Air Travel

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Air Travel

The least expensive airfares to New Zealand are priced for round-trip travel and must usually be purchased in advance. Airlines generally allow you to change your return date for a fee; most low-fare tickets, however, are nonrefundable. To expedite an airline fare search on the Web, check travel search engines with meta-search technology, such as www.mobissimo.com. These search across a broad supplier base so you can compare rates offered by travel agents, consolidators, and airlines in one fell swoop.

Although budget air travel within New Zealand is still expensive compared with the cost of bus or train travel, the one-way fare system does make it easy to get around, especially if you don't want to spend all your time on the road. These days, booking your domestic flights in conjunction with your international flight won't save you any money, but it allows you to travel with the international luggage allowance (2 x 23 kg [50 lbs] bags when flying with Air New Zealand, 2 x 32 kg [70 lbs] bags when flying with Qantas), significantly higher than domestic allowances (2 x 20 kg [44 lbs] bags). Some airlines give great deals if you add stopovers to your flight itinerary. You'll need to stop in at a Pacific destination like Tahiti or Fiji for a limited time before heading to New Zealand. Check with the airline and see what they're offering; make sure that New Zealand is included in Pacific deals since sometimes it's the one exception. Qantas has launched a low-budget airline called Jetstar, which serves tran-Tasman and between major New Zealand hubs Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. When booking make sure you read the fine print regarding baggage allowance, as the cheaper fares have zero checked baggage allowance. If you hold an international student identification card, you'll save even more.

From New York to Auckland (via Los Angeles) flights take about 19 hours; from Chicago, about 17 hours; from Los Angeles to Auckland (nonstop), about 12 hours. From the United States and Canada, you will have to connect to a New Zealand-bound flight in L.A. or San Francisco.

When taking your return flight from New Zealand, you will need to pay a departure tax. This tax is already factored into your airfare on your way to New Zealand. When you're leaving New Zealand via Auckland, the tax is also included in your fare but must be paid separately when leaving from other airports. It's NZ$25 and you pay it between checking in and going through the immigration checkpoint.

For domestic flights within New Zealand, check in at least a half hour before departure.

It is not required that you reconfirm outbound flights from or within New Zealand.

All New Zealand domestic flights and flights between New Zealand and Australia are no-smoking. Air New Zealand has banned smoking on all of its flights worldwide.

Airlines and Airports

Airline and Airport Links.com. Airline and Airport Links.com has links to many of the world's airlines and airports. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.

Airline Security Issues

Transportation Security Administration. Transportation Security Administration has answers for almost every question that might come up. www.tsa.gov.

Airports

The major airport is Auckland International Airport (AKL). It is usually a bit cheaper to fly into and out of this airport, but the supplemental fees for flights to Wellington (WLG) or Christchurch (CHC) are reasonable. New Zealand's airports are relatively compact and easy to negotiate.

Auckland airport has a children's play area, including a playground on the top floor of the terminal. Complimentary showers are also available to all passengers on the "Arrivals" side of the international terminal. Towels and toiletries can be rented at the nearby florist on the ground floor.

New Zealand has a dense network of domestic air routes, so hopping from one area to another is fairly easy, if not inexpensive. The regional airlines that service the smaller airports such as Picton and Kaikoura often partner with Air New Zealand or Qantas, so you can make these flight arrangements when booking your international flight. There are also numerous charter companies with planes carrying a dozen passengers or less.

Airport Information

Auckland International Airport (09/275–0789. www.aucklandairport.co.nz.)

Christchurch International Airport (03/358–5029. www.christchurchairport.co.nz.)

Wellington International Airport (04/385–5100. www.wellingtonairport.co.nz.)

Flights

Air New Zealand flies two to three times a day from Los Angeles to Auckland and is the only carrier that extends a daily nonstop flight from San Francisco to Auckland. Qantas flies nonstop from Los Angeles to New Zealand. United and Air Canada, affiliates of Air New Zealand, connect from points in North America to Los Angeles.

Within New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Pacific Blue, Jetstar, and Qantas compete on intercity trunk routes. Air New Zealand serves a wide network of provincial and tourist centers.

Pacific Blue provides direct flights between New Zealand, Australia, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, and Samoa. Jetstar provides service to Australia.

Airline Contacts

Air Canada (888/247–2262 in U.S. and Canada; 09/969–7470 in New Zealand; 0508/747–767 toll-free in New Zealand. www.aircanada.com.)

Air New Zealand (; 800/262–1234 toll-free in U.S.; 0800/737–000 toll-free in New Zealand. www.airnewzealand.co.nz.)

British Airways (800/247–9297 in U.S.; 09/966–9777 in New Zealand. www.britishairways.com.)

Cathay Pacific (020/8834–8888 in U.K.; 0800/800–454 toll-free in New Zealand; 800/233–2742 in U.S. www.cathaypacific.com.)

Japan Airlines (800/525–3663 in U.S.; 844/569–700 in U.K.; 0800/885-880 toll-free in New Zealand. www.jal.com.)

Jetstar (0800/800–995 toll-free in New Zealand; 866/397-8170 in U.S. www.jetstar.co.nz.)

Virgin Australia (0800/670–000 toll-free in New Zealand; +61/7–3295–3000 in U.S. www.virginaustralia.com.)

Qantas (800/227–4500 in U.S. and Canada; 0845/774–7767 in U.K.; 0800/808–767 toll-free in New Zealand. www.qantas.com.au.)

Singapore Airlines (800/742–3333 toll-free in U.S.; 020/8961–6993 in U.K.; 0800/808–909 toll-free in New Zealand. www.singaporeair.com.)

United Airlines (800/864–8331 for U.S. reservations; 800/538–2929 for international reservations; 0800/747–400 toll-free in New Zealand. www.united.com.)

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