Sure, Continental recently announced that they’ll be operating the 787 Dreamliner on the Houston – Auckland route next fall, but in the mean time getting to Oceania using their program requires a bit of creativity. Fortunately they have some of the most flexible rules regarding award travel routing, particularly to that region. Assuming that the seats can be found, there are quite a few options available. And I’m taking advantage of many of them on an itinerary that I just booked to New Zealand this December.
Perhaps the most significant benefit that the OnePass program offers is the ability to book travel to Southeast Asia and Oceania either across the Atlantic or Pacific ocean. I have a couple friends who even managed to book both on the same trip but it seems that the computers have finally closed that loophole. Still, the ability to go transatlantic opens up a number of additional carriers and routing options for getting to that part of the world. With Singapore Air limiting premium cabin reward redemption on so many of their aircraft these days having such flexibility is important.
In the end I managed to book an eight segment award and I’m holding out hope that the last couple segments I need can be picked up as awards if the inventory opens up. As a platinum elite such changes are complimentary. If I cannot find the seats then the cost of buying that ticket is relatively low. So what’s the routing? On the outbound I fly:
- Newark – Munich: Lufthansa A340-600 First Class
- Munich – Bangkok: Thai Airways B747-400 First Class
- Bangkok – Melbourne: Thai Airways B777-300 Business Class
- Melbourne – Auckland: Air New Zealand A320 Economy Class
The return trip is similarly enjoyable:
- Sydney – Bangkok: Thai Airways A340-600 First Class
- Bangkok – Istanbul: THY Turkish B777-300 First Class
- Istanbul – Frankfurt: THY Turkish B737-800 Business Class
- Frankfurt – Newark: Lufthansa A340-300 First Class
I even get about 10 hours in Munich and about 8 hours in Bangkok to see some of the sights. Every single one of the flights will be a new line though none are new airlines. It will, however, be my first experience in a proper international first class cabin and I get to compare a few different products. At 160,000 points and $175 in taxes it is hard to complain about just about anything with this trip other than that it is so short. It is no surprise that Continental continues to report in its quarterly calls that they are experiencing increased costs related to award redemptions since the move to Star Alliance.
Oh, and why am I going to New Zealand anyways? Some friends are chartering a plane from Air New Zealand and we’re going on some pretty incredible tours. Plus I will get to participate in the Star Alliance annual meeting a bit. Should be a great time.