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Business class ticket decision

New Jersey
Level Contributor
115 posts
26 reviews
Business class ticket decision

I plan to buy business class tickets from NYC to AKL (Auckland, NZ) for a trip in September this year. I have been researching the fares lately, and they seem to range from ~$4,000 - $10,000+ USD, which is relatively high compared to the economy class ($1,000 - $2,000, on average, but may be higher, up to $8,600 for CX).

For example, below there are some options I considered, but each have attached my personal pros and cons:

1. Chinese flights

PROS lower price (~$4 - 5k), 1 stop in CAN (Guangzhou) or PEK

CONS: airline safety/service (I read reviews that communication with FA might be an issue), transfer in China

2. Hawaiian /Jet Blue or other

PROS lower price $4 - 5K (have seen some $3,900 priced flights on Google flights, but cannot find the fare on HA website anymore)

CONS read some bad reviews, long layover in HNL outbound (24 hrs, need to book hotel etc), some have 2 stops (LAX and HNL) with long layovers

3 United/ANZ

PROS 1 stop, FF member and I have flown UA before, ANZ has good reviews

CONS higher price ($6k+, only few flights for this price, most are ~$8k),

This link to Google flights has more detailed flights


My questions are:

a) How does one decide what is a good deal for business fare, taking into account the price, the number of stops, the layover length, and the airline? Does the lower price constitute a significant advantage even with the cons of additional cost with long overlays or multiple stops? (I never took a 2 stop flight)

b) Which city is best for a 1- 4 hr layover: LAX, SFO or IAH?

Appreciate any input. Thanks a lot

22 replies to this topic
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
2,424 posts
34 reviews
1. Re: Business class ticket decision

We just did this BC via AA, ORD-LAX-SYD. IMHO, this was/is a very long trip and I would only book with one stop. This allowed for full relaxation on the longest leg which meant we could hit the ground running upon arrival at 830am. On the return the one stop means it's one and done. Pass through immigration at LAX, board the get home flight with less worry about a missed connection, delays etc. Also, the return trip seemed longer and we felt more tired and I dont know if weI could handle another stop.

We found the prices are high for the most part, but we did find a price we could live with. The best money we ever spent as we couldnt imagine being packed in like a sardine flying economy. Plus the pillow, blanket and food weren't too bad either! :)

Buy the tix and don't look back! Good luck, have FUN!!!

Edited: 12 February 2018, 21:20
San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
59,775 posts
149 reviews
2. Re: Business class ticket decision

The airlines have figured us out. They dangle FF miles, "elite boarding privilages" free bags etc to Frequent flyers so if you live close to EWR and you are a United FF then flying star alliance is a no-brainer. This is going to be a lot of PQM and PQ Dollars so right of the bat, I would go with that.

I like SFO -- smaller and more compact than LAX but there are delays due to weather but if you have a long enough layover you should be fine. United has PS on their EWR and LAX flights so go with that

I'm not a huge fan of IAH but if you want to fly the Air Newzealand IAH to AKL -- that is a great option. Longer flight but why not and then you have a short hop to EWR

Edited: 12 February 2018, 21:27
Edinburgh, Scotland
Level Contributor
4,476 posts
3. Re: Business class ticket decision

Out of that lot, I'd pick the HA with a 24hr outbound break. The 4 legs on HA are 11-9-9-10hr and via CAN is 16-11-12-15hr with 9 &13hr connections. PEK is similar 26 / 26 flying + connections. The $2000 saved over UA/ANZ pays for a very nice hotel in Hawaii for one night ;-)

You also have the slight advantage of clearing Immigration / customs at HNL on the return and arrive NYC a domestic passenger, Ok same applies at LAX etc, but I think I'd rather do it in HNL with a 50/50 split than LA after the long leg up with ANZ.

Personally I'd welcome the 24hr break, not all agree, but with HA you are only 39hr airborne versus an extra 15hrs airborne via CAN -- and I'd DEFINITELY rather spend them on a Honolulu beach :D :D :D

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
Level Contributor
18,318 posts
189 reviews
4. Re: Business class ticket decision

Being in NYC, don't forget about positioning yourself at YYZ and starting/ending your journey there. It's always worth it to test different markets. I did a personal holiday in December to BKK, and it was $3000 for biz on Austrian through VIE - which was cheap compared to any US city. I positioned myself with enough time - and purchased separate tickets - and it all worked out. As UA mileage plus - AC and all LH subsidiaries credit 200% PQM - which is nice. I've also flown to China from YYZ - for a business trip.

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
54,497 posts
1,819 reviews
5. Re: Business class ticket decision

As for the last part - the layover city/airport, we prefer SF, as we like SFO, and often use the Hilton, or Embassy Auites SFO. Convenient for us.

However, for an early flight to EWR coming up, we are doing the overnight at LAX, at their Hilton Airport Hotel. Right at edge of property, and nice inn. Do not like LAX, as much as SFO, but that is just us.

Have done IAH, and Doubletree. Not as convenient, IMHO. Also, while connecting at IAH has been OK, we find it less desirable, if doing an overnight, and then arriving at the airport.

Just personal tastes, but based on some experiences.

All other things being equal, I would go SFO, LAX, then IAH.

Best of luck,


Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
7,714 posts
6. Re: Business class ticket decision

This is a variation on those perplexing "is it worth it?" questions for which there is no "right" answer. Everything involves tradeoffs and personal tastes - comfort v. price, convenience v. amenity, and on and on.

A couple of questions. How long are you going for? Is it just to NZ or are you going anywhere else (or do you have any interest in going anywhere else?) Is this a "one-off" big trip or do you have other travel aims for the next couple of years? Are you traveling alone or with others? How willing would you be to consider more indirect routes?

All of these could impact on your plans and decision. If you didn't mind taking some extra time, you could fly on Norwegian Airlines to Oslo in their business class (basically equivalent to domestic first class in the US) for around $1450 round trip, then (on a separate ticket) fly round trip in business class on Qatar Airlines (lie-flat beds) to Auckland via Doha for just under $3000, so call it $4500 all in. That's about the same price as the Air China flights from JFK, but would take longer and present more hassle. Worth it for the (probably) superior in-flight product on Qatar?

Or if this was the first of a couple of years' of long-distance travel, you could fly (use miles?) to Europe or Japan and purchase a round-the-world ticket. Use the ticket to get to New Zealand, then return to the US on it but have a full year and up to 16 business- or first-class flights to work your way back to the origin point. The RTW ticket if purchased in, say, Japan, would cost around $6500, but would give you up to a full year's premium travel, on a route that could look something like this (one of an infinity of options) - https://tinyurl.com/y95pzczx

Not trying to complicate things, just listing some options that might not seem evident.

Redlands, California
Level Contributor
6,295 posts
58 reviews
7. Re: Business class ticket decision

More stops=more lounges! Just be aware that if you choose to fly BC, it's very hard to go back to Economy for long flights.

Preston, United...
Level Contributor
5,549 posts
6 reviews
8. Re: Business class ticket decision

Have you priced Korean Air? We found them very competitive on price for LHR-AKL, the on-board service is excellent and ICN as good a transit airport as there is anywhere.

New Jersey
Level Contributor
115 posts
26 reviews
9. Re: Business class ticket decision

bobnIL I am favoring the 1 stop trip as it is less of a chance to miss the connection. I am watching the UA /ANZ prices, at some point they were as low as $5,600. Thanks for the advice.

New Jersey
Level Contributor
115 posts
26 reviews
10. Re: Business class ticket decision

belomiser My preference is Star Alliance (ie, UA/ANZ) but their prices seem higher, though they change, so I am watching.

"United has PS on their EWR and LAX flights so go with that" What do you mean by PS, Polaris?

You also mention that SFO is more compact but has more weather delays. Would a 2 hr layover be enough?

Also, which United Lounge is better, SFO or LAX? Though maybe with ~ 2hr layover, there will not be enough time for lounge.

The second leg is indeed on ANZ.

Thanks for your advice.

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