Straight answers are pretty rare when it comes to airfares. Just look at my recent search for flights to Auckland Airport. I priced out airfares for two adults and an infant just to get the conversation of our next trip started.
As usual, I started searching for airfares with a pretty broad Google Flights search – any airline, any alliance, pretty much any anything. This gave me a pretty good idea of what was out there. Hawaiian Airlines came out on top.
Now, I’m one of those guys who likes to maximize his frequent flier mileage haul. So once I find a flight that works, I check to see if it shares an alliance with an airline where I have a good chunk of miles. In this case, Hawaiian Airlines is in a bit of a weird state – it doesn’t seem to be a member of an airline alliance; its website lists American Airlines as a partner, but that status seems iffy, as well: The website says “**Important information on our partnership with American Airlines: The last day to earn HawaiianMiles on eligible American Airlines flights was December 31, 2015. Flights with travel dates after December 31, 2015 will not be eligible to earn HawaiianMiles.**”
So, flying Hawaiian won’t let me use any miles that I have, and it won’t earn me anything. That’s a bummer. If Hawaiian was still an American partner, I could’ve presumably booked through AA.com to get on a Hawaiian flight and still earn some AAdvantage miles. I did a flight search, though, and Hawaiian wasn’t an option. And the less said about American’s options, the better – it’s the only airline that isn’t set up to get me to Auckland with one stop. I’d have to fly to Australia first.
This is all a disappointment because flying Hawaiian Airlines would let me skip visiting LAX, which is yet to win me over, humongous redesign or not. Its airfares are also reasonable.
So, what about other options?
Air New Zealand is also a solid choice and offers decent pricing through its own website. About $3,500 in airfares for a family is pretty good, and Air New Zealand gets solid reviews from customers.
Now, if I try booking on the United Airlines (one of Air New Zealand’s Star Alliance partners) website, the airfare shoots skyward. The price for an infant is $1,819! The price through the United Airlines website is nearly $3,000 than booking through the Air New Zealand site. I just cannot fathom this.
Delta Air Lines also couldn’t get us to Auckland with one stop, so I skipped them, too. Their airfares were also a few hundred dollars per ticket off the mark.
Clearly, booking through the Air New Zealand website is by far the winner here. It makes me really question the benefits of the airline alliances if you have the huge of a price variance even among member airlines for the same flight.
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