How to score a free premium economy upgrade with Air New Zealand

By Chris Chamberlin, February 12 2015

Clued-in travellers hopping across the pond can stretch out in an Air New Zealand premium economy seat, yet without paying a cent more than a regular economy ticket.

How? The Kiwi carrier often uses its long-range, three-class Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft on shorter flights between Australia and New Zealand, yet only sells tickets as business class and economy.

That leaves premium economy – and rather than flying it empty, top-tier frequent flyers and travellers on the most expensive economy fares can nab a spot there at no extra charge.

The service is the same as you’d get in economy, but with plenty of room to stretch out, a smaller cabin and a little more privacy, the seats are worth looking out for.

Air New Zealand: finding a spare premium economy seat

When hunting for that free ‘upgrade’, flexibility is key.

Start by finding an Air NZ-operated service across to New Zealand with a three-digit flight number beginning with a ‘1’ – such as NZ104 from Sydney, NZ124 from Melbourne or NZ136 from Brisbane.

(This doesn’t work on flights between Perth and Auckland or other longer routes where premium economy seats are sold normally as premium economy.)

Simply hover your mouse over the ‘1 flight’ text when making your booking to check the aircraft type.

We’re looking for a Boeing 777-300 with Spaceseats or even a 787-9 with more a traditional premium economy cabin (below), rather than the Boeing 767 which also gets NZ1xx flight numbers.

Premium economy on Air NZ's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners
Premium economy on Air NZ's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners

Finally, decide how you’re going to lock in that seat based on your options below.

Free premium economy seats for frequent flyers

Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum members, plus Air New Zealand Gold and Elite members can plant themselves in premium economy on these routes – even on the cheapest fares that come sans checked baggage.

Just be sure to enter your name and frequent flyer number during the booking process, and when it comes time to select seats, look for those in yellow towards the front of the aircraft:

It also works on the Dreamliner, although on this particular flight from Sydney to Auckland, two savvy frequent flyers had already snapped them up:

Free premium economy seats on expensive fares

If you’re a Silver-level traveller or haven’t progressed beyond the white belt, a premium economy seat could also be yours by buying the highest Works Deluxe economy fare type:

Those can often come in at twice the price of a basic, 'no frills' economy ticket, so a less-expensive option is to a purchase a Seat, Seat+Bag or Works ticket and pay a slight premium: $10 for Works passengers and $20 for all other guests.

Ironically, it’s actually cheaper to relax in premium economy than to secure an exit row seat in regular economy, but each to their own.

So if you’ll be stuck in economy on your next New Zealand hop, be on the lookout for a chance to sit in premium economy instead – whether you get a free bump-up or you shell out a $20 from your own pocket, it sure beats sitting down the very back.

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

brobro

brobro

02 Jan 2013

Total posts 142

I usually purchase Works Deluxe trans tasman more so on the Dreamliner or 773 services and that gives you automatic allocation to Premium Economy. If you book in advance you can get return flights SYD-AKL for under $600 which is a steal for a Premium Economy service. If Im flying LAX route I would always pick 34A or 34K and pay the extra $30 for the privilidge and its well worth it, especially when you can lye against the frame which believe it or not is quite comfortable.

Vidic15

Vidic15

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 May 2013

Total posts 23

I booked Works SYD-AKL next month and paid $30 or so and got the move to Premium. Going to be a nice experience!

Andy H

Andy H

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 116

NZ always have stated pax who purchased Works Deluxe fares get to sit in the Premium Economy cabin and they also get lounge access. Wouldn't hurt to pre select your seats though just for that peace of mind!

GM

GM

Air NZ Airpoints

12 Mar 2014

Total posts 36

What about Koru members? Can they sit in Y+ on the cheaper three fare bands, or do they have to buy Works Deluxe too?

I think you might have touched on this in another post, but it'd be good to be sure :)

aviation

aviation

18 Mar 2014

Total posts 94

I'm pretty certain Koru Club members get access the same preferred seating options as Gold/Works Deluxe passengers, which would allow them Y+ on the Tasman.

Vidic15

Vidic15

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 May 2013

Total posts 23

IF I purchased a works ticket, and paid for a seating in Premium do I get the Premium benefits including meal and check in?

aviation

aviation

18 Mar 2014

Total posts 94

No, the premium seating you bought is just that, the better seat options. 

Geoff

Geoff

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Oct 2015

Total posts 2

Does this still work for Gold and Platinum frequent flyers?  I am a Platinum and it did not offer me those seats on the 777 when I tried.  I am curious to know whether this was just a problem with my FF number not working correctly.

aviation

aviation

18 Mar 2014

Total posts 94

Air NZ is now selling the premium economy cabin as an actual product on the Tasman, so it is no longer an option to pre-select these seats if on an economy ticket.

Geoff

Geoff

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Oct 2015

Total posts 2

Ah ok, Thankyou!

 


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