Air New Zealand to start non-stop service between Auckland and Newark

Qantas just made international headlines by testing a jaw-dropping 19-hour direct flight between Sydney and New York.

Not to be outdone, Air New Zealand announced today that it will begin non-stop service between Auckland and Newark which will be introduced as early as October 2020. This will be the 5th longest flight in the world (behind Newark to Singapore, Auckland to Doha, Perth to London, and Auckland to Dubai). The flight will take 15 hours and 40 minutes eastbound and 17 hours and 40 minutes westbound.

Flying into Newark’s Liberty International Airport makes sense since Air New Zealand is a part of the Star Alliance and United uses Newark as it’s New York-area hub.

The announcement isn’t all good news, though, as the airline also announced that it will be stopping flights to London around the same time.

Since I’m based in California, I doubt I’ll be flying this route, although I’m excited for any new routes between New Zealand and the United States!

LOT Polish launching direct flights between San Francisco and Warsaw beginning in August 2020

LOT Polish is introducing a new flight that I’m very excited about – direct from San Francisco to Warsaw, Poland.

The flight, which is set to start on August 5, 2020, will initially have the following schedule:

Mondays and Fridays:

  • LO35 Warsaw to San Francisco departing 11:35AM arriving 2:30PM
  • LO36 San Francisco to Warsaw departing 4:25PM arriving 1:00PM (+1 day)

Wednesdays and Saturdays:

  • LO35 Warsaw to San Francisco departing 5:20PM arriving 8:15PM
  • LO36 San Francisco to Warsaw departing 10:10PM arriving 6:45PM (+1 day)

I flew LOT Polish from Chicago to Budapest last year and had a great experience and I’ve been wanting to see Poland, so I’m sure I’ll take advantage of this flight!

New York Trip Deal: $669 round-trip business class (lie-flat seat!) from JFK to Lima, Peru on Avianca

Avianca, which is part of the Star Alliance, is putting its business class flights from JFK to Lima, Peru on sale! Flights start at $669 round-trip, after taxes with great availability through December 2018, with many routes including a lie-flat seat.

This is a really incredible deal — last year, Avianca ran a similar promotion, but with business class seats costing around $992.

Last year, I flew Avianca’s business class from Bogotá, Colombia to Santiago, Chile and wrote a review about it. Although it wasn’t my favorite flying experience ever, I’ve heard the U.S. to South America routes have better service and that, coupled with the lie-flat seat, definitely make this a fare worth checking out.

To find this deal, use Google Flights and search for business class flights between JFK and LIM.

Heading to Madagascar for $263.12 + 45,910 Chase Ultimate Reward points

You guys, I am totally stoked about an upcoming trip I’ve just booked — Madagascar!

It began with a notification from Secret Flying for $775 round-trip fares from Washington (Dulles) to Antananarivo, Madagascar on Ethiopian Airlines. When I checked for availability, I saw that I could book over Thanksgiving, and immediately snagged a ticket.

I decide to use a mixture of points and cash because I didn’t want to use all of my Chase Ultimate Reward points, but I also wanted to pay as little as possible (I have trips coming up to Lake Tahoe, Medellín, Italy, Charleston, and Scottsdale, so am definitely trying to ball on a budget at this point).

Thanksgiving is my favorite time to travel outside of America, mostly because it’s the only time when I can take a full week away from my legal practice and be in any time zone I want. For the rest of the year, I need to be able to work on California time, but over Thanksgiving I can go to places like Asia, Australia, and Africa without worrying that I’ll be missing out on business.

I was planning to head to Malaysia for Thanksgiving this year, but this deal to Madagascar was too good to pass up. Ethiopian Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, and while I will be earning PQM towards status for the flight, it’s only at a 50% rate.

I’ll be there for 8 days and want to see beautiful landscapes, all of the animals, interesting flowers and trees, and spend some time at the beach. Luckily, I have 2 great friends coming with me who are going to help make the trip a blast (my friends added on a trip to Ethiopia to their journey, though I’ll sadly have to miss out on that portion). I am still in the early phases of researching things to do there, so if you have any advice or tips, definitely let me know!

United’s Basic Economy: Charging $25 one-way to earn miles towards Premier status

I am not a fan of the new “Basic Economy” option being offered by United, Delta, and American Airlines. Though it’s being presented a way for fliers to save money (Delta, for example, advertises it as Basic Economy: Save with a Low Fare) my guess, and experience so far, is that fares for economy will remain the same, but with consumers paying extra for experiences they once took for granted.

This happened to me yesterday when I was booking my flights to Charleston for the Great American Eclipse. I found a relatively good fare from CHS to SFO for around $180 after taxes. I found this fare on Google Flights, but when I went to book it on United, it let me know that it was Basic Economy. With Basic Economy, I’d be without the following options:

  • Possibility to upgrade my seat
  • Selecting a seat before boarding
  • Earning PQM (Premier qualifying miles which go towards United Premier status)
  • Bringing aboard a  full-sized carry-on bag

The full list of what you’re giving up by taking a Basic Economy flight on United can be found HERE.

Although I am not sure how pricing works for other routes, I was given a $25 one-way option ($50 round-trip) to switch my ticket to regular Economy, bringing the total up to $205. Begrudgingly, I accepted this option; by earning miles on this particular flight, I will secure Premier Silver status on United until 2019.

For whatever it’s worth, Delta’s options are not much better – they charged me $20 to go from Basic Economy to Main Cabin for my flight from SFO to CHS, for basically the same benefits. I paid this too, mostly because I wanted to selected a seat before boarding and don’t want to risk being in the middle.

I believe that Basic Economy is a race to the bottom for American airlines, which already lag so far behind many foreign airlines in service. But, unfortunately, I also believe this is a change that will stay, that other airlines (Alaska, Southwest) will follow suit, and also that airlines may begin offering basic fares in business class (which, depending how it’s implemented, I could see myself getting behind).


United Airlines ending duty-free sales

United Airlines has announced that beginning March 31, 2017, it will no longer offer duty-free merchandise on any of its flights.

United cited declining sales revenue as the reason for this change in its official press release announcing the change.

Oddly enough, United has said that, despite ending duty-free sales, it will keep retail catalogs on board its planes until the end of June.

Given that Delta eliminated on board duty-free sales in 2014 and American Airlines ended them in 2015, this isn’t entirely a surprise. But nevertheless, some United frequent flyers may be bummed by the news.

Will this affect your travel? Let me know in the comments!