[Update this redemption is no longer possible with the way United prices award ticket separately on a multi-city redemption]
My ticket booked with Delta Sky Miles had me arriving in Auckland and returning from Sydney. I simply could have redeemed a one-way flight with United miles from Auckland to Sydney for 17.5k in economy or 35k in business class. This however, would not be as fun as the routing I pieced together.
United allows a stopover in addition to the destination on round trip award tickets. To maximize my miles I booked an open jaw ticket flying out of Auckland and into Sydney along with a stops in Nadi(Fiji) and Queenstown New Zealand. For double the miles of a one-way I was able to tack on two additional destinations – Fiji and Queenstown vs just Sydney.
The actual flight paths look this likes:
With the flight paths pulled apart, it looks like this:
With Fiji in the same zone and serviced by Air New Zealand I made my first stop in Nadi, Fiji. Then, I flew to Queenstown, New Zealand via Auckland. I ultimately ended up in Sydney via Christchurch, which is perfect. This allowed me to connect with my open jaw ticket on Delta Airlines back to LAX on Virgin Australia. I padded the connection with a few days in Sydney. Arriving on the same day as my Virgin Australia would not have been possible and if I could, it would be too risky in the event of a flight delay or missed connection en route to Sydney. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few sunny summer days in Sydney before flying back to the Northern hemisphere?
In short, I nested my open-jaw Delta Sky Miles redemption and an open-jaw United redemption to make a round trip itinerary. All together with the two open jaw tickets, it looks like this conceptually.
I could have flown to Queenstown first then to Fiji. I picked Fiji as my first stop because summer wasn’t in full effect in New Zealand and going to Fiji first would give me more temperate weather than the cooler spring weather in New Zealand.
I booked months in advance so the availability in economy on Air New Zealand was wide open, but non-existent in business class. Given the relative short flights and the lack of availability in business, I booked everything in economy for 35k miles.
Sitting in business class on Air New Zealand would have been nice. Particularly because they operate a 777 aircraft on their Auckland to Nadi route with herringbone seats in business class similar to the ones found on the older Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. With those seats, it would have been worth it to redeem double the miles even if it was for two segments. Many of the intra-New Zealand flights are only single cabin service planes.
The seats on Air New Zealand were just the standard economy class seats that we all accustomed when we think of flying. Though, I did find there to be a bit more leg room than what I typically felt on an equivalent plane on other airlines.
The seats does have individual Video On Demand with a relatively good selection of movies to make the flight go by quicker.
An announcement was made prior to the meal service that “THE WORKS” and “WORKS DELUXE” passengers would be served complimentary beverages and a meal. I was initially confused if my award ticket included these words. One of the flight attendants pointed out the “THE WORKS” printed out on my boarding pass, which indicated that I would be given beverages and meals. I guess there are passengers who simply purchased a seat and check baggage rights for a cheaper ticket.
OTHER RANDOM STUFF
A trip to Australia or Tahiti is probably the best use of Delta Sky Miles. In Virgin Australia business class, the salt and pepper shakers are shaped after the Sydney Opera house. I thought it looked cool so I asked the flight attendant if I could keep a set rather than having a set accidently fall in to my carry on bag. She kindly replied that I could take home a set after the second meal on the flight and provided a plastic bag for the memento.