The 5 best things about the Qantas/Air New Zealand codeshare deal
Points! Lounges! I'm legitimately excited about this.
So Qantas and Air New Zealand have officially joined forces, announcing a partnership that will see them codeshare across the majority of their domestic services.
It's not particularly surprising. As soon as Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia ended their alliance, it was likely that Air New Zealand would seek another partner. Qantas was the only realistic choice (Jetstar is too cut-price and Tigerair is owned by Virgin).
The end of the old alliance admittedly wasn't great news for Virgin Australia passengers, since it cuts down on lounge access in the land of the long white cloud. However, for Qantas passengers flying into New Zealand, it's a welcome improvement. Here are five reasons why.
1. Access to Air New Zealand lounges
Air New Zealand operates three full-scale domestic lounges (in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington) and another 10 regional lounges. The domestic lounges are spacious and well-designed, with an impressive food offering. Indeed, I'd say they actually top the Qantas Club in that respect. If you need to take a domestic flight in New Zealand, you'll be well looked after.
2. Earning Qantas Points on Air New Zealand flights
We're still waiting for full details on just how many Qantas Points you'll be able to earn on codeshare Air New Zealand flights, but Qantas has made it clear that you'll earn some. Currently, if you're a Qantas passenger taking domestic flights in New Zealand your only points option is to fly on Jetstar. Jetstar New Zealand is actually more generous than Jetstar Australia, since you can earn Qantas Points (at the discount economy rate) on the Starter fare, with a guaranteed minimum of 400 points. I'd hope the Air New Zealand codeshare option would at least match that.
3. Better co-ordinated schedules and baggage
The joint announcement from the two airlines promises big things in this area: "Coordination of check-in and handling at airports will mean shorter connection times, opening up more onward flights for customers on each carrier's domestic networks and faster journey times overall."
I suspect those benefits are likely to be more obvious when flying back from New Zealand. Any transfer when you land needs to allow time for customs processing, although the unified system between Australia and New Zealand means that you generally get through much faster than with any other country.
4. No co-operation on trans-Tasman services
Right now, the market for flights between Australia and New Zealand is more competitive than it has ever been. Qantas, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Emirates all offer services across the Tasman. That level of competition means prices are also staying low. If Qantas and Air New Zealand had extended codeshare across the ocean, that wouldn't have been as evident.
How that competition will play out remains unclear. Qantas recently surveyed customers about the possibility of "pay-as-you-go" fares to New Zealand. While there are no immediate plans to do that, I'd expect we will see innovations introduced by all five carriers on this route as they battle for market share.
5. Air New Zealand safety videos
Qantas' safety videos have improved greatly in recent years, but Air New Zealand's videos are the stuff of legend. This one remains my favourite.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.
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Picture: Angus Kidman