just means you are a member of the Air New Zealand Airpoints program and is a base to start earning Status Points to move up.
To achieve: 450 SPs
To maintain: 405 SPs (at least half on Air New Zealand-operated flights, qualifying partner airline flights, or Star Alliance qualifying flights)
Star Alliance equivalent: Silver
- Two complimentary single-entry lounge passes each membership year that can be used at all Air New Zealand-owned lounges when departing on an Air New Zealand-ticketed and -operated flight and eligible partner flights
- One recognition upgrade each time you retain or become a Silver member
- OneUp offers will be upweighted by 10%
- Priority wait-listing
- Priority airport standby
- Discounted business class award fares
To achieve: 900 SPs
To maintain: 810 SPs (at least half on Air New Zealand-operated flights, qualifying partner airline flights, or Star Alliance qualifying flights)
Star Alliance equivalent: Gold
- Access to Air New Zealand, Star Alliance and partner airline lounges, regardless of class, plus one guest
- Two recognition upgrades each time you retain or become a Gold member
- OneUp offers will be upweighted by 30%
- Complimentary frequent flyer seating on any fare type
- One extra checked bag (apart from seat only fares)
- Two pieces of carry-on baggage, with a combined total weight of 14kg with a maximum weight of either bag of up to 10kg
- Fast Bag service, where you can drop off and pick up your bag right beside the aircraft on Air New Zealand Link regional domestic flights
- Priority check-in
- Priority boarding
- Priority baggage claim
- Priority wait-listing
- Priority airport standby
- Gold Track with Star Alliance members (Priority Security & Immigration)
- Voucher for a complimentary, one room category, hotel upgrade at participating hotels in New Zealand and Australia
- Voucher for a complimentary, one car type rental car upgrade at participating locations in New Zealand and Australia
- Discounted Business Class award fares
- No APD expiry
- Extra gift recipients for APD
To achieve: 1,500 SPs
To maintain: 1,350 SPs (at least 60% on Air New Zealand-operated flights, qualifying partner airline flights, or Star Alliance qualifying flights)
Star Alliance equivalent: Gold
In addition to Gold privileges, you’ll get:
- Access to Air New Zealand, Star Alliance and partner airline lounges, regardless of class. You may also invite one guest for regional lounges, partner lounges, and Star Alliance lounges, and up to five guests for Air New Zealand International and Domestic lounges
- Two long-haul and one short-haul recognition upgrades each time you retain or become an Elite member
- Airpoints Dollars upgrades
- The ability to gift Recognition Upgrades or Elite Airpoints Dollar upgrades to other Airpoints members
- OneUp offers will be upweighted by 50%
- Five complimentary Air New Zealand Valet parking eVouchers
- Special Elite gifts
- Roll over Status Points if you earn between 1,500 and 2,399 Status Points
- Elite banked year if you earn more than 2,400 Status Points
- You can nominate an Elite Partner to receive many of the same benefits, even when travelling separately
Air New Zealand status is a valuable benefit for those who are loyal to flying Air New Zealand and its partner airlines.
Given the specific figures required to achieve and maintain each status level, if you are chasing status with Air New Zealand, having this information is important in devising your flight booking strategy and where your allegiance lies.
Remember, once you have status with one airline, you have your foot in the door and can status match to other airlines and alliances.
Summing up: why consider Air New Zealand Airpoints?
Air New Zealand is New Zealand’s flag carrier, and Airpoints Dollars are relatively easy to earn from flights, hotels and a large range of outlets, including online.
If you’re a Kiwi living in Australia, it is more than likely that you’ll accumulate a reasonable number of them somewhere along the line, so it’s important to learn how to get the best value out of redeeming them.
Also, if you’re flying regularly, it is relatively easy to move up the rank in terms of status tier, and this comes with some great benefits, including upgrades and access to some great domestic lounges.
Supplementary images courtesy Air New Zealand.