Comparison of Air New Zealand and Emirates loyalty rewards

Air New Zealand and Emirates are two of the main choices when flying to Europe from New Zealand and both have a  great loyalty rewards program.  This review is an add on the the main post comparing the business class products of both airlines.   The main target audience for this post is people who live in New Zealand or live in the UK and travel to New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is the national carrier for New Zealand and has the biggest range of direct flight options both domestically and internationally.  Air New Zealand has a large network of domestic flights and flies direct to most large centers in Australia, the pacific Islands, 3 destinations in the USA (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston), Canada (Vancouver), Argentina (Buenos Aires) and multiple destinations in Asia.   It also flies to London via Los Angeles.

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER. This is the aircraft used on the Auckland-Los Angeles-London route
Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER. This is the aircraft used on the Auckland-Los Angeles-London route

In comparison, the only flights on Emirates out of New Zealand are from Auckland and Christchurch direct to Dubai. You can currently still fly to 3 different Australian cities (Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney), and then onto Dubai, but the flights are being phased out in 2018 and replaced with a Qantas code share flights on the trans Tasman routes on  smaller planes rather then the Emirates A380’s currently being used for this sector.  Only the Direct flights to Dubai from Auckland and Christchurch will stay.  Once you get to Dubai, then you can essentially fly anywhere!

Emirates Airbus A380-800. This is the best choice of plane for the ultra-long haul flights.

Flying Emirates to Europe works well, but if you want to get to North America, Asia or the Pacific Islands, then Air New Zealand provides a much more direct route.   These are important considerations when deciding which loyalty program you want to focus on as it is difficult to maintain a high tier status on both.  If you travel with family, then having a high tier status provides many advantages.

Table 1. A summary of the Air New Zealand and Emirates loyalty rewards programs

 Air New ZealandEmirates
Name of loyalty rewardsAir New Zealand AirpointsEmirates Skywards
What do you earn?Airpoint dollars and status pointsMiles and tier miles
Benefits of dollars/milesAirpoint dollars can be use as exact $ for $ value to buy any ticket with no restrictions.Miles can be used to purchase rewards ticket on Emirates and partner airlines. How much you need for each flight is more complicated to work out.
What are status points and tier milesStatus points are what are used to calculate your tier statusTier miles are used to calculate your tier status
What are the different types of tier status?Jade, Silver, Gold and Elite. Gold= star alliance gold.Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum
How many points do you need to reach the top tier?1500 status points (900 has to be on Air New Zealand ticketed and operated flights)150,000 tier miles
How are miles and tier points calculatedComplex combination of distance of travel, price paid for ticket, and class of travelComplex combination of distance of travel, price paid for ticket, and class of travel
Calculator to work out how much you could earnLink to calculatorLink to calculator
Approximately how many dollars/miles will I earn for a round trip Auckland-London business class on cheapest non promotional ticket81042450
Approximately how many status/tier miles will I earn for round trip business class Auckland-London77642450
How many long-haul round trips will you need to do to achieve top tier (within 12 months)23
Can you earn dollars/miles other than with flights?Yes, partner airlines, credit cards, and multiple other retail partnersYes, partner airlines, credit cards, and multiple other retail partners
Can you earn status points / tier miles other than with airline flightYes, partner airlines and some credit cards. Best credit card for status points earning is Kiwibank Mastercard Platinum - 1 status point for every $NZ200 spent. * Minimum of 900 status points need to be earned on Air New Zealand flightsNo
Is there a discount on points needed to retain tier statusYes, 10% reduction in needed status points to maintain tier (i.e. 1350 status points, 810 of which need to be earned on Air New Zealand flights)No

The main difference between the two loyalty rewards programs is that it seem easier to get to the top tier (elite) on Air New Zealand.

Table 2. Benefits of the top tier on each airline

 Air New ZealandEmirates
Guest lounge access5 guests in Air New Zeland lounges, 1 guest in other Star Alliance lounges.1 adult guest and 2 guests under the age of 17, in Emirates lounges when all are travelling on same Emirates flight. Can pay discounted rate for additional guests
Complimentary upgrades2 x complimentary long haul sector upgrades and 1 x short haul complimentary one class upgrade. Flying from Auckland to London would count as 2 sectors one way.No complimentary upgrades, but with each tier increase get bonus miles. On platinum you get 75% extra miles compared to lowest tier, so makes earning miles easier which can be used for purchasing upgrades.
Other upgradesCan purchase one class upgrades for fixed price using airpoint dollarsCan use miles to purchase one class upgrades
GiftingCan gift complimentary or purchased upgrades to people in the same house hold and a further 5 people listed in your gifting register.Can purchase upgrades for 'friends and family' using you miles. Does not stipulate a limit.
Baggage1 extra 23kg bag above standard ticket allowance, and 1 extra carry on bag20kg extra baggage
Priority check-in and boardingYesYes
Partner benefitsWill receive similar lounge, baggage and boarding priveleges when travelling independently, including star alliance gold status.Will receive gold tier status, which entails similar lounge, baggage, and priority check-in and boarding on Emirates and partner airlines

If you manage to reach the lofty heights of achieving the top tier on either airline, the benefits are similar.  If you haven’t read the review of the business class comparison between Air New Zealand and Emirates you can read it here.  Please leave a question or comment and I would be happy to try and answer it.


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